Thursday, 4 July 2013

And finally ....

It's a strange feeling to be coming to the end of a project, that longed-for yet undesired goal,  the moment when you confront the success or failure of your work.  I've been reminded that I am not alone in this when I started to reread the chapter on evaluation in "how to be better at .... creativity" by Geoffrey Petty.  This book was suggested to us in a workshop group at Urchfont by Janet Edmonds and there is much in it to be recommended, particularly the discussion about what sort of judge or evaluator you are. So, am I the 80%/20% critic whose positive comments by far outweigh the negative, the one I remember so much from my teaching days and so successfully encouraged the young to try again?  Or am I the 60%/40% kind an adult might have more trust in?  Here goes.

Collar in Silk Organza

On the whole I am pleased with the end result.  I feel it meets the remit of being functional, and three dimensional and embroidered.  Although I have been working on this project for a long time it still manages to capture that essence of  "fishiness" from the early Module 2 exercises.  This "fishiness" is apparent especially in its shape and construction.  And this is where spending a long time has had its advantages; it's enabled me  to develop ideas (the two types of fin and others), and respond and test out those given to me by Sian (one example is stuffing the insert fins).   Sian's nudges have helped me produce a piece more complex in structure than I would have done alone; my inclination would be for simplicity, but then this can be an excuse for not exploring further and finding better solutions to issues than arise.  Whilst there are ideas that I might not have reached myself there are those I had to relinquish.  The one I let go most reluctantly was having text on the collar.  When I tried the words were indecipherable, even an attempt using Trick Film to stabilise the organza left a crunchy deposit round the stitching when heat was applied.

Tonally, the piece is less successful.  Although I do like the randomness of the shibori the tones do not change from light at the collar's inside edge through to dark at the outer edge, as I imagined I might have been able to achieve.  The embroidery aims to emphasise lightness at that inner edge.  I applied three different threads: one variegated (blue-grey to white), one Gutermann's 111 (softer than white) and a thicker polyester thread, again in 111 and by Gutermann, to achieve this.  In an earlier trial I had added an even thicker crochet thread, but this was too thick and dominated the collar, not only because of its thickness but also because it was not available in off-white.  The stitch I chose for this embellishment was a double zigzag which became longer along the line's length.  Much finer stitching of the same sort was applied in fine dark petrol blue thread with a soft grey in the bobbin.  In choosing the double zigzag stitch I hope to give a sense of movement as well as replicating the collar's jagged edge.

The silk organza produces a light and elegant look exactly as I had hoped and as the original design portrays. The fabric takes dye beautifully and its translucent property means that even when layered or pleated it still appears light.  Its crispness means that it is possible to pleat and roll it successfully. Following Sian's suggestion I inserted tubes of Stitch and Tear in the top of the insert fins and then stuffed them with polyester wadding.  These tubes partially show when viewed close up.  Attempts to disguise them proved unsuccessful as an extra layer of dyed organza wrapped round them does a poor job of disguising the tube and adds to the bulk which needs to be stitched into the neck edge.

In spite of its many lovely qualities silk organza has one main failing as regards this project: too much handling results in the edges becoming frayed, a problem when seams need unpicking or the collar is attached to a garment.  I have fitted the collar to a v-necked cardigan, not my preferred solution which would have been a light tweed v-neck dress.  The cardigan has had the disadvantage of being stretchy whereas tweed fabric would have been more stable.  To finish the collar neck I finally applied inch wide grosgrain ribbon and this works.  My original plan was to cut a strip of silk organza on the cross, however this also was stretchy and impossible to make its length stable.  It also meant that the binding and fins both sat on top of the cardigan neckline.  Although at present the collar is simply tacked on the grosgrain ribbon is under the cardigan neckline and the collar as a result curls over the edge sitting above the neckline emphasising its three dimensional quality.  Tacking the collar on in this way may not be the final solution as handling the collar too much causes fraying.

Finish is such an important part of any item.  I've already talked about the problem of silk organza fraying, where I would also criticise the collar's finish is with regard to the embroidery.  At the end of every line of machine stitching I put the machine into reverse and then cut the thread close to.  Mostly this proved successful, however there are quite a number of loose threads remaining.  This could be viewed as complementing the collar's ragged edge:a matter of opinion.

Is it nice to wear? It's beautifully soft next to skin and it enhances the neckline well, though I think it will require quite an occasion to wear such a dramatic-looking piece!


  1. Delighted to see your results. Your thought and time is well rewarded with the final piece.The simplicty of the concept is maintained even though you have done so much, and discarded many ideas to achieve the result.The journey has been an exciting one to watch. Wear it often it's made to be enjoyed and not kept in captivity!

  2. A beautiful collar - and great to see it in the flesh today!