A large part of being a textile artist is our ability to problem-solve, and have I had to use it this last week.

Now I’m no fast thinker. – I like to take my time and really think things through – but eventually I get there.

And I’m prompted to write this to show that progress is sometimes a slow, but necessary journey.

My current large and narrow, narrative format presents difficulties, particularly in terms of distortion.  Now I know why this happens, and in the main, I’m more than happy for some distortion and manipulation to remain.

However, when it comes to finishing and squaring up, I am particular.  I like edges even and measure the same – and herein lies the problem.

Now, this is the second work in this current format, and I’m experiencing similar problems.  I was especially careful with this piece, but I need to think outside the square and re-think my construction methods.

I stitch onto a double layer of bag batting with a layer of iron-on stabilizer and it’s delightful to work with and stitch into, so I’m not going to change that.

I love the technique I use, covering the entire surface of the fabric with thread, so that remains.

So what can I change?  My two main problems come from distortion and uneven edges.  The distortion in the main body of the design is the cause of my problems.  And that then compounds into the decorative borders.  I know I’m asking a lot.

But logic and reasoning has finally kicked in – a little too late for this work but hopefully in time for my upcoming design.  I have two solutions:

  • stitch most of the main body of the central frieze leaving some space at the top and bottom edges.  Check the distortion and address before fishing.  If I address this now, it should aid in bowing and uneven edges.
  • working the borders separately and adding onto the straightened central frieze, so that the distortion is not compounded and straight, even edges are more easily achieved.

As I said before, I love the distortion, but I do need to be in control of it rather than it being in control of me.  Both these ideas mean more work at the time of stitching – when the problems arise, but less work finishing when the problems are hard to resolve.

I feel confident these ideas will help, after all, I spend a lot of time in the creation, I want to ensure the finishing supports that.

I’m not perfect, I still encounter difficulties and issues, but it’s up to me to make the changes that will move me forward.  And I want to continue in this format, so I have to do it better – and I will.

My next design is already percolating, providing a great opportunity to put these solutions into practice.  Fingers crossed.

I can’t wait.

cathy jack coupland