Stage 3 Developing your design

Stage 3 Developing your Design

So far these are my ideas about my final piece:

– Bags – possible end-product – look at examples of bags – how are they constructed?

– Idea = design 4 pieces and bottom piece to be sewn together to make bag

– Consider function – strengthen old linen by layering and stitching

– Materials – vintage natural materials , recycling, repurposing

– Make own fabrics by recycling old linen yukata – dyeing and printing using various japanese textile techniques:

-Textile techniques:  indigo dyeing, shibori, katazome, patchwork (boro) , sashiko

-Ageing -deconstruct, cut up slash, layering, applique, reverse applique, revealing fabric under, discharge/bleaching, ageing with rusting? visible/invisible mending. Natural fibres – distressed naturally. Patching with different fabrics.  (Study repair methods)

-Aesthetic – focus on past, memories, layering, weathering, wear and tear

-Japanese aesthetic -wabi sabi – imperfect, incomplete, rustic, earthy, simple, textured, organic, balanced, harmony, unique, nature (katazome), subdued, weathered, muted

-Mottainai – old saying of Japanese farmers – ‘Never throw away a piece of cloth big enough to wrap three beans’. – reusing, mending, Boro = visible mending

-Important – everything handstitched

So – keep simple aesthetic – different techniques but united by common material and limited palette

Importance of touch and feel – tactile experience

Shibori and katzome pieces already developed while in Japan with view to include in this piece, knowing I would be moving.  Now need to sift thought and decide which pieces to use and how.

I have been attracted to the work of other textile artists who have been themselves inspired by Japanese Textiles.  I have been collecting samples of their work and adding to my Pinterest boards.  These artists include: Dorothy Caldwell and Matthew Harris who I researched for my last assignment and also: Cas Holmes;  Junko Oki; Lisa Hochstein; India Flint; Kathryn Clark; Jan Miller; Anne Griffiths; Donna Watson; Mandy Patullo; Christine Mauersberger; John parker; Yoko Kimura and Wendy Rudd.

I looked again at the work and philosophy of some of these artists to give me inspiration for my design process.


 Dorothy Caldwell – ideas for mark-making and stitching

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India Flint’s philosophy: value beauty, practice thrift, be mindful, consume and make less by doing it more slowly and better, be content with enough – resonates with me and the Japanese aesthetic I am exploring.

Jan Miller collects and researches old textiles and the layers of skills passed on and retained.  She is interested in; experience and memory, method and order, repetition and re-use.  Jan works with discarded fabrics and peers often offcuts from her previous work.  Material is manipulated and folded; natural dyes, inks and powders; printing and hand stitch accentuate detail.

Kathryn Clark has been working on her Foreclosure quilt series and I find this very interesting as she used boro techniques to illustrate and express her feeling about foreclosures on homes in US. This has given me ideas about using patches to in some way represent areas of Japan but I have rejected this idea as my project is in danger of becoming too complicated.

Anne Griffiths works with hand drawn threads, indigo dyeing and shibori to create enlarged pieces.

Donna Watson uses collage, layers, a simple aesthetic, mark making ,printing, mixed media, stitch to produce a body of work which clearly demonstrates a Japan influence.

Mandy Patullo works with vintage applique, stitch, and mark-making. Her sketchbooks containing her research on ethinic and tribal textiles  are inspirational. She uses surface decoration techniques to respond to pattern and textures in the textiles.

Christine Mauersberger  stitches onto vintage linens and pre-owned pieces.

John Parkes uses layering and stitching to create texture.

Yuko Kimura produces detailed mark making similar to Dorothy Caldwell. I am inspired by her collage of mono prints and colour blocks.

Starting design process:

We were asked to explore without feeling restricted by technique or materials of finished piece. I decided to start off by looking closely at some Boro pieces as inspiration and potential for further development, thinking about colour, texture, shape and composition.  Jan Miller studies vintage techniques by drawing sketches etc and I decided to do the same. My idea was to start off with blocks of colour,  develop them into collage and then add stitch to explore colour and texture changes – zooming in to detail and do further studies.

Inspired by Lisa Hochstein, who works with paper collage, I looked at Boro examples through a frame and completed some small scale collages. I made a series of mini collages, exploring shapes within shapes:

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This process has made me realise that I need to keep the composition simple but then add interest by adding a shape or patch of contrasting colour.

My next step was to photocopy a selection of my hand-printed textiles to play about with.  I cut the photocopies int strips and arranged them in different ways until I came up with four panels which I stuck down on paper:

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I did have thoughts at this stage of changing my plan – and make a wall-hanging instead but by sellotaping the four panels together, I was able to make a box shape which enabled me to get a better idea of how the panels would work together to make a bag.  I decided to stick with the plan!

Not entirely happy with the composition of the panels, I looked back at work in Part Two on developing design ideas – ‘Looking for shapes and drawing’.  I cut out viewing frames for the panels of the bag and moved over surfaces of drawings and samples looking for interesting relationships between the frame and the content.

I also looked through my sketchbooks and collection of photos for ideas for composition.  I was interested in this one which was of a work I saw at the Saatchi Gallery: a birds eye view.  I liked the colours and composition.

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Too complicated!  I reminded myself that ‘Simple is best’ and to look at Japanese ideas for composition.  With a jolt of inspiration, I remembered my Japanese Interior books and in particular the designs for screens and lanterns.

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Inspired by these and wanting to keep things simple, I came up with 6 simple plans:

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and decided to use the first four panels as designs for the composition of the pieced sections of my bag panels.

Using these designs, I photocopied more pieces of my textiles and cut up and rearranged to make four panels which I then photocopied again:

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I then made a prototype of the bag by stiticking the four panels onto a piece of cotton which I then gathered:

This worked really well and allowed me to view the composition of the panels from all sides.


With ideas in place for the panels, my thoughts turned to the stitching. It is my intention to use sashiko stitching to form patterns as well as texture and strengthening.  Again, I decided to look at old pieces of Boro for inspiration and make sketches of patterns.

This is an interesting piece I found on Pinterst – but I decided it was too busy:

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I looked at different examples of stitching and made series of sketches:

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Then practised on paper collages with white pen:

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For added interest and drama, I think a splash of colour is needed, either through piecing or stitching.

Colourblocks of red or red stitching would add a focal point/disharmony/excitement.  This reminds me of the work on  pointillism and french knots when I added red for contrast.  Perhaps I could add -sashiko crosses?

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Too much red but I like the red!

I then started using some of the textile pieces to practice on.  i started off by stitching onto a peer photocopy but the colour reproduction wasn’t accurate so I decided to use the fabric.  I was a little reluctant as I didn’t want to waste any of my hand-dyed textiles but was a necessary part of the process!

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These exercises were useful in helping me decide to keep the stitching simple.  My initial idea was to completely cover the panels with stitching but my samples showed me that I could overpower the shibori and katazome pieces with too much stitching.

I found this piece on Pinterest and it is very close to the aesthetic I am looking for, with the splashes of red but perhaps a little too much stitching:

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Next I tried stitching with different thickness of threads.

More experimentation with stitching on old linen:

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I bravely stitched on some of my shibori-dyed fabric:

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I pieced some of my shibori-dyed fabric panels and then added some sashiko stitching for contrast and texture.  I really like the texture and feel of the layered piece. I need to add contrast – some red stitiching or a red patch will do it!

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My plan was to add some distressing techniques to my final piece and I have experimented with ageing techniques – slashing, applique, reverse appliqué but don’t want the piece to look ‘contrived’ so I think the distressed frayed edges will do to make the  ‘ragged’ = boro.

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The next step was to plan the stitching in conjunction with the prototype bag:

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Photocopies were used and stitching and patches were added using samples for inspiration:

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The planning an design process has gone really well but with the time running out, I have decided to make the final piece using the above panel design, with a few modifications, as flows.  If i have time I will then complete the other panels and stitch them together to create the bag.

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