Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday AMAs #3

It's time for another Friday AMAs - Ask Me Any question.

Here's your chance to Ask Me Any (AMA) questions you have.  It could be about the techniques we learned so far or whatever you need to be answered.

Thanks for all the questions I got last Friday.  As I've said before. I love the interaction.  So keep the questions and the discussions coming.

Are you learning some new things in stitch design, are you encountering problems, are you making some great strides?  Do you find it all above your head and feel like giving up?

Talk to me.  I want to help the best I can. Leave your comments and questions below.  Those who've sent me private messages know, I answered them too.  So don't be shy.  Ask away!!!

Everyone is welcomed to jump in with their answers, opinions and follow-up questions, This is intended to be a community discussion time.  So jump right in.

It'll be nice for you to also share your work in progress. I’ll be waiting.

Warmest Regards,

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How the Background Fabric Affects Your Colors

Hi All! Welcome back to 31 Days of Stitch Design.

This is going to be a short one.  I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much new information. But I thought you’d like to know a little more about how your choice of thread colors and your background fabrics work together. 

When you’re choosing threads, you’ll want to remember that the color of your background fabric affects the colors in your work.

So, here are a few tips about the relationship between your background fabric and the threads you shade with.

  1. A light colored background fabric will not show off a light value thread as well as it will show a dark value thread. 
  2. When you choose a thread color that is close to the color of the background fabric. The pros – it makes the outline stitching fade away when you start shading your design. The con – it’s a little hard to see because there’s very little contrast between thread color and fabric color.
  3. Factor in the color of your background fabric when mixing thread colors. This is because the color of your background fabric will act as though it were one of the thread colors you're shading with. 
For example, when you use blue thread to shade on a yellow background fabric, your shading may look green because the yellow fabric and blue thread will mix as though you were mixing two paint colors and give you a different color.

Look at this effect shown in the example below.

Watch this video.

That’s it for today. Let’s go draw.

Warmest Regards,

PS: I hope you’re practicing and working on your exercises.  I’ll be more than willing to answer questions.  Just ask.

Monday, March 20, 2017

How to Choose Multiple Thread Colors for Shading

There’s a saying in design that goes like this: “Value Does the Work and Color Gets The Credit”

That is to say when you want to create a beautifully colored piece of work, “Think Value, not Color”
The more variety of values you have in your colors the greater your chances of creating a beautiful design.

This week, we’re going to move from using one thread color to several thread colors..  As I’ve stated above, when you’re working with multiple colors, if at all possible, limit the number of colors and rather increase their value variations.

What do I mean when I say that.

Choosing Thread Colors
For example if you choose to work with these three colors of thread - Red, Yellow and Green. Choose variations of the same color to work with.  That is you should choose:
  • value variations of red threads (light red threads, medium value red threads and dark value red threads)
  • value variations of yellow threads (light yellow threads, medium value yellow threads and dark value yellow threads)
  • value variations of green threads (light green threads, medium value green threads and dark value green threads)

Use a limited color palette when you’re starting. (Start with 3 colors, experiment and then increase if you decide to)
Choosing a large number of colors will not necessarily make your work look interesting its the large value variations that will.

Watch this video to see how to use multiple thread colors.

Try the teacup example again.  This time use  different thread colors for the cup, the plate and spoon.

Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.
Let's go draw.

Warmest Regards,

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday AMA's #2

It's time for another Friday AMAs - Ask Me Any question.

I promised to go slowly so that anyone who's really interested in learning my techniques can do so.
Here's your chance to Ask Me Any (AMA) questions you have.  It could be about the techniques we learned so far or whatever you need to be answered.

If you're not following along but you have questions on another topic feel free to ask. 

Everyone is welcomed to jump in with their answers opinions and follow-up questions, This is intended to be a community discussion time.  So it's open to all.

It'll be nice for you to also share your work in progress. I’ll be waiting.

Warmest Regards,

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thread Shading with Multiple Values of One Thread Color

Every thing you draw will have variations in the values represented in it.  The only way to create a realistic drawing  with depth and dimension is to have similar value variations in your drawing.

We’ve looked at how to use one thread color to achieve variations in value.  Today we’ll take a closer look at value variations and how to use multiple values of one color thread to achieve the same purpose.

What do I mean when I say, multiple variations of one color thread.

Let’s say the single color of thread we choose to use is grey. (You’re free to choose any thread color, of course).  

Then the three values of thread we’re going to be working with will be light grey, medium grey and dark grey.

When you use different values of thread to thread shade, the resulting effect is determined by two things.

1. The closeness between stitches
2. The value of the thread being used.

When you thread shade this way, the resulting drawing is more three dimensional than when you use just one thread.

Here are the steps to do this:
  1. Layout a “shading map” before you start stitching so you know ahead of time where you want to have light, medium or dark shading.
  2. Thread shade by matching your thread’s value (L,M,D) with your shading map
  3. Remember to space your stitch lines according to whether you want light, medium or dark shading
  4. Keep in mind that you’ll be stopping often to cut and change threads unlike with the one thread shading method we learned the other day.

Here’s an example of a piece I shaded this way. 

"Table Top Medley" - Stitched Drawing on Cotton by Clara Nartey

Watch the video and practice using the teacup example from Monday, your own drawing or a photo. 

Compare the two samples. Which one do you like better?

That’s it for today.

Let’s go draw.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Thread Shading with One Thread

Hi and welcome back to 31 Days of Stitch Design. I hope you've been practicing.  I got questions from some of you so I know some have been.

 This week, we’re going to look at how to thread shade you outline drawings.

Introducing the Concept of Thread Shading
Shading is used to show levels of darkness or lightness in a drawing. Without shading your drawing looks flat like the hand drawing we did last week. Shading however, transforms a flat object into a three dimensional form.

The most basic form of shading is Parallel Hatching which is our subject of discussion today.
Parallel Hatching consists of drawing a series of closely spaced parallel lines to create shading effects.

thread shading with Clara Nartey
Illustration - Zigzag Hatching

“Zigzag” Hatching
Since we’re doing continuos drawing with our sewing machines, we’ll have to modify this technique to suit our purposes.  Because we don’t want to stop at the end of each stitched line, cut the threads and then start stitching the next parallel line.

thread shading
An Example of Stitched Zigzag Hatching
So to modify this technique, you’ll start at one point stitch a line to the end point and travel back to your starting point in a “zigzag- like” manner.  The only difference is that in our case we want the “zigzag-like” stitches to be close to each other. That's I coined the name zigzag hatching.

See the pencil  illustration above.

 The left hand side of the illustration shows the shading effect of zigzag hatching when stitched.  The right hand side is a zoomed in version that shows that the shading is actually made up of long  “zigzag-like” stitches.

Also review the stitched illustration above as well.

thread shading a tea cup
Pencil drawing of teacup

Value Variations in Drawings
Every subject you draw will have value variations in it.  That’s to say, you’ll have different degrees of darkness in your subject.

Depending on where the light source falls on your subject you’ll have light, medium and dark values. Some greyscale charts show as many as 31 increments or values of grey.
thread shading of a teacup
Value = Shaded Teacup

For us, we’re going to keep it real simple.  We’ll use only three values  - Light, Medium and Dark.

Pro-Tip: If you’re not using  your own drawing and you’re using a photo, then here’s how to figure out the values in your picture.
1. Make a black and white photocopy of the picture
2. Print a black and white copy of the photo
3. Use a photo editing software to change the picture to a grey scale
4. Use a photo editing software to posterize or separate the values

Then create what I call a “shading map”.  Simply write L,M, D on your photo where you have light medium and dark values.  This will become your shading map. You’ll refer to it to know where to thread shade what values on your fabric.

Thread Shading with One Thread Color

Now we’ll use the zigzag hatching method to thread shade the three (3) different values L, M, D in our reference photo or drawing on our fabric (quilt sandwich). First trace your drawing onto your fabric.

thread shading with Clara Nartey
 A Drawing Traced onto Fabric and Ready for Outlines to be Stitched

 Draw your outlines first before shading.
1.  Helps hold all 4 layers together and prevents shifting when you start shading
2. It helps prevent puckering.
3. Acts as a guide to show you the edges of your drawing

Thread Shaded Teacup - Stitch on Cotton by Clara Nartey
To thread shade a:
Dark Value: Stitch your lines close together
Light Value: Widen distance between your stitch lines
Medium Value: Keep the distance between your stitches mid-way between that for light and dark value.

thread shading with clara nartey
Detailed View of Thread Shading
In order to achieve dark values, you should resist from piling stitches on top of each other multiple times. That’s ok if you’re drawing a single thick line.  But when you thread shade or stitch an entire area very densely, you’re likely to end up with a distorted piece of work which won’t lay flat.

Shading Direction
One way to keep your thread shading looking neat is to stitch in a consistent direction. Zig-zag hatching can be horizontal, vertical or at an angle.  Which ever you decide on, just keep it consistent.

thread Shading
Reverse View of Thread Shaded Drawing
That’s enough for you to chew on today.

Practice Exercise: Feel free to print out my teacup example for practice. Create a shading map, and trace the outlines of the drawing onto fabric.  Then thread shade your drawing in three values with any color thread of your choice.  I used a grey thread in mine, you can use a different color if you want.

See below a video I created for you to further help.

You can also practice with a different drawing or a photo.

I'll be waiting to answer your questions.  All you've got to do is ask.

Let’s draw.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday AMA's #1

Today is our first AMAs - Ask Me Any question.

Here's your chance to ask me any (AMA) questions you have.  It could be about the techniques we learned during the past week or about anything related to living a creative life.

Everyone is welcomed to jump in with their answers opinions and follow-up questions, This is intended to be a community discussion time.  So it's open to all.

 Since this is our first, I’m going to open up Q&A time by answering 3 of the more frequently asked questions I get. Then I’ll wait for specific questions from you.

Question:  What kind of machine do you use?
Answer: I have a JUKI 2010Q and I love it.  It helps me do such wonderful work.  Although I must say it’s an oil- guzzler. Often, when it gives me trouble it’s because I haven’t given it enough oil. When it gets a good drink of oil it puts on it’s best behavior.

Question: How did you become so proficient at drawing with your sewing machine?
Answer: Consistent, deliberate and intentional practice.  I don’t know any other way to say it but to say it’s practice.  I practiced consistently for a long time till I started seeing results.

Question: I’ve got so many creative ideas.  I’ve learned so many techniques but I can’t find time for my creative work.  How do you find time?
Answer: Schedules. I schedule time for my creative work just like I schedule time for doctors appointments and other appointments.  There’s a saying that goes something like, “if it doesn’t get scheduled it doesn’t get done”

Now it’s your turn to give me your questions.  It'll be nice for you to also share your work in progress if you've been following along.  Let's hear about both your frustrations and your wins.

I’ll be waiting.

Warmest Regards,