Sunday, May 31, 2009

Machine Embroidered book : Its Making …

 NOTE: This book can be viewed in detail as separate pages in earlier posts, an updated version as tab above 'The Embroidered Codex'
& viewed as slide show here

An embroidered book was made as a result of researching the diversity and inspiration behind ‘Make-Do-and-Mend’ during World War II (1939-45). What initially began as a simple study, soon became a collection of interesting and inspirational facts that I wanted to document. Selecting this textile-based topic for research, I continued the same theme for display of it: similar to a child’s rag book yet resembling a photo album. This 'book' would contain separate pages, each one relating to a particular needlecraft topic of the period. These would be: clarification of Make-Do-and-Mend – Household - Magazines and use of Transfers – Knitting – Embroidery and stitching techniques – Fashion and Accessories. Each topic would either be shown with original technique detail or interpreted using a more up-to-date method. To maintain continuity, the majority of fabrics and threads used for the book’s construction and sample making were either actual pieces from worn items of the period or remnants from past personal projects.

All inner pages of the book were made from a length of 1950s black ottoman fabric that had been stored in a cupboard for several years! I envisaged it as being 'Blackout fabric' & similar to that of the wartime period, so was chosen to represent the blackness, darkness and gloom between 1939 and 1945. It was also closely woven and ideal for machine stitching. To enable pages to 'be turned' when viewed in the book and also allow them to be displayed at a later date, 2 pages were each decoratively stitched back-to-back then stiffened with card for completion. The pages were made removable (from the book) for ease of handling and their method of attachment to the book's spine (defined by underwear of the period!) was chosen as being hook and eye tape.

Hand-written style notes to accompany samples or provide explanation were computer printed on black paper in white ink and used wartime-style stud fastenings to attach to the pages – other wording was machine stitched directly to fabric. This style of notation had been the format of many archived documents found during research. Its interpretation by using modern computerised sewing machine techniques would represent this and the importance of the wartime ‘Enigma’ machine. Many wartime slogans and other official recommendations had been shown in film footage, newspapers and various original memorabilia - this was repeated throughout the book by ‘writing’ them using computerised/pre-programmed stitching. For a variety of reasons, original books or magazine pages were unable to be stitched so photos and photocopies of them were used instead. Their permanent attachment to a page resulted in a selection of machine embroidery techniques being adapted and created. One of these was a method of making lace entirely by machine without the need for any form of backing or retaining fabric (more on this and others from March 2013 where they will be found by clicking to the link here).