Gathering…Cloth

WE will need some cloth. You probably have some. Right?

My Words from Spirit Cloth 101... 2012

Gather what you have first.  You do not need to buy anything  special for this class.  This is not a project oriented course in that regard.   You might gather what you have already.  Stick with natural fabrics.    You might also consider recycling clothing and household items if you have no other cloth on hand.  You can hit the thrift shops and pick up a little something.  Old  vintage cloth is lovely, soft and easy to stitch, and often has a story to go with it.  You don't need oodles of cloth  and really, no scrap is too small.  Just a little cloth. I will be working on small sampler like pieces to demonstrate several basic techniques for building a piece, never larger than 10- 12" overall and probably smaller, many times putting scraps together to make larger pieces anyway.  The most important thing is to  choose the  right kind of cloth.

For hand sewing,  especially using a layered method, like I do,  thinner and softer cloth works best.  The rule I use when gathering cloth is to try taking a few stitches in the cloth. If there is resistance, don't use it.  Why torture yourself?

I do not use (commercial) batting, just layers of fabric.  It is good to find some really thin cloth to use as a batting substitute.  Blouse fabric or old curtain lining is great as long as it is not synthetic.   Occasionally, I have to buy this kind of cloth and when I do, I use what is called Harem cloth  and I get it here.  It is a favorite of mine and I use it a lot.  Any really thin cloth will do, cotton lawn or very inexpensive lightweight muslin works well.  The idea is a cloth that can stabilize, add a layer,  but literally not  add any significant weight at all.

It is good to have a selection of plain fabrics in the mix to create the base.  When embellishing, things can get very busy if everything is patterned....just something to consider.

...My words today...2019

Gather what you have first. Yes,  I want to say that again.  Even if you are not a lifelong stitcher,  cloth is a part of our lives.  Cloth remains useful for a long time.  Basically it's just waiting to be rescued.  Stray bits.  Everywhere.  In the SPIRIT OF PATCHWORK, patchwork as a way of life, lets' celebrate that here.  Rescue stray bits of this and that and build a  useful whole.  Probably you have gathered a few thoughts without even noticing.  Let's continue with cloth.

AUDIO-Rescued

 

When I said the right kind of cloth, well,  I guess  the word "right",  I might change that.  (Maybe suitable.  No,  I think friendly...)  Friendly can be come simply personal preference.  After all, this is only my point of view, and  an explanation of my approach.  It is, though,  through the  years of experience, that I speak to you.  How it went... my story.  To spare you  some anguish.  So I say again,  don't torture yourself.  Hand sewing is different from machine sewing in so many ways.  When I say thin cloth,  I might mean cloth that has been made that way, or cloth that has worn thin ( become softer)  but still holds together (a treasure and a teacher).   I know about cloth, it's technical aspects, it's nature   If you don't it may be difficult to know what I am talking about.  But you will know  when you try stitching.  Sometimes it is good to give yourself the time to know and choose.  My words might be the shortest distance between here and there, but there is no substitute for the depth of experience.  And catching your own thoughts in the process.  Always reconsider what you've been told,  your experience can only add to evolution of understanding.   Trust how it goes.

 

I have crossed out the link for Harem Cloth because it is no longer available.  I did purchase what was left a few weeks ago,  just a couple of yards, because I love it, and also to make up some fabric sample packs... the purpose being to teach a sense of thin cloth, what to look for.  Especially if you are rescuing cloth,  a sense of what to look for.

 

Harem Cloth a little bit about then... one of many cloth stories ...

I have a bit to say about the cloth itself... since I mentioned it so often, and now as time has passed,  it is no longer available from the supplier.   I made a little video because you might get a sense of the kind of cloth it is.

So I wanted to talk about Harem Cloth because I have a history with it,  and really more importantly.  how fabric is often known by name and how unreliable that is.  I first came across this kind of cloth when I purchased some hand dyed cloth from  Dijanne Cevaal.  We go way back  to early blogging time and though we are not so much in touch anymore, I wanted to credit her for my sudden interest in this kind of cloth.  She no longer offers it, but she is still actively online and  doing her thing.   I asked her what she calls the fabric... muslin.

  Audio-how it feels

Its' May

I do not need to gather,  I need only sort through perhaps,  touch, feel, remember, choose.   But if you've not considered thinness and softness before,  you might gather what you have  and sort through...  separate what feels friendly.  Put a needle through it,   fold it over itself several times and put a needle through it.   Story builds in layers for me.   One thing over another.   And even after all that, the cloth might still feel like cloth, not cardboard..  Feel.  So so important.

I am also driven by season.   Like the stray cat I have embraced to express my loose selves.   I do think I  "MAY Begin"  with a stray.

I'll work small in this segment.  Maybe working my way up to connecting small cloth as time passes.   That's the way it goes anyway.  Being conscious of it is  helpful in accepting the unfinished, the small, the insignificant.

always gathering loose thoughts

In general...

I'll be talking more about cloth as I go...  sorting through a scrap basket is the best way for me to do that with in the context of just going.

61 comments

  1. Deb VZ

    I laughed to myself reading this post. I spent a lunch hour at a fussy fabrics shop in Metro Detroit trying to find harem cloth. The clerks had never heard of it and rather dismissive when I said I’d read about it in a blog. This post allows me to be a little more forgiving of the women who worked there, plus more importantly, I can stop searching for it and relax about using what I have. Finding what works for me rather than following suggestions as though they are rules are at the heart of this process, true?

  2. Helen Lawless Lee

    How I love ‘friendly’ cloth. Aged, softened, and worn and faded. Carrying their own secret stories.
    Such a cloth will completely make my day.

  3. I learn by doing, and if there’s one thing I learned about stitching and a painful middle finger (right hand) it is to choose my fabrics wisely! I would watch you sewing Jude and did not at first understand the importance of the lightness in the fabrics…..
    ohh how I loved patterns and textured fabrics, but oh how they made me suffer, bleeding fingers and all
    so now, I look for loose, thin, stable and natural fibres all in one
    I gather most of my fabrics either thru second-hand clothing, which comes my way thru friends, thrift stores, where I look for silk, linen and cotton blouses/pants, and generous donations from kind strangers; speaking of which I will have to devote a ‘gratitude’-post to Catharina and Chantal, 2 ladies I met recently and who have already given me countless linen, linen/cotton, linen/woolen swatches, all gorgeous and perfect for hand stitching
    I have on occasion bought online and was lucky with the cotton that arrived: easy to sew through
    very rarely do I buy in a shop, there are so few left and very little choice, or rather, not to my taste

  4. Becky McQueen

    I was thinking muslin and gauze were the same thing, but it looks like muslin will provide more stability.

    • jude

      it’s quite confusing actually, the terms. muslin comes in various qualities, but some muslin is too stable. I prefer something that adds body but does not limit work-ability. I am sure it depends on our personal preferences and sense of ease. Also the use intended for the piece.

  5. I went through a lot of trial and error when I embarked on Spirit Cloth 101 five years ago … thought I was wise buying used cotton clothing at a thrift store only to find that some of the printed cloth (men’s shirting especially) was impossibly hard to stitch. Likewise sheeting.

    Since then, I’ve become a fan of used linen clothing (being careful to avoid heavy, coarse linens and linen/rayon blends that have no body). Mostly dyed solids, but sometimes I can’t resist patterns. And I do succumb to linen/cotton blends when the color is just too good to pass up.

    As for harem cloth, I do have some stashed away … but gauzy cotton shirts and cotton skirt linings, often made in India, seem to offer a good alternative. The key is finding the perfect thrift store(s) … I humbly suggest looking for those that serve “arty” or “upper crusty” communities, as the clothing tends toward either funkier or finer fabrics.

    • jude

      that is such a good point, how strange it is to face that, and also well to do folks waste more and tend to discard items way before they have worn too thin. They throw away so so much. Linen is great, it has a soft sort of weight, sometimes jut fine to stitch on with out the extra layer. That’s something I’ve forgotten to talk about. Over time, our preferences are more linked to how it happened, and then we know we might teach others.

      sheeting is so deceiving. amazingly impenetrable.

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