|Strategically placed embellishments can
cover machine embroidery imperfections.
Art by Terry White.
We often advise artists to practice, practice, practice if they want to improve their machine embroidery
skills. But practice doesn't have to make perfect. In fact, I recently spent time with two artists who embrace imperfections in their machine embroidery designs.
Fiber artists Candy Glendening and Terry White have very different styles and use machine embroidery techniques in different ways. But they both agree that perfection in their embroidery designs is overrated and unrealistic.
As Terry put it during an episode we taped together for "Quilting Arts TV" Season 9, "Of course it's not perfect. That's because it's art," she said.
Terry showed how she uses the programmable decorative stitches on her sewing machine to create interesting lines that frame her focal point (in this case a whimsical bunny), stitching directly on the fabric or on top of a strip of contrasting fabric that has been fused onto the background.
She used free-motion machine embroidery to trace the lines around the rabbit, adding curlicues and other details. Then she took a fine-tip permanent marker in a color matching her thread and went over the stitching to make it stand out even more. Terry kept close to the stitch lines, but didn't worry if her marker strayed off course, because that showed the hand of the artist.
When I asked about her technique for turning the corners with her machine embroidery stitches, her answer made me laugh. "If the stitching looks good, I put the button [embellishment] here," she said, moving the button away from the corner. "If it doesn't, I put the button here," she said, placing the button on top of the not-so-perfectly turned corner.
|Extend an olive branch to imperfection, as
Candy Glendening does in her free machine embroidery designs.
Candy expressed a similar sentiment while demonstrating her machine embroidery sketching technique in the same "QATV" episode. Unlike most people who draw designs with their free-motion embroidery, Candy does not draw her out her design in her sketchbook or practice first before stitching her botanical images.
"I know I'm unusual, but I have an idea of a plant in my head and I just sit down and stitch it," she says.
Candy points out that the picture you embroider your thread doesn't have to be perfect, especially if it's from nature.
"If you look at the leaves of a plant, each one is a little bit different, so it's OK if yours aren't all the same," she says. "Besides, even though I'm using a machine, I want my artwork to show that a real person did it."
That makes sense to me. After all, do you want to spend your time experiencing the joy of stitching creatively or striving for perfection? Take a look at "QATV" Series 900
, and discover how imperfection makes perfect sense.
P.S. Do you fret over imperfect stitches or embrace flaws? Where does perfection have its place in your studio? Leave a comment below.