Every time I think that I am too busy to make any art, I come across an artist who has found a way to fit fiber art into her day—even if it is just a bit of hand sewing.
Kathy Loomis's tiny, everyday sewing projects are the latest example. Her charming needlework doodles, each done on a scrap of fabric, comprise her "art every day" project for 2012. The handwork sketches are simple, quick, and satisfying. As she finishes each square, Kathy uses a running stitch to hold the pieces together, creating a kind of fabric calendar.
|Four of Kathy's "Daily Squares' sewing projects.
Here's how Kathy describes her process in Quilting Arts in Stitches, Vol. 7.
"I cut a 4" square of solid Kona cotton (my favorite quilting fabric, which I already own in dozens of colors) and make a little drawing or doodle with embroidery floss.
"Although I already owned bags of miscellaneous floss dating back many years, I splurged in honor of this project with three new packages of floss in a huge variety of colors.
"Often I simply make doodles, practicing old familiar embroidery stitches. Spirals, circles and grids show up often. I also like feather stitches, and frequently turn them into plants with French knot flowers. For a while I carried an embroidery pattern book with me and tried out new stitches."
|Kathy's needlecraft "calendar."
Here's Kathy's tutorial on how to hand sew using the feather stitch.
Feather stitch, like a feather, arranges itself along a central spine. You can work with an imaginary line, or make a line on your fabric. I never use a marker, because you can make a nice line or crease with your thumbnail or the end of your needle.
1. Bring the needle up at the end of the spine. Make a stitch that goes down away from the spine and comes up right on the spine. The thread loops around counter-clockwise under the needle.
2. Pull the thread through the stitch and tight enough to make a V, but not so tight that the fabric puckers.
3. Your next stitch is just like the first, except this time you work on the other side of the spine and the thread loops around clockwise under the needle.
4. Keep alternating right and left as you work down the spine. If you would like, you can make the spine a curve instead of a straight line.
| The feather stitch.
For a fancier feather stitch, make your first little V, but for your second stitch, shift toward the left. For the third stitch, shift toward the left again. Then make three stitches in the opposite direction, shifting each one toward the right.
"I love the structure of doing art every day," says Kathy.
"Each bit can be quite small, and doesn't have to be perfect or terribly well-thought-out, so you can have a little low-risk 'flight of fancy.' It reminds me, even on busy days with other preoccupations, that I'm an artist."
You can see more of Kathy's artwork and process, and get tips on how to create the French knot and the coral stitch in the eMag in Stitches Vol. 7, now available for the iPad.
P.S. How do you squeeze fiber art into your busy schedule? Do you make time for large projects or focus on small sewing projects? Share your advice below.