Wednesday, 9 August 2017

summer School 2017

Distant Stitch Summer School 2017

This year I attended the workshop entitled Identity led by Julia Triston, Textile Artist and member of the Textile Study Group. We were asked to take some garments which held a personal history or if we preferred, garments with an unknown history e.g. charity shop finds.
This was a materials led exercise. We were to explore our garments through deconstruction by cutting up, tearing and unpicking looking closely at the features we discovered and uncovered as we worked which included stitching, loops, straps, embellishments, labels, fabric types, frayed edges etc. We learnt to recognise character in our garments brought about by their histories, wear and tear, laundering, storage etc.

We then reconstructed the above to create a single or a series of fabric collages.

I took 2 favourite well loved and well worn sundresses which remind me of sunshine, holidays, travel and the discovery of new exciting places. I identify with these strongly. I love to travel and I love garments!

My purple linen dress

Worn many times. It has been stylish, practical, comfortable, hardwearing, colourful but has recently started to wear away. Time to let it go!

My spotted cotton sundress -

Has been exactly that - a sundress, worn on countless sunny days but has needed darning and mending to extend it’s life but when the opportunity arose to have it copied and another lovely dress created just like it whilst visiting Hoi An, Vietnam recently I felt I could finally let it go!

1. A feature of my purple dress were panels joined in the form of tucks finished with over locked seams which revealed layers of wonderful frayed edges when unpicked and distressed. These were linear obviously but often gave way to interesting undulating shapes formed through wear and storage. I started to cut away lengths of the tucks and frayed edges and placed them on a background provided by the right side of the fabric. These along with the zippers from both dresses formed linear patterns with beautiful frayed and textural effects. They developed into linear tracks along the length of fabric and extended at various lengths beyond the lower edge. I instantly linked these with journeys made not only on holidays and travels but also the metaphorical journeys we make through life. Journeys have been long, short, adventurous, easy, relaxing, challenging, difficult, joyous, sad, and some life changing.

I added strips and ‘peeps’ of spotty sundress to link the garments and the theme plus a strip of wrapped sari length given to me by a friend from her own travels plus some carefully placed buttons to embellish and pick up on the shapes and colours in the spotty dress. The care label [worn and discoloured] demonstrates wear, tear and care.

Tucks finished with over locking were unpicked to reveal gorgeous frayed edges beneath.

2. I’m really pleased with the ‘bikini’ top! I played with this to get away from the linear patterns of my main piece [not especially inspired by travelling in this case]. 
The initial right hand side was constructed out of the purple fabric joined to a strip of the interfacing and turned upside down with inside out seams frayed and distressed. It didn’t become bikini like until I added a strip along the top edge secured with running stitch; I wondered what would happen if I gathered it and was delighted to watch it take on a 3D bra shape!
I felt it needed another half so I improvised with more fabric pieces turned to fit, bias binding, ‘peeps’ of dotty sundress, strips of wrapped sari length, beads and carefully placed wool pompoms to pick up on shapes of the dotty sundress. I love the irregularity and the beautiful sweeping shape of the ‘bikini’ when the two sides joined together. Certainly not for wearing – just a bit of fun!

Beautiful textures and fray!

3. Spotty sundress strip. Shirred panel cut and rejoined, torn seams, bits of zips, braid, label, beads and studded tape. This all came together very quickly. Short journeys.

4. This piece was inspired by the beautiful sequinned ribbon brought back from my friend’s trip to India which fitted under a strip of lining from the spotty sundress over which a zip happened to fit perfectly. I’ve added a buckle, peeps of spotty sundress and 2 overlocked strips from the purple dress plus a strap to finish the edges. The whole piece with protruding ribbon reminded me of the old steam trains we caught 
 across Rajastan in 1987. Another fantastic journey.

All three together now! 

I really enjoyed Julia's workshop. Thank you! I blogged this as I like to have a sense of completeness before I dive back into coursework. As always lots of ideas cropped up for this when I got home so I decided to share, the class was so lovely and I miss the feedback! 


  1. The secret life of a dress....I love the little details Carrie, beautiful pics that do reveal those hidden treasures

  2. What a fascinating project Carrie! Much loved clothing can be so evocative.

  3. Thank you both! I really loved this project. Such fun! So many unexpected beautiful seams & grays waiting to be discovered x

  4. Pescy predictive text! Frays not grays!!!