Sunday, 15 May 2022

5 Diagonal layer: irregular shapes (naname-nuikiri: kiku)

For each of the three layer/foundation stitches that we have looked at so far, the orientation of the stitches has been unequivocally defined and, in each case, the stitches are all parallel to each other. For Diagonal layer (D) the orientation is determined by the motif being stitched and the stitches radiate slightly to accommodate the shape being filled. Exactly how this happens depends on whether the shape is regular (such as a cord) or irregular, such as chrysanthemum petals.

Chrysanthemums, both round petal and pointed petal, have cropped up in a few of my Phase pieces, beginning with Hanayama, and at each phase, I think I have learnt more about stitching diagonal layer on an irregular shape.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The first thing to consider is the direction in which the central line of the petal curves. The stitches are always laid in a clockwise direction, meaning that for some petals stitching begins at the tip of the petal and works towards the centre, while for others stitching begins at the centre and works outwards.

The first stitch lies along the outline of the shape in the right diagonal direction (top right to bottom left). The following stitches rotate gradually around the curve of the shape. A filler stitch can be used when needed to avoid leaving a gap at the outer edge but I have rarely found these necessary on gently curved shapes such as petals. A filler stitch is a stitch that does not extend the full width of the shape but should be at least two-thirds of the length of full stitches. The end of the filler stitch slightly tucks under the previous stitch and is further concealed by the following stitch so that it blends with the surrounding stitches.

Generally, the stitches should be at a consistent angle to the central axis of the shape and a slightly steeper angle is considered more elegant. On Hanayama, the chrysanthemums were possibly the motif I struggled with most and the stitching with which I was least satisfied. Looking at them now, I would say the main issue (if you completely ignore the utterly inconsistent one-point open space between the petals) is that the angle of the stitches is too shallow.

While there are no chrysanthemums on Suehiro, diagonal layer is used on one of the cords. This, however, is a regular shape and I will review that in a separate post.

The large chrysanthemum on Venerable Friends is a focal point of the design and I recall taking considerable care with it. There are still issues with the one-point open space but, because many of the petals are padded, these are not nearly as evident. What is evident is that I have, in most cases, angled the stitches more steeply so the curves are more elegant. The tips of some petals are a little square and all of them would benefit from a more evident “one-point outward” stitch at the tip.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I used diagonal layer on the Pink Lady, the butterfly that represents Mum on Flutterbies. I think the improvement in my stitching is evident but then a lot of love and care when into this entire piece.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Chrysanthemums feature heavily on Sake Boxes, affording me plenty of opportunities to practice diagonal layer. I was not terribly satisfied with the first few round petal mums that I stitched but I recall that I stitched these during a heatwave and that I found the silk more difficult to work with than usual. By the time I stitched the last of the mums, I felt that I had made significant progress. I particularly like how pointy most of the petals are.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

On Kusudama, I have been focused on achieving and maintaining the correct twist but I have tried not to lose sight of all the other details that I have been working on, the one-point open space between the petals, the shape of the petals, and the angle of the stitches. While I still see room for improvement, it is good to see improvement over those on Hanayama.
© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching

1 comment:

Rachel said...

You should be finding this series of posts very encouraging, because it is enabling you to see clearly the improvement in your technique!