Project 6 Stage 4 – tucks

I’m continuing my exploration of raised and structured surface textures. Although my sore finger coped well in Effie’s class last week I’ve decided to continue with the constraints from the gathering experiment – using the sewing machine and attempting similar transformations on a set of undyed fabrics. I think this is building up a very useful reference resource and helps me maintain an open and inquisitive mind – fuel to spark and develop ideas.

I have a “pintuck” foot and a “deep groove pintuck foor” for my machine. They are used with a twin needle and high top tension to create lines of tucking in light weight materials. Actually you may be able to get the same effect without the special foot, but with more difficulty keeping an even distance between tucks. I wasn’t interested in maintaining a set, narrow spacing, so with hindsight I could have tried it.

Once again I started with the mid-weight cotton. It tends to be the easiest to sew on, so a good place to try initial ideas and get some experience with the technique. Each following fabric follows the same basic pattern. On the left, lines of deep groove, first straight then curved. On the right, the smaller pintucks. In the lower part the previously parallel lines start crossing and interacting. Horizontal lines of both deep groove and pintucks were added later, to check the interaction of the different sizes of tuck. (Note: they are different, so I guess the special feet are contributing to more than spacing).

On this fabric, without the strong directional lighting, the results are somewhat bland. It could be used to frame and subtly emphasize an area. I found tight curves difficult, but perhaps with more experience this could be used as a drawing /mark-making tool.

I did try the hessian, but wasn’t successful in creating any tucking.  I tried different tensions, stitch lengths, trying to pull threads tighter after sewing… It was just too heavy and coarse to respond.

The cheesecloth was a total contrast. The weave distorts easily into a lace-like quality. With the deep groove foot the fabric quickly started forming a deep pleat, and I had some success with varying the depth/amount of material in the tuck by  the amount of tension in holding the fabric in front of and behind the needle. The major difficulty was trying to keep the material from catching on the foot or other parts of the sewing machine.

The level of distortion really opens up possibilities in manipulating this material. Later in this stage I plan to experiment with moulding using PVA, and I think this could be really interesting in combination with “ribs” of tucks. The differing densities produced also offer possibilities when playing with light and transparency.

The paj silk has such a beautiful shine, it always looks good when some distortion helps it catch the light unevenly. It was very difficult to control, with the tucks easily catching additional material. Its fluid nature means that the fabric remains flat overall even with substantial stitching and puckering. As always I wonder about potential applications given the delicacy of the fabric. It would be interesting to experiment with nuno felting the pintucked material. The wrist support I use as I type is covered in a felt made with merino and paj silk, which has a lovely soft pebbled texture in the silk. The additional rigidity of pintucks could add an extra element of interest and coherence to the felt.

I was expecting wonderful things from the silk organza, but was disappointed. I thought the crisp fabric would produce beautiful, clearly defined tucks. Instead the tucks are poorly defined – perhaps the firmness of the fabric resisted the pull of the stitching. Experimenting with thread tension might help next time. In addition I find the clear show-through of the thread visually distracting.  In another application this could be an advantage, especially if coloured thread is used in the bobbin.

Like the paj, the tissue silk deformed easily under the sewing machine foot and I could somewhat control the amount of fabric in the tuck by the amount of tension with which I held it behind and in front of the needle. The result looks gentle and pretty, but the additional weight gives the fabric a bit more control and less drift in the draping. There is also very nice variation in colour intensity depending on the number of folds and the stitching itself. This technique could add visual interest while also giving form and drape to the fabric.

After the difficulties with the hessian I almost didn’t attempt the panne velvet, thinking it was too heavy. It actually takes the tucking very well, and the result here reminds me of a cable knitting design. However fibre snob that I am, I find the appearance of this trashy, cheap and unattractive. I think this is both emotional and influenced by what I know/expect, rather than objective, which is rather annoying. I have some prejudices to overcome, simply because almost anything could be just what you need in a specific situation.

Future experiments with pintucks could include different spacing, planned to form “ribs” and achieve three dimensional effects.

7 Responses to “Project 6 Stage 4 – tucks”


  1. 1 Jane B July 31, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    what a difference perspective makes – look at the picture of the tissue silk – from that low angle, and drifting away to an out of focus background – lovely. (you can tell I’m catching up with reading your blog today)

    • 2 fibresofbeing July 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Hi Jane
      It’s so nice to get feedback!
      I’m a bit worried all my texture will disappear in the post, so really wanted to get that angle to record it.


  1. 1 Project 6 Stage 4 – Piping « Fibres of Being Trackback on August 4, 2012 at 8:17 am
  2. 2 Project 6 Stage 4 – Slashing « Fibres of Being Trackback on August 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm
  3. 3 Project 6 Stage 4 – pleating « Fibres of Being Trackback on August 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm
  4. 4 Project 6 Stage 4 – Moulding and quilting « Fibres of Being Trackback on August 14, 2012 at 9:53 am
  5. 5 Project 6 Stage 4 – felting « Fibres of Being Trackback on August 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

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