Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poetry Jeans

A little over a month ago, I saw this embroidered snippet of poetry on Cornflower Blue and instantaneously thought I need to learn how to embroider so I can embroider poetry on my jeans. It feels that way, anyway. I was thinking of learning before that, but I'm pretty sure it had never occurred to me before that there was a way of getting words onto my clothes with thread. I know. Pretty slow of me.

Well, by the end of March, with several days to spare before the beginning of National Poetry Month, I'd finished this:

"I have heard the mermaids singing," a snippet from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot, which has long been a favorite poem of mine. Now, it's on. my. jeans. I can't get over how cool I feel.

As is usual for me, the desire for the finished product sparked learning a new process, and truly, I didn't know how to do anything but the occasional running stitch or wonky back stitch before I decided to do this. I began by requesting several library books, and the first stitch I practiced was chain stitch, by embroidering a purple spiral onto a scrap piece of patterned denim to make a patch (for the opposite knee of these same jeans; they're a bit bohemian by this point!). I practiced outline stitch for lettering and decided it was too bulky for my liking, then backstitched a line of poetry from e. e. cummings onto a piece of linen:

The sea star is printed with acrylic from a hand-carved stamp and outlined in chain stitch, and I still haven't decided what to do with this. By this point I'd decided that, at least for now, I'm better off printing the text on the computer instead of trying to embroider my own handwriting. (That's Bradley Hand ITC.)

And yet, when it came time to do the jeans, I tried to do my own handwriting again, because it's impossible to trace through denim. It was also impossible to see anything I tried to write on denim, no matter what method I tried, so I ended up printing from the computer, tracing onto tear-away interfacing, and embroidering through both (ie, this method from Sublime Stitching). Then when I finished I sat there and picked away itty bitty pieces of stabilizer with a pair of tweezers, and it was so, so worth it. I am so enthralled with the poetry on my jeans. (It runs down the outside of my right leg, by the way, from just below the knee to just above the cuff.)

I don't think I'm done with embroidering poetry. I'm definitely not done with embroidery itself; I've fallen down that rabbit hole big time. Would you ever embroider poetry on your clothing? If so, what?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i love love love this idea! I really do. I hadn't thought through the process though and had imagined you just did it right onto the fabric. Tear away paper? Wow. Anyway, well done and I think the time for me to learn is approaching!