Speaking of Paisley…

I seem destined to skip around from subject to subject with this blog, as I haven’t had much time to work on that tree trunk with the lovely brown thread, but other subjects have come up about which I want to write.

There has been much discussion of late on the subject of paisleys, and I couldn’t resist jumping into the fray. I love paisley motifs, because every one can be different, but still carry a common theme. The pictures below are of the lapels of a jacket I made a couple of years ago.lapel3.jpg

It started with a pattern for a chenille jacket, but of course I didn’t want to make it in chenille. I shopped around for a tapestry style fabric that I could love, and discovered one with paisley motifs all over it, in lots of pretty colors. Of course when I bought the fabric, I was thinking of embellishing the individual paisleys here and there on the front of the jacket. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea to emulate the paisleys from the fabric onto a solid color lapel. The lapel in this pattern is the lining folded out to the front side. The original lining I purchased was a hunter green damask (which I still have languishing in my stash), but when I found a red merino wool turtleneck to wear under the jacket, I had to kill the holiday image created by the red and green and so went with a more versatile black lining. The lining is silk dupioni scavenged from a formal gown found in a thrift store.lapel2.jpg

My process was this: I basted the shape of the lapel onto a rectangle of the silk, and then used a Q-Snap frame modified to fit the shape of the rectangle. With the old style Q-Snaps, you can cut your own PVC pipe pieces to any size you want. My frame was about 8″ by 18″.

Once I had the fabric in the frame, I just drew the paisley shapes with a chalk pencil and started off with needle and thread. No planning, just outline the shape and go from there. The materials are mostly Ed-Mar Brazilian embroidery thread in various weights, a little perle cotton, and metallic machine embroidery thread. The beads were mostly seed beads, in sizes 15/0 through 6/0, bugle beads, and in the centers of a couple of the motifs I forced myself to use some bigger beads. I have a hard time with bigger beads, and always head right for the 15/0’s when I go bead shopping. Bigger beads can give you great texture, and as a side benefit, they can fill a lot of space when creativity hits a low ebb and you just want to be finished with the project.lapel1.jpg

In this picture, you can see the inspirational paisley fabric. All the while the work was in progress, I carried a swatch of the material around in the project’s tote bag.

These paisley motifs have a lot of beads in them, as I really wanted the texture and reflective quality provided by the beads. Other paisleys I have done were bereft of beads and still look just fine.

When I do a paisley I almost always start at the outside, and work my way in to the center, but there’s nothing that says you have to follow that path. I’ve been known to use a stem stitch outline, and then go around the outside with a blanket stitch to give it little spikes. When I hit stumbling blocks in the creative process, I put it aside for a while until the next right thing to do strikes me. Yes, I do have one on an unfinished project that you can tell is a paisley, but who knows how long it will be before I get the right inspiration to finish the motif. Yes, I flit around from project to project. I have a short attention span.

Until next time…


5 Responses to Speaking of Paisley…

  1. Jo in NZ says:

    Janet, your paisleys are beautiful. All very different and inspiring. Thanks!!
    On the first one, is the red a particular stitch,or braid, ??… Could you please explain how you did this.

  2. Janet says:

    Thank you so much, Jo. The red is simply stem stitch, or is it outline? 🙂 done side by side to fill the area. The thread is an Ed-Mar Brazilian Embroidery thread, rayon, in one of their finer weights. After that it’s a mauve-pink running stitch with a 15/0 olive green bead between each stitch, then a blanket stitch in greenperle cotton, then two strands of metallic thread in running stitch, and the center is alternating tiny olive green iridescent beads and mauve-pink delica beads. The larger beads on the red are size 6/0 seed beads in a shiny bronze color.

  3. bhawna says:

    very nice & very useful for textile students

  4. Norma Harris says:

    Just found your blog and love the paisleys. Will study them very carefully as they are truly beautiful.

  5. Janet says:

    While I’m unable to reply to every comment individually, I’d like to thank you all for your kind words and lovely comments. It makes my day to read them.

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