Thursday, May 11, 2017

Middle-of-the-night problem-solving.

Do you ever run into technical problems that you can't solve, so you put everything away hoping for better ideas in the future?  I did that a couple of years ago with a project, but continued to think about it at 4 a.m. when I wasn't sleeping.  I figured out a solution, but wasn't sure it would work.  Finally this week I got my workbench cleared off sufficiently to roll into action.

When the great Baer Fabric store closed I scored four garbage bags full of drapery sample books. Somebody else took all the fabrics, but gave me the covers, which are perfect supports for collage.  I had made a bunch of collages and then wanted to put them together into one large expanse.  The individual slabs were maybe 12 x 15, some bigger, some smaller, and my concept was to sew them together into a finished piece about 25 x 35 inches.

That worked pretty well on the outside edges, where I could pull the boards out over the edge of the table and get my hands onto both front and back to manipulate the needle.  But I hit the fan when it came to the center of the piece.  The separate slabs were flopping around, falling of their own weight, not staying in place while I stitched, and I couldn't even reach into the middle.

So I put everything in a corner and went away for many months, until I realized I should hold the work vertically.  So I rigged up chains that hung from the same hooks in the ceiling that hold up the fluorescent lights over a workbench, and suspended the collage boards.  Adjusted the height so the boards barely rest on the bench, and sure enough, I can stick the needle through from either side and the contraption holds everything stable while I work.

Stitching through boards that are at least 1/8 inch thick is kind of tricky; first you have to make holes with a nail.

And now that I'm working in the center of the piece, I'm having to walk around the bench with every stitch; stand in front, stick needle through correct hole, walk to back, pull needle through, stick needle back toward front, walk around to front, pull needle through, adjust placement of cord and pull taut.  Good exercise.


  1. very clever. I find solutions to technical problems often come in the middle of the night or when I am doing something totally unrelated and my mind is wandering aimlessly. I believe the same happens with crossword fanatics.

  2. Check out the TED Talks by Rives called The Museum of Four in the Morning, and The 4am Mystery.

  3. and the 'next' time. start with the middle seams. ;-)
    Glad you worked it out.

  4. You could have a friend stand on one side to help you! I'd do that for you.

    1. wow! what an offer!!

      I'm more than halfway finished now and surprisingly, it hasn't taken all that much more time, since the work is so well positioned. next time I will follow Sandy's suggestion.

  5. " I did that a couple of years ago with a project..." LOL. I do this, but never circle back.