Having looked at materials, structures and colour ideas, I moved my sketch work forward by working some small felt samples. To approach this I first sketched out some smocking ideas.
There were a number of problems with smocking as combined with the stitch detail, the ideas all ended up looking very busy or so technically fussy as to detract from the overall effect. A lot of the detail would also be lost in folds, and the undulating design could easily be lost and disjointed. I didn’t like the gradually narrowing smocked diamonds, as alternate rows were asymmetrical and I found it unsettling. When I was playing with a piece of felt, the most visually pleasing effects were acheived with a very simple waveform as sketched below.
I made a sample of felt by dry felting commercially dyed wool tops into a mechanically manufactured felt base. I then selected a few tonal metallic and cotton threads to embellish with machine stitched wavy lines.
I then wanted to see how the felt could be stiffened to hold a solid shape, and made a small sample with pelmet thickness vilene sandwiched in felt.
At this point I sent my sketchbook to my tutor, who felt that I had settled on an idea too soon and that the samples needed to vibrate with colour. I completely agree but have to admit that I am still struggling.