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Stitches State of the Industry Cover
By Jerilee Auclair, Black Eagle Designs, 

Editor’s Note: For the first Stitches State of the Industry report, we wanted to have a showy, creative cover. I asked Jerilee Auclair, owner of Black Eagle Designs and a member of Stitches editorial advisory board, to digitize and embroider font-based cover art that our Creative Director Jim Lang had designed. Jim chose the font and background colors; we asked Jerilee to find a background material that matched, but other than that, she had creative license. She came up with stunning embroidery on mulberry paper. Read below to find out more about her creative process in sewing out this cover design. –Nicole Rollender

Jeri AuclairFor the cover of May’s Stitches magazine, I figured it’d be straight out digitizing  --  run  the Stitches logo and the State of the Industry 2009 text on a heavy fabric and we’d all be pleased with the results.  Oh, what we dream ... 

When I saw the image of the desired cover, I noted  that  it was on a lavender background.   I had planned to use duck cloth to stitch on but that does n't come in lavender in my neck of the woods , in Vancouver, WA.  (After the fact, I realized I could have had my friend Michael Savoia , owner of Villa Savoia Inc., order it in L.A. – but that info came to mind too late.)  

I trotted down to the local fabric store, printout in hand.  I found  three shades that were close to the color in the image Stitches Creative Director Jim Lang sent  me  and each fabric was a thin cotton. While the colors were right, the fabric was not.  I decided to be ‘inventive’ and sandwich backing between the fabric or fuse them together and use a heavy cutaway backing as well. 

Try as I might, no amount of backing was making the fabric happy with the amount of stitches I was putting on it.  Sandwiching the backing didn't work nor did using extra backing.  I had a lot of pucker going on, both on my face and on that fabric!  My deadline was looming and I had no satisfactory stitch out to send for the cover.  What’s a girl to do?

I realized I was going to be making another trip to the fabric store and adding to the stash of items I’d already brought in to get the job done, including the adhesive spray for gluing that fabric in place to the backing (nope, it didn't work either).  Sigh! The deadline was imminent.  I had no cover to send.  My goal was to get the duck cloth I’d originally intended to use, the color no longer such a strong issue.  I’d work with what was available.

Interestingly, years ago when I began to embroider on mulberry paper I had received some dark lavender in the batch I’d purchased at the time. I wasn’t ever quite sure what in the heck I was going to do with it, but figured there’s always a reason for things being as they are, so I kept the paper. I’d moved a few times since the purchase but that lavender paper went wherever I went.  As I stood pondering the dilemma at hand, the paper was winking at me quietly and then it began to really ‘talk’.  I thought, "No way can the paper hold this amount of stitches!" I had to get ready to go to the store and thought, "Oh what the heck – what have I got to lose?" and threw the paper onto the machine, pressed the start button and went about my business.  I never expected it to work but I couldn’t think of a thing I’d use that color of paper for anyway. Its shade was close to the design that Jim had sent me for the cover and frankly, I was feeling desperate.  I left the room to do some other things and was a little shocked to spy what had occurred in my absence.  The paper embroidered beautifully!  There was the cover in all its glory, just looking back at me as if to say, "See?  It’s all good here. I’m done."  I loved it!

I wasn’t sure how the paper would be accepted by the Stitches staff, so I was compelled to go to the fabric store anyway where I purchased duck cloth in two colors.  One embroidered nicely and the other, while the same weight as the first, was very unhappy.  I pressed, ironed, steamed, coaxed, pleaded and begged that fabric to behave, to no avail.  It was having none of me, that’s for sure.  I was really not sure what to do, but time wasn’t on my side; I had to overnight my many attempts to ASI within the hour.  I refused to pack in the light cotton lavenders – I couldn’t get them into the trash fast enough.  The lighter-colored duck cloth attempt – I wasn’t happy with that one, but I wanted the powers-that-be to have choices so on the bottom that went, then the blue cloth (the happy one) and on top went my surprise success, the paper cover.  I hoped upon hope that one would be used for a few reasons:  It was the right color, it was an unusual medium, and it was the one that was such a huge "whoda thunk it" sort of thing.  

I’m pleased the mulberry paper was picked.  Paper is by far one of my favorite mediums and this cover shows how it can be used in most unexpected ways.  I’ve got a ton of material, adhesive spray, fusible backing and cutaway here for future projects.  I also still have a few sheets of that pretty lavender mulberry. Wonder what project it will surprise me with next?

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