Having now decided to stick with the original plan, that being car art, only instead of the whole car I will just display a portion of the car instead of the entire thing. For my needs, using the interior seats the best option, this way I can use the end of year exhibition to display my own textile abilities and the FMP car art to show my ability as an applied artist. Choosing the interior seats negates too much fuss over sharp or hazardous parts, the seats can be fixed to a wooden base and if needs be, the bases padded to ensure no injuries occur during its display. The other advantage of using the seats will be that I can invite people to ‘sit’ and interact with the art itself. The art I produce will be covers to fit to the seats, these will either be made using crochet and wool or sewing and fabric.
With my focus set, I turn my attention to brushing up on and practising my sewing and crochet skills. It has been a while, at least 12 months, since I crocheted anything of any size, and I am unsure of time frames as to how long it would take to complete a cover for a seat. As it happened, I was invited to produce a crochet mermaid blanket on a commission base, as it was for an adult of medium size, I noted that it would roughly be approximate to the size required for a car seat cover obviously, the advantage of using crochet is that as long as my measurements are within a few inches I will have a snug fit to a form as the very nature of it allows for stretch within the finished article.
It took a total of 10 hours to complete an adult sized crochet mermaid ‘tail’ which is much like a sleeping bag only with an open ‘foot’ area to allow the user to walk around whilst the item is in use.
Noting that there was little detail in the finished item, aside from frilly trims, it is acceptable to assume that a full car seat cover with imagery within it depicting the history or progression of Longbridge, may take a total time of 20 hours to complete. Unfortunately, the mermaid tail has now gone to its proud owner and so I cannot show it in my portfolio beyond the photographic images I have. I used Tunisian crochet to complete the body of the item. I find this a much faster way to crochet whilst allowing extra form holding abilities. Tunisian crochet forms a row of double crochet stitch, whilst keeping the lead stitch for each d/c on the needle, then ‘casting off’ the entire row, before beginning afresh on a new line. Because of the way it works it is also a far easier method, it allows very quick notice of errors within the stitching itself and quick undoing of stitches if necessary. Additionally, the cast off row keeps the stitches in line, still allowing stretch but holding the crochet in a more stable position throughout the finished product to ease stress on any single section in daily use. I did complete a child size mermaid tail off the back of this project which I have provided for perusal in my portfolio – here is a photograph:
In the interest of experimentation and further testing my skills in this arena, I also produced a test piece to ensure I was capable of ‘fitting’ a shape to my crochet, rather than stretching the wool unnecessarily across corners or joints. For this I created a box base which is also available in my portfolio, I am very happy with the finished ‘corners’ the form is fitted and holds its own shape well, this adds to my confidence that I can crochet covers for the car seats so that each are individual and of a quality that is acceptable for display.
The next wave of practise pieces will focus on sewing in order that an informed choice be made as to whether to produce all crochet, all sewn or a mixture of the two genres. The first tests on fabric I did create were fairly poor and indiscernible for what they were, using car parts I hoped for better prints, transfers or abstract designs than I got, What I ended up with was more of a tie-dye effect which would have been achieved more easily using the tie-dye method. Some pictures to prove my point: