harem cloth notes

I’ve had harem cloth, a type of cotton, in the stash since waaaay back when i took one of Jude Hill’s classes (2010?), on her recommendation as a “base”. Gauzy, lightweight and infinitely malleable for many techniques, it’s usually been relegated in my studio to hand dyed overlays to build colour, test stitches (predominantly machine), and much went into indigo baths. I found it much too diaphanous however, to use as a batting/background in *my* opinion, for my work, stitching that requires some Meat to hold to, build the dimension and accent texture.

(Image courtesy of Dharma, where i bought the fabric.)


For the most part, i figured it was too “lazy” a fabric to use much, usually just lying there all wan, frail and languishing, trying to pretend it’s a pale Rossetti maiden. It *does* take dyes beautifully though, and shibori tie/stitch works well because it’s sheer/filmy, but beyond the figures on “Tabula Memoria”, it never got centre stage.

But i DID use it obviously and since i’ve gone through almost 20 yards, with only a yard left, figured it was time to re-order.   The new batch that arrived in December is even more delicate! That sparked some new ideas though, because it is exquisite in its ethereal transparency! (Of course, i have no doubt that spectacular work can/will be done with the TEN yards i bought, and when/if i re-order to make more Wonder, the quality will be different again…..)

Now, as those of you who have ecoprinted with sheer fabrics know, that transparency usually means the images aren’t that visible unless laid over something else. I gave up on 5mm silk a long time ago because of that, going to at least a 12, but am wondering what effect natural dyes will have on such a rarefied weight of cotton. Before you get all squiffy, i *know* the colour won’t make it more solid, but am wondering about light play, (un)even-ness, colour striking and possible patterning. Actually, i want it to be a bit uneven, imperfect, but i don’t want it splodgy and poorly done either. I still want that otherworldly appearance.

BOTHER. Well, ya gotta laugh at yerself sometimes, doncha? I wanted to stick a video clip of Tom Hulce as Amadeus (Mozart), laughing here, but it would just be too cruel to subject you to more than one clip 🙂

I wrote all that before i washed the fabric. It’s the same. It all still applies though.

Guess i better experiment.

4 responses to “harem cloth notes

  1. I have used someting similar as a base as per Jude Hill …..here in Australia I have used a light weight cotton probably heavier thread count than harem cloth. I often prefer someting with a bit more body .


    • Me too, especially when it comes to ‘batting”: the needle can really bite into my preferred flannellette, and for “bases” i’m really thinking about layering this stuff.


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