I picked up the worn linen tea towel some time ago, It is deliciously used, soft and subtly faded. It is lighter than the actual fabric of the Akha jacket, but close enough to my drawings to be suitable and exact match for some other textiles I have from the same area, I’m guessing that it is indigo dyed. The binding is part of a linen towel that I have worn to holes so it seemed time to repurpose it, it has the same aged feel. The Jacket is fabulously asymmetric, so it gave me an opportunity to play with details without feeling that I was being untrue to the Akha style. All the jacket seams are sewn by hand with beautiful caring stitches, but thread colour, or whether or not a binding finishes under or over is of the moment I think.
The binding is worn and faded. Rather than choosing three colours of fabric I used toning threads and different lengths of stitch to give a rippled worn effect. I stitched the yellow band first using lighter and darker threads to emphasise worn or stained areas, I then decided that weaving under varying numbers of weft threads and leaving long or short gaps is really effective.
I used different sized paper circles to develop the placement of the buttons, the little blue circle represents the little ghost button that I went with as my final idea. A darn has appeared on the binding where I hit the fabric between two bricks to distress it a little more and it disintegrated.
The meditative nature of stitching took me right inside my idea. As I reflected on my research of the Akha people I wondered about what the garment details represent – perhaps the yellow is the earth and blue the sky. Red often represents blood or people. The faded colours are a culture under threat from a changing world and political and environmental changes. My little ghost button represents the vanishing forever.
The piece as it is, good old rule of thirds helped with placement. The centre of the trio of triangles and the centre of the ghost button are on the intersections of the thirds lines. I’m pleased with the composition. Each button uses a different technique (same but different) The heaviest buttons are earthed they get lighter as they rise then disappear.
I did not add the button thread or holes where the thread has been in the ghost button. I used pages by 53 on my ipad to represent the crosses, and a darkened patch to show how the less faded area of the ghost button may look.
I have not yet resolved this detail.