Monday, February 27, 2012

Week 18 - Embroidered Box

On to the topic of 3D shapes this week which primarily involved making a fabric box. We started by marking out a 'shape net' on card, using a ruler and set square to get it as accurate as possible and then cut it out to make our template.

We drew round the template on to craft-weight Vilene, which is quite thick, pinned it onto felt and sewed round all the lines. Then we cut it out as accurately and close to the stitching as possible.
Next we pinned this right-side up onto the back of our chosen fabric, sandwiching the Vilene in the middle. I chose a Sanderson type furnishing fabric. Starting in the middle we attached the layers by sewing patterns - I chose to do free-machining in circles but grid-lines, machine patterns or other patterns of free-machining were all options.
I kept going until all the shape was covered in stitching. I really liked the effect of the circular stitch on the dark green felt so I was thinking of having this on the outside of my box instead of the fabric.
To finish off the edges you attach a cord. We made ours by zig-zagging twice over 3 lengths of wool. You need to measure all the way round the edge and the central folds to make sure that you have enough. Starting in an inner corner, we attached it to the edge of the fabric shape using a zig-zag. Once this was done I attached it over the fold lines to frame the central rectangle and pulled it through the other side to finish off. I liked the contrast of the edging with the fabric so this was going to be the outside. I think I maybe should have been much bolder with my choice of edging colours.
Then came assembly - force edges together and zig-zag. This gets harder the more sides you have sewn up.
Finally I attached some little wooden beads as feet using a hot-glue gun. I did it this way because I didn't want any stitching to show round the outside of the beads if I had sewn them on plus, of course, it is nice a quick to do! Another option I considered was rolled felt for the feet but thought the natural wood went better with my fabric.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Half-term week - Applique Birds

So the only piece of homework remaining this week was an Applique piece. The brief set was that we could chose any design but it must incorporate applique with a turned edge, decorated edge, raw edge and a padded applique with a corded edge. I was mulling over what design to go for last week when completing my calico manipulated fabric sampler and got inspiration from looking out at all the birds on the feeders in the garden. I then spotted a craft paper design of birds in silouhette sitting in rows on a wire and thought something like that was interesting. I drew a design out in full size on paper to check it would work.

So I started with the background. I wanted a stylised cloud effect so I stippled acrylic paint on over a paper template. When it was dry and I considered it in the daylight I didn't like the colour very much so I brushed over it with blue Brusho. I couldn't risk adding any more acrylic else it might be too thick and stiff to sew into. Once it was dry I sewed a satin stitch band across for the wire that the birds will sit on using my machine.

Next I considered the fabric for the birds. I thought that just using plain black wasn't very interesting and might show up imperfections in my technique too easily! I didn't have a range of black and white print fabrics so I decided to create some. I used found objects to print white emulsion paint onto black polycotton sheeting. From top left I used a cut cardboard comb, a metal hook, a felt-tip pen top and a piece of penne pasta with an extra line added with a cocktail stick. I was really pleased with how these turned out.

I then took my paper design and cut out the bird shapes to use as a pattern to cut the fabric.
I started with the frayed edge bird. I had designed this with wings open as if about to land so that the frayed edges would look like feather tips. I cut out the bird using the paper pattern and sewed it on with free-machine stitching. I did this in black first of all as I hadn't got the orange accents in my mind initially. After I had done the other 3 birds it was obvious that this stitching should be in orange so I went over the wings and tail again. The machine didn't really like sewing into the painted part of the background but I managed to complete it.

Next I moved onto the padded bird. I cut the paper shape out of felt first and bonded it to the fabric with Bondaweb. I could then cut out the fabric leaving a margin all the way round to turn it under. In a library book I discovered that you can add extra layers of felt in smaller versions of the shape to the centre to make it more domed so I did this to see what the effect would be. I added a medium sized and small sized felt shape just to the body part, which was tacked down to the background before tacking on the padded bird. Then I hand-stitched the bird down using ladder stitch. The points of the beak and tail are extremely difficult to turn under and do neatly so I ended up trimming the excess off and relying on the fact that the Bondaweb would stop it fraying. Then I added its legs using a couple of straight stitches in embroidery floss before selecting a bright orange cord to couch down all the way around. The ends of the cord have to be threaded through to the back and sewn down at the start and end, which I did in the tail so that it wouldn't show. Finally I added a flower sequin and black bead for the eye to echo the print on the fabric.

Next I moved onto the bird with the turned under edge on the right. I cut out lightweight interfacing using the paper pattern and bonded it to the fabric with Bondaweb. In order to ensure I got the pattern running at the right angle I used a light box to line it up! I could then cut out the fabric with a margin all the way around. I snipped the edge so that I could turn the fabric in and tacked it first before sewing it down on the background. I struggled with the points again and in the end cut off the margin on the tail because it got too messy. I added legs as before and then used orange beads to accent the wing, beak and eye.

Finally I tackled the decorated edge bird. I backed it with interfacing as before but didn't leave any margin for turning as I could rely on the Bondaweb to stop it fraying. The print suggested a chain stitch so I went for that in a rather slippery orange cord. This bird was probably the easiest to do or maybe I had got my eye in by now. I finished it with a felt and bead eye.
I am very pleased with the final composition. It is just pinned onto a piece of thick cardboard as I am not sure of the correct technique to mount it properly and this doesn't appear in any of my library books so I will have to find out at college.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Week 17 - Monoprints and Manipulated Fabric Panel

This week we were using acrylic paint on fabric to create different effects. We started by stippling some calico with a dry brush using 2 colours - blue and yellow in my case, resulting in lots of green and looking like a flowery meadow!

Then we moved on to using a diffuser and thin paint to give an effect like airbrushing, holding a piece of ripped paper in front of the fabric to act as a mask so that some parts stayed white.
Then we moved on to a way of making monoprints on glass. We put blobs of paint on a sheet of glass. Some of the paint was special acrylic interference paint that produces a shimmery effect when printed.

We then put another sheet of glass in top and pressed hard and twisted the glass to get the paint to mix at the edges.
When the sheets of glass are prised apart, you get feathery patterns in the paint. We places pieces of fabric on, pressed lightly and printed off the image.
These are some of the prints I made from 2 different attempts. As with all these things, it is the choice of colours that is most important for a pleasing result.

The paint dries quite quickly but it can be easily scrubbed off the glass to do further prints.
I then chose one of my prints to quilt. I made a sandwich with the printed fabric, cotton wadding and calico. Then I sewed round the edge of the feathery edges using free-machining to produce the quilted effect. It took a long time to do all the 'fingers' of paint but the final piece is very appealing.
Next we had to choose another print and try out a quilting technique called Trapunto. Here you have the printed fabric and a backing fabric and outline your shapes. I chose a more 'blobby' print and outlined the islands of colour using free-machining again.

Then you stuff selected blobs from the back with wadding.
This shows part of the back of it. You cut a slit with sharp scissors, poke the wadding in with a bodkin and then sew the slit back up with herringbone stitch. I don't know if I have over-stuffed mine as the final piece is now quite wrinkled.

Another learning point is not to use this kind of furnishing fabric as a backing fabric again as it seemed very hard to sew using free-machining - the needle seemed to get caught in the jacquard pattern.
I have been working on my manipulated calico sampler this week too. Once I had decided what size to go for (about 32cm square) and laid out the pieces I had already made I didn't have that much more to do. I have still got to mount it onto card, which is why the corners are still hanging out. The end result is going to be quite impressive.
The techniques used are (clockwise from top left):

  • Furrowing (see post from Week 13)
  • Pleating
  • Stuffed pyramid
  • Fabric strips folded alternately like a paper jack-in-a-box spring
  • Frayed edge strips gathered and sewn in rows
  • Selvedge strip gathered to form a rose
  • Random tucks sewn horizontally and vertically
  • Stuffed sausage shape decorated with a strip of gathered frayed fabric
  • Frayed strip gathered to form a rose
  • Circle gathered round a piece of card and topped with another one and a frayed gathered strip
  • Various circles gathered and stuffed, the large one quilted through in places
  • Thin strips pulled through a square of Binca fabric (in centre of sausage circle)
  • Thick wool wrapped in calico
  • Strips of folded fabric woven
  • Raw edge circles gathered and pulled up, large one round card and small one stuffed
  • Fabric gathered by hand in both directions, ruched up and sewn down round the edge only
  • Fabric gathered round chick peas
  • 2 circles gathered up round card, one with snipped edge and one with turned edge
  • Various fabric 'nipples' made by sewing a running stitch in a spiral and pulling up
  • Evenly spaced tucks pressed and then sewn across at right-angles in alternate directions
Today is it my daughter's 16th birthday so I wanted to make her a special card. I chose co-ordinating papers and decorated them in various ways, dragging the edges across a black ink pad to give a vintage look. I was very pleased to find a sheet of paper featuring a rabbit that looks similar to hers, except for the colour!

I also made a Valentine's Day card for my husband using a square of red heart plastic bag behind a silver Angelina fibre heart, topped off with a red heart cut from a Quality Street wrapper! The hearts are suspended across the window on very thin wire wrapped round tiny red brads. It looked really good for not much effort and lots of recycling!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week 16 - Italian and Shadow Quilting and Faux Chenille

I had a bit of pink week at college - don't know why as it is not my usual colour palette. We started with Italian Quilting. Traditionally this is done by sewing parallel channels on two layers of cotton fabric and then threading through quilting wool to pad the channel. However, we experimented with two layers of sheer voile and threading through sari silk threads.

The voile was very difficult to sew without puckering as it is so thin.
To thread the sari silk through I used a bodkin. Where lines crossed I had to decide which thread would be dominant and stitch the channel accordingly. To start the threading off you have to make a small snip with sharp scissors - very fiddly.

I decided to pull the ends through to the front and make a feature of them by knotting with small tufts of silk. I pulled all the stitching ends through to the back and knotted them off.
Next we moved on to Shadow Quilting. I cut out oblongs of matt and shiny fabric and secured them in place with a small amount of Bondaweb. I also bonded a piece of furnishing fabric to the back of the whole piece to give it more weight and make it easier to sew.
Then I put a piece of brown organza over the top and stitched round the edge of each shape on the machine.

Finally I layered on another black square and 2 pink voile oblongs and stitched them on top. I had to tack these shapes first as I didn't want to use Bondaweb in case it showed through.

I edged the piece with a machine pattern to finish it off. I'm not sure I quite get the point of this type of quilting - perhaps it would look better if the trapped shapes were in a thicker material.
Lastly we had a go at making Faux Chenille. This was relatively easy. We layered up several layers of coloured fabric, choosing ones that fray easily, onto a base of firm furnishing fabric. Then we sewed parallel diagonal lines to secure it.

We then cut in between the lines of stitching, making sure not to cut the base fabric. You need good small sharp scissors to do this.
Then you have to rough up the surface to reveal the edges of the different fabrics underneath and make it soft and fluffy. It was too slow by hand so I attacked it with a pet grooming brush that really did the trick. Marvellous result!

At home I have been working on my needle-point and have now finished it. I am very pleased with all the patterns.

Last week I spent a day making a quilted case for a Kindle as a present. I wanted to use some special fabric for the lining (top right in the photo) so I spent a while looking through my stash for matching fabrics.
The design was based on an envelope following a pattern I got off the Sew Magazine website. To echo the squares in the lining fabric I cut 1 inch squares out of different types of material and arranged them in rows on the satin background. I put rows of different coloured yarns in between. Underneath the background is a layer of fleece material to act as the padding.

To secure the squares I stitched a horizontal line across the middle of them all and then stitched across the ends of the yarns to hold them in place too.
I then put a layer of brown organza over the top. This makes all the colours more subtle but also helps in the machining as the edges of the squares and the yarns don't get caught up in the presser foot.

I sewed vertical straight stitch lines in a dark thread first. Then I sewed decorative horizontal lines in browns, blues and metallic threads, varying it between parallel straight stitch, zig-zag and satin stitch bands.

I then pinned on the lining, cut round the pattern, sewed round the edge, graded the seams and turned it through.
I then slip-stitched the gap and folded in the flaps to make the envelope shape. The bottom flap is secured with a row of running stitch in embroidery floss.

The pattern recommended using velcro for the fastening but my overlap wasn't very big so I opted for a glass bead and a loop of ribbon.

I was very pleased with the result and there isn't another like it anywhere!
To go with it here are the birthday cards (lots of family birthdays this week).

Inspired by a book on 'Inchies' - 1 inch squares of textile art I cut out 4 squares of heavy interfacing and covered with different fabrics using Bondaweb. The top square is pleated silk with a piece of twig and tiny silk cross stitches; next a purchased metal charm tied with hairy wool; next a piece of satin half covered with Bondaweb and scraps of thread placed on and ironed over; at the bottom the background fabric is half covered with Bondaweb and a scrap of frayed organza ironed on. A further triangle was applied and then topped off with a flower-shaped crystal.

I chose a natural Kraft card blank and cut out a rectangle of furnishing fabric on which to mount the squares. I attached the fabric rectangle and the squares with glue-dots for a mess-free finish. I will definitely give inchies another go.