A Bead, Indeed!

Fiber Art Beads

Want to add dimension and lots of visual interest to your projects? Fiber art beads will do the trick. There are many ways to create these little gems, but here is the way that I make them.

You will need the following supplies:

plastic drinking straws
fabric glue
fabric scraps
assorted yarns or fibers
beads
craft wire, 22 or 24 gauge

Begin by cutting your straws into 1 1/2″ widths (or whatever size you desire). Cut fabric scraps on the bias about a quarter inch wider than your straws and about 4 inches long. Dab a little fabric glue on the straw and begin wrapping the fabric around it. Reapply more glue as you wrap the fabric.

Wrapped Bead

Wrapping fabric around plastic straw

Check to make sure the fabric is completely secured with fabric glue. This add stability and a little stiffness to the beads.

Wrapped Straw

Wrapped Straw Piece

Cut some stands of various yarns or fibers. Place a small dab of fabric glue at one end and secure the end of the first yarn. Wrap the yarn around the bead in a spiral motion. Secure the end with fabric glue. Repeat this step for additional yarns.

Yarns

Secondary yarns

Wrapped Yarns

String craft wire through the center of the straw and wrap it around the exterior of the bead, leaving about a one inch tail. Twist the tail around the center wire to secure.

Twisted wire

Wrapped Craft Wire

Measure out about 10 inches of wire from the end of the bead and cut.

Cut wire

String various size beads onto the wire and begin wrapping them around the bead in a spiral motion. I like to string a few beads at a time, wrap, and then repeat the process until I come to the opposite end of the bead.

Stringing beads

Stringing Beads

Once the beading is complete, push the wire end under the original wrapped wire and twist it back on itself to secure. I like to push the end of the wire into the bead so that there are no sharp edges on the surface of the bead.

End wire

Securing End of Wire

You may like to experiment with Angelina “fabric” rather than cloth. Also, try wrapping ribbon rather than fabric. Metal beads and other embellishments can be used in place of glass beads. Craft wire comes in many colors, so don’t limit yourself to silver and gold.

Note: I want to thank you again for your many comments, emails, and prayers for my family during this difficult time. My mother’s condition remains the same; we just take it one day at a time.

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Rene

Time Treasured

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Fabrications – Sand In My Shoes (part two)

Batiks serve as the perfect fabrics for making these little flowers since they are tightly woven and quite colorful.

Once you have completed the free motion stitching on each of the circles, remove the Solvy from you hoop. Clip around each flower, leaving all the loose extended threads in place.

Circles Clipped from Solvy

Place each flower circle on a terry towel and spray with water to remove the Solvy. Spraying rather than soaking works well here because some of the melted Solvy remains in the fabric, adding a little stiffness to the bubbly texture.

Sprayed Circles

When you circles are semidry, center the small circles on top of the large circles. If you have used an assortment of colors, you may like to mix and match until you are pleased with the results.

Layered Flowers

Apply beads or buttons to embellish the flower centers. I used “tye dye” glass beads.

Tye Dye Beads

Take each flower and scrunch it into a little ball. Gently open the ball and shape it back into a flower.

Scrunched Flower

Allow to dry completely, and your flowers will be ready to add colorful embellishment wherever you place them.
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Rene
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Sand In My Shoes

Batiks always make me think of summer vacations at the beach. If you’re like me, you probably have lots of batik scraps from past projects. Here’s a great way to transform them into beautifully embellished flowers.

For this project you will need some regular Solvy, a heavy variegated cotton thread (I used Valdani #35 “Autumn”), colorful beads, an embroidery hoop, circular templates, and assorted batik fabrics.

Supplies

First, mark large and small circles on your batiks. I used a mechanical pencil, which makes a very thin cutting line. For templates, I used metal eyelet charms that I found in the scrap booking department of my local craft store. These charms are quite thin, making them very useful around the studio. My large circle measured 1 3/4″ and my small circle measured 1 1/4″.

Circle Templates

Cut the circles out and press to flatten if necessary.

Cut Batik Circles

Hoop you Solvy and lightly spray the back of the individual large circles. Position them in the hoop.

Hooped Solvy

Set up your sewing machine for free motion work. Use a coordinating color and similar weight of thread in the bobbin. Drop the feed dogs and attach a closed free motion foot. Free motion stitch each of the circles, using meandering and circular motions. Allow the thread work to extend beyond the edges of your circles. Fill each circle with stitching, creating a bubbled texture.

Free Motion Stitched Large Circles

Repeat this process for the small circles.

Free Motion Stitched Small Circles

Your completed stitching should look something like this. Notice that the thread work extends well beyond each circle.

Free Motion Thread Work

We’ll finish these little batik blooms in part two.

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Rene
Time Treasured

Felted Finery – Play It Again

When I was working on the Encased project, I felted several of the floral rounds in assorted colors. Here’s another little project using these versatile flower shapes.

First, you will need to felt a floral round in any color you like. Cut it out of the organza and match it up with some colorful rick rack.

Felted Floral Round

Turn your floral round to the back side, and dab some fabric glue around the edges.

Dab Fabric Glue Around Edge of Back Side

Position the rick rack so that the rounded points form the look of petals.

Glue Rick Rack to Form Petals

Your flower/flowers should look something like this when you are finished.

Completed Flowers

To create leaves, fold some green rick rack at a point as shown.

Step One of Rick Rack Leaves

Now wrap the rick rack back and forth around itself. The inner loops will lock together. Trim off at the length you would like your leaves.

Step Two of Rick Rack Leaves

Cut a piece of fabric whatever size you would like you project to be. The size will depend upon what you are making. Stabilize it with a heavy fusible stabilizer or interfacing. Alternately, you could sandwich it with batting and quilt it.

Cut a piece of the colorful rick rack to form a stem. Dab it in a few places on the back side with some fabric glue, and position it on the front of your project. Dab the raw edges of the leaves with fabric glue and position the ends under the rick rack.

Secure Stem and Leaves

Secure the outer edges of the leaves with beads.

Leaf Beading

Embellish the rick rack stem with seed beads at each point.

Seed Bead Embellishment

Position your flower at the top of the stem. Secure it will a little fabric glue in the center back to keep it from shifting. Embellish the petal points with bugle beads.

Bugle Bead Petals

I’m sure you’ll find all sorts of creative ways to embellish these little felted flower. Have fun!

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Rene
Time Treasured

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Fabrications – Encased (part three of case construction)

With our fabric embellishments complete, we now move on to the basic construction of the case. First, measure across the top or bottom of your fabric. Cut two strips of the base fabric 1 1/4″ wide by the length of your measurement plus an extra inch. For example, my strips measured 1 1/4″ x 7 1/4″.

Place one strip at the top of your fabric, right sides together, and stitch. Repeat this step at the bottom of your fabric.

Top and Bottom Strip

Fold the raw edge, press, and fold again, lining the folded edge up with the seam line. Pin in place (or secure with Glue Pins) andtopstitch. Trim the edges so that they are flush with the sides.

Topstitching

Now measure the length of your fabric sides. Cut two strips that measure 1 3/4″ wide by the length of your measurement plus an extra two inches. Stabilize these strips with fusible interfacing.

Side Strips

Place the first strip on one side, right sides together, with an inch extending on each end. Stitch using a 3/8″ seam allowance. Repeat this step on the opposite side.

Side Strips with 3/8″ Seam Allowance

Take your project to your pressing area and make a 3/8″ fold down the raw edges of both strips. Press in place.

Pressed 3/8″ Edge

Next, turn the fold back on itself (right sides together), lining it up with the seam line on the right side of the fabric. Mark a line at each corner even with the finished edge of the top and bottom. Stitch all four lines, securing the beginning and ending stitches with a few back stitches.

Stitched Corners

Your project should now look like this.

Untrimmed Corners

Trim each corner, leaving about 1/8″ seam allowance at each edge.

Trimmed to 1/8″ Seam Allowance

Turn each of the corners to the right side. You may like to use a stiletto to get nice crisp edges. Press the sides in place and pin (or use Glue Pins).Topstitch down each side.

Finished Corners

Topstitched Sides

If you feel the sides of your project, the finished trim should extend a little beyond the inner seam allowance. This will be helpful when we begin the next phase of the project.

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Rene
Time Treasured

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Fabrications – Gathered into the Fold (part two)

To prepare my background fabric for the reverse appliqués, I stabilized it with a fusible interfacing. I then penciled a free form design onto some freezer paper, cut out the shape, and ironed it to the front of the fabric. Using sharp craft scissors, I carefully cut around the freezer paper pattern.

First Cut

I repeated the process for the second cut.

Second Cut

Since these were reverse appliqués, I placed the gathered red rayon pieces under the cut out areas. Owing to the gathers and folds in the appliqués, I didn’t perform traditional reverse appliqué where the top fabric gets cut out after the appliqués are stitched to the main fabric. (I didn’t want to risk accidentally cutting into the gathers.)

Reverse Gathered Appliques

To keep the appliqués in place, I dabbed a tiny bit of Glue Pins around the inner edges. I then set my sewing machine on a narrow buttonhole stitch and worked around the raw edges.

Narrow Blanket Stitch Edging

After adding some embroidery stitches with perle cotton, I further embellished the areas surrounding the appliqués with pearl, bugle, and glass beads, along with sequins and buttons.

Beading

Note: I’ve uploaded another colorform file (fjfan.dst) to the Fem-Gratis box in the sidebar (for your personal use).

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Rene
Time Treasure

Fabrications – Gathered into the Fold (part one)

One way to add texture to a project is by manipulating fabric. I recently purchased a supply of rayon yardage in various colors and used some of it to make the reverse appliqués in this piece. If you’ve ever worked with rayon, you know that it’s a shape-shifter. That very quality makes it perfect for this project.

First, I cut a few pieces of red rayon about 8″ x 8″. I set up my sewing machine with a gathering foot and a straight stitch at 3.5 mm. The gathering foot is a great accessory to have. For one thing, it’s easy to use and always works well. Additionally, it provides normal gathers rather than the little pleats created by the ruffler attachment.

Gathering Foot

Next, I began stitching the rayon in a very random pattern, holding my left index finger behind the foot to gently add some resistance as the fabric fed under the foot. This helps the gathers to form more densely. As the gathers build, it helps to slow down and adjust the fabric so that you don’t sew over any pleats, although it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you did.

Random Gathering

When the piece was complete, it looked nice and puckered all over the surface.

Gathering Complete

To flatten the piece, I set my iron at the wool setting and turned on the steam. I then pressed it from the wrong side for a few seconds. Since the shape-shifting quality was no longer desired, I pressed a light fusible interfacing to the back side.

Pressed Gathers

I thought it might be nice to cover the stitch lines with a decorative stitch, so I chose a star stitch and simply followed the lines of the previous stitching.

Decorative Stitching

Since I planned on doing further embellishments to the piece as a whole, I didn’t want to over work this area. If the appliqués were the main focal point, such as in a quilt square, I would have used decorative threads, couching, and/or beads as further embellishments.

I’ll complete this little piece in part two.

Note: I’ve uploaded another colorform shape file (fjdiamond.dst) for those of you with embroidery machines.

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Rene
Time Treasure

Fabrications – All in a Row (part one)

Sometimes I order fabric online. Occasionally, it’s not what I had hoped for so it becomes a makeover candidate. This floral print came with a grainy looking surface that I disliked.

I thought it might be nice to trap some snippets on the surface. When considering what kind of fusible to use to accomplish this, I decided to experiment with Stitch Witchery. First, I cut a piece the same size as the floral background fabric. I then painted it with Liquitex Medium Viscosity paint, mixing burnt sienna and green for the dark green area. I used magenta for the corner.

Painted Stitch Witchery

While the paint was drying, I placed painted (Lumiere Pearl Magenta) Cariff .50 stabilizer snippets on the surface, creating a heavier concentration in one corner.

Painted Cariff Snippets

I then placed the painted Stitch Witchy square over the fabric and snippets, covered it with parchment paper, and pressed the layers for about 10 seconds on a wool setting.

Altered Surface

Owing to the web-like quality of the Stitch Witchery, the resulting surface retained some of the background while allowing the snippets to shine through without being totally subdued. However, the original floral was now completely transformed.

Next, I set up my sewing machine for free motion quilting and threaded the needle with Valdani 35 wt. Green Grass cotton thread. After stabilizing the fabric with thin cotton batting and backing, I stitched the green surface with a free form leaf design.

Free Motion Leaf Design

For the magenta area, I used Valdani 35 wt. Hawaiian Orchid cotton thread and stitched a meandering design.

Meandering Quilting

In part two, I’ll share how I created the flowers.

For those of you experimenting with the colorform shapes, I’ve uploaded another file (fjpaisley.dst) to the Fem-Gratis box for you to download.

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Rene
Time Treasured

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Felted Finery – Old is New (part four)

I saved my favorite leaf for last. After free motion stitching a center vein, I worked three loops of outline stitches. I then appliquéd the leaf down with a feather stitch. I think the feather stitch creates a really nice edge finish for the wool pieces.

Feather Stitch

The final section of the circular design consisted of a center bud motif, two petals, and two leaves. Using a dark gold embroidery thread and a decorative seed stitch, I worked a diagonal crosshatch pattern on the surface of the yellow bud, something often seen in crewel work.

Crosshatching

I then finished the edge by couching yellow perle cotton with a blanket stitch.

Couched Perle Cotton

Next, I positioned the red petals in place and secured them with a decorative triple-circle stitch down the center.

Decorative Center Vein

The edges were appliquéd in two stages. First, I worked a reverse blanket stitch in a matching embroidery thread.

Reverse Blanket Stitch

I then switched to a green embroidery thread and couched lime green perle cotton next to the previous round of stitches.

Double Edge Finish

The third and final step of the motif was the leaves. After free motion stitching some veins down the center of each leaf, I raised the feed dogs and couched green perle cotton around the edges.

Free Motion Veins; Couched Perle Cotton

I added a simple scroll design below the bird, which I free motion stitched with dark green embroidery thread.

Free Motion Scroll

As the final embellishment, I beaded the bud motif between the crosshatching. I also added beads to several of the leaves and the scroll below the bird.

Beading

This particular design will eventually become a pillow, but I’m sure I’ll be using the same technique to embellish other items with these fun-to-make felted wool appliqués.

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Rene
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Mayflower Medley (part four)

We’ve arrived at the final stage of Mayflower Medley. The furry-edged little flowers are fun to create and share continuity with the grassy knoll.

First, outline the shape of your flowers at the top of each stem, allowing a little of the stem to remain in the interior. I used a compass to form my circles, but you can use anything you like. Use a marker the shows up well on fabric.

Flower Outlines

Next, attach a tailor tack foot to your sewing machine and thread the needle with a heavy embroidery thread in a color that contrasts with your flowers. I used Valdani #35 cottons. Set your machine at 1 mm stitch length and 1.5 mm stitch width. As in part three, test to make sure these settings work for your machine.

Sewing the fringe is a little tricky since it’s difficult to see your sewing line. I find it helpful to move slowly and keep my eye one the line ahead as I turn the fabric. Sew the fringe around all of your circles. Use as many thread colors as you like. You can even sew several rows of fringe around each flower if you’re really adventurous.

S ewing Fringe with Tailor Tack Foot

For the center of the flowers, choose colors of Angelina “Hot fix” fibers that you like. I used Lemon Sparkle and Raspberry. Pull enough fiber to make a small ball and place it on parchment paper or a Teflon pressing sheet. Top with parchment or fold your pressing sheet over the Angelina ball. Set your iron on the “silk” setting and press for about three (3) seconds. Check to see that the fibers have bonded. If not, press again for another second or two. Do not over heat. Allow to cool before removing the Angelina.

Angelina “Hot Fix” Fiber

Mark the bonded Angelina circles with the same shape as your flowers. I used my compass, which left a slight indentation as a cutting line. Cut out each flower center.

Always save your leftover Angelina scraps for another project. They can be rebonded to other Angelina fibers, cut up and used in fabric collages, appliquéd here and there for a little bling, sandwiched with other fibers to create new fabric, etc. I find Angelina to be one of the most versatile and easy fibers with which to work.

There are several ways you can attach your flower centers. I used a dab of fabric glue to position them and then marked the centers and embellished with beads. You could also free motion stitch the surface, work some French knots at the center, or embellish in other imaginative ways.

Marked Centers

Bead Embellishment

For the final step, thread your sewing machine with a green embroidery thread and attach a free motion foot. Lower the feed dogs and stitch some leaf shapes next to the stems.

Your project is now complete. I hope you enjoyed playing with the tailor tack foot and discovering its many possibilities for fiber art.

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[Note: One reader voiced concern that the tailor tacking would unravel. I always begin and end decorative stitching with a few securing stitches. However, I tested the fringe without security stitches at the settings I stated in the above tutorial and could not get the stitching to unravel from either end. This would probably be a problem with looser settings, in which case you could add the line of straight stitching I previously mentioned. Also, you could knot the thread ends and pop them into the stabilizer in a way similar to hand quilting. A third alternative would be to iron a fusible interfacing over the stitching on the back side of your work. Keep these remedies in mind when working with decorative stitching.]

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Felted Finery – Floral Fluff (part three)

The technique that follows is my favorite parts of this project. Adding fluff to the center of the flowers is both easy and quite versatile.

First, mark the center of your organza covered flowers with a chalk marker.


Choose a yarn that will fluff, such as a boucle for the next step. Cut five short strands of the yarn.

Place two strands of the yarn in the center of one flower, making an “X” shape. Using your Babylock Embellisher or needle punch machine, tack the yarn down in the very center. Don’t over do it; just secure the yarns.

Now place the three remaining strands of yarn over the previous strands, filling in the bare areas. Needle punch them in place securely. Check the back of your work to make sure the fibers have come through sufficiently.

Separate the fibers with your fingers until they fluff out nicely. You can give them a haircut if you would like or leave them bushy. You might like to play with this method and take note of the different effects you get when altering the length of the yarn fibers.

For the stems, I used the bottom of a large thread spool to mark curved areas around my flowers.

I then choose a stitch on my machine that has the appearance of couching (#157 on the Bernina Aurora 440). You can use any stitch you like to accomplish the same thing. Simply follow you markings and then end the stitching with a few securing stitches.

To add a little embellishment to the stems, thread a needle with a strong sewing thread and sew a bead at each end.

Another project complete! The little fluffy flowers work well on quilts, decorator pillows, handbags, totes, hats, and other items that are conducive to 3D embellishments.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Felted Finery – Floral Fluff (part one)

This project includes several embellishing techniques that are fun to play with. You will need a background fabric, two colors of organza, green perle cotton, beads, and yarn.

First, apply a fusible stabilizer to the back of your fabric. I used Decor Bond. Draw seven circles on the stabilizer in a pattern similar to the above graphic. You can place the motif in the center as I did mine or change the setting to one that you like better.

Take one of your organza colors and cut out some large circle shapes. Make sure they are quite a bit larger than your drawn circles since the felting process will pull the organza towards the needles. Working from the back side of your fabric, place an organza circle on top of a drawn circle and slowly needle punch the organza in a circular motion . Hold the edges of the organza as you work so that it doesn’t bunch up. Repeat this process for each circle.

When you’re finished, you should have seven fuzzy circles on the front of your fabric.

To make the stem, cut four long pieces of green perle cotton (or any other fiber you like) and tie them in the center with some thread.

Now double them over so that you have eight strands. Attach a cording foot or open toe foot to your sewing machine and thread the needle with an embroidery thread. Set your machine on a zig zag stitch at about 5.0 mm stitch width.

Position your strands of perle cotton under the foot, holding the tied thread in one hand behind the needle. Zig zag stitch the entire length of cording. You may like to stitch the cord several times, using several shades of green thread.

When you are happy with the look of your cord, place it in the center of your fuzzy circles. You may like to tack it down with a light touch of fabric glue. Next, couch it with a matching thread, attaching beads as you sew.

In part two, I’ll show you how to make the fluffy little flowers.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

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