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

Quick Tips – How to Use Every Last Scrap of Solvy (WSS)

Sulky Solvy and other film-type water soluble stabilizers have wonderful recycling attributes. I use a lot of this stuff and always place the little leftovers into a glass jar. When the scraps start to add up, I do one of two things with them:

1) I iron small pieces together to make one new larger piece. To do this, I arrange the WSS scraps on parchment paper or a Teflon pressing sheet (you can also use a brown paper grocery bag) so that they all overlap and form a solid shape. I then place parchment paper over the scraps and press for about 8-10 seconds on a wool setting or until the pieces adhere to each other. Allow the parchment paper to cool before touching it.

or
2) I make Solvy soup by mixing the scraps with water. Here is the general recipe.

Ingredients:

About a 1 yard equivalent of WSS scraps
1/2 cup hot distilled water
2-3 tablespoons rubbing alcohol

Directions:

Place WSS scraps and hot water in a glass jar and shake well until dissolved. If the solution is to be stored, add the alcohol and keep the covered jar in your refrigerator.

To apply, dip a sponge brush or small paint brush into the WSS solution and paint onto your fabric. Allow to air dry or use a hair dryer to speed the process. When dry to touch, cover with a press cloth and quickly press with a dry iron to remove any remaining moisture. Stitch as usual and then remove WSS with water (I usually spritz it away).

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Rene
Time Treasured

Fiber Folio – Colorforms Nouveau (part three)

The collection grows. I keep thinking of more shapes that I would like to use in future projects and adding them to my little box.

Angelina Colorform Collection

As I looked at the orange triangles, I thought about what cute fish they would make, so fish they became! Angelina really lends itself to ocean scenes owing to its luminosity. This project takes on a different look from every angle as the various fibers catch the light.

You will find the digitized triangle file in the Fem-Gratis box on the left sidebar. Of course, you can make the shapes without the aide of an embroidery machine.

First, I chose three water fabrics and cut them with wavy edges. I then arranged the Angelina scraps to see how I liked the basic composition.

Water Fabrics and Angelina Scraps

Next, I cut a piece of chiffon on the bias and layered it in the center. I then placed some dark green and light blue tulle (cut with wavy edges) over the entire piece. If you look closely at the introductory picture above, you can see the various shading effects that this produced.

Chiffon, Angelina, and Tulle Layers

When I was happy with the placements, I used a little temporary spray adhesive (505) on the backs of the different pieces and repositioned them.Using 35 weight cotton thread (Valdani Mediterrana), I free motion quilted the water areas.

Free Motion Water Quilting

I then switched to Valdani Midnight Sea and stitched small round loops on the ocean bottom, creating the look of seaweed.

Free Motion Stitched Seaweed

With the same color, I thread painted a few sea plants.

Thread Painted Sea Plants

I tacked the orange triangles down with a dab of fabric glue to keep them in place as I worked.

Tacked Down “Fish” Triangles

The edges were worked with a free motion zig zag stitch using Sulky Holoshimmer thread. When the edges were complete, I worked the fish tails and then the stripes on the bodies. That completed the machine work.

Fish Detail

I chose some metallic colored beads for the eyes and for some of the bead work on the lower reef.

Fish Bead Work

I also used bugle beads on the reef along with a copper star for a star fish.

Reef Bead Work

For bubbles, I applied clear glass beads. And with that, the project was complete.

Glass Bead Bubbles

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Rene
Time Treasured

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Fabrications – Straw Flower Blossom (part two)

Once your first circle is completely stitched with embroidery floss, choose a secondary color of floss for your second scrim circle. I chose antique white. Fill this circle with stitches exactly as you did with the first circle.

Stitched Embroidery Floss

Don’t worry if your stitched “V” shapes vary in size. This only gives a more natural look to your flower.

Individual Scrim Flower Layers

Aren’t these little flower layers delightful? I can picture them used individually as flower appliqués embellished with some beads, a button, or French knots in the center. Since you can paint the scrim any color you like and choose from hundreds of floss colors, the variations are virtually endless.

For the flower center, you will need some thin ribbon. I chose two neutral organza ribbons. Silk would also work well. Thread a tapestry needle with your ribbon of choice, place your two flower circles one on top of the other, and pass the needle through the layers from the top side. Bring the needle back through the layers, returning to the top side. Pull to adjust the ribbon and then clip it. Repeat as many time as you like until the center is full of ribbon ends.

Ribbon Center

Since the scrim is so loosely woven, the ribbon work is relatively easy to stitch. However, as the center begins to fill, it helps to hold down the previous ribbon ends (as you stitch) so that they’re not pulled out of place.

Completed Flower Center

Mark a small circle on a piece of craft felt and cut.

Craft Felt Backing

With a light hand, cover the felt circle with fabric glue and position it on the back of your flower.

Backing and Brooch Pin

Allow the glue to dry and then attach a brooch pin to the center back. Your flower embellishment is now complete.

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Rene
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Straw Flower Blossom

Spring has given way to summer weather here in the mountains, and flowers are in bloom everywhere I go. Over the Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I drove to Virginia and enjoyed the most beautiful scenery the entire trip. Red poppies filled the medians along highways, while private gardens offered a rainbow of floral colors. It’s inspiring!

Well, my little Straw Flower embellishment isn’t the most colorful bloom of the season, but it sure is fun to make.

First, let me say a few words about scrim since it frequently solicits questions from those who haven’t worked with it. You can find my previous entry on scrim here if you would like more information.

Scrim Yardage

Scrim comes in many forms, but the one used is fiber art is a loosely woven 100% cotton. Drapery stores sell it on large rolls, and it’s quite reasonably priced. You can dye it, paint it, stitch it, and manipulate it any way you see fit.

To make the Straw Flower, you will need some fabric paints, a gel medium (found in art stores), white cotton scrim, embroidery floss, craft felt, and a brooch pin.

Paints and Gel Medium

Prepare a work area for painting, covering the surface with plastic sheeting. Cut two circles out of scrim the size you want your flower to be. Place them on a piece of plastic. Mix your fabric paint with a little gel medium and paint the scrim. I mixed yellow, violet, and white to get the nice golden tan color that I desired.

Painted Scrim

If the paint mixture is too thick, add a touch of water, but not too much. Allow the painted scrim circles to dry.

Gel mediums are very useful in fiber art. Once dry, your scrim circles should have a firm body, yet be quite flexible. The gel medium will dry clear, leaving only the paint color behind. Best of all, the scrim will no longer fray since the medium acts somewhat like a glue.

When your circles are dry, draw two chalk lines to mark center. These are simply visual aides for the next step.

Mark Center

Thread a tapestry needle with embroidery floss. Choose any color you like, using all six strands. Do not knot. Working with one circle at a time, stitched from the outside edge towards the center, weaving your needle in and out about every quarter inch. Stop short of the center, pivot, and stitch back towards the outer edge, creating a “V” with the floss. Leave a tail on the floss that extends beyond the scrim edge and clip. Repeat this process until the entire circle is filled with floss.

Stitched Floss

In part two, we’ll complete the flower.

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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

Felted Finery – Old is New (part three)

To define the bird’s wing area, I chose a scallop stitch, which I stitched across the center of the wing and satin stitches to define the lower feathers.

Wing Detail Work

I then satin stitched around the entire wing with a matching gold embroidery thread.

Wing Detail

To give the bird’s neck a little more detail, I chose a decorative stitch.

Neck Detail

The three yellow petals were created the same way as the tail feathers. First, I attached them with a free motion straight stitch.

Next, I finished the edges with a blanket stitch using yellow embroidery thread. Red perle cotton was couched under the stitching. The red and yellow contrast so beautifully with each other in this little motif. I think a full-petaled flower in the same colors would make a wonderful embellishment for another project.

Couched Perle Cotton

Each of the leaves received individual detailing. For the first leaf, I stitched some veins and then gave it a trailing vine. The edges were appliquéd with a decorative stitch.

Leaf Detailing

Using a dark green embroidery thread, I gave the second leaf a center vein and then thread painted a stem base. A lime green perle cotton was then couched down with a dark green blanket stitch around the leaf’s edge and stem.

The third leaf was detailed in gold, beginning with a decorative stitch center vein and an outer border of couched gold perle cotton. For a little more contrast, dark green perle cotton was couched with gold embroidery thread next to the previous couching.

Double Rows of Couching

In part four, this project will receive the finishing touches.

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Rene
Time Treasured

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Felted Finery – Old is New (part two)

As a base for the felted pieces, I choose 100% linen, which I stabilized with a piece of starched craft felt. I attached the craft felt to the linen with a light spray of 505 temporary adhesive.

If you have an embroidery machine, you may have noticed that many commercial digitizing companies use felt as a base for their samples. Felt gives the stitches plenty of substance to wrap around. Several years ago, I experimented with felt as a stabilizer for dense embroidery designs and found that if I starched and ironed it (which makes it thin and crisp), it worked beautifully as a cutaway stabilizer.

Next, I used a standard size dinner plate and chalk marker to draw a circle on the linen. The circle would later serve as a placement guide for the flower and leaf shapes.

Placement Circle

The felted pieces had a little more loft to them than I wanted, so I sprayed them with some distilled water and pressed them with an iron set on the “wool” setting for about six seconds. This resulted in nice flat pieces, perfectly suitable for appliqué. (Lots of potential here!)

After Pressing – Before Pressing

After locating center placement for the bird, I began stitching the tail feathers with orange cotton embroidery thread. First, I free motion stitched each feather in place.

Free Motion Stitched Tail Feathers

I then changed to an open toe foot, raised the feed dogs, chose a blanket stitch on my sewing machine at a 2.8 mm width, and couched a #5 yellow perle cotton around the edges of the tail feathers.

Couching with Blanket Stitch

Next, I positioned the body of the bird and blanket stitched around his head.

I then changed to a dark gold embroidery thread and used a triangular shaped satin stitch to form the bird’s beak.

Satin Stitched Beak

Using the same color thread, I finished the edges of the bird’s body with a perle cotton-filled satin stitch.

In part three, my little bird will get his wings, and I’ll begin filling the chalk circle with some flora.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Felted Finery – Old is New (part one)

Seventeenth-century “fiber artist” used their creative imaginations, wool yarn, and linen to produce wildly popular crewel work designs. Colonial woman carried on the tradition in the eighteenth century. Crewel work continues to have a following today and even shows up in its high tech form via computer digitized embroidery.

I’ve always been drawn to the design elements: the fanciful leaves, flowers, and fauna. The hand thread painting with its beautiful shading gives us much to emulate in our own work.

Although original crewel work used a twisted 2-ply wool yarn, I decided to needle punch some wool roving shapes and see where they led me. I also choose to needle punch on air rather than using a stabilizer. Usually, I have a definite design plan in mind before I begin a project, but that was not the case with Old is New.

First, I pulled a little wool roving and formed it into a lightweight ball by repeatedly pulling the fibers and then compacting them.

Next, I needle punched the ball with the Babylock Embellisher, beginning in the center and then manipulating the fibers into a desired shape. I found a bamboo stick to be quite helpful in the shaping stage.

Here I am forming some yellow petals.

Here is one of the leaves being shaped and felted.

Here is the bird’s head area being formed.

This is the beginning of the bird’s wing, starting in the center and then working outward.

As the pieces slowly accumulated, I positioned them around an imaginary circle until I was happy with the basic design setting.

In part two, I’ll continue sharing how the project evolved.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Cutting Up

I love the term “fiber art” because it’s so broad and inclusive. Normally, I think of myself as a quilter since I’m forever sandwiching things together and stitching through layers. For me, it’s difficult to say where one ends and the other begins. This little project blends the two nicely and could become a wall quilt, pillow, or some form of wearable art.

For the top fabric, choose a bright large print. Cut it to the size that you need for whatever end you have in mind.

Top Fabric

Choose a solid fabric for the under layer. This fabric will show through to the front. Cut it about three inches larger than your top fabric. Stabilize the back with a heavier stabilizer such as Decor Bond.

Under Layer Fabric

Place your solid fabric on a moveable base object, such as a large quilting ruler or foam board. With a sharp pair of scissors, begin cutting pieces of your top fabric in a freeform fashion and positioning them on your solid fabric (about an inch in from the edge). Cut one piece at a time and place it next to the previous piece, sort of like a puzzle. Leave a space between the pieces (about 3/8 of an inch). You may have to trim the last few pieces to fit them properly.

Puzzle-like Top Layer

When you are finished placing all the pieces, you should be able to see the original printed pattern, only now in a slightly fractured form.

Take your two layers to a well-ventilated area. Working with one top piece at a time, spray the back of the piece with a little 505 temporary adhesive (or similar product) and place it back in its original position. Repeat this process until all pieces are secure.

Thread your sewing machine with a variegated decorative thread. I used a Valdani cotton. Stitch around each piece about 1/4″ from the edge.

To prepare your project for the decorative stitching, add one more backing layer. I used a piece of craft felt cut to size. A piece of flannel would also work well. Attach it with a light spray of temporary adhesive. (I recommend 505 because it lessens the problem of skipped stitches and sticky needles.)

Choose whatever decorative stitch on your sewing machine that you like, and stitch in all the open spaces between your cut pieces.

After you complete all the decorative stitching, wash your project on the gentle cycle, using cold water. This will allow the raw edges to fray, giving your project a little dimension. Next, place it in your dryer on a short heat cycle.

Clip any extra stray or uneven threads from the surface and finish the edges according to the type of project you are creating.

This method is a great way to use those large prints that don’t work so well in other projects. Another idea would be to use a monochrome color scheme. Additionally, you could embellish the cut pieces with beads, buttons, or ribbon. Whatever choices you make, I think you’ll enjoy the process.

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N. Rene West
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

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