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


Time Treasured


Fiber Folio – Colorforms Nouveau (part two)

After cutting out some newly digitized shapes this afternoon, I noticed that the Angelina scraps looked so pretty together. So I arranged them as a background for a colorform flower.

Angelina Scrap Arrangement

Next, I covered the Angelina arrangement with a piece of parchment paper and pressed it for about three seconds (on silk setting). Angelina scraps can always be refused to each other. To attach the arrangement to the backing fabric, I sprayed the Angelina with 606 spray on fusible web (on the back). After is dried, I positioned it on the backing fabric, covered it with parchment paper, and pressed it.

Using white rayon thread, I added some decorative stitches to various areas around the center.

Decorative Stitches

I then prepared my sewing machine for free motion stitching and threaded the needle with green Sulky Holoshimmer thread. I used a viney leaf motif to quilt the area covered with lime green Angelina.

Free Motion Stitching with Holoshimmer

For the remaining areas, I used Sulky Sliver Metallic thread (wonderful stuff!!).

Sulky Sliver

The center motif was created with 5 fan shapes and one small circle, which were attached with fabric glue. I further embellished the flower motif with beads.

To complete the design, I free motion stitched the outer edges with Sulky Sliver.

You will find another colorform stitch file (fjleaves.dst) to download for your personal use in the Fem-Gratis sidebar box.


Time Treasured


Fiber Folio – Colorforms Nouveau (part one)

While working on a project the other day, I was thinking about Angelina and how I might integrate it into a decorative trim that I could use on various accessories. My first thought went to small circles that I could attach to ribbon with beads.One thing led to another, and soon I was cutting out various shapes and playing around with ways I could mix them up to create new designs. The whole thing had a very familiar feel to it, and then it suddenly hit me. I’ve done this before!

Back in 1951, a couple of art students were doing the very same thing I had just been doing, only they were using vinyl. They noticed that the pieces stuck to glossy surfaces and began experimenting (playing) with the shapes. What has been described as the “ultimate creativity toy” was born and given the name “Colorforms.” The original Colorforms, consisting of basic shapes, were selected for the Toy Hall of Fame.

So, here I was playing with Colorforms again, only this time the fiber art version. I must admit that it has been a huge distraction every since.

To create the shapes, I digitized circles, triangles, etc., and stitched them out on an embroidery machine. I have uploaded the circle file for your personal use and placed it in the “Fem-Gratis” sidebar box for you to download. It is labeled “fjcircles.dst” and fits the 100mm (4″x4″) hoop. I will upload more shape files with future blog posts. (You will need to convert the dst format to one that works with your particular machine.)

An embroidery machine isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does facilitate the project. Alternately, you could simply draw the shapes on the backing stabilizer and cut them out if you don’t have an embroidery machine.

First, create a piece of Angelina fabric that measures approximately 4″ x 4″. If you are new to Angelina, you can find my previous instructions for working with this fiber here and here.

Angelina “Hot Fix” Fiber – Ultraviolet

Next, cut a piece of acrylic felt (the same color as your Angelina fabric) to fit your 4′ x 4″ hoop. Saturate it with spray starch and iron. I use a 50-50 mix of starch and water. By starching the felt, you end up with a nice flat piece of colorful stabilizer. I chose felt as the stabilizer because it comes in so many colors and is readily available. However, you could also use any cutaway stabilizer and simply paint it with fabric paint before stitching the shapes. The felt adds a little more dimension, but any backing you like will do the job.

Starched Acrylic Felt

Hoop the felt and give it a light spray of 505. You will notice that my hoop has shelf liner attached to the sides. The shelf liner is a great embroidery aide, gripping whatever fabric you hoop. (If you would like to add this to your hoops, purchase the thin, inexpensive variety of mesh shelf liner found in dollar stores.) I also use a topless, bottomless, “box” made out of template plastic shaped to fit my various hoop sizes for spraying. The box protects the hoop itself from sticky residue.

Hoop Protector – 505 Spray

Position your Angelina fabric over the sprayed felt and attach the hoop to your embroidery machine.

Angelina Fabric Positioned in Hoop

Embroider the shapes, cut the jump threads, and then remove the fabric from the hoop.

Paisley Shapes Being Embroidered

Using a sharp pair of craft scissors, cut out the shapes about 1/16″ – 1/8″ beyond the stitching line.

Cut Shapes

I think you’ll find many creative uses for these little shapes in your projects.

Multiple Colored Shapes

They can be mixed and matched indefintely, giving you countless design opportunities.

Circle, Paisley, and Leaf Shapes

They would be great embellishments on ATCs (artist trading cards), trims, accessories, etc. Additionally, if you have daughters or granddaughters, this is a great way to introduce them to the world of fiber art (and an enjoyable summertime activity).

Watch for more shape files this week and see the design possibilities grow. Have fun!


Time Treasured

Fiber Folio – How to Make Serger Braid

There are many beautiful cords and braids on the market, but sometimes I just like making my own. Creating serger braid is easy once you find the correct settings for your particular machine.
Here are the settings that I use on my serger:

Needle – right position – Tension 6
Stitch length – 1.5
Upper looper – 5
Lower looper – 7
Roll hem
Differential – N

You can use any decorative threads that will fit through the holes in your loopers. I used Crown Rayon in the loopers and a #40 embroidery thread in the needle for the braids pictured.

Once you test your settings and find them satisfactory, simply serge on air, holding the tail taut in one hand as the cord flows towards the back. Try to keep a steady speed so that your braid is consistent.

It’s fun to mix colors and experiment with various threads and fibers. However, expect a few problems along the way. Below is the amount of thread I used this morning before getting my machine to behave, and I can tell you I wasn’t a happy camper.

But then I looked at the mass of rayon and thought it would make a beautiful sandwiched thread scarf, so you’ll probably see it again soon in another life form.

So what do you do with yards and yards of braid? Couch it, of course!

Many of us have wonderful sewing machines with hundreds of decorative stitches that we seldom use. These stitches take on a totally different look when used to couch decorative cords and braids. Again, experiment with various threads in the needle, such as variegated embroidery thread. Here are pictures of some samples I did today. Many of them would make nice frames for ATCs, don’t you think?

When couching braid, remember to stabilize well. Use an embroidery needle and loosen the top tension. I find it helpful to test stitches and threads, mark the stitch number on the sample, and file it in a reference notebook with pertinent details for future reference.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fiber Folio – Illuminations

Angelina Sun Bag

Working with unusual fibers stretches my creative thinking. In fact, I often have trouble falling asleep at night because my brain refuses to stop thinking up ways to use a particular item. Angelina certainly fits into this category.

If you’re not familiar with Angelina, it comes in two varieties: Hot Fix and metallic. Hot Fix Angelina is a soft polyester fiber that bonds to itself when heated. The metallic Angelinas are aluminum and do not bond to each other.

The iridescent fibers of Hot Fix Angelina are absolutely gorgeous. The names themselves give you a hint of their star power: Calypso Blue, Lemon Sparkle, Ultra Violet, Peacock, Forest Blaze, and many others. Making things even more interesting, you can mix the different colors and arrive at a totally new palette.

For fiber artists, Angelina holds a world of possibilities because it can be bonded, spun with other fibers, painted, embossed, stitched, mixed with roving or silk fibers, cut into shapes, appliqu├ęd, and overheated. It’s also nontoxic, readily available, and easy to work with.

With that little introduction, here’s a fun project to get you acquainted with this unique fiber. You will need a package of Angelina, a nonstick pressing sheet or some parchment paper, some decorative thread clippings, an iron, a stencil, a chalk marker, some decorative sewing threads, and a piece of fabric cut to any size you desire.


First, pull out a small amount of Angelina and lay it on your pressing sheet. Next, drop some decorative (preferably metallic) thread clipping on top of the Angelina. Pull a little more Angelina out of its bag and place it on top of the pile. Fold your pressing sheet over on top of the pile or top with parchment paper.

Angelina and Threads

With your iron set at “silk,” gently iron back and forth on the surface for approximately three (3) seconds. It doesn’t take long for the fibers to bond. Lift the pressing sheet or parchment to see if the Angelina has bonded. If not, iron for another second or two and check again. You should have a thin, web-like piece of sparkling fabric.

Angelina Fabric

Using your stencil, mark the Angelina where you would like to cut out part of the design. I chose the center of my sun.

Design Cutout

Choose a heavy fusible stabilizer or interfacing and adhere it to the back of your base fabric. You may want to double interface the area where your design will be stitched. On the surface of your fabric, position your stencil and fill in the spaces with a chalk pencil. You could also do this with a spray chalk or with fabric markers.

Chalk Stencil

Now thread your sewing machine with a decorative thread, attach a free motion foot, drop the feed dogs, and outline stitch the parts of your design that you would like to thread paint. I used Halo thread and thread painted the rays of my sun design using multiple colors.

Outline Stitch

If you have never tried thread painting, this is a great place to start. Simply follow the chalk line for your outline stitching and then sew some stabilizing stitches in the center. To thread paint, just keep moving your fabric in the direction you want the stitches to go.

When you finish your design, attach the Angelina cutout with a tiny dab of fabric glue. You will be free motion stitching around it, so go light on the glue. As an alternative, you could use a basting spray such as 505.

Center Design

Back your fabric with batting and backing. Now free motion quilt using any pattern you like. When you reach the Angelina cutout, work in a zig zag motion to secure it. I used a variegated cotton quilting thread.


Finish your project with a binding or create another item out of it such as a tote bag, eyeglass case, place mat, etc.

Creative Project

You probably noticed my jar full of shiny threads. I have lots of these around the studio. Some are filled with metallic clippings, some rayon clippings, some silk clippings, and on and on it goes. You never know when you may need a little bling here or there, and with Angelina around, it may be frequently!


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fiber Folio – A Yarn’s Life (part two)

Stencil Outline

Taking another stencil, I repeated the previous process, only this time I turned the stencil diagonally to add a little visual interest to this simple design.

Tacking Stitches

Yarn Cross

I wanted a different look for this piece, so I used the braiding technique that I posted in an earlier tutorial. Using two skeins of Neon Felt It, I tacked down the beginning edges of the yarn and then crossed the yarns every three stitches.

Braid Complete

The colorful variegations combined with the curves of the design resulted in a piece that needed no added embellishment. That being said, I do think a little stippling or meandering inside the curves with a specialty thread might also be nice. If it were the surface of a quilt, I might add a different fabric inside each space delineated by the curves (and I would use a different fiber for the braiding, possibly silk).

Felted Flowers

With yarn to spare, I moved on to a completely different project. I had some needle felted flowers that I had made previously using the technique from Natural Blooms.

Felted Sprial Flowers

I set up the Babylock Embellisher with three needles. Next, starting in the center of the flower, I tacked down the edge of the yarn. Then I slowly moved in a spiral pattern, lightly felting the yarn to the flower.

Felted Petals

For the petals, I simply looped the yarn and continued felting. When the flower was complete, I tucked the tail of the yarn under some previous felting and did a quick tack down.

Felted Flowers

Don’t these look like decorated sugar cookies? In the second flower, I skipped the spiral center, felted the petals, and then tacked down cut pieces of yarn. A little fluffing and my flower was finished.

Knitted Scarf

This yarn was just too pretty to put away, so out came the needles and you know the rest of the story.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured Read the rest of this entry »

Fiber Folio – A Yarn’s Life


I found these skeins of spun wool roving at the store last week. With a name like “Felt It,” I knew I had to take them home with me. I immediately saw their potential as detail yarns in needle felting projects, but I knew they would surprise me with many other talents as well.

Recently, I had been looking at all those old quilt stencils hanging on the back of the studio door. If you’ve been quilting for any amount of time, you probably have a collection of them yourself. So I took a few off the rack and decided to put them to work.


First, I cut two pieces of 100% wool fabric that had already been through the fulling process in my washing machine. Taking the first stencil and a #2 pencil, I lightly outlined the design onto the wool.

Felted Stencil Design

Next, I took the “Wildflowers” yarn and needle felted it along the outline with the Babylock Embellisher.

Machine Stitch

The felted design looked rather nice just as it was, but I wanted to play with it a little more. I chose a decorative stitch (#113 on the Bernina Aurora 440 QE) and stitched around the felted outline, using a royal blue 40 wt. matte embroidery thread. What a dramatic difference that made! Not quite ready to call it a day, I then took some Czech glass beads and attach them to the outline by machine.

Bead Work

Attaching beads by machine can be a little tricky at first. For this project, I set my machine on a blanket stitch (the stitch often used around appliques) and counted four left swings of the needle, setting my bead inside the presser foot (a Babylock braiding foot) at the beginning of the fifth swing. Using my right hand to turn the wheel, I carefully guided the needle into the hole of the bead and back to the right again and continued this way until I had completed the full design. I could have chosen to attach the beads by hand, but I thought the blanket stitch might work well with this particular design.

I was pleased that I had found a secondary use for the quilting stencils. Although I worked on wool yardage, the process would be the same on the surface of a quilt. Such wonderful textures can be created playing around with this technique.

Knitted Scarf

With quite a bit of the skein left, this yarn still had work to do. I paired it up with a furry little novelty yarn that matched perfectly and began knitting a scarf. It was pure pleasure.

(to be continued)


N. Rene West
Time Treasured