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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Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part two)

Many great products that we use for quilting and fiber art come from other sources. I purchase freezer paper at the grocery store, rubber finger tips at the office supply store, Tri-flow at the bike shop, magnetic trays at the hardware store, and the list goes on and on. In this tutorial we will be using Glad Press’n Seal, a product you can find at the grocery store near the freezer paper. Press’n Seal is slightly tacky and transparent, making it perfect for transferring designs, positioning them on fabric, and stitching over them. It’s very easy to remove and doesn’t put strain on your stitches the way some other products do. I also use Press’n Seal to secure thread ends on large spools. With our background complete, we now begin the thread work. Place a large piece of Press’n Seal over your drawn (paper) design and mark double stitching lines between each of the individual template pieces. These lines should be 3/8 of an inch apart. Remove the Press’n Seal and position it on your fabric background.

Using a strong thread, such as polyester, stitch over the lines using a stitch length of 4.0 mm.

When you’ve completed stitching all the marked lines, gently tear away all the Press’n Seal. Then set up your sewing machine with a 5-hole or 7-hole cord foot.

If you’ve never used this foot before, you thread individual cords through the small holes from the top of the foot, working them under the foot. I used #5 perle cotton in five colors, but you could use as many as seven colors. Choose a stitch on your machine that will catch all the cords as you sew. Decorative stitches work well here.

Slowly sew the cords through the center of all the double stitching lines, using care to not stitch over any of the double stitching lines themselves since you will need these to be free for other techniques. Leave about an inch of cord tails at the beginning and ending of each section.

Next, attach a braiding foot or a free motion couching foot and apply a heavy decorative thread, such as #3 perle cotton, to the edges of any fused design elements. Remember to drop your feed dogs if using the free motion couching foot.

You could also accomplish this using bobbin work. Simply sew a straight stitch on the surface to mark the outline of the design and then reverse your work, wind your bobbin with your decorative thread, and stitch from the reverse side. Test your stitches first to make sure you have set the correct tensions. In part three, I’ll share a special beading technique that I think you will find interesting and easily adaptable to many projects. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ N. Rene West Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part one)

This colorful project is packed with techniques that I’m looking forward to sharing with you. As with all my tutorials, you can tailor them to fit the type of fiber art work you enjoy creating. For part one, you will need three cotton prints (hand dyed or hand painted fabrics works well), craft felt, a fusible such as Wonder Under or Steam-A-Seam, fabric paints, and rayon thread.

First, draw your design on white paper and cut out the individual templates. Back your fabrics with fusible and cut out each individual piece. Fuse your design pieces, with the exception of the focus background piece, to a piece of craft felt cut a few inches larger than your finished design.

Next, prepare your work area for fabric painting. You can use a single paint color or mix fabric paints to achieve the color you desire.

Place a piece of fusible cut larger than your template on a covered surface. Using a brush or sponge, paint the fusible side of the Wonder Under or Steam-A-Seam. Set it aside and allow it to dry.

Once your fusible is dry, place your focus background fabric on a Teflon pressing sheet or parchment paper (right side up) and top it with the painted fusible (fusible side down).

Top these with another piece of parchment paper. Press on cotton setting for 15-20 seconds. The painted fusible takes a little longer to transfer to the fabric. Allow the fabrics to cool before removing the parchment and fusible backing paper. If the paint and fusible haven’t completely transferred, press a little longer.

Holding your rayon thread over the painted fusible, allow the thread to naturally fall on the surface, forming circular shapes.

When the entire surface is covered with thread, place a piece of parchment paper on top and press for 7-8 seconds. When the fabric has cooled, check to make sure all the threads are secured by the fusible. If any are loose, cover and press again.

Place your template on the focus background piece and cut to size.

Position the piece on the craft felt, cover with a Teflon pressing sheet, and press.

Allow to cool and carefully remove the pressing sheet. The paint wanted to stick in a few places when I removed my pressing sheet, so I pressed for a few more seconds until the design was securely fused.

Your design background is now complete. In part two, we’ll begin adding detail with perle cottons and multiple cords.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Gilded Gardens (part four)

Gilded Gardens

[Note: Part three and four of Gilded Gardens provide a greater amount of technical information than most of my tutorials. Therefore, I would recommend that you read them through at least once before beginning the second level of thread work.]

The final stage of this secondary thread work involves working with perle cottons #3 and/or #5. These heavier threads cannot go through a machine needle so we must use other methods. The most common way of using these decorative weight threads is through bobbin work.

Before the day of specialty bobbin cases, I would simply bypass the tension mechanism on my Bernina 1230 and bring the bobbin thread up directly. This worked okay for very heavy threads and ribbon floss, but wasn’t ideal. I then purchased a second bobbin case and made adjustments as I mentioned in part three. Sewing machine companies now produce specialty bobbin cases, and if you like using decorative threads in your work, they are a nice accessory to have.

Specialty Bobbin Cases

To begin the second phase of heavy thread work, hand wind your bobbin with perle cotton #3 or #5, place it in the specialty bobbin case (or adjusted secondary bobbin), and set up your machine for free motion embroidery (according to your previous test results), making sure the feed dogs are in the down position.

Hand Wound Bobbin

Specialty Bobbin Case

Turn your work to the backside and position the needle at a point on the circumference of one of your circular flowers. Sounds like geometry, doesn’t it?

Backside Bobbin Work

Now check to make sure the bobbin thread tail is positioned towards the back of the machine so that it doesn’t get caught up in the securing stitches and make an unpleasant mess on the front side of your work. Take a few slow securing stitches moving every so slightly forward, clip your top thread tail, and then begin working your way around the circle. Before the second pass, clip your bobbin thread tail. On the second pass, work some spirals, scrolls, and circles in the areas surrounding your flowers.

Bobbin Work

Bobbin Work on Surface

Surface View of Bobbin Work

When you are happy with the decorative bobbin work around your flowers, go back to some of the flowers and fill the interior completely with stitches, working in a spiral motion. Next, work some vein stitching on one or two of your leaves.

Leaf Veins

On other leaves, work a row of stitching down one side and continue in a winding motion past the tip of the leaf.

Leaf Bobbin Work

An alternative to free motion bobbin work would be standard bobbin work. Keep your feed dogs in the normal up position and sew around your flower circles from the back side of your project. It’s possible to make scroll designs around your flowers using this method, but you will need to keep your lines simple.

Another alternative would be to use a couching or braiding foot and couch the thicker threads around your flowers.

Braiding Feet

Couching and Braiding Feet

Couching allows you to use a contrasting top thread color to add even more interest to your work. Make sure you switch to a needle plate that allows for zig zag stitching and adjust your stitch length and width. Leave a small top thread tail and sew over it in your second pass.

Couching Perle Cotton

Couched Perle Cotton

Work slowly so that you can keep your thread close to the previous round of stitches. When you complete your couching, do a few stationary zig zag stitches to secure your thread and then clip it.

Couching Heavy Threads

My favorite way to apply heavy threads is with the Bernina Free Motion Couching Foot #43. I hope other sewing machine companies will produce a similar foot for their machines because it’s a wonderful accessory that I wouldn’t want to be without. The look of free motion couching is quite similar to bobbin work. I did free motion couching on two of the leaves in Gilded Gardens. (This design work can also be created through free motion bobbin work.)

Free Motion Couching

Bernina Free Motion Couching Foot

If you have this accessory, I recommend that you move your needle one position to the right and set your machine on a zig zag stitch width of 1.1 mm. This helps to catch the threads or yarns with every stitch. Some decorative threads are too thin (perle cottons #8 and #12) or too thick for this foot, but many work well. I especially like using this foot with perle cotton #3.

Perle Cottons

One of the special stitches in Gilded Gardens is the pod stitch.

Pod Stitch

This stitch is formed by building repeated rounds of stitches on top of each other. I created some of my pod stitches with the Bernina Free Motion Couching Foot and some with bobbin work. Your feed dogs must be down in order to work on such a small design.

Pod

Pod Stitch

Begin by forming your outer circle and then spiral in towards the center, allowing the thread to build up on top of itself. You can only go so far with this before your machine needle or bobbin case will say “enough.” By that point, you should have a nice round pod decoration formed on the surface of your work. I would suggest that you practice this on a test piece before attempting it on your project.

So, with all the above options, you’re sure to find one that suites you well and aides you in completing this phase of the project.

Your work should now look complete. However, we still have several flowers and leaves that beg for further embellishment, which they will receive in part five.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured