Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 13 - Paper/Fabric Textures and Water-Soluable Lace

Back to college this week and starting on a new topic of 'texture'. First we took all kinds of paper and had to think of different ways of scrunching and folding it to produce different textures. I must confess that ever since every time I have had a piece of waste paper in my hand I have been experimenting with different ways of doing this. Waxed paper and foil-covered paper are the most satisfying, closely followed by tissue paper!

To make the crinkled tubes we loosely wrapped an object like a ruler or a marker pen with a strip of paper and then pushed the tube hard down on its end on the table to produce the concertina effect.

Then we moved on to making textures with calico. This piece involved sewing parallel tucks into the fabric using the machine and then sewing across them in alternate directions.
This technique is called 'furrowing' and you sometimes see it on posh cushions. The crinkled piece of calico starts off as twice the size of the finished square, which you draw as a guide on the bottom piece of fabric.

You can then either attach it all round the edge and in the centre and then 'furrow' it by eye to draw in the remaining fabric or mark dots on the large square and dots on the underside to match-up. I did it the second way - see photo of back below.
The two pieces are joined with a small stab stitch, coming from the back of the piece each time. I probably should have turned the raw edge under on the top to finish it off neatly but I quite like the fraying.
 Then we moved on to raising the surface up quite high in a kind of 'nipple'. This is made by hand sewing a running stitch in a spiral, following a circle or ellipse and pulling it up tightly. The width of your spiral determines the height of your 'nipple'. You need to use double thread to stop it breaking as you pull it up. I haven't sewn this onto a backing yet as we are being asked to consider how we want to display all these textures in a final item.
Homework was to try some gathered circles. Clockwise from top left:

  • a circle, gathered with running stitch, stuffed and sewn down with gather underneath
  • a smaller circle made as above, stuffed and sewn down with gather on top
  • a circle, edge turned under then gathered round a circle of card
  • a circle with edge fringed with scissors before gathering round a circle of card
  • a circle gathered round a circle of card with a smaller one sewn on top, gather side down, finished with a strip of ripped fabric which was further fringed with scissors, gathered and joined around the button as a collar
  • a smaller circle gathered round a circle of card with frayed edges showing - a circle of calico tucked under the gathers to finish off the centre
  • a large circle gathered, stuffed and sewn down, with stab stitch from the back to further quilt it

At home I experimented with what happens if you gather up a piece of fabric horizontally and vertically.

The result is similar to the furrowing but not as neat. As the fabric is mobile inside the square I have pulled the centre flat.
I have been experimenting with sticking foil onto felt. I have these foils from card-making that you stick onto tacky glue and peel away to give a gilded effect. I wondered if they would work on fabric, so I tried with felt as I knew we needed some for our next college class.

I first tried with bonding powder but that didn't work - I think the grains of powder went into the fibres of the felt too readily and there was not enough stickiness on the surface.

So then I tried fusible webbing (Bondaweb). I fused a piece to the felt with an iron and peeled away the backing paper. Then cut inch wide strips of the foil and randomly applied them with the tip of the iron working one colour at a time. The foil strip was held under a piece of baking parchment to stop the iron sticking to the bare webbing and getting all sticky.  I also added some Angelina fibres, which you can just see on the blue piece. I am pleased with the results.

We had an extra college class at the weekend where we tackled a big project. We were making a small bag with machine lace edging and machined cord handle.

First we made the bag pieces. I cut out a paper template for my bag shape and then cut two from my felt. I deliberately chose the most unpromising looking colour, plus I had some new pale variegated thread to use. On top of the felt I cut out two pieces of lace. The lace had butterflies on it so I chose one with a butterfly showing and one where you couldn't tell what it was for contrast. Finally, a layer of sheer fabric went over the top - I chose a gold twinkle organza. Then we secured our fabric sandwich with free-maching all over and free-machined zig-zag round the edge. On the butterfly piece I experimented with trying to emphasis the shape of the butterfly with my stitching.

Then the tricky part of making the machine lace. I pinned my bag front onto a piece of Solufleece (water- soluble fabric) and drew a lace design in pencil around. Then we sewed it with free-maching straight stitch, trying to make sure all the loops joined up, else it would come apart when the fabric was dissolved.

Next we were supposed to go over it all again with a narrow free-maching zig-zag to make it more defined. I hadn't appreciated how difficult this would be and so only ended up going round the outer edge and the inner arches of my design.

The final stage was to dissolve the Solufleece in hand-hot water and leave it to dry, whilst we made the cord. This was done by free-machine zig-zagging over some lengths of wool, until it was covered.

To assemble the bag I sewed the front to the back using a standard straight stitch on the machine, trapping the cord in the seam as I went.

Finally, I emphasised the butterfly by giving it antennae in seed beads as there were no antennae on the original lace pattern and I didn't think to embroider any on when I stitched the front.

This took about 6 hours in total. I am very pleased with how the choice of colours has come out and the butterfly effect on the front. The lace is better on the right-hand side than the left for some reason, where lots of bits weren't joined up properly.

Below is a close-up so you can see the stitches!

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