A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.
Monday, February 29, 2016
I'm Helen Howes, and I'm your Guest Artist for March, on the entertaining and rather compulsive subject of Manipulating Fabrics.
Couple of things - I'm English, so my spelling may worry some of you.. think of it as Trans-Atlantic cultural fusion, or the Language of Shakespeare (he couldn't spell for toffee)
Anyway, I thought I would start with a relatively new technique - sometimes called Faux Chenille, but also Slashing...
If you haven't seen this before you will think it's rather magical.. if you have, bear with me, as I have a few twists of my own...
Part the first
You need lots of fabric - layers and layers.. it works best with slightly loose weaves (not batiks), hand-dyes, woven colours, solids.. You will find that some printed fabrics look weird, as the white backs take over the design. Plain muslin (USA) or calico (UK) is also fantastic for this
I started with a set of Oakshott cottons (disclaimer, I do a lot of pattern-designing for Oakshott, so I tend to have a lot of their fabrics at my disposal. Such a tragedy...) These are "shot", that is, woven with one colour in the warp and one in the weft.. they shimmer lightly.
This was an odd pack that just came to hand, and has a close set of pinky-purply-orangey colours. I also chose a dark purple for the base colour. In any set you will see most of the bottom and top colours.
Cut the layers to a shape of your choice (a bit bigger than the end required, as it can distort), then (Hint number 1) cut the bottom layer at least 1/2 an inch bigger all round. If these had Right Sides, they would all face UP..
(Hint number 2, press the layers on top of each other - they will stick together quite well)
Pin in a few places if desired
You will note that I have 10 layers. Much of the online and printed advice about chenille assumes 5 or 6 layers at most. This always seems rather skimpy, and you need to sew your lines a lot closer together... I'm lazy and fussy, so I use more cloth...
Sew on the diagonal, starting with a line across the middle from corner to corner.. The diagonal bit is important. I always use a walking foot, but if you don't have one, pin the layers together and sew..
Sew parallel lines across the fabrics. I'm using the width of my walking foot as a guide here, about 1/2 an inch. If you have fewer layers, sew closer; more, further apart... DO NOT sew across the ends of the channels, please
All sewn. Now, those of you of an Observant Nature (hands up, if you aren't paying attention?) will notice that my extremely Low Boredom Threshold set in on the second half, and I sewed some different diagonals..
As long as you are working on that diagonal idea, you can play.. Note that the lines that go in and out of the middle are continuous.. You don't want odd thread ends or weak spots anywhere. Use good thread, cotton or poly, and a small stitch. Check your tension is good both sides
Now you need to cut between the lines of stitching. I did this sample with scissors, we'll look at the Technology next time. You will, at this point, understand why the bottom layer is bigger, as you don't want to cut that one. It makes it easy to get the scissors in the Right Place
Now, take your sample to the sink and Wash It.. I use a little dish-washing liquid and warm water, and rub gently.. Big pieces can be machine-washed, but I don't usually feel the need.. Rinse, and dry
The result is just sooooo tactile..
This is from Judith DeMilo Brown from 2011. This may look
like printed cloth but no, she drew this herself and then....
I have been playing around with doodles for a while. Here is
the biggest and latest doodle. The piece is a fat half of
cotton and is destined as a prize on "And then they set it on
First I started off with white cloth that I doodled with a black
gel pen--nothing special--not meant for fabric. Whenever I
would stop, I would iron it to try and heat set the ink.
Then I colored it in with water-soluble pencils. I used them
both dry and dipped into water. Not too much water cause
that would make the gel pen ink blur. Kept ironing it too.
When I was done coloring it, I brushed it with print paste to
bond the ink and pencil to the fabric. That made the colors
and ink a bit more fuzzy. When that had dried I gave it a coat
of very diluted blue Setacolor to blend the colors and
background. When it was dry and with much trepidation I
threw it into the washing machine. VOILA! The inks/colors
stayed!! You can not believe how excited I was over that!
Last step was to put a little smooch in spots to give a little
First piece I have finished to this extent. I need much more
practice but I am pleased by the experiment. Yep, tonight I
expect a second piece will get started.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Just reading the subtitle of your blog made me wonder at first exactly what I’m doing here. Although I have tried dyeing, overdyeing, painting, resisting, silkscreening, stamping, fusing, and heat tools at one time or another, none of them have earned a permanent place in my repertoire. But then I found “slice” and “stitch” in your list, and felt more confident. Those two techniques pretty much make up my current body of work. I slice fabric apart, piece in a very thin line of contrast fabric, and stitch it back together again.
Here's a quilt in progress. You can see how if gets out of shape after many lines have been pieced in from different directions. I'll lose quite a bit around the edges after I trim it to square. (I suggest you stick with straight lines -- curved are way too difficult to learn at your first attempt.)
Now that I’ve taught you how to “draw lines” with piecing, it’s up to you where to draw them. Here are some suggestions:
- All your lines don’t have to go all the way across the piece. While you have a sliced line open, you can slice and restitch just half of the piece, then go back and complete the original line. Or you can make two parallel slices and sew intermediate lines in between the two cuts before you sew them back together.
- You can combine different fabrics to make your original expanse of fabric. You can join them with a plain seam, or piece in a skinny line at the join.
- While you have a slice open, before sewing the two halves back together you can insert a wider strip of contrast fabric. It’s probably better to do this early in the process, so the join between the two colors can be offset by subsequent crossings.
- You’ll get a different character if your slices are all at right angles to the sides of the fabric, creating a gridlike pattern, or if they go on diagonals.
- Areas that are densely covered with lines have a different character than those sparsely lined. For interesting contrast, have some areas of your composition densely sliced and others less dense.
So find a piece of fabric that you did an exotic surface design on, and slice it up! Maybe you'll want to start with one that you don't like much, and see whether it improves with a line pattern over the top. And if it works, maybe you'll want to try it with a piece you love. Let me know how it works for you!
Thursday, February 25, 2016
"We have shown some of our favorites from the past but
you can check on other topics you might be interested in by clicking on a label."
In case you've missed it, there is a HUGE list of topics WAAAY down in the right column labeled "LABELS." See how handy that is?
You'll find labels like "creating texture"- 26 posts, "Sun Printing"-17, "Shibori"-25, and Screen "Printing" - 21. We haven't been very consistent in our labels so you'll find similar labels such as "hand stitched" - 21 and "hand-stitch"- 12. I am not sure what the difference is between those two.
So, please be sure to look for your favorite surface design technique or maybe a technique you've always wanted to try or maybe one you didn't know about and want to learn more about now. Just check out our list under LABELS, click on a label, then read all the posts tagged with the label.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Shirbori Folding #12
And now, we're up to some 3D folding. Roll your square piece into a tube. And clamp it between those corner pieces from the hardware store:
Shibori Folding--no 11
More fun from the hardware store, fold your rectangular piece in a zigzag pattern:
Shibori Folding - no 10
Found this at the hardware store, it's an opener for paint cans, but I have my own plans with it.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
To start this series, I want to show you two ways to fold a grid pattern.
The first one (right) is known as the 'flagfold' I think, and the other one is just a variation. I made an example in paper as it is easier to make a picture of this:
You see the difference in the starting point. For both, fold a rectangle piece of fabric like this:
Then start folding the triangle each with another starting point, but after the start just make sure you outline one of the triangle sides along the long side of the fabric:
Clamp your folded triangle accordion between two glass coasters with some rubber bands:
Now it's time to make your dye bath. Don't forget to add soda and salt as you want the dye to move through the water, looking for fabric to attach on ;-). And be generous, mix at least 3 pure colours, for a nice colour splitting effect.
Leave these packages at least one night in the dyebath. Rinse cold before un-clamping your fabric! Now it's time to unfold your package, and follow your regular rinse-process. Voila:
Monday, February 22, 2016
It's November so it's my turn (Nienke) and as may expected, dyeing is involved!
Recently, one of my clamp shibori pieces was published in a dutch magazine 'Quilt en zo' and it will be published in the November issue of Patchwork Professional as well.
So, a nice starting point to explore 'more ways to fold your fabric' to create some nice shibori fabric.
I started with collecting items to clamp onto the fabric, like, this stuff from the hardware store
For the clamping, you can use rubber bands, or all sorts of (glue or paper or wash) clamps:
See what you can find, the folding party will start tomorrow!
PS. If you are new to dyeing, this online course is a good starting point: