Layering fabrics

Continuing with the applique and layering section of this project, I tried layering a combination of sheer and opaque fabrics and cutting back sections. I found that satin stitch held better than straight stitch, and I thought that straight lines would be easier for a practice piece than curves. I tried to be a bit clever by keeping the mauve sheer layer slightly uneven as I enjoyed the shadows created by the folds in it. The other layers were ironed, and all 5 layers were tacked in a gridlike fashion before sewing. I hoped that this would ensure the folds in the mauve layer were even. It was a partial success but very difficult to cut back avoiding folds in the very fine sheer. it was interesting to see the effect of the border being cut back, negative shapes becoming positive.

In this sample, I bonded a sheer to a black cotton with bondaweb, trapping pieces of sheer fabric and teased out silk rods in between. The bondaweb was painted with a gold interference acrylic ink prior to bonding. The result was a little flat, I think because of my choice of top fabric. The couching wasn’t really a success in lifting it either. I may have been better to use the bondaweb painted side down to the black, trapping the pieces and omitting the top sheer layer.

I moved on to using heat tools for fusing fabrics, as demonstrated in Margaret Beal’s Fusing Fabrics. I tried fusing pieces in a sheer fabric sandwich with small soldering marks, but the result was quite messy like this. More thought needs to be given to the fusing marks used as I didn’t realise they would be so prominent. The piece on the right was fused with small torn pieces of bondaweb, but I felt the glue was too visible.

I liked the idea of bonding the trapped fragments by cutting and fusing in a patchwork style. Rather than starting again, I used the piece with the unsuccessful marks, so ignore those please! Having practised I now have a feel for what speed to move the soldering point along the ruler and have got used to the fact that you don’t really need any pressure on the tip.

I then tried cutting out shapes. Here I used a coin and ruler to create the leaf/petal shape. I bonded shapes to kunin felt and used stitch to applique. I really like the crispness and depth of the resulting edges.

Also as part of this exercise, it was suggested we experiment with Tyvek. I did some quite formalised experiments with a heat gun and pyrography using different weights of Tyvek and Lutrador in order to understand how they behave. Below is the most interesting of the pieces I went on to make, I painted one side with shades of green, and silver on the other. I then machine stitched with green cotton and distressed the pieces with an iron using varying pressure. Pressing rather than hovering results in a lacier piece. I’m not sure that I particularly enjoy the aesthetic of Tyvek, but can see that it could be a useful base for interesting textural pieces.

For my final applique sample, I took colour inspiration from the peeling tree bark, and the design from my flowering tea development work. I decided to use kunin felt rather than calico as a base, as I wanted to use the soldering techniques I had learnt to create a background that reflected the long petal shapes of the tea. This was reflected in both the long thin pieces trapped in between sheers, and the chevron patchwork design. I used two different sheers for the sandwich and inverted half of them to create the pattern. Although the brief suggested fine threads, I chose a heavier toning thread to ensure the shapes stood out enough against the background. I messed up the applique as the fusing seperated slightly at the base of the petal causing puckering at the tip. The smaller petals were cut from a mixture of the sheers sandwich, and the blue organza alone. I am really pleased with the piece, and accept that it is not perfect because I tried to push myself technically.

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2 comments on “Layering fabrics

  1. Lindy Joy says:

    Hi I was trawling the net for fusing fabric and found yours and had a look. I enjoyed having a look at your exploration of techniques and your comments. I am interested trying my hand at land or sea scapes. I have done one piece for the inside cover of a leather bound book which I’m quite proud of but I want to make more but feel a bit lost as the techniques aren’t always clear and like you, we have to experiment! So thank you! All the best, lindy

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