Monday, September 22, 2008

Blimey - I'm SEWING - like a GIRL!

Working with textiles is something I have wanted to do for a very long time - but simply didn't have the cojones to give it a try.

But, spurred on by some of the lovely fabric pieces arriving for the raffle, I rather impulsively signed up for a pure fabric CJ on UKS a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed that one of their members had dropped out and they needed to fill her space.

There are 12 of us taking part, and so, rather than making a traditional book, I am simply asking each participant to make a 6" x 6" quilted square, and I will assemble them into a patchwork type wall hanging (4 squares by 3) when they come home.

Boy oh boy, though, did I ever feel out of my depth during the making of this piece!

The design was simple (in fact too simple - I wish I had done something a little more adventurous as it feels almost like a Flo-by-numbers composition) - I decided to do something "typically me" - in the hope that the other players will also do something very true to their own styles. So I used my current top colour palette of red, blue and purple - and my favourite Green Pepper Press tree rubber stamp.

But it proved so difficult.

First of all - HOW do you cut fabric straight???? I kept going off course and ruined loads of pieces of material.

Then why doesn't stamping with black neopaque paint work? And, talking of paint, you have to use so much because it absorbs.

And colour wash comes out so much darker than on paper.

Anyway - it's done now, and I am pleased to have overcome my mental blocks about textile arts and given it a go.

A quick how-to. I dyed all the fabrics for the piece (except the brown velour) using Ranger colourwash sprays in denim, cranberry and eggplant. All I did was spray, and let the colour pool and drip in places.

You can see it closer on the back:

Like I said, everything came out a little too dark so I lightened up the fabric used for the centre panel with pearlescent pink and lavender inks sponged through sequin waste, and a bit of silver ink stippled here and there, and I also gave it a good spray with irridescent gold Glimmer Mists, which has given it a lovely sparkle.

Then I attempted to stamp the tree, but it came out really patchy, so I freehanded most of it in with black acrylic paint.

Rusty tin stars were sewn on to the front panel, and little seed beads also. And then I sewed it onto the full front panel and some quilters' wadding.

The chocolate coloured velour fabric at the bottom was cut with a heat tool (the one I use for cutting stencils - it went through the velour like butter), and applied with fabric glue.

Faric certainly is a challenging medium for me to work in - especially as I don't own a sewing machine :) - but I am really looking forward to the next 12 months and making pages / quilts for all the other players. I hope I will have come a long way past this very basic effort by the end of the year.


Hazel said...

Wow, Sarah, it may be your first fabric piece, but it looks gorgeous! The tree is particularly fab.
The secret to cutting fabric straight is 1) really long shears- mine are 6"- with a bent handle, so that the handle touches the table when you cut, 2) Cut standing up. Line the fabric up with the edge of your table (a square one LOL!) and stand square on to it 3) Picture a 'T' with the other end of the table, and point your scissors straight at it 4) Now you can cut- keep the scissors down so that they are touching the table and take long cuts, sliding them along after each cut.
I hope that helps- 14 years working in soft furnishings meant I was an ace fabric cutter! PS If you want to follow a grain, follow the lengthways one (warp) as the widthways one isn't straight, half the time!

Sarah said...

thanks for the advice Hazel!

Heavenly Anarchist said...

Sarah, that looks so beautiful! I look forward to seeing it for real.
These CJs are going to be such inspiration to work on!

Linda Vincent said...

What a lovely idea - this looks fantastic! Looking forward to seeing the hanging.
(Hazel's tips are good, aren't they.)

GlitteryKatie said...

This is bliddy gorgeous woman....I am in awe and envious as HECK!!!!
Spookily I too have fabricked....made a dotee doll for the first time!
But this is awesome!!!

forcryeye said...

OMG girl, I am so proud of you...the fabric is georgous, as is your amaze me! xoxo

Nicks said...

gawd you clever woman, my poor mother would turn in the grave if she saw my efforts with fabric! But I have got to do sommat soon cos I am seriously behind in a I dare you challenge! and that involves stitching!
Can I come for lessons??

Anonymous said...

This is your first fabric piece!WOW its totally gorgeous and I think youve found another string to your bow.The colours are stunning....cant wait to see more fabric pieces from you.

Eleanor said...

Oh wow. Oh my flamin goodness. Fabulous, Flo,just wonderful. So rich and sumptuous, I love it. You're off and away on this fabric malarkey, have no worries, such style, I can't wait to see the months unfold.
PS thanks for your comments, you have no idea how much they meant.

Lorraine said...

love all your dark gothic colours .its a bit of a pain stamping on fabric ..I usually do it with black paint as well. Great first textile piece I dont know why you were nervous I think you suffer from artistic angst like we all do!!

Anonymous said...

This is gorgeous, it seems you have a knack for fabric collage. Please keep at it, I want to see more.

Mandy said...

Tis a thing of beauty. Can't wait to see it for real!