"I begin with an idea ... and then it becomes something else"
~ Picasso

Saturday 7 February 2015

textiles - free fabric collage tutorial

the tutorial
materials - click   here   for the materials list
introduction - in the last post I listed the basics that you will need to have a go at my little fabric collage project - please know that you don't need all of the fabrics.  For example, some of the things I listed were prompts/ideas for using up old pieces of work ... it's exciting to use up old projects and clear the decks a bit ..... so here we go!
inspiration - you may have given some thought to your theme or colour scheme ... if not it really doesn't matter.  This is a very freeing and very personal project ... you can copy my colours if you wish but better still if you have your own project in mind.  If you have no particular project in mind then using a variety of colours with no particular theme means you may end up with some very lovely abstract pieces, which is exciting!
prepare your base layer - get your piece of stiff Vilene or stiff calico or cotton and cut your piece into approximately 9 inches x 12 inches.  It really doesn't matter at all if you go an inch smaller or bigger either way
layering - from your pile of gathered fabrics and paper  ... tear, rip or cut pieces of fabric and paper and glue it straight down on the base layer ... work in an abstract manner and work quickly without thinking too much about placement.  Don't be too fussy at this stage and you will get some good results
here I have glued some paper and some chiffon with stitched pleats
some wool tops and some cellophane wrapper
as well as very small bits of metallic fabric with fraying edges
glues - I use a glue stick ... but you can also use pva glue if you wish.  Glue stick dries quite quickly.  Whatever you use, you will need to leave your base layer to dry out thoroughly before moving on to the next stage.  If you have a hair dryer you can use that on a medium/gentle setting to help it dry a bit quicker ... but I would not recommend using a heat gun as the heat will be too intense and may burn some of your fabrics and papers
working fairly quickly, glue all your pieces on ... overlapping if you wish
until your base laver is covered completely
like this ...
above you can see some of what I've used - the green fern and the pumpkin fabrics are shop bought, there is a piece of old cross stitch, two cellophane wrappers in orange and yellow, assorted torn papers from paper bags and distressed magazine papers, the bee and hive image were torn from a magazine, there is also some hand dyed sari silk ribbon and some little torn metallic sheer fabrics dotted over the piece
before moving on to stage 2 - please ensure your work has dried out sufficiently (see above)
blending - using your paints/acrylics or other colouring medium ... use them to blend the fabrics and papers together.  There are no rules ... it's up to you.  You can use your paints or colouring mediums to either enhance and draw attention to areas you love or to disguise areas you don't like so much.  If you don't like what you've done with the paint ... wipe it off, let it dry and paint over with another colour or glue a piece of fabric or paper over the top.  You can see in the photo below I've added some burnt umber, gold and sap green ... blending all the colours together.  Then let your piece dry completely before the next stage
in the picture below I've worked burnt umber and gold paint into a piece of wool blanket
and it's optional but, if you wish, you can press your gilding flakes into the paint
before moving on to stage 3 - please ensure your work has dried out sufficiently (see above)
stitching - after the paint has dried you can further secure your fabrics and papers by stitching through the layers.  If you have a sewing machine you can use free motion stitch if you are happy with the technique.  If you prefer to do simple stitched lines, running stitch or zigzag then that's fine.  Perhaps alter the size of your stitches by adjusting the length and width while you are stitching ... that can add a bit of interest.  If you are not happy using a sewing machine (or don't have access to one) you can hand stitch through the layers ... long lines right across your piece in every direction ...
I've used a simple running stitch and zigzag stitch below ...

 then turn your piece over (mine looked like this on the back) ...

 on the back divide your piece into six smaller pieces by drawing lines with a pencil
(divide into as many pieces as you wish ... any size ... it's up to you)
 then be brave and cut them up with scissors


add texture - your pieces should now be a bit more abstract and have some interesting lines and areas of colour.  The next thing is to select just one of your small pieces to work on. 

work on your small pieces one at a time personalising them and adding texture and interest.  You can add texture by building up more layers of fabric and paint (in the same manner I mentioned above).

further texture can be added with 3D elements such as the "emeralds" I've added below.  Position your bits and pieces on your little piece, then glue down to keep them in place, then over sew to further secure.  I would add my 3D elements first before doing a lot of hand stitching.  I tend to hand stitch or sew on small beads as the final stage ... but, of course, it is up to you

I added the chiffon and emerald strip
which I glued down to "place" it, then stitched it to secure
afterwards, I worked some french knots around the piece
to help blend it in with the surrounding fabrics and papers

at any time, you can also apply more paint if you wish and remember those gilding flakes, if you have some.  Press your little shimmery flakes into the paint and leave to dry thoroughly.  Cover the gilding flakes with a piece of plain paper and carefully press and smooth the flakes to burnish them into the paint.  Gilding over pleats, lumps and bumps ... even little stitches ... will enhance the raised areas.  If you don't have gilding flakes ... you could gently rub some treasure gold (or similar),  metallic paint, markel sticks or metallic oil pastels over any raised areas you wish to enhance and draw attention to
(if you want to go the whole hog ... there are a variety of products out there for adding texture to your piece ... by adding texture to paint as well as texture pastes and 3D paints that you puff up with heat products ... this tutorial does not explore all those possibilities ... but if you are familiar with them ... they are suitable options for adding texture to your pieces.  It's just not possible to explore everything in one tutorial within a blog post)

gilding on pleats to enhance raised areas
hand stitching - when it comes to adding little stitches to your piece ... it's nice to use a variety of different types of thread, use a variety of thicknesses and a variety of colours or toning colours.  Stitch your biggest stitches, with your thickest yarns, first ... then fill in around with smaller stitches and blend your colours.  I, personally, like tones of similar colour all blended together ... but you don't have to do what I do.  Do what pleases you!
different stitches - you can use your small pieces to practice new stitches.  I'm a terror for always using my favourite french knots ... so next time I do this technique (which will be on Wednesday as I have a Crow Day) I promise to use new stitches.  I recommend any of Jan Beaney's and Jean Littlejohn's books for stitch inspiration and I also have Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches which is useful.  Online ... you can visit Sharon B's dictionary of stitches for hand embroidery and needlework for beautiful stitch ideas.  Be creative and use the stitches out of context to add texture and interest.  In addition, you could consider stumpwork or raised embroidery.  The possibilities are endless ...
stitching through painted areas
after working on all six of my little pieces I found that each one took on a new personality
they spoke to me and let me know which type of "allotment" they would be ...
... like a story unfolding
and I hope that yours will too
I hope you have fun with the basic ideas contained in this tutorial
work into each one as much as you wish ... until you are happy with your little pieces
it is up to you
 you can refer back to my last seven or eight posts for more detail
thank you for reading today and for following along
the tutorial will stay on my blog forever ... so don't feel under pressure
have fun!!  ♥
Posted by Carolyn Saxby


Barbara Johnson said...

Carolyn, You are a gift from heaven. I've been inspired by your work since I first discovered you. I wanted to try my hand at it but never really knew how to begin. Now I know and I'm so grateful for your generosity. By the way, I would have never thought to cut the larger piece into smaller pieces...briliiant!

Julie said...

Thank you for your awesome tutorial Carolyn. It's full of great ideas and advice and I'm going to have a go too :-) xx

chrissie said...

Have this saved Carolyn. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas

Love Chrissie

Catharina Maria said...

Thank You so much fors sharing
this with your readers !
Love You , Rini

Lululiz said...

Wonderful tutorial, what an inspiration you are.

Andy Lloyd Williams said...

Thank you so much for giving us the tutorial - it is such a great guide for knowing where to begin - and carrying on! Andy LW. Bath.

Carol Rigby said...

Thanks Carolyn.I will have to have a sort through what fabrics I have as mine are not nearly as interesting as yours. btw.Today is my three year blogaversary and looking back at my first post, it was for Tag Tuesday. Thank you so much for all your inspiration.

Zue said...

Thank you for sharing your technique in this lovely tutorial.
It is definitely one to try.
Have a great week Carolyn.
Zue xxx

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Great tutorial - and what's best is that I can sense the fun you had while you were creating!

Suztats said...

I enjoyed this! thanks.

knittingaddict said...

Carolyn, I can't believe I just recently discovered you and your beautiful work!! Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. You are such an inspiration. And wonderful teacher!

MARYLOU said...

merci carolyn de ce tutoriel en partage.
je suis très admiratrice de votre travail, vos conseils enrichissent ma pratique de la broderie d'embellissement et inspire aussi mon travail avec la dentelle de carton.
merci encore.