Sunday, 14 February 2016

Fabric Manipulation - creative ideas with fabric.

I'd like to share with you some ideas for manipulating fabric. I have been fortunate to be involved in South East Northumberland Creative Futures project over the last 7 months or so. Yesterday was our last workshop, led by Claudia Van lieshout Smit. Non of the techniques we experimented with yesterday were completely new to me, but the combination of techniques was. I'd like to show you some of the experiments and explain how they were created. Some of these technquies could be developed into garment construction, art textiles or even fine art pieces and there are several ideas that I know I will develop further to meet my artistic intentions. * image heavy post*

All of the following techniques can be done at home with the minimum of equipment.

Materials needed:
Sewing machine and thread.
Baking paper/ parchment
Heat gun
Acrylic paint
Organza - synthetic
Cotton fabrics
Offcuts of thread and fabric

Key Processes:

The first and simplest techniques was to make a fabric sandwich. Choose a plain background fabric and over half of it place fabric offcuts/ threads. you can be as deliberate or as randome as you wish.
Fold the fabric in half to enclose the bits and stitch around the edge. You then stitch across your fabric sandwich. I tried stitching a grid and some curved lines, but you could do some freestyle machine embroidery if you wish.

Then taking a sharp pair of scissors or stitch ripper, cut into the top layer - making sure not to cut the fabric below. The edges can be left raw; washed to make them fray or folded and stitched down.

I think I'll further embellish my designs with paint and some beading.

The second technique creates a "new" fabric that can be used in other techniques or embellished.
Start with a base fabric. I used some fine silk, but a medium cotton would have been better. Remove the paper backing from some Bondaweb and dot it over the fabric, ensuring the edges have good coverage. Then again layer off cuts of thread and fabric. you could be quite random here or create a very distinct pattern/ design. Over the top add another layer of bondaweb, this can be torn into small pieces. Make sure you remove the backing paper. Top with a layer of synthetic organza. Place beetween two sheets of baking parchment and iron without steam on a medium heat. The fabric should bond together creating something new that still has some flexibility.

You can also paint bondaweb. Use a water based paint, acrylic is perfect. It should be watered down. Once dry the bondaweb can be applied to a light coloured piece of fabric and the backing removed. This can then be stitched into or other fabrics added on top. just remeber to use Baking paper to stop it sticking to your iron.

The final technique we used was again a layering activity. Similar to the first one. Start with a plain backing, add scraps of fabric/ thread and cover with a layer of synthetic organza. Other synthetic fabrics could work too. Stitch all the layers together. This is a great opportunity to try some machine embroidery. Once stitched, gently apply heat using a heat gun. A hair dryer is not hot enough, and a wall paper stripper too strong. Craft heat tools are quite inexpensive and provide the right amount of heat. As the heat reacts with the synthetic fibres they contract and start to melt away, revealing the layer below.

I also tried just heating some organza, applying the heat carefully allowed me to control the distortion and create a textural piece of fabric.

I enjoyed this process and created several samples. One I particularly liked was sandwiching organza betweek two layers of cotton, which I slahed open and then heated to allow the organza to melt away, leaving a lacy delicate surface. More development needed I think. The white fabric looks a bit too stark, black might have been better.

Look out for more experiments!
What are your favourite techniques with fabric.


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