Or….the reason to never throw anything away!
The new year has started, in fact it is speeding by way too fast, I’d actually like for it to slow down a bit – that said there are a few days I would not wish to repeat. In Lindsay’s recent post she was indulging in an Experimentanuary with some great results. I however have decided that the new decade (we won’t go into the argument of does the decade start at 0 or 1!) needs a new approach and have embraced ‘Tidyanuary’. I am tackling something (whether a kitchen cupboard or simply a pot of pens) every day and employing the positive rather than the negative. So, I’m asking myself ‘what do I want to keep, what has particular memories or value to me?’ – I’m definitely seeing good results….by 2030 I’ll let you all know if I have finished the task!
For this post and in line with the above (so – using things rather than just storing!) I thought I’d revisit a technique I learned years ago – making new fabric from scraps (some of them being not much bigger than a thumb nail!). The technique is nothing new but is good fun, simple and relatively quick and allows you to have fun with the sewing machine. It was seeing Ruth’s playful colour samples and my stitch trials that prompted my ‘ah ha’ moment, more later.
Before I begin I must repeat a quote EPH (Ever Patient Husband) found recently….’buying craft supplies and undertaking a craft are two completely different hobbies’. Need I say anything here?
I created this piece in 1995 (yep something else stored!) and I certainly suffered for my art….I had to eat lots of chocolates with beautiful wrappers!
So the technique for making new fabric from scraps….
Very simply – place little bits of Bondaweb (Wondaweb in the States I think) on some base fabric. I usually use fabric from old bed sheeting/curtain lining, or similar, to back various projects where I won’t see the fabric but need it for stability. I only dot little bits of the Bondaweb here and there as I have found that covering the base fabric in its entirety makes the whole thing too stiff for me. It is also a way of using up any bits that have broken off. Depending on how precise you want to be with the next stage, it isn’t a must to iron the Bondaweb down yet.
Even simpler – you can forget the above and use iron-on interfacing. There are advantages and disadvantages….whilst it is quicker and obviously sticks more of the fabric down in one go, I have found that heavy/close machine stitching can ‘cut’ through the interfacing making the work fragile.
Then comes the fun – place scraps of fabric/ribbon/threads onto the base fabric in a random or more considered design. Place non stick parchment carefully over the scraps & iron. It will still be fragile at this point and not everything may be fixed in place.
It is fun auditioning the scraps – anything goes. I decided to cut the interfacing square so created another fabric snippet with the surplus bit.
Over the entire design place a piece of sheer fabric – voile, netting, crystal organza, etc. There are two options for doing this….1. Use more small bits of Bondaweb randomly placed to ‘tack’ the sheer in place, or 2. Pin the sheer in place. The choice of sheer texture & colour creates interesting effects to the design. Looking at my work from 1995 I think that a layer of sheer over it would have improved the piece by softening the stitching and hence the overall design.
Warning – I have in the past ironed Bondaweb to the entire piece of the sheer and then adhered it to the scrap design….not something I would recommend for the following reasons – it makes the whole fabric too stiff, it dulls the overall look/finish of the sheer, it dulls the vibrancy of the colourful scraps, and it remains tacky which in turn impedes the top stitching.
Now it is onto having fun with stitching which can either be by machine (it’s quick – so definitely my preference), by hand or a combination of both.
I quite like the reverse of the piece too. I used just 2 thread colours, a few decorative machine stitches then some colonial knots and seed stitches.
Like many machine stitchers I use scraps of fabric to trial my stitches – over the years some of the pieces have actually looked quite interesting, but I just threw them away. A few months ago, whilst tidying my table area, I came across some coloured paper that had been glued to a base fabric. Then Ruth started posting about her colour samples. Suddenly I had my AH HA moment that put these three separate things together.
I layer scraps of worked paper, sweet wrappers, fabric or threads etc onto a base (either method as above) sometimes adding a sheer (loose threads definitely need a sheer!), and then set them aside. When I finally sit down to do some creative machine stitching I use one of my pieces to trial the stiches….ta da!
There is a silver lining (in this case gold) to having completely covered the sheer with Bondaweb first….heat bondable foil can be easily attached!
Using this technique a few years ago I made several needle cases as presents. Of the two that I kept, the scraps on the top case were laid randomly whilst they were laid in a more rectilinear fashion on the lower one. I stitched a ribbon cord around the perimeter then edged it with satin stitch.
I actually like both sides of each case so don’t know which to make as the front.
This is a fun technique, which doesn’t take up any room, I hope you are inspired to try it. For me it allows the perfectionist to take a holiday and, as I also find it addictive, I set time aside to create batches of the samplers.
How do you use your scraps? We’d love to hear and learn new ways of using them.