Not quite what I’d imagined

I mentioned the other day that I’ve been working on Ann’s Abstract Challenge. I had a folder full of ideas and photos that I’d worked on, but couldn’t quite see how they’d translate into felt or maybe fabric. After looking at the photos with me, my girlfriend suggested looking at something more simple and bold, like maybe a cup. So I started looking at different photos, found some with simpler shapes and lines, bolder features. One that I really liked was a simple photo of a shell. It was almost colourless so I gave it a blue tint.

I then played around with it until I was happy with an abstract design.

This seemed like a perfect picture to try with my idea of layering organza. So I worked out how many layers I’d need and what shapes those layers would need to be. I wanted a black background, so I thought it’d be a good idea to have a base layer of white felt the same shape as the first organza layer.

I then made the shapes into outlines, so I could print them out and trace the shapes onto the pieces of organza for cutting out.

I chose the colours of organza I liked and layered them together to see if they would work.

I then traced all the outlines onto the organza pieces and cut them out. It was then that I started to realise this wouldn’t be quite as simple as I’d first thought. Some of the organza was very thin and distorted while I traced, so I had to re-do a couple of pieces.

Layering the shapes together wasn’t easy either, they just wanted to slide about, so I started with sewing the first couple of layers together. That seemed to go alright. It wasn’t looking as tidy as I’d hoped-the organza was fraying, but the abstract design had outlines around the sections/layers, so I hoped these would hide the edges. When I started to add the 3rd and 4th layers, my sewing machine (hand cranked ancient Singer 🙂 ) started to make weird noises. When I looked at the back of the piece, it was a mess, all the thread from the spool had looped up underneath. I don’t know if there was a tension problem, but I decided to abandon it as a failure.

I left it on my work table and tried to think of other ways I could interpret the design with the supplies I’ve got, but all I could think of was using 5 shades of blue cotton fabric, which I don’t have. Looking at it in daylight this morning, it didn’t look quite as bad as it did yesterday, so I decided to put a bit of effort into finishing it. I had to patch up the second layer, as it had frayed so much it wasn’t attached at the edges. I also had to recut the top layer as when I was sewing it on by hand, the thread caught on it and tore it. It didn’t really turn out how I’d expected and hoped it would, (maybe some fabric stiffener and a bigger scale would help?) but it wasn’t the complete disaster I thought it was yesterday 🙂

How would you have interpreted the abstract shell picture differently? Would you have used different fabrics, or maybe wet felted or needlefelted the design? If you’d like to use the design, please feel free to do so. I’d love to see what you come up with.

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14 Responses to Not quite what I’d imagined

  1. Lyn says:

    The final photo is very close to your original design – and I really like it! So all that frustration and effort paid off in the end.
    And organza is hard to work with isn’t it?

    What is it about organza? I’ve got loads (yet I still bought more at the knitting and stitching show last October) and I love it. I’ve only used it in stitching and paper projects – I can’t remember any time that I’ve used it with felt. But I would love to marry the two together.
    By the way…..you can’t needle felt organza onto felt….I tried that this morning. The barbs destroy the organza. Some organza fibres get pushed through to the back of the felt (looks like whiskers) but the ones remaining on the top just fall off.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks Lyn 🙂
      I’ve only really used it with felt before, and really like the effects you can get.
      It sounds like you had a similar experience to me, bits were falling off around the edge as I was trying to sew. I thought organza wasn’t ‘woven’, someone posted a video on the forum about melting it and the woman said something about it being ‘spun’ or something?

  2. Marie says:

    I can sympathize. I’ve been playing around with tulle and organza and they really misbehave. A very tiny dab of fabric glue helps to keep pieces in place, but it’s still difficult. I’m going to try using 505 Spray next.

    • zedster66 says:

      I think I’ll stick to using it with felt then 🙂
      At least there are some things to try with it.

  3. Karen says:

    zed i know you had a lot of trouble with this but it turned out great in the end, I used to do a lot of applique so I wonder if you could have used the quilters sticky viliene, you cut all your pieces out and iron the viliene on the back , peel of the paper and then iron it on to the felt in the layers you want, if you can, i’ve never tried it with felt, but i might have made it more stable for your stitching. You could also stuff it a little to add some depth as well. Oh i might have to get some to try lol
    Great Job though, i can imagine how fiddly that would have been 🙂

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Kaz 🙂
      That viliene sounds like it would have been useful. can that be applied before cutting too? I think it would have worked much better if my machine dig zig zag stitch or something that would have ‘sealed’ the edges better.

  4. ruthlane says:

    I think it looks good. How big is the sample? Working with small pieces of sheer fabric is a real pain.

    I was going to suggest that you used a fusible like Kaz did. I would suggest something really light like Mistyfuse. You can fuse to the back of the organza before cutting it out and it helps the fraying problem. Then you can fuse your layers together before stitching and it will hold everything together. The Mistyfuse is nice because it doesn’t get so thick and gunky as some of the other fusibles do.

    The other thing you can do is “cut out” the organza shapes with a heat tool like a soldering iron. If the organza is silk that won’t work but all the polyester ones work great. That seals the edge of the fabric as you “cut it out”.

    I think you did wonderfully for the first time trying out this technique. Looks like you learned a lot. I would try it again in a bigger size with some of the suggestions here and I think you’ll find it much easier.

    I sympathize with the machine problems. It does look like a tension problem. My mother’s sewing machine used to do that to me every time I tried to use it. That is why growing up that I hated to sew. It took a long time to get over that. 🙂

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Ruth 🙂
      It’s about 5 inches long and 3 inches at the widest part. I have heard of Mistyfuse, I’m not sure if it’s sold here. Next time I go to the fabric shop, I’ll ask what they have in the way of stiffeners and fusibles and such.
      After reading what Lyn said, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the organza was being pushed through and messing up the stitching too.

  5. shepherdessann says:

    I think it came out great. You did really well with the machine making a mess like that. I was going to recommend the fusible as well. I don’t have any organza but cutting gauze it terrible. It shifts and stretches. I bought a cutting wheel to cut it with. It make smoother cuts than scissors.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Ann 🙂
      The fraying with cutting had never occurred to me, I usually tear organza and want the frayed edges because they felt in better. I saw a cutting wheel being used the other day and thought I’d like one. Something else for my fabric shop list 🙂

  6. Coincidentally I decided to try working with organza for the first time this week too. Funny stuff! I liked what you ended up with though, and thought the way you took the design from the photo was really interesting.
    My attempts at using it in a nuno experiment are here. http://afeltdesire.blogspot.com/2012/04/chiffon-experiment.html

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Deb 🙂
      I like what you made, it really does have an underwater feel to it. Organza is a bit like silk in wet felting, the less wool you use with it, the more it will ripple, or ‘crumple’ in organza’s case 🙂 I love using it in wet felting. Your waterlilies piece worked really well, too.

  7. Linda Hall says:

    You can cut and heat-seal the edges of organza or any synthetic sheer with a soldering-iron tool with the pencil point tip screwed into it. You use the pointy tip like a pencil and just “draw” around any shape and it won’t fray. You can also use a textile heat tool, and leather burnishing tool or a wood-burning tool. they are all essentially the same thing and they come with different tips for different purposes. Then you can cut out your shape, it seals and you can stitch it down or do whatever you originally planned with it. You have to print the template onto cardboard so you have something to draw around that the tip can push against.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks for that, Linda, they’re not things I have but it might help someone else 🙂

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