Tyvek Brooches

Tyvek Brooches

Later this month I will exhibiting at an arts and crafts event at the Baumber Walled Gardens near Horncastle so I’ve been making various small items, including these Tyvek Brooches, for the sales table.  Since it’s invention by DuPont, Tyvek has found uses in a huge range of situations. The fact that it is much stronger than paper and many fabrics, as well as totally waterproof, has led to it being used as a replacement for these materials in many applications.  It is widely used in the construction industry but you may be more familiar with seeing it used as packaging, FedEx envelopes are made from Tyvek paper.  If you don’t have the envelopes you can buy packs of Tyvek quite cheaply from Amazon.

Tyvek paper is extremely strong and durable and great for creative crafts as it can be easily cut, coloured using any paint medium, heat distressed with an iron and stitched by machine or hand.

I made my first brooch using this material when I was looking for a contrasting texture to use with my wet felted collars.

To make a brooch I normally cut out a piece of painted Tyvek in an oval shape approximately 4” x 3” and lay it between two pieces of tracing paper.  You can use baking parchment or copier paper but I find I get a clearer picture of what’s happening to the Tyvek when I use the tracing paper.  Once it starts to react to the heat things happen very quickly!

With the iron on its hottest setting I hover over the Tyvek, just touching the paper but with absolutely no pressure on it.  The heat causes the paper to shrink creating bubbles on the underside and ridges on the top side.

Bubble side

When the paper is peeled back you will find that it has stuck a little but it cools down quickly and can easily be peeled off.

Ridges are created on the top side
The underside of the Tyvek bubbles to create a pebble effect

The next step is to cut out a piece of felt slightly smaller than the brooch and attach it to the back using a hot glue gun.  This allows me to add the hand stitched knots

Another piece of felt is cut out and has a brooch back sewn onto it before being stuck in place, again using the glue gun.

I love the fact that each brooch is totally unique as this method of working means that non of the designs could ever be repeated. My only problem is letting them go as I love them all!

26 thoughts on “Tyvek Brooches

  1. I make cuff bracelets using heat-treated Tyvek — you can see some pictures on my website. I don’t see an option here to post a picture, otherwise I’ld do that. I machine zig-zag stitch the Tyvek onto a leather backing, using crocheted chains to cover the edges. I sometimes put some heat-treated Angelina fibres underneath the Tyvek where holes have appeared. Love your little brooches.

    1. I love your cuffs and necklaces too Frances! I’ve just started working on a necklace using Merino as a background and adding the Tyvek. I just love the combination of the hard and soft textures.

  2. Here are some pictures of my cuff bracelets — I commented on your post, but couldn't see a way to add pictures, so here they are Frances


  3. Thanks for explaining the process Karen. I may have to have a play with this! What medium do you normally paint it with, will acrylic paints do?

    1. Yes Tracey, acrylic, Inktense, transfer paints, fabric paints etc. These all work and if you have metallic paints they look particularly good.

    2. Thanks Karen. I don’t have metallic but yes I can imagine how good they would look, maybe have to get a little tube of metallic along with the paper I have ordered……. 😉

  4. Thanks for the lovely post Karen! I love your brooches and I have played with Tyvek in the past but love the pebble appearance of yours. I think my group might try some leaves and pebbles soon with Tyvek. One of our members has a great big sheet of Tyvek that she wants to get out of her studio.

    1. I only heard about it three years ago. It was mentioned in a three dimensional embroidery book I was reading and I just had to try it!

  5. I love Tyvek and the unique bubble patterns it creates. The brooches look great and will be very lightweight for the lucky wearer.
    For anyone not familiar with it, the bubbles will always form away from the hot surface, so don’t press down too hard with the iron. That said you can achieve a very lacy look (although quite crispy) by pressing hard and over working the Tyvek – great for embroidery embellishment.
    I was given a whole roll of roofing Tyvek which is very ‘industrial’ grade (after ironing you just need to pull off the backing – also useable) compared to the delicate envelopes but still works a treat.

    1. Wow, I wouldn’t say no to a whole roll of the stuff! I’ve also done some work with alternating between ironing one side and then the other which produces a lacey effect. You can also build up a really interesting piece of work by layering odd bits of Tyvek and re-ironing to bind them together……just need more hours in the day!

  6. Very cool, there is lots of fun experimenting you could do with that. I wonder what would happen if you cut holes in it and wove some felt in and out of the holes.

  7. Hi Karen, I have been looking at tyvek sheets to give this a try and have found there are lots of different weights. Would you have any idea what the gsm of the material that you use is? If not, is it heavier/thicker than an A4 sheet of printer paper? Thank you!

  8. Hi Karen,
    Just so pleased to have found your post on FFS. I bought some Tyvek at one of the Knitting and Stitching shows – it seems like years ago now (it probably is, come to think of it), I think I used a bit of it and then it found its way into the back of a press. I was online in a tool shop recently and saw protection suits made of tyvek going for a song. So I bought one and unpicked the seams (easy knowing this happened during lockdown – waaay too much time on my hands!) Your post has given me the motivation to try something – not totally sure what yet!

    It reminds me that all these older posts are really worthwhile sharing again. The information is just so valuable!

    off to find some paints etc

    1. You are so right Helene! I will sometimes go back through old posts on the site and discover posts I’ve missed first time around or maybe read but then forgotten about. Just bear in mind that there are two types of Tyvek, the paper and the fabric, and one is quite different to the other. Your suit is Tyvek fabric…..what I make my brooches with is Tyvek paper. The fabric is good for using with a wire armature and you will find examples of this on my website http://www.lincsinstitches.com if you just put “Tyvek fabric” in the search box. Have fun!

  9. I’ve just learnt something new today Karen. Thanks for that! It never even occurred to me to check the two types I have (Stitching show versus Tool shop). I have a lot to learn lol.

    thanks again, I will look at your site and wish I lived closer so that I could attend your workshops!

    have a great weekend.

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