Fabric Collage Play

Fabric Collage Play

I’ve been trying to get a better understanding of the logic of the collage process. I’ve been taking some collage classes on the internet that use mainly paper materials. One thing I immediately discovered was that I had very little stash and you need to have a stash. So, I took more internet classes on how to build a stash, again with paper. I really liked one class where the instructor made her stash per each project and in this way, she could have plenty available in whatever colorway she was selecting to work in. This made sense to me even though I can see the value in collecting other ephemera as they appear in front of me.  I used to toss all my fabric selvedges, but now they have become precious to me. One thing I began to understand is that collage work isn’t usually done in one sitting, it’s based on using layers to build up to your finished project. But pretty much anything goes. You can use any type of supplies you have on hand. Of course, after taking several internet classes I now have even more supplies, more ephemera and more storage boxes to try to keep all this new medium sorted! You all know how that goes, don’t you??


My local quilt guild started a monthly 12” x 12” quilt challenge with the first ones due Sept 1st. I decided I would try my hand at one of the challenges which was to use black and white and a bright color (red was my choice). And I was going to try to use my newly acquired collage techniques. So, I began building a stash using black and white and red fabrics and making marks on them. 99% of the fabric I used is Robert Kaufman’s Radiance which is a silk/cotton blend. I used Golden Acrylic paints with my stamps, a toilet paper roll to make the circles, and various brushes. I especially liked the fan brush used in #3 and #4. I also wanted to focus on some stamps I had made of my Green Man faces that I have in my garden.


The following are a couple of not so good photos I took of my very first attempt at fabric collage. I had spent a few days building up my fabric collage materials and I was very excited to start doing something with them, so I cut a bunch of the new elements out and plopped them down on my 12” square. Hmmmmm, something wasn’t working with it.   While trying to figure out what was wrong with my first attempt, I remembered that part about collage making being done in layers. You can’t just plop things down and expect them to immediately work! Back to the drawing board. I needed to get some paint onto the fabric as my first layer. THEN I could start building my collage as it began to speak to me. At least these photos give you a good visual of all the stamps I used. I still laugh when I look at these very first attempts.




Here is my first attempt after I got some paint down. Each of the following 4 quilts have 4 or 5 layers of marks on them. I think this one is pretty wild but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything to it to calm it down. It kind of grows on me the more I look at it. I think I was trying to hide the Green Man in this one by covering him up with white paint.

Here is my second attempt. This one is a bit more subdued but still pretty wild. The Green Man is pretty prominent in this one. He thinks he is the center of the universe!


Here is the third attempt. There is red stitching but not much. I made all the stamps I am using when I took Art and Design Level 3 from Gail Harker Creative Studies https://gailcreativestudies.com/. The little 1” size stamps are great for these size collages.

And here is the fourth one in the series. I like how the Green Man blends in this one.

It was great fun to play with these. I learned quite a bit and intend on creating more fabric collages in the future. The little 12″ x 12″ sizes work well for practicing.

Happy Creating!
Tesi Vaara

13 thoughts on “Fabric Collage Play

  1. This looks like a lot of fun! I do paper collages sometimes and they’re very soothing, I bet the fabric versions feel the same. Love the layering and the paint does take the whole thing to a new level. What will you do with these, frame them?

    1. Thanks Leonor! Each one will have a facing on them. I doubt I’ll frame them but I would probably hang them all together if I decide to keep them. More than likely though I will donate them to one of the guilds I belong to as a fundraiser item.

  2. The evolution of the early to later work is wonderful to see. I would like to see your yard’s green men, wanted to have one carved into the tree in my front yard, but was told it would kill the tree. Your layered work is stunning, hard to make comments when I’m left wordless.

    1. Thank you! A green man carved into a tree would have been a nice addition to your yard. I wish I would have thought about that when I cut down some of my big fir trees. I could have left enough stump for a carver to make me one.

  3. The evolution of your process is captivating – I can just imagine how your stash is now building up for future projects. I love them all but #4 is definitely top of my list. 🙂

  4. Looks like you are really getting into working with collage and I particularly like #4. Collage can be a lot of fun if you combine textured papers with fabric and paint.

  5. What a fun process and whats not to like about something that requires you build your stash. I am not fussy about the first one but I don’t think that it is because it’s busy, I think its just to much red for me. I like #2 a great deal, it does look very much like the universe. Number 3 feels like its missing something but perhaps the red stitching isn’t showing well in the picture. The last one is my favourite. The black white and red is really well balanced and I like they way you painted the green man. I hope you make and share some more with us.

    1. Thanks Ann! Maybe I’ll try to get more red stitching on #3. Maybe I need to couch some red yarn down. My quilt guild is holding monthly challenges with various themes so I’ll probably make entries for that so I can continue practicing.

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