A Fabric Collage with Texture

We have an exciting new Art Lesson out, and this one’s a little different—it interprets our theme of Texture Adventures with fabric collage. Deborah Boschert is the artist who wrote Tiny Textured Treasures, and it will get you thinking about texture in a whole new way. Deborah’s well known for her beautiful textile collages, and she’s brought her talent and techniques to this unique lesson that I hope you’ll love.

Deborah says that she’s always enjoyed creating with textiles, and has a special affinity for lace, ribbons, and fabric. No wonder this lesson resonates with me—I’ve loved fabric since I can remember, and when I go to flea markets and antique stores I can’t resist antique lace, rumpled linen, and vintage quilts that offer all kinds of texture. If you have any kind of fabric stash that needs some thinning, this project is right up your alley.

This Tiny Textured Treasures Art Lesson shows you how to create texture in a fabric collage, and you’ll love making these miniature pieces!

In the lesson, Deborah shows how to create small fabric collages that can hang like ornaments or flags–she even includes instructions for making a wire flag holder! I took off on the idea and created tag-shaped collages, thinking I could use them on gifts, or give them as ornaments. I cut 3″ x 5″ tag shapes from linen, which I used for the backing, then cut thin batting a bit smaller. Deborah suggests using felt for the middle layer, but I was out, so batting worked in a pinch.

Using felt for the middle layer gives these small pieces a lot of heft.

I then dove into my fabric scrap pile, which is not small. I’m always reluctant to throw even the tiniest scrap away, especially if it’s the last bit of something I really like. I’ve now found the perfect project to pair with these odds and ends!

There’s a reason you have a ton of fabric scraps! Use them for a small textured fabric collage.

I placed one piece of fabric on about a third of the tag, then another on the rest, and did this arrangement both horizontally and vertically. Deborah encourages using torn fabric edges and selvedges to add even more texture.

Digging back into the scrap pile, I rummaged around for interesting bits, like lace, nubby wool, and cheesecloth. While arranging these pieces, I quickly realized that this part is all about intuition. If I felt a combination wasn’t right I couldn’t force myself to like it, I had to keep working until everything clicked. The process didn’t take long, but I discovered it was a good exercise in trusting your instincts.

Take your time and work with the colors, values, textures, and patterns of the fabric until you like the arrangements.

Taking a photo helped me remember where things were placed (a great tip from Deborah).  I trimmed the overall shapes down, so I’d have a better idea of the space I was working with.

As you build these collages, you’ll start to see the visual and physical textures emerge.

Hand stitching has always been one of my passions; I learned embroidery as a girl, and still incorporate it into many mixed-media projects. I’m so glad Deborah loves it too, and encourages slow stitching and its meditative nature. Since these pieces are completely made by hand, embroidery not only offers color and decoration, but also another layer of texture. Make sure you watch Deborah’s videos that are part of the lesson—she shows some embroidery stitches that you have to try. I am now a complete convert to messy French knots. I added those, Deborah’s ‘Y’ stitches, and other simple stitches to the tags with 6-strand embroidery thread and pearl cotton. Since the pieces are so small you’re not bogged down on any one for a long time—you can move on and really feel a sense of accomplishment.

Any embroidery stitches work for these tiny treasures—straight, chain, lazy daisy, or French knots.

To finish the fabric collage pieces I trimmed the top layers to the same size as the backing, then sewed everything together (Deborah includes all the instructions for finishing the collages). I also added metal eyelets to the top of the tags, and some sari ribbon.

fabric collage
The layers come together to make lovely fabric collages.

For one extra touch, I cut small designs from more fabric scraps and stitched them to the back of the tags. This last element seemed appropriate—a little surprise when you turn the pieces over.

A small detail adds interest to the back of a fabric collage.

With the holidays here, these would make great ornaments for a tree, or for a garland—or just beautiful pieces on their own, of course. I had so much fun making these special textural collages, and that pile of fabric scraps is calling my name. I’d better go see what it wants.

Looking for more fun texture adventures? Check out this Technique Tuesday post about great ways you can use fabric to create mixed-media art!


Blog, Fabric Art, Mixed-Media Techniques

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