Paper and Fabric Collage with Stitch – Tutorial by Jane LaFazio

What do you look for in an art teacher? What I look for is someone who can teach a technique but who also encourages his or her students to bring their own ideas and talents to the interpretation. If that person has a winning personality and combines mixed media with stitch, so much the better.

paper and fabric collage circles jane lafazio
One of Jane’s Recycled Circles pieces, made with paper and fabric collage.

I know many artist/teachers who have these characteristics. Among the handful of names that comes to mind first is Jane LaFazio. I confess I also love her art and tutorials because she interweaves paper, mixed media, and fiber.

I don’t think she’s ever made a piece of fabric art I didn’t want to emulate, but one of my favorites is her Recycled Circles project. These concentric applique designs (made from paper scraps, fabric scraps, or both) come together with stitching, gesso, and gel medium. Best of all, there is very little measuring required.

Here are the basic steps using both paper and fabric, adapted from Jane’s article in the March/April 2009 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors and her WorkshopTM video, Layered & Fused Appliqué Quilts: From Fabric Scraps to Recycled Circles.

1. Choose a square piece of heavy paper (such as watercolor paper or cardstock) as the base. Go through your fabric and/or paper scraps and select pieces in your desired color scheme.

2. Cut or tear squares to fit 3 across the width of your paper, for a total of 9 squares. Leave some of the paper background showing in between the squares. (For example, if you have a 12″-square background, you’d cut your squares about 3½ ” square.) No need to measure; just eyeball it.

3. Arrange the squares on the background in the best color pattern and, using gel medium, glue them down. Make sure they are completely flat and secured. (In the fabric-only version, the pieces are adhered with fusible web.)

4. Paint with diluted gesso (1-1). Wipe off the gesso in some areas. Let dry.

5. Cut the large background into quarters.

recycled circles fabric collage catrien moortgat
Belgian quilter Catrien Moortgat created this Recycled Circles
project after watching Jane’s Workshop video.

6. Decorate each quarter by collaging lightweight found papers cut into concentric C shapes. When dry, machine stitch around the edges of the Cs. Embroider with hand stitching, if you like.

7. Arrange the quarters in a pleasing composition and then place tape across the pieces on the back to hold them together temporarily. Take your piece to the sewing machine and this time stitch complete circles. I purposely went over and around the edges of the appliquéd circles and collaged bits. You can also zigzag stitch through the center of the circle to help hold the pieces together.

8. Press the piece under weights (such as bricks) to flatten it.

9. Embellish with beads, buttons, charms or other small found objects.

Not only does this project afford the chance to play with with papers and fibers, there are endless possibilities for color schemes, moods, textures, and so on. And Jane, being the generous and nurturing teacher she is, encourages her students to make the artwork their own, often posting the results on her blog and social media.

For people who want to learn more about combining mixed media with fabric art, you can’t do better than learning from Jane. Her Layered & Fused Appliqué Quilts and From Art Journaling to Art Workshop videos are a great place to start.

P.S. What do you look for in an art teacher? Leave your comment below.

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Blog, Collage, Fabric Art, Mixed-Media Techniques, Paper Art and Zen Doodle

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