Ruth Rae's inspiration, part 2: Fabric gift bag

Watching Ruth Rae's Art Dress video got me thinking about how versatile a fabric muslin is. In this video, Ruth transforms ordinary muslin into a work-of-art dress embellished with free-motion stitched words, plus a collage, ruffles, and more. The finished project is stunning.

But it's also achievable. As with all of Ruth's videos, she takes you through each step so that you feel like an expert in no time. Also, she includes so many incredible techniques and ideas that you're not limited to that one project. You can incorporate some or all of the techniques into a variety of mixed-media art.

I decided to make a small gift bag using the information in the video as inspiration. I made a book for a friend's birthday and wanted to wrap in something really special, so this was the perfect opportunity to try out some of Ruth's techniques.

I coffee stained a piece of muslin to give it an aged look, then cut two pieces a little larger than the book to accommodate for its thickness. Actually, I tore the fabric to give it a frayed edge. For someone who loves to measure, it was actually really freeing to eyeball the size and tear. I also tore two same-size pieces of printed cotton fabric for the lining.

One of the coolest techniques shown in the Art Dress video is distressing polyester organza. Who knew the stuff could look like this? I cut a rough oval of red organza and free-motion stitched it to the muslin and printed fabric pieces using a spiral pattern.

I then fussy-cut a flower from another piece of fabric and placed it over the organza and free-motion stitched it down. If you've never tried free-motion stitching, Ruth explains it perfectly. With her tips you'll be a pro in no time. One to note: Use quilting gloves. What a difference.

A heat tool (found in the stamping aisle of your local craft store) was all that was needed to distress the organza. Holding it over the fabric for a few seconds produced small holes and ruffled the edges. After that I free-motion stitched loops around the organza.

Another wonderful technique Ruth includes in the video is making free-form ruffles. Most of us make ruffles by sewing a row or two of basting stitches, then pulling the threads to form ruffles. Not needed here. Ruth shows how to feed a strip of fabric into the machine to create a ruffle, easy peasy. I created two of those on the front of the pouch.

I stitched together the tops of the muslin and the printed fabric, slipping in two 12" pieces of twill tape for a closure. I repeated this for the other two pieces of fabric. I sewed the front and back pieces with wrong sides together around three sides, leaving the top open, clipped the corners, and turned it right side out.

I love the way the bag turned out, and I can't wait to try these techniques on other projects, like a fabric collage pillow. If you make something from the video, please post it on our Cloth Paper Scissors website, I'd love to see what you made! ~ Jeannine

P.S. Check out the other great new videos from Ruth Rae, available as DVDs or downloads: Dimensional Collage on Wood, Fabric Collage, and Mixed-Media Etched Jewelry




Blog, Easy Gifts to Make, Fabric Art


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