|Fabric art collage by Jane LaFazio.
Fabric art involves all mixed-media art made from fabric, using a wide range of surface design techniques. Starting with fabric, batik, tapestry, and woven materials, you have a myriad of contemporary techniques to explore: embroidery, stitch, heat transfer, appliqué designs, screen printing techniques, textile paint techniques, embellishing, and more.
Making fabric art is perfect for the artist who loves fabric and stitch, but doesn't have the time (or desire) to create full-size quilts or complicated pieces of clothing. Easy sewing projects that include elements like raw-edge appliqué, painted surface design, heat transfer images, some hand stitchery, and found objects--without a lot of rules--are perfect for the mixed-media artist.
|Fabric art painting tips from Natalya Aikens in her
Cloth Paper Scissors Workshop video,
Materials for Fabric Art
Here is a basic supply list to get you started. You probably already have some of the materials on this list.
Markers and Pens - Pens and markers are very versatile tools for decorating fabric. Consider both permanent markers, such as Sharpies, and pens and markers designed for use on fabric.
Paintbrushes - Use paintbrushes to apply paint and dye and always keep a variety of different sizes on hand.
Paint Roller/Brayer - A paint roller or brayer is a great tool to have on hand, and you'll find that it's useful in a variety of different ways.
Spray Bottles - Spray bottles in a variety of sizes are a must-have in surface design projects. Fill with water, dye, paint, or even bleach, and create a variety of unique techniques and textures on fabric. (Remember to use safety precautions when working with bleach.)
Paints - Acrylic paint is versatile and can be used in a variety of fabric and surface design projects; fabric or textile paints are best if you're creating wearable items and things that will be washed; screen-printing inks can be used with screens, stencils, and masks, or as a substitute for paint. Be sure to look for water-based inks and inks made for use on fabric.
Dye - While paints sit on top of the fibers in a piece of fabric, dyes actually bond with the fibers, so the hand (or feel) of the fabric won't change and the dyed fabric can be washed.
Sewing Machine - A solid model with a basic presser foot for zigzag and straight stitching will take you far, but one that has a darning foot and the option of lowering the feed dog on the machine allows you to stitch in any direction, including circles will give you more options.
Hand- sewing Needles - Use hand stitching to close an opening, attach a decorative element, or add an expressive touch to some projects with embroidery stitches.
Fabric - White cotton broadcloth, muslin, and canvas are good places to start, but commercial fabrics can be used as-is or altered, too. And recyclable materials like paper, plastic bags, and cast-off clothing and vintage textiles are perfect for small projects.
Thread - Thread can be used to draw, write, and add pattern or texture. Cotton or rayon machine sewing threads, as well as a palette of hand sewing threads like perle cotton, will get you started.
Source: Sew Wild: Creating with Stitch and Mixed Media, by Alisa Burke, Interweave, 2011
Transfer Sketches to Fabric
You can easily create fabric art by transfering your favorite image from your sketchbook to cloth, using gel medium and Dura LarTM wet-media film. Then apply color and stitching as you wish.
1. Scan an image of your choice from your sketchbook to your computer.
2. If necessary, use a photo software program to enhance the image and deepen or brighten the colors.
3. Using an inkjet printer, print the image onto Grafix Dura-Lar wet media film.
4. Using the vintage linens as your work surface, thinly spread acrylic soft gel medium over the fabric where you want the image. Spread an even, thin coat of medium.
5. Lay the film, image side down onto surface, and rub light with your fingers to transfer.
6. Carefully lift off film, and wash it with warm water. You can reuse the film.
7. Dry the transfer completely.
8. Add linen to quilt or batting, and hand or machine stitch around the image. Enhance the image with water-soluble crayons or colored pencils.
9. Add batting to the back, and hand or machine stitch
Source: "Quilting Arts TV" Episode 803-1 Series 800, Interweave, 2011
Four Easy Hand Stitches
If you've never tried hand embroidery, you're in for a treat. Hand embroidery can add texture and personality to your fabric art. vary the threads and colors to get different effects.
Backstitch is excellent for making lines, outlining shapes, adding details, and drawing forms with thread. The stitch is worked right to left, opposite to the usual direction of hand stitching ( fig. 1). The more consistent your stitches, the better the line wil l look.
You can use French knots to make dots or stitch in multiples to make lines and other design shapes. To make a French knot, wrap thread around a needle once or twice, and then insert the needle in the fabric without losing the wrap, as shown in fig. 2. If the dot you create isn't as large as you'd like, use a thicker thread rather than more wraps of the thread.
Satin stitch, a series of flat stitches placed very close together, is a wonderful way to fill shapes. You can work satin stitches in any direction. It's important to keep the edges even and to cover any outline markings by taking the stitching to the outside of the outline (fig. 3).
Chain stitches resemble the links of a chain and are formed by stitching a series of connected loops (fig. 4). They are an easy surface embellishment that you can use to form lines and to draw shapes.
Source: The Cloth Paper Scissors Book by Barbara Delaney, Interweave, 2011
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