Project 6 – Stage 4 – Fun with with fabric manipulation


On Saturday I attended a workshop at Midsomer Quilting in Chilcompton.  The session was run by Bini Mistri and the object of the day was to produce samples using different fabric manipulation techniques.

Bini started by explaining her background in textiles.  She had been teaching textiles at a local senior school and then decided to quit and take some time to travel around India where her parents had come from and explore her roots.  She also brought along some books to inspire us – Contemporary Indian Fashion by Frederica Rocca was especially gorgeous, full of colourful photographs of creations by new Indian fashion designers.  Also Modern Fashion in Detail by Mendes and Wilcox, again with lovely colour photography showing techniques used to embellish contemporary garments.

I had not know quite what we would be doing at the workshop and was really pleased to discover how well the techniques fitted in with what I have been producing for this part of the course.

Here are some of the samples I made on the day:


We started with some simple gathering stitches.

This sample shows how two rows of gathering stitches, stitched on fabric with a grid pattern for regularity, can produce neat folds in the fabric, and on this particular fabric, an interesting effect at the selvedge edge.

The fan shape reminds me of the cockade embellishment used on traditional Indian turbans:

Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni wear turbans at the inauguration of a cricket academy, Pune. (

Here I have produced several lines of random stitching of different stitch lengths and with the rows at varying distances:

Pull up the stitches to gather the fabric and you get a much more textured effect than with the previous sample:

Traditional smocking uses this technique but using a regular grid for the gathering.


I could explore my sample further by embellishing it with less formal smocking stitches.

Many years ago I decorated my wedding jacket by smocking silk fabric I had appliqued with some vintage gold lace using the lattice smocking technique:

These two samples use gathering stitches which are in a particular pattern, a bit like the roof of a house, that is tricky to explain but hopefully the photograph is helpful:

The result is a pretty ‘petal’ edge which came out better in the slightly stiffer fabric in the lower sample.  You can achieve something similar by making running stitches in a regular zig zag and gathering up.

Folding and pleating

Here we cut out circles of fabric, folded them in half, then into quarters and stitched the points together to make a flower.

Using the same folding technique in butter muslin and stitching the folded circles on to a base fabric, I replicated an effect I had seen on a garment in the Mulberry factory shop next to where I work.

Here we made pleats in the fabric with the iron and then stitched them down with the machine.  Placing a contrasting fabric strip behind the apperture left by two opposing pleats gives it an interesting twist.

I am not sure if this next one is gathering or pleating or folding but we cut more circles of fabric, then cut out a smaller circle in the middle leaving a doughnut shape.  We then cut into it, opened it out, pulled the inner edge straight and stitched it to a backing fabric.

I have a purple cotton skirt decorated all over in mini flounces like this!

Raised shapes

I made running stitches in circles in this piece of silk and then gathered it up, trapping some stuffing inside the shape.

We learned that it is easier to start from the middle with this technique.  They look like little blue mushrooms!

We also learned about ‘Suffolk puffs’ or ‘yo-yos’ which are traditionally made into a type of quilt. The technique is simple.  Cut a circle of fabric and make running stitches into the outer folded over edge.  Gather up and pull tight until you have a flat disk with the gathering in the middle, and fasten off the stitches.  It looks like a mini shower cap.


The puff also looks interesting with a contrasting piece of fabric placed inside so that it just shows through the gap.

I was really pleased with my work and now have lots of useful samples as inspiration for future projects.  So many thanks to Bini for helping me along with my course work and, of course, for the scrumptious samosas!


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