Project 6 – Stage 4 Raised and structured surface textures – part 2



For the next two samples I used the same core materials: a piece of blue silk for the top, plain white handkerchief cotton for the backing and some cotton bump curtain interlining for the wadding.

Here I laid the plain blue silk over some self patterned mauve silk and then quilted with free machine embroidery in a contrasting colour thread.I then cut out portions of the top layer of fabric to reveal the mauve underneath.

I have slashed the top layer in one place and frayed the edges.  This is not particularly effective with this silk and I have not allowed enough fabric between the slash and the stitching for the frayed effect to show.

Where I have formed circles in the machine stitching, the fabric has made some nice rounded bubbles which are raised because of the wadding layer being pulled in slightly with the stitches.

With this sample I have overlaid a ruby sheer organza over the same blue silk base and trapped some fabric pieces, sparkly lurex off cuts and some space dyed banana yarn between the layers.  I then quilted by hand using running stitches, similar to Kantha work in one area.  Enclosing the yarn between the layers and then fastening it in place with running stitches all the way around is very similar to traditional trapunto quilting where wool or fibre was stuffed in between the stitches as the piece was quilted, but I believe this method involved stuffing the design from behind.

Raised shapes

The previous sample incorporated some yarn enclosed between the layers of fabric.  This time I have used plain calico and trapped some cotton cord inside a fold with hand stitching, as you might when making a piped edge for a cushion.  The top cord was straight until I stitched the next wavy line and this drew the fabric in and made the first one look curved.  The bottom line is some fine wire trapped and stitched into a fold in the fabric.  This is easily manipulated to form shapes, shown a little better in the photograph below.

Here I have sewn some curtain rings, buttons and wooden beads inside the calico to form raised shapes.  The items I have used are hard but you could use anything to form shapes and enclose them inside the fabric from soft, maleable stuffings and yarns to hard wire, bottles and plastic items.


I experimented with a strong pva solution and cotton sheeting over some cookie cutters and jar and bottle tops.  This sample is very stiff so I can see that this would be a very good method to use if you wanted to make the fabric support itself, but you would probably need some kind of internal frame if it were a large piece because of the weight of the fabric.

I also dampened some upholstery hessian and left it to dry around the balloon whisk for the Kenwood mixer.  There was enough size in the fabric from manufacture to preserve the folds which remain in the fabric, but this is a much less durable sample and the folds might well get squashed if stored with any weight on top of the sample, in contrast to the previous sample.

Final sample

I chose this image to work from to make a final sample:This was a sketch I made earlier from a photograph of the wood shed wall.  There are some interesting contrasts of texture here with the vertical lines between the curvy ragged edges that cross horizontally.  It is helpful that this sketch is monochrome because I am not distracted by colours that often stop me from visualising texture in images.  Straight away I can see tucks and folds in the design.

I have used plain white cotton sheeting which I have salvaged as I did not have any pieces of calico large enough.  I guessed that making lots of tucks would mean I would need to start with a piece of fabric at least twice as wide (if not more) than the required finished sample size of 30 x 30 cms.

I began with the horizontal tucks and secured them with a line of machine stitching.  Then I used the sewing machine to make the vertical pin tucks of various widths.  I finished by threading a strip of wadding through the horizontal tucks to pad them out.

Responses to this project

  • How does working with fabric in this way compare with working directly with stitch?

I have found manipulating the fabric to make shapes using the fabric itself much more effective than using purely stitch to imply a design or imitate an image.

  • Are you pleased with the shapes and movements that you have created in both appliqué and fabric manipulation?  What would you do differently?

I was very happy with the outcome of my appliqué sample.  I like the way you can use layers to give depth and that different materials can make a big difference in giving texture and movement to a piece of work.  I was especially intrigued by the results of heat treating plastic.  With the fabric manipulation you immediately see the possibilities of working in three dimensions rather than on a flat piece that you might use as a cushion cover or frame and hang on the wall.  Movement in my final fabric manipulation sample was created by filling some areas with wadding.  This gave the piece much more depth and a contrast appeared between the straight lines of the tucks and the wavy padded lines across them.  I would like to explore manipulating fabric on a much larger scale to see how size and weight of the materials might dictate the outcomes

  • How did the pieces work in relation to your drawings?  Were the final results very different from the drawings?  Did the fabric manipulation technique take over and dictate the final result?

With the appliqué sample I combined several images to produce the finished piece.  This meant that the result was bound to be different from the drawings but it is still evident where the inspiration comes from.  I think that any technique is going to influence the final result and sometimes it is easier to let the project flow and go the way it seems to want to go rather than try to hold back too much.  That way you are more likely to get an exciting, unexpected result.  This happened when I started ironing plastic sweet wrappers!  Sometimes a technique will limit an outcome and you have to look at the job in a different way, either accept the limitations and work with them or try to find a different technique that will work better.

  • Was it helpful to work from the drawings in the applied exercise?  Would you have preferred to play directly with cut shapes and materials?

For me it was more useful to have my drawings to work from because I have already done a bit of appliqué before and spent time ‘doodling’ this way.  I am enjoying this course because I can push myself to try things I haven’t before, move outside my comfort zone.  Because of this I am definitely getting more out of the course than I might have done had I chosen to continue to stick with something I already know.

  • How do you feel about working with stitch in general?  Is it an area you would like to pursue in more depth?  Do you find it limiting in any way?

I am comfortable working with stitch, either machine or hand.  I would like to explore more free machine embroidery techniques like using vanishing muslin or trying different threads but I will need a new machine before I can try anything more.  I have found during the course of this module of study that I am less excited by hand embroidery than I used to be.  This last project has made me want to try more fabric manipulation and construction techniques, rather than, as I have perceived them, embellishment or decorative techniques.


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