Stitching Fabric Paper

Yesterday I made fabric paper.  I wanted to see if there were any advantages to using it for stitching rather than just using paper.  I’d already found that the colours (when painted with watered down acrylic paint) were really lovely.  Today I wanted to try stitching the fabric paper.

For some sections I’d used pieces of wrapping paper with hearts on it.  Some of the hearts were showing throught the paper.  The problem was some had ’40’ written inside.  I wondered if I would I be able to cover up the number so that it could not be seen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, it wassimple.  I just stitched a spiral over the number.  Now you cannot tell that there is a number underneath:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Next, there were some lovely butterflies (from another wrapping paper) showing through the tissue paper.  This is a picture showing one of the butterflies on the sewing maching (I forgot to take the before picture, but remembered while I was stitching):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is the stitched butterfly:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn retrospect I should have cut out a square with the butterfly at the centre, rather than to one side.  I’m not sure whether I’m going to leave this in a small rectangle or whether I’m going to cut close to the edge of the butterfly (in which case I might have to remove the antennae and stitch them back on the backing fabric).

On the next section there were letters and numbers showing through:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI stitched a leaf outline and added some stitching to cover up the letters and numbers:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe flowers were more difficult to see throught the paper (oops, I forgot to take a picture of the paper before stitching) so I searched for the left over wrapping paper and used it for guidance:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI then stitched patterns on a couple of sections where there was very little pattern showing through from the paper underneath:


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like the idea of using the grid and adding small objects, beads, sequins etc in the squares.

So far I’ve only stitched about half of the squares on one piece of fabric paper.  What I’ve found so far is:

  • The fabric paper is very easy to stitch. It’s stronger than paper, and certainly less likely to tear.  Despite the fact that the pva was watered down well the paper fabric was quite stiff, but not too stiff to work with.
  • I could see some of the patterns of the papers underneath the tissue papers, and I could follow the lines to stitch the patterns.  Where I had difficulty seeing the pattern I just looked at the remaining wrapping paper to clarify where the lines were.  It was a bit like painting by numbers, and I wondered if it could be classified as cheating!
  • The position of pattern within the cut pieces is important if you’re going to cut rectangles, squares etc.
  • The best wrapping paper to show up was the one with coloured butterflies on a white background.  I’m going to be keeping my eyes open for other wrapping papers showing quite a bit of contrast and clear objects/patterns.

I’ve realised that I need to think more about what I’m going to do with the stitched pieces.  I had thought about stitching them on one of the other pieces of fabric paper, but it seems as though though all the cutting and positioning wrapping paper etc was all for nothing.  I’m now thinking about making more fabric paper, but using plain computer paper in place of the wrapping paper and pictures etc.  That way I still have the colours and texture showing through from the background, but not the patterns.

Overall I have to say that fabric paper is wonderful stuff!  I love the colours, I love the texture, it’s wonderful to stitch, and I’m sure the small sections can be used in lots of different projects.  I’m looking forward to more stitching fabric paper tomorrow.

Fabric Paper

Some time ago I bought myself a copy of ‘The Cloth Paper Scissors Book: Techniques and Inspiration for Creating Mixed-Media Art.’  A few days ago I found myself reading an article in the book; Building Upon Layers detailed design made easy by Beryl Taylor.  In the article Beryl mentions fabric paper.  She said that you can apply it to your work, machine stitch it andcut it out, so after a little bit more investigation on the internet I just had to have a go.   I found an excellent tutorial – the Layer by Layer workshop on YouTube.

This morning I was up at 5am.  By 6am I had the floor covered with a black dustbin liner, cut open at the bottom so that it would lay flat.  I cut 5 A4 (roughly) sized pieces off an old polycotton sheet and laid them on the bin liner:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI mixed up some pva and water.  I wanted it to be thin enough to leave the paper fabric pliable, but thick enough  to glue the paper and fabric together.  I’m guessing I must have used 3 x more water than glue.  I cut up some pieces of wrapping paper and a few pictures from an old gardening magazine, brushed lots of glue onto the fabric and stuck on the paper pieces:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see I had quite a selection.  I wanted to try using dark, light, definate shapes, less obvious ones, just to see what would happen.  I then added more glue (at this point you need to use a soft brush), a layer of tissue paper (I used white tissue paper from The Range and had no problem with it tearing), more glue again and another layer of tissue paper:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy this time I was feeling a little worried that the designs may show through too much.  I was hoping that when the fabric paper dried (if it ever dried – it was soaking wet at this point and I thought it would take a month of Sundays) the tissue paper would be more opaque and the designs less obvious.  Next I added some colour using acrylic paints and plenty of water:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I was getting a little more excited, even though my stomach was rumbling like mad (who has time for breakfast when they’re having fun).  It was fairly cold and rainy here in Yorkshire this morning so I hoped that the sun would come out to dry the papers.  Sure enough, late afternoon the sun was shining.  Amazingly the papers have dried, and this is what they look like now:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have to say I’m feeling even more excited now.  The colours are lovely (the photos just don’t do this justice).  The tissue paper did mask the papers somewhat, but I can still see some of the designs, particularly the butterflies.  There are some bubbles where the paper has parted from the fabric, but the stitching should sort that out.  I’m really looking forward to finding out what I can do with this tomorrow..

Bondaweb Leaf

The bondaweb was out again today.  I wanted to try a technique similar to that described by Carolyn Saxby.  She wrote an excellent tutorial which you can find here on her blog.  Basically it involves making leaves from snippets of fabric.  Whereas Carolyn used a layer of fleece for the backing, I used a piece of fabric that was green on one side and a matt gold on the other.  I ironed bondaweb onto both sides, cut out a leaf shape, then removed the papers.  I then added snippets of fabric, yarns, cotton, a bit of glitter, whatever I could find, to one side, ironed again to make the snippets adhere, turned the whole thing over and did the same to the other side.  I then pinned on some green organza and stitched leaf veins and then stitched around the edges.  Finally, the soldering iron came out and I made lots of holes in the organza (you can’t tell it’s been covered in organza at all).  Here are images of both sides of the leaf:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe leaf has a really interesting texture, a bit of glitter, it’s quite strong and it’s very pliable.  I’m now sat playing with this leaf and pondering the potential of the technique. Just think, I could have the biggest aspidistra in the world surrounding my waste paper bin before the end of the week!

Stitching Bonded Fabric Squares

This is where I left off yesterday (a slightly better photo this time as it’s taken in daylight conditions):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast night I’d started stitching the squares with gold thread, but I had to unpick as I hadn’t used any stabilizer on the back, and it was puckering terribly.  By this morning the  neurotransmitters in my colour neurones had been replenished, so instead of the gold I selected a green, a turquoise green and a purple thread and started stitching.  First the green thread close to the edgees of the green squares:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen a grid was stitched through the edge of the larger squares using the dark turquoise green:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext a metallic purple thread was stitched around the edges of the smallest squares, and two lines taken to each of the squares on all sides of them:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis really seemed to give the central squares good definition, and it enhanced the purple in most of those small squares.

Finally, the gold had to come out again.  Lines were stitched on the background, around the smaller squares, and diagonals connecting the corners of the smaller squares.  This shows a close up of a single square:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see the lines on the background added some texture too.  Finally, this is how the bonded fabrics look now (I’ve tried to get this one as close as possible to the actual colours):


I had a few issues along the way, the main one being that the synthetic fabrics seem to fray so easily that the edges fall to pieces.  I didn’t want to cover the edges with zigzag stitch, but I might look for an alternative on the next sample.  The frayed edges contiually got caught in the stitching, but just needed pulling back from under the stitching with a pin.  There was also quite a lot of puckering with all the stitched lines.  I think this one is easily resolved with more stabiliser.

What am I going to do with it now?  It has to go to my tutor at some point.  I think it would make a lovely cushion cover, or a bag for toiletries etc,.  I’m undecided, but I do like the end result.  It’s amazing what you can do with bits of fabric that have almost landed in the bin several times because on their own they were unattractive.  I’m looking forward to playing with more scraps and bondaweb tomorrow!

Bonding Fabric Squares

I’ve decided it’s time to get back on track with my Distance Learning Machine Embroidery Course.  One of the requirements for Unit 3 is bonded fabric.  I was also required to use some of the fabric I’d dyed previously, so I started searching through my stash of fabrics for suitable materials.  I started with a piece of synthetic green and purple fabric (this had been painted):


I ironed some bondaweb on the back and cut 16 x 1/2 inch squares.  Next I used some fabric which was mainly green (painted and marked with sharpies):


This time I cut 16 x 1.5 inch squares.  The smaller squares were bonded onto the front of the larger squares, and a piece of bondaweb 1 inch square was bonded onto the back of each of the squares:


The edges were then frayed:


I placed this on top of a turquoise and green fabric.  It looked quite nice, but wasn’t stunning.  This is when the light started to change, so the colours aren’t showing up well..


Though I did like this I thought it needed more colour, so I added a layer of 2 inch coloured squares:


I’ve started stitching the squares, but I was so keen that I forgot to add some stabiliser, so I’m now unpicking.  More on this tomorrow.

Stash Busting Nasties Challenge

I’m sure you’re thinking this is an odd title and wondering what I’ve been up to today.  Yesterday I spent time beading a felt bowl.  I was using mixed beads, selecting the beautiful glass seed beads from the mixed beads I’d bought at a quilt show.  This morning the beads were out again as I had too many little jars, and some of the beads could be mixed together.  My main aim though was to remove the cheap and nasties.  I’m sure you have them too, the cheap, dull relatives trying to hide away amongst the beautiful shiny glass beads.  I spent about an hour removing the plastic looking and the kiddie beads (little flowers, butterfilies and other shaped beads) that I was never going to use.  These are some of the beads I pulled out:


My intention was to take them to the charity shop or to offer them to the kids who live just up the street.  Then I had another thought.  As you know I like the challenge of trying to produce something from next to nothing.  I wondered if it would be possible to use some of the cheap and nasties to maybe produce some small gift tags that are……nice? attractive? worthy of giving to a friend?

Though I tried to dismiss the thought it niggled away and I had to have a go.  I pulled out some thin card that was too thin to use for larger cards, cut it into small gift tag sizes, cut some small pieces from my coloured waste paper stash, and started stitching.  I didn’t want to spend too long on it, so I kept to one design and stitched as quick as I could.  These are the gift tags I produced today:


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot the best work I’ve produced, but I do think they are decent enough to send with a gift.  What do you think?  Did I pass the challenge?

Beaded Felt Bowl

Yesterday I made a felt bowl.  Though I liked the colours it wasn’t stunning.  Also the opening was a little uneven.  This was how I left it yesterday afternoon:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought that some beads and a little embroidery would brighten it up.  My first thought was to stick with the sea theme.  Then I had another thought; how about beading heavily around the opening, gradually decreasing the beads down the side, to make it appear as though the beads were spilling over the edge and running down the sides.  I had lots of small packets of mixed beads (which included some sequins) that I’d bought from Images of Egypt (they usually have a stand at the quilt shows, and the bags of mixed beads are beautiful colours and a great bargain).  I started stitching last night, went back to it for an hour bright and early this morning, then returned to it later in the afternoon.  I used beads that were mainly green, blue and purple (like the felt), and I selected beads mainly similar to the colour I was stitching over.  I also stitched some french knots, especially over the purple, as I didn’t have many purple beads.  This is the finished bowl:


And a close up of the beading:


When I started beading I really thought it was going to take me weeks to finish.  I think that because I was using mixes of beads and many are spaced out it was much easier and quicker than I thought it would be.

I’m feeling pretty pleased with this.  It’s a unique hand felted bowl with magic spilling out.  Who needs a magic wand!


Handmade Felt Bowl

After several days of no crafts I finally decided it was time to get my head back in gear and to get something done.

I have a box of merino wool tops.  The box has been sitting under my desk for ages.  Occasionally I visited it and thought about felting, but then I put it away again.  Today the box came out and I started stash busting.

I’d bought a couple of bags of dyed wool tops from Texere Yarns last time I visited (this is not an affiliate link, it’s just to show what I used).  I couldn’t resist the mixed bags of Deepsea and Moorland colours.  I used the Deepsea and a few other colours (for some reason I had to throw in purple) to made a felt bowl using the resist method.  If you haven’t made a felt bowl or pod using this method you should try it.  It’s amazing how something flat becomes 3D.  You need:

Wool tops

Silk tops (optional)

A thick plastic bag

A plate (to act as a template for cutting a circle)

Warm water with some Olive soap (or hand soap – just rub some into the water)


The method is simple to follow:

  1. Cut a circle from a thick plastic bag (it has to be thick enough to hold it’s shape).  The circle should be larger in diameter than the intended bowl as the object will become 3D and felt shrinks.  I drew round a dinner plate and cut out the circle as I wanted a good sized bowl.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Place a large piece of bubble wrap (large enough to cover the back and the front of the circle when the bubble wrap is folded over) bubble side up (not smooth side) on the work surface.  Place the circle on top and start to lay the felt tops over the plastic circle.  Whatever you place next to the plastic circle will be seen on the inside of the bowl (though it can be pulled inside out later on if you prefer the inside to the outside).  I wanted a fairly random colour pattern with lines travelling up the sides (please ignore the top right of the photo where I had more tops ready):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Press down so that the tops hold together, turn the plastic and the tops over so that you have the plastic facing up with the tops behind it.  Any tops sticking out of the edges fold over the front of the plastic and then add a layer of tops on this side of the plastic.  Wet the wool tops just enough to dampen the top layer through (you don’t want water running all over).  Press down gently with the bubble wrap.  Gently turn the whole thing over and do the same on the other side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. Make sure your hands are dry, if you dont the dry fibres will stick to your fingers.  Now you add another layer of wool tops, but with the fibres running in a different direction so that the cross the ones on the previous layer.  This will be the middle layer and most of it will be hidden.  I used a darker blue, but just use a colour that fits in with your colour scheme.  Press the fibres down and add a little water before turning over and doing the same on the other side (don’t forget to fold the edges over again).
  5. Add your finally layer of fibres on both sides (as you did for the first layer).  This will become the outside of the bowl, so use colours and a pattern that you want visible.  Add water and press down gently with the bubble wrap.  Check that the fibres on the edges are folded over and that plastic is covered all over.
  6. Cover with bubble wrap (this should already be underneath and it will now cover the top as well) and start rubbing gently.  What actually happens is that the fibres seem to stretch before they start to cling together.  If you rub too hard early on you may find that you get large wrinkles and holes. Just take it steady, not too much pressure.  Turn it over after a few minutes and continue rubbing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  7. Check to see if the fibres are starting to hold together.  Once they do you can start to rub harder.  Try using a rolling pin over the bubble wrap. At this point you can use plenty of pressure.  Keep going until the fibres have felted together (pinch them gently to see if they stay together or come apart).
  8. Once the fibres have felted together you can remove the plastic from the inside. You can either cut out a circle at the centre (only on one side) or you can just find the centre point and make small cuts from the centre outwards.  Remove the plastic.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  9. Rinse with clean water and squeeze the water out.  Remove the bubblewrap from your worktop.  Make sure that there is no soapy water on the worktop.  At this point you can turn it inside out to see which you want as the inside and the outside.  Now for the therapy.  Start throwing the felt bowl or pod at the work surface.  Get tough, burn some calories.  It’s quite therapeutic if you’re having a rough day.  Keep going until the bowl or pod starts to harden up.  It will go a little crinkly.
  10. All you need to do now is shape the bowl.  I used a ladel and rubbed it around the inside until I had a bowl shape.  Just keep pressing and turning and it will start to take shape.
  11. I left the cut points at the centre of the bowl because I thought it would appear more organinc.  At this point I decided they were too straggly so I cut a circle (roughly) at the opening instead.  It went from this OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAto this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see I stood the bowl on a cooling tray to dry outside in the lovely sunshine.

One mistake I made was to add some gold threads.  They looked great but the felt didn’t hold them.  I’m now picking them out before taking this any further.

This is not the end of the story.  This felt bowl is still damp, but it’s already crying out for beads and french knots.  More on this tomorrow.

Machine Stitched Cards Delphiniums and Sunflowers

Yesterday I went shopping for card stock.  I decided it was time to take the card making a little more seriously.  When I returned home I started another card.  I looked at the backrounds I’d cut a few days ago and found this one:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter staring at it for a few minutes I decided it reminded me of delphiniums.  I selected a green and a purple thread and started stitching.  First of all the green stems and leaves:


Next the purple delphiniums:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen I used the card stock and more coloured paper to make the card.  I’d realised that the coloured paper would be much cheaper to use than cardstock for mounting the stitched pictures:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday I made three more cards, this time sunflowers.  I started with a small dark brown circle,  a lighter brown circle and a yellow circle (rather than flat yellow I used paper with touches of other colours – a bit of a risk, but sometimes you have to dare to be different):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used black thread to stitch a pattern over the two central circles (curves going one way followed by curves going the opposite way), then the petals were stitched (being careful not to go too close to the edge):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI applied some pva to the back, left it to dry, then cut out the sunflower close to the stitching.  I cut out a stem and petals, stitched them onto background paper, then stitched the sunflower head onto the background.   The pictures were mounted on coloured paper, the edges stitched, then stuck onto cream card.  These are the finished cards:




I’m now keeping myself busy making cards from the postcard sized pictures I’ve made this last few days.

More Machine Stitched Cards

I was on a mission today to complete more machine stitched pictures for cards (I really must buy some card stock tomorrow).  All three pictures today were inspired by nature at this time of year.

The blossom trees are blooming.  This first card is made from painted/dyed paper.  I had to figure out how to stitch over the blossom without it looking a mess.  I worked out that I could use circles over the blossom to secure it (I used a Pritt stick first) and to move from one blossom flower to another by changing the direction each time.  This card was the quickest and easiest to make today.


The tulips are flowering.  Again this card is all stitched paper.  The leaves were stitched onto the background before the flower heads were added.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, the buttercups and daisies are starting to appear. This card took quite a while to cut out and stitch.  The daisies are white fabric backed with bondaweb.  The buttercups are handmade silk paper.


When I finished stitching these this evening I was thinking that I’ve come a long way since the beginning of January.  I’m managing to produce more work than I ever did previously, and I’m feeling much more positive about the work I produce.  I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist, worrying that many things are not quite right and that people will see my mistakes.  Now it doesn’t bother me so much.  It’s handmade, and not meant to be perfect.  It’s individual.  Vive la difference!