“A Promise Kept.”

Continued from Part 4


It’s now time to decide how to build your fabric collage. There are many ways, however, I prefer to work directly onto my background fabric. I’m working like a painter— background, middle ground and foreground. I work in this precise order as I’m creating an illustration and not just filling in a cookie-cutter flat object. I never select my background after I have completed the animal. All elements must work together to create an environment that works in harmony with the main character.



Base Fabrics
Some people like to work on a base fabric that will be added to a background after they are finished with the fabric collage. This option requires added stabilizer in order to handle the heavy thread-painting done later. The base fabrics I’m most familiar with are muslin and Pattern Ease™. You’ll need to experiment.


Working Directly on the Background

Although there are many ways to create a fabric collage, I’m most comfortable working in the following steps. This is the exact method I teach in my fabric-collage webinars, workshops and the patterns I sell.

  • Trace the pattern onto the muslin
  • Adhere a double-sided fusible to the back of the muslin. I use Mistyfuse™
  • Cut out the pattern and iron directly onto the background fabric.

If Mistyfuse™ is not available in your country, you’ll need to look for something similar.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly, or you’ll be spending more time removing gunk from the bottom of your iron than actually sewing. I use a Teflon™ sheet, but you can also use parchment paper when ironing.


To Hoop or Not to Hoop

Fabric collage is created with appliqué.
Appliqué: ornamental needlework in which pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck onto a large piece of fabric to form pictures or patterns. Traditionally the edges are turned under, but when you add the term, “raw”, it simply means the edges are left unturned. There may be some fraying, but I prefer this organic finish.

After fusing the pattern onto the background fabric, decide if you’re going to use a hoop. I prefer to use one as I like my work very taut. When stitching a raw-appliqué that’s neither glued nor fused, you’ll need to secure the edges by thread-painting. If using quilter’s cotton as a background, it’s not heavy enough for this type of stitching and you’ll need to add another layer. Choose one of the following options:

  • Add a medium-weight fusible stabilizer to the background fabric and work with an embroidery hoop
  • Add a medium-weight tear away stabilizer under the background fabric and omit the hoop.

Note: I sometimes work directly onto 7-ounce denim or canvas without adding a stabilizer. This is completely covered with fabrics and requires a hoop.


Hoop it Up

I work with 8” and 10” wooden hoops depending on the area. For general work I use the 10”. When concentrating on an eye, I use the 8”. This keeps my attention focused to details without any distractions. In order to make the hoops slide more easily over the fabrics, I cover them with a strip of bias tape. (see photo)
Directions for covering the hoop:
Add one drop of Krazy Glue™ (or something similar), then wrap continually around the hoop. When you reach the end, snip the bias tape and secure with another drop of glue. Let it dry and you’re ready to go.



A Gazillion Pins

I don’t use glue or fusing to create my fabric-collages but, there is one exception. I use a tiny smear of a Sewline™ glue stick when doing eyes. The rest is done entirely with pins. Choose very sharp straight pins. The fancy ones with decorative heads may look cute, but they’re useless when doing this work.

You need simple, long, sharp, straight pins. (see photo) Stay away from short appliqué pins. I use extra fine glass head pins. I’ve also tried the Magic™ brand pins but, so far, I’m not impressed… but hey, that’s me. You need to experiment to find something that suits your style. The instant they become slightly bent or dull, I toss them immediately. So yes, I use a LOT of pins!


Continued in Part 6

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