Continued from Part 2

As I continue to write this blog to help others, I must pause and reflect on areas with which some beginners are having difficulty.

And so, before continuing with step 8, let’s talk more about fabrics.
I tell students to choose large and small prints in darks, mediums, and lights. I avoid certain fabrics, such as batiks and solids, in favor of directional patterns that help build the collage. I then show them a few images of prints to help them get started. Students, while attending my workshops, however, have brought to my attention how useful it was when I demonstrated how to use directional and flowing prints to indicate anatomy. Although I am the author of this blog, YOU are the artist. YOU get to choose… so look for fabrics that resonate with your personality, as well as with the animal’s, and you’ll begin to BOND with your work. Your art will reflect a personal expression if you fill in the pattern using not only appealing colors, but fabrics with movement and direction. Give yourself permission to ignore what others are doing and choose fabrics you LOVE. I cannot count how many times my students have tossed aside their work only to start over because they chose fabrics they “thought” would work because they were big name brands. WRONG. Remember, always work from your HEART and it will flow through your art.

Here are some of the things I look for when selecting fabrics.
Study the species. Several animals have tiny specs that a print can help indicate.
For example, if you were creating a bird with a speckled breast, look for fabrics to help “imply” this freckled appearance.


Look at the example below of the flamingo. Can you see why I chose this feathered fabric under the beak? This helps indicate not only a shadow, but the direction of the bird’s anatomy. The curve of the print follows the curve of the neck.

Now, look at the fabrics that were used in creating the bunny. By choosing materials that suggest the direction of the fur, the collage begins to work in harmony and you can “feel” this as it comes alive. Botanicals are a wonderful choice when you want to express movement. Petals, leaves, and branches encourage direction and can do most of the work for you.

Muted pastels and soft greys are excellent choices to allow contrast and dimension.
The Siberian tiger in “Angels Amongst Us” is a good example of how the prints indicate the pathway of muscles and structure. How do you do this? By carefully observing the animal. Look for several images of the animal you are creating. Search out images of muscle tone and bone structure, and study them carefully to get a “feel” for the animal. What kind of texture is it made of? Course hair, a soft pelt, or shiny scales? Look for fabrics that will help tell YOUR story.

As you may already know, I am a fabric designer for FreeSpirit Fabrics. I am creating bold fabrics with strong movement, as this is exactly what I look for when choosing fabrics to design with.
Take a look at these two images. The top one is Range Runners and the bottom is Barrel Cacti. Can you see how excellent they are for fussy cutting and using in fabric collage?

Time to RECAP!

Part 1  – Instructions on how to choose or create a pattern
Part 2  – How to select colors that harmonize.
Part 3 – The importance of choosing fabrics with direction, flow, and movement.


The most important step in creating fabric collage is EXPERIMENTING.
Play, have fun and don’t get too stressed about your art. If it begins to feel like a chore, walk away from it and go have a cup of tea or coffee. Remember to literally get your hands into the textiles! Sometimes just organizing my stash will bring revelation of fabrics I’ve had that have been waiting to jump into the story! There they’ve sat all this time patiently waiting for me to accept that they have better things to do than take up room in my bin. GO PLAY!

Continued in the next blog, Part 4.

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