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How-to

Master Class: More Great Fabric Manipulations

Nov 18, 2008
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by Lois Ericson
An Online Extra to Threads #140, pp. 66-72

In Threads #140, I encourage readers to reinvent fabric and then insert the results as a coordinating accent into a garment. Here are two bonus creations to try.

Use raveling fabrics as embellishment
When frayed edges started to catch on in fashion, suddenly everybody was raveling edges and they became, in a way, ordinary. I long to stretch away from ordinary. It’s part of the challenge. So, I set about finding ways to use the frayed fabric edges in a way that doesn’t look like just another fringe project. It takes experimentation and discovery.

When a fabric ravels too easily, it’s nearly impossible to use. But by using it as an appliqué piece and combining it with couching or lots of stitching—it takes on a whole new attitude.

First, choose the right fabrics, cotton, linen, and wool are usually good choices to fray. When you “audition” the fabric, check to see how much and how easily it ravels. Pull the strands apart gently and pin them to the base fabric. Arrange them in layers if they are thin or separate them in a pattern if desired.

Then, topstitch the pieces to the base fabric. The loose raveled threads look almost like brush strokes as these raw edged pieces turn into a rich complex tapestry.

Upholstery weight fabric

These examples show upholstery weight (above), silk and metal (above right), and heavy cotton (right) fabrics used to enhance an otherwise plain surface. The buttons in the photo above are vintage brass ball buttons

Silk and metal fabric

Heavy cotton fabric

 


Make a cloth of tubes

Fabric tubes are easy to make and versatile to use. You can weave with them, bind unfinished edges with them, or sew them together to create a new self-lined fabric.

To turn wide tubes, some folded and some wrinkled, into a jacket front, sew or baste each tube to the preceding row. As a bonus, this technique also makes the garment reversible.

To turn wide tubes, some folded and some wrinkled, into a jacket front, sew or baste each tube to the preceding row. As a bonus, this technique also makes the garment reversible.

Add texture to the fabric

Add texture to the fabric by scrunching it and then securing the wrinkles with fusible interfacing (1). If you’re only wrinkling a small piece of fabric, twist the fabric and pin it to the ironing board. Spray with starch or sizing. Press and leave until dry.

Sew the fabric into tubes

Next sew the textured fabric into tubes (2). Then sew the tubes side by side for the effect shown below.

Cloth of tubes Silk charmeuse, hand dyed, texturized, sewn into strips and then assembled in a row is reminiscent of an ancient Asian wall. The buttons are pewter.

Lois Ericson (DesignAndSew.com) has taught creative sewing techniques for decades and written many books on the subject.

Photos: Sloan Howard

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