Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chiffon sandwich, hold the chiffon

This instructional post is entirely inspired by Annette Husband, who posted an fantastic tutorial on Inkjet water transfers that I'm planning to try this weekend. I wanted to post my own tutorial on using fabric scraps and a heat gun to make embellishments.

I've been making embellishments from glitzy stuff trapped between layers of chiffon, stitching the layers then burning them back with a heat gun. I've seen this technique in Cloth, Paper, Scissors and in Maggie Grey's books.

This particular sandwich isn't actually chiffon, and I didn't like the way it burned - instead of cracking and shrinking, it went more fluid and blobby. It was an experiment, and I've learned from it. I'll still be using these pieces, in this case, for a 3D fabric box I'm working on, but in the future, I'll stick to chiffon. Or do more test burns.

I iron a layer of vliesofix to each piece of fabric, then sprinkle one side with lots of glitzy stuff. It's the time to dig out all those really garish brightly coloured stuff I love to stash but can never use tastefully: glitter, lurex threads, shimmery fabric scraps, sequins. I especially like to use the big, cheap, multicoloured sequins, because they melt into amorphous jewel-like puddles of colour.

Because the vliesofix is slightly tacky, gold leaf adheres to it pretty well; if it doesn't, a quick whiz with the heat gun will soften the glue enough. This is an extreme close up of what's in this sandwich: snippets of foiled tulle, sparkly yarn, sequins, and red/gold leaf flakes.

Then you press the layers together, and iron them (under a sheet of baking paper), with an iron that's warm enough to seal the vliesofix together, but not so hot that it makes your sheer fabric shrink or buckle. We'll save that fun for later. In this picture, you can see the glitzy stuff trapped between the two layers of sheer fabric.

Then I stitch the layers together - as the fabric shrinks, it clings to the stitching, and leaves an aged, crumbly residue. (Or in this case, slightly blobby.) I've stitched one piece in a grid with a butterscotch-toned variegated cotton thread. The thread needs to be cotton, or something non-synthetic that will stand up to the heat-gun.

And in this section, I've stitched a spoked wheel. I've found that the smaller the gaps between the stitching, the more structure the final piece will have, which is why my wheel has an inner and an outer circle. You could do all sorts of motifs this way, and the best thing is that they look better if you don't stitch nice, tidy lines. (This is good for me, because I'm a wobbly driver on the sewing machine.)

Now, the fun and destructive part. The first thing you need to do is open the doors and windows, because this is like burning plastic; it's smelly and the fumes could be toxic. So, make sure there's lots of ventilation. I heat from the middle of the grid out, holding my heat gun as close as I would for melting UTEE, moving the hottest part around the area I'm heating. You really see the purpose of the grid when the fabric is twisting and melting and pulling away from the lines of stitching: it holds the piece in shape, and ends up as the skeleton of the fabric. Here's my grid melted, with all the shiny treasures revealed:

And in close-up:

And the wheel, still in the framework of supporting stitches:

And all my wheels, snipped away from their frames:

The sheer fabric I used for these didn't shrink as much as chiffon does - if you're using chiffon, you should expect your piece to shrink by a third. As a consequence, my wheels were too big for what I wanted, which was to be medallions on the faces of a five-sided fabric box with a steam-punk theme. Never mind! I'm going to snip out tiny squares from my large grid, and stitch them to my fabric box, and embed lots of multicoloured beads into the gridwork. The wheels will keep for another project. I think they'll look great over black velvet. (Oh, velvet! Why can't I quit you?)


Debbi Baker said...

Hi Danielle! What a great tutorial = makes me want to rush to my room and try it! Fabulous result too.

Julie H said...

Thank you so much for giving me a way to use those sequins which seem to multiply in my art zone - without me every buying any! What a wonderful result and i think it would look terrific on the velvet.
Beautiful nest photo too.


can you all say BEAUTIFUL because that is what they are Danielle...thanks for the inspiration and the how too :o)

Linda said...

oooh brilliant and divine!!! I know what I am doing this weekend :)