Monday, 30 January 2017


I've taken some of my melted circles (see older posts) and sewn them together with free machine embroidery in metallic threads. To do this I pinned the circles between 2 pieces of water soluble stabiliser and then free machined circles between them. It's important to make sure all the stitching is joined up so it doesn't unravel when the stabiliser is washed away. I used my stitch regulator to get the stitches of even size but it didn't like the stabiliser much. The sensor had trouble "seeing" the clear stabiliser fabric and tended to go really fast.

I think they look a little like bubbles don't you?

I think I will layer them somehow so you can see through each layer to the one beneath.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

A Marvellous Day For Melting

Roasting hot, windy days have come to an abrupt end here in Perth. It's now calm and drizzly, perfect weather for melting fabrics without them blowing away or starting a bush fire.

Today I tried stitching onto felt and organza before distressing with heat. I knew cotton and rayon fibres wouldn't melt but surprisingly polyester thread was also OK because even though it does melt eventually it takes much longer than the felt and organza.

I layered up the fabrics and free-machined scribbles and circles onto them before blasting with the heat gun.

I rolled some organza piece around a wooden dowel and distressed that with the heat gun to make a bead.

I sandwiched some metal grid fence wire from the DIY store between layers of felt and organza. I experimented with various ways of attaching the layers including hand and machine stitching and spray glues. Machine stitching works well but you need to go slow and use the hand wheel to navigate over the joins in the wire grid without breaking the needle. Once this is heat distressed it can be moulded into a 3D shape.

I found some plastic grid in my stash. This can be melted and manipulated with the heat gun. If wrapped around a marble and heated it will retain the ball shape. I combined the mesh with organza, felt and stitch. The plastic mesh can be sewn right over on the machine if you back it with a little water-soluble stabiliser, just wash it out before applying heat.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Melt It! - Part 2

This is part 2 of melt it. For part 1 click here.

Today I took my melted organza circles and attached them to my melted background, again all with a soldering iron, no stitches. Here's how:

First lay out the pieces in a pleasing arrangement. There's no need to pin because they are quite rough and sort of grip together even in windy Perth.

To attach a piece it's really easy, just tap them together with the soldering iron, make sure to leave it on long enough that is melts slightly through the top piece into the background beneath. Do this all around each piece, it gives a nice textured edge too.

One all the motifs are on it's time to neaten the edges. No measuring or spending ages hand sewing on bindings. Just cut right through all the layers using the ruler to push them together. Go slowly as it takes a while to melt right through so much fabric.

It can be tricky to get the corners square. Luckily my cutting mat has a grid marked on it.

The finished piece is at the top of the page.

I backed my circles with gold sheer fabric but you can make your own interesting stripy fabrics using the soldering iron.

Lay 2 pieces of organza on top of each other on the glass mat, You can overlap them fully, I just kept them a little misaligned so you could see the 2 layers in the photo.

Press down on the ruler so they make good contact and then run the soldering iron down the ruler. This not only cuts them but fuses them at the same time.

Open out and you have a melted seam! These are quite delicate and can be ripped apart easily if you don't like it. You can't really see the seam on the front and it is only tiny on the back.

Take this fused piece and fuse another on top. Keep going until you have a stripy fabric.

You don't have have to keep the lines parallel.

You can add felt strips the same way.

I also used up some of my edging cut off from the main piece.

You can use the fabrics to cover holes in the work. I cut a wonky heart hole from the scarp I had left over. Just attach the stripy fabric to the back with a few taps of the soldering iron.

Then turn it to the front and cut out the shape through all the layers.

I'm going to experiment with sewing on and between the shapes next. 

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Scribbly Gums Art Quilt

Finally my burnt leaves quilt is finished and I have named it "Scribbly Gums". I'm hoping to get it accepted into an exhibition.

The leaves are burnt and melted organza and felt. The background is layered and burnt vintage papers, eco-dyed silks, tissue paper and wrapping paper on a free-machine quilted background.

Many gum trees depend on fire to release their seeds, After a bushfire new growth is rapid. In this piece beauty springs up from the burnt layers beneath.

A Couple More Sketches

Working with my kids today on drawing lessons from The Virtual Instructor. Here's my mug and hand.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Bordering on Boredom

The last few days I have been quilting my burnt leaves piece. I have never worked on a large quilt before and this is 90 by 90 cm. It's quite a challenge fitting it under my domestic sewing machine. It's also tricky as the size and the weight of it means it constantly wants to pull off the table or gets hooked around the sewing machine. I'm now ready to put on the boarders; a process I find boring because it's not very creative and involves accuracy which is not my forte. I thought I should get some practise in first on some smaller pieces before I go for the large quilt.

I made these 2 black and pink quilts with cotton, tissue paper, scrapbook paper, paper flowers and painted papers from my Etsy shop. I used this you-tube tutorial for the edges.

They didn't come out perfect but I'm glad I got in a bit of practise before starting the large piece.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Melt It! - Part 1

I'm going to share with you the process I use for making my burnt fabric pieces.

First the tools of the trade - a soldering iron, heat gun, glass cutting mat, steel wool, a metal ruler and the all important respirator. I keep the steel wool tucked into a toilet roll tube to make it easy to handle when I'm cleaning melted fabric off a hot soldering iron. For fabric I use felt and organza.

You'll want to work outside as this process is quite stinky! It helps if there's no wind which can blow your organza away.

First I layer up several pieces of polyester/nylon organza on top of a piece of acrylic felt. Don't use wool felt as it will blacken and burn rather than melt. Most felt you buy in spotlights etc will be acrylic felt. You can usually tell wool felt by the higher price! If you are not sure which you have, hold the soldering iron to the edge; wool will burn, acrylic will melt.

Make sure you are working on top of your glass sheet so you don't damage your table. Use the metal ruler to "draw" lines across the fabric pile with the soldering iron. This process melts the layers together along the line. Don't press too hard with the soldering iron or move too slowly because you will cut right through the felt at the back. It helps the layers to bond well if you push the ruler tightly into them as you work.

The organza layers are now attached to the felt backing.

Use the soldering iron to make patterns and holes in the fabric.

You can use tweezers to tear off the layers in places to expose the colour underneath

I made a blue one too.

Use the heat gun to melt and distress the fabric even more. Be careful, once it starts to melt it only takes a few seconds to get down to and through the felt layer.

Now it's time to cut. I wanted circles so I used crockery to "draw" around with the soldering iron.

I took the remaining hole, turned the piece to the back and tacked another lacy man-made fabric onto the back by melting it on in a few places with the soldering iron.

Next I took a larger plate and cut out again to make a ring.

I repeated the process with even larger plates. It's difficult centre the circles exactly so I deliberately placed them asymmetrically.

I'm going to add these pink circle pieces to the blue background piece. Check back soon for part 2.