Hi everyone, Keren here with a topic very dear to my heart. There is something utterly wonderful about the permanence of fabric. The way it drapes, or can be stiffened. The textural softness (or coarseness dependent on the weave). Its smooth surface perfect to be stamped on, painted on, stitched on. You can manipulate it, pleat it, divide it, slash it, use certain fabric's transparent properties to create interesting effects and layers. You can dye it, bleach it, add beads, or twigs. Why not combine it with paper, cardstock, Infusions, Rusting Powder, Fresco Finish Acrylic paint?
You can stencil onto it, burn it, quilt it, distress it and couch things into it. It would be hard to argue that fabric isn't one of the most versatile mediums around.
We're starting off with a mini masterclass on how to use fabric with paints and more. Liz Borer did a post a few years back, that if you're starting out with fabric, would be a fabulous place to start.
This ATC (there's a set of 4 in the post), is using Infusions, Muslin, Crinoline fabric, Distress markers, Embossing powder, felt and is well worth having a read to see how Wanda Hentges combined them all.
One of the easiest fabrics to get a clear image on is mercerised cotton, the smoothened tight weave makes it a great idea if clarity is your thing. With a more open weave, it becomes more challenging, but Ruth Mescall does a beautiful dive into hessian, hand stitching and Grunge Paste with some useful tips.
Jenny Marples take advantage of the soft and pliable properties of fabric to make this lovely snippets roll- perfect for leaving out in your home for inspiration or snipping into it to add to your art.
I always like an outlier and I'm squeezing in sisal simply to encourage those of you who don't like to sew, nor do much with fabric. Sisal and other fibres (sisal is made into a fabric sometimes, albeit the less glamorous backing for carpets and such) but I wanted to include it as a reminder for how to add softness and/or texture to projects when you perhaps are looking for the finishing touch like Miriam Grazier did here.
Jennie Atkinson is known for soft and vintage, and she uses the softness of muslin to help merge layers. This is also a useful technique for using fabric in a simple uncomplicated way.
Stencilling can be really impactful when done simply. I love the boldness of the red against the white cotton with this fabulously fun and sparkly Christmas stocking by Carol Fox.
Perhaps you could consider using fabric as a tie, or a binding for a journal?!
Fancy a more involved challenge? How about fabric paper? Anneke De Clerck runs through exactly how to do it.
Try using layers, with both the top layer and the underlayer providing a dialogue between them.
You may have heard of Cyanotype, and it's something you could easily do following this version's tutorial. If you stamped your PaperArtsy images and used those as the outlines, even better!
Fabric and stitching doesn't always have to be the star of the show- but maybe you'd like to incorporate fabric scraps or chunky fibres and you're wondering how to add them to a project- why not try couching like this wonderful nest of colourful scraps.
Perhaps you'd like to get a little more experimental with fabric and add fire into the mix! Ula Einstein is an artist who incorporates many mediums into her work; fire, Tyvek (a polyester fibres fabric), thread, rice paper and more.
If you'd like to paint with fabric- you can dye fabric for your palette and sew intricate shapes together. Dyeing fabric with Infusions to see the effects you can get would also be an interesting study. This next piece is a quilt that won 'Best In Show' which is a major accolade in the quilting community at the recent Festival Of Quilts in Birmingham (UK) in August. It's hard to believe this is achieved just with fabric.
Many of you love your journals and with so many options on how to create them; from scratch, using dies, using junk as the basis etc. Fabric journals are another option- and the joy is also in the construction before you ever get to fill it with your art and thoughts.
I hope this has given you some ideas for further experimentation. This post could have been significantly longer, but it's good to be left wanting something more isn't it! Whether you're not a sewer and just want to add fabric for its textural qualities, or you'd like to add embroidery or stitching to your art, do consider finding a little time to explore the options. Working with fabric is mostly very soothing (unless your thread tangles or you need to unpick mistakes ;-) ) and we'd love to see your fabric explorations!