Embellishing the Purses, Part I
You've seen the backgrounds for the next two purses, now I'll show you the next part, the layer of embellishing. Settle down and get a drink, this is sort of a long post, but you might find an interesting tidbit or two.
Do note, that this is how I approach almost all my art projects: I work on the background fabric (painting/stamping/rubbings, appliques, "cutwork", etc.), then the next layer of embellishing (quilting, stitching, fibers, loose items) and then the surface embellishments (hand beading and embroidery). I usually pick one or two motifs and one set of colors and then work with those things. I pull out every item I think will work for the project: fabrics, fibers, threads, buttons, beads, sequins, etc. and put them in a bin or bag. As I work on the project, things will either get used or rejected, with the rejected items going back into the stash for another project. I never know what will work or not until I'm actually working on the project, so it's nice to have everything available to evaluate.
Today, I started with the background fabric and the flowers, fibers and threads I pulled out for this purse. The flowers go under a layer of tulle and are fused to the background fabric. The flowers are just plain old silk flowers - I can get a whole bag of just flower heads at Wal-mart for about $3, they're the ones that have fallen off stems, got lost in the displays, etc. I pull the plastic centers and backs off and use just the petals. I use Bonash 007 bonding powder for bonding, but you could use WonderUnder, Steamaseam, Misty Fuse or whatever. It's mainly to hold the flowers in place for the quilting and fiber work. You're supposed to use a Teflon sheet when using the Bonash powder, but I find that waxed paper works just as good, as shown in the picture below.
I sometimes will also place loose items such as sequins, rhinestones or buttons under the tulle and quilt around those things leaving little pockets for them. I did that with the pink side of Waiting for Spring. If you do that, remember to baste the bottom and sides closed so that the items don't fall out while stitching!
To quilt, I use a split layer of a very thin batting (Hobbs Thermore - I buy from these people, and get a queen size, it lasts a long time!). You can just peel the batting apart into two layers. It's not always easy, but can be done. I also use tulle as my third layer of the quilt - I never use whatever the top fabric is. It's just too bulky using those fabrics; the tulle is very thin, adding no bulk to the fabric.
Next, I stitch wavy lines in coordinating colors over the surface. Notice that there are 8 different spools of threads in the picture above. Yes, I used all 8. Depending on the look of the project I'll use from two to 8 different threads. I may only do two or three lines of each, but I think it makes for a richer surface if you use a variety colors and types of threads. I use threads from all manufacturers, YLI, Sulky, Superior (I got to meet the owners in Paducah, they're great people!), Madeira, etc. My favorites tend to be the Superior Glitters, Sulky's Holoshimmers, and Madeira's Supertwists. The Superior Glitter and the Sulky Holoshimmer are very sparkly, reflective ribbon like threads - imagine knitting worsted yarn and then imagine satin ribbon. That's the difference between regular thread and the flat ribbon like threads. I never have a problem with any specialty thread in my machine (well, except for one - a very cheap Coats and Clark metallic - don't even think about buying those!) but I would recommend that you use a special needle, either a Metallica, made by Schmetz or a Metafil made by Sullivan. I've always used the Metafils and like them. The needles have an elongated squarish sort of eye, which is better for the specialty threads. For less than $5 a pack, they're worth it - the right needles can make a world of difference in your sewing machine!
For this purse, I also used some of my specialty stitches on my sewing machine. I don't regularly do this, but I have a large variety of stitches already programmed into the machine, so it's good to use them once in a while. You can see the two I chose below. I also chose to use them with multi-colored threads, which gives a subtle effect to one of the stitches. It's part of the whole look - you need to study the work and look at it closely to see all the details.
Next, I couch the funky fibers to the surface using the machine set on a zigzag stitch that is just barely big enough to cover the fibers, and using coordinating thread so that it will blend in. Check out the picture below:
Isn't it starting to look a bit cluttered? I think so. You know, you don't *have* to use every available item on every project. For this purse, I chose not to use funky fibers. This type of art is already in the tackyfabulous category, and there's a *very* fine line between that and just plain tacky. I will still do beading, but I just think the fibers take away from the flowers, plus the background is really busy, too.
Later this week, I'll show you the second layer of embellishing - the surface beadwork and/or embroidery. Tomorrow, though, I'll show you the BWOF blouse - it's finished and I really like it!
Parting Shot: New swimsuit! I'll be in Florida all next week, and of course, my current swimsuit needs replacing. I got this one today in the mail from Land's End. I'm really picky about things like this, and my children (after spying the current issue of Threads) said, "Why don't you *make* a swimsuit, Mom, you have a new serger?!?" Yeah, right. Find *the right pattern* and *the right fabric* and do the research and work in uncharted territory for me. Right. Not like I wouldn't do such a crazy thing, but this week is not the week! I'll let someone else worry about 4 way stretch fabric recovery and negative ease this week.