Friday, January 16, 2015

Five Options for Embellishing Fabric

From top to bottom- fabric marker, bleach pen, glue resist, and fabric markers.
From top to bottom - plain, plastic resist, sewing, glue resist
Remember the Golden Rule of Experimentation: Test on Scrap Fabric First!  These examples were all on T-shirt fabric also known as stretchy cotton jersey.

Fabric Markers

I won a $20 Amazon Gift Card from Wise in their Ask the Readers contest so I spent it on something fun: Fabric Markers!

I deliberately picked a project that isn’t going to get subjected to frequent washing and that didn’t require a lot of detail work.

I haven’t washed this scarf, in fact, so I can’t speak to that, but the markers were straightforward to use: scribble, and then leave them alone for 24 hours.  Like regular markers, they bleed through what you are working on, so put something under them.

They were about as easy to use as regular markers on fabric—some tug and pull, and it was easier to do little repeated strokes or dots instead of sweeping curves and curlicues, although I did manage a few of those.

Two tips—Remember there’s no erasing and pick a light fabric for best results.

Bleach pen

If you want to do work on a dark fabric, here’s your best option.  It’s not as messy as you’d think, although I wouldn’t hand it to a six year old and walk off or anything.

The resulting lines won’t necessarily be bright white, but I think that adds to the charm.  The color will depend on how the fabric was originally dyed, usually a lighter version of the color of the fabric but not always.  I had some brown fabric that turned light purple wherever the bleach pen moved over it.

Be forewarned--The results are not crisp, clean lines.

Glue and bleach resist

Liberally apply glue.  Wait for it to dry.  Spritz with bleach.  (Label the bleach spritzer!)  Wash out the glue.

Sounds simple, yes?  This worked, sort of.  The glue didn’t wash out completely of some panels, and even lifting it with waxed paper and an iron didn’t work.  It took me a while to find a ratio of bleach to water that was effective, and I think I was around half and half before I finally got in the neighborhood of what I wanted.  The results were unpredictable, although the ones I kept were quite beautiful.  Tracing a word garnered unimpressive results.  I probably won’t mess with it again when there are easier methods.  The light orange and the purple below were done by my 10-year old niece using this technique.

Here’s a comparison of the previous two methods.   The top is the bleach pen and the bottom is the glue resist.

Plastic and bleach resist

Cut interesting shapes out of plastic. Arrange them on fabric.  Spritz bleach over the fabric and the plastic.  The bleach will not effect the covered areas as much.  I found the results to be subtle, and I liked the amount of control this method had.

See the lower right corner....

I used plastic discarded as waste from a local factory but cut-up milk jugs would work just as well.

See the stripes in the red?  Yes, it's pretty subtle. The yellow below is more noticeable. 


Your sewing machine may have some fancy stitches that you don’t know what to do with.  Try using them for embellishing!
Some tips
-- Check to see if an unusual stitch requires a different foot.  If so, it probably came with your sewing machine.
-- It will be harder to predict exactly where that needle is going to land!  Either practice on scrap fabric or pick a non-precise design.
-- Don’t tug the fabric.  If you need to head in a new direction, stop sewing with the needle in the fabric, lift the foot, pivot the fabric until the foot points the direction you want it to relative to the fabric, and put the foot back down again.

-- I had dark fabric on one side and light on the other so I used different colors for the bobbin thread and the top thread.  I wanted to be sure I got lots of contrast.

I hope you found this helpful! Happy Sewing!
 Any tips, tricks, or links to add?  Comments are welcome!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, congrats on winning & getting the fabric markers! They are an excellent prize for you. (Yeah, I saw you actually won a gift card, but since you bought markers with them, it sounds cooler to congratulate you on those. :P )