Sketch, Stitch, and Embellish: Create Designs for Mini Fabric Art

Vivika Hansen DeNegre is on medical leave. During her absence, several guest bloggers will be sharing their favorite tips, tricks, and techniques with you on Quilting Daily. Today’s guest blogger is Cate Prato, Editor of Cloth Paper Scissors Today and online editor for Quilting Daily.

fabric art motif by jane lafazio
Jane LaFazio designed her own embroidery motifs, and embellished them, then turned her fabric art into a drawstring pouch.

Here’s a little exercise that gives you a chance to flex your mixed-media stitch muscles and produce a little piece of fabric art.

The tutorial is from one of my favorite mixed-media fiber artists, Jane LaFazio, and one of my favorite magazines, Cloth Paper Scissors (March/April 2013).

“When I was 16, I started stitching: crewel work, cross-stitch, needlepoint, and counted cross-stitch, but I always worked from kits, using someone else’s designs. For years, it didn’t occur to me that I could quite easily create my own original designs to embellish with color and thread,” writes Jane.

She did, and here are the directions, adapted from tutorial for sketching, stitching, and embellishing her own designs with stitchery.

1. Create some doodles or drawings (or use copyright-free images) and draw or transfer your drawing or doodle onto cloth such as muslin or t-shirt material. It’s easy to trace it with a permanent pen. Just place the image under the fabric and trace.

2. Add color to your design as desired. I like to use water-soluble crayons and a small brush. I wet the paintbrush and touch it to the crayon to get color, and use different colors to blend new colors. You could also use acrylic paint or fabric paint to add color to the cloth.

3. Iron the fabric to set the color. I recommend using a pressing cloth to protect the design as well as the iron.

4. Add a border. I add a border to my designs because it adds a nice finish and unifies the design. I suggest using a chain stitch or running stitch for this. You don’t want to detract from the focal point, so keep the border simple.

fabric art motif by jane lafazio
Detail of Jane’s stitched and embellished mixed-media fiber art.

5. Once the color is dry, embellish the image with embroidery. I use a few basic stitches: running, chain, and cross stitch.

6. Embellish as desired. Depending on the intended use of the piece, you could add buttons, beads, or sequins, or other.

These little stitched masterpieces would be great for sachets, ATCs (artist trading cards), or attached to the front of a note card. You could also scan the image and make multiple note cards. Make gift bags, wine bags, a tote bag decoration, pillow fronts, small fabric cases, shirt pockets . . . or even a wall hanging.

Many artists who write for Quilting Arts Magazine also contribute to Cloth Paper Scissors. Fiber artists who like to mix their fabric and stitch with paint, gel medium, and other art supplies should subscribe to Cloth Paper Scissors, so you won’t  miss out on any textile art tutorials like this one from Jane.

P.S. Have you designed your own motifs to embroider? Or do you prefer to go with pre-printed designs? Leave a comment below.

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