Turn Bad Fabric Choices into Beautiful Art Quilts with Mixed Media

11 Aug 2013

Is there such a thing as bad fabric? I don't think so. Every textile has its place and purpose. But I admit that sometimes I make bad choices with fabric. Those pieces languish for years waiting for the right project-which will probably never happen.

mixed media art quilt by beryl taylor
Beryl Taylor uses a variety of mixed-media techniques
to disguise blue fabric with little pink hearts.

Fortunately, fabrics that are too bright, too busy, or simply a color that doesn't move you can be turned into superstars with mixed-media techniques.

Fiber artist Beryl Taylor is a pro at this. Looking at many of her mixed-media art quilts, you'd never recognize the base fabric.

Here are some of her tips for altering fabrics:

Apply gesso. Spread this paint-like primer, a staple of mixed-media artists, onto dark or patterned stitched fabric using a brayer. Apply the gesso lightly, adding more coats as needed. Don't cover the fabric completely, though. You want some of the pattern and color to show through.

Stamp it. Choose chunky abstract designs or text and apply acrylic paint to the stamp using a broad, flat brush. (Be sure to wash off your stamp right away with water or a baby wipe as acrylic paints dry quickly.) When you stamp, let the design run off the edge of the fabric or quilt sandwich.

Shine it up. Applying small amounts of glitter glue or metallic rub-ons can actually tone down a wild or too-cute print. Oil paint sticks can brighten up a drab fabric. A little shimmer goes a long way, so go slowly and use your finger for extra control when applying.

Offer relief. Using a spatula, apply modeling paste over a sturdy stencil. Very carefully, lift off the stencil and let the modeling paste pattern dry. Then, using a very small paintbrush, paint the hardened paste with acrylic paint. Be sure to apply the modeling paste after you have done all your stitching, because you cannot stitch through it.

You can also use these mixed-media techniques to alter fabric with disappointing surface design results. Or, apply them to create surface designs on art quilts with perfectly wonderful fabrics.

You can learn mixed-media art quilting methods from Beryl on her video tutorial "Mixed-Media Art Quilts" and from other mixed-media artists on Craft Daily.

Do you ever make bad fabric choices? Tell me your worst!


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