Colour your background fabric:
Use either fabric paint, watered down acrylic, dye or cover with a piece of thin voile fabric....unless you like the original background colour and if so leave well alone!
There is a huge variety of stitches to add to your background fabric, from French Knots, stem stitch, satin stitch etc... however try altering the size of your stitches to gain a different effect. Really large or very small.....
Fabric comes in so many guises...from thick flannel to delicate silk. It might be woven, knitted or manmade such as vinyl or polyester. Leather and suede are useful too. Exotic fabrics are fun and textured fabrics can add another dimension to your work.
Become a designer!
Why buy a kit when you can design your own work? Your design might be representational or abstract but it will be your own personal choice. Collect remnants and scraps - very useful for applique work. Join a Computer Design Textile group or just draw a pattern on some fabric and start stitching over or around it ...
This can come from anywhere or anything! Shapes and patterns from things around the home or from nature. Visit art galleries and museums for inspiration. Go for a walk and look around you. Even a trip to the local supermarket might provide an idea...always remember to have your camera with you and maybe your journal.
Record any ideas/events/holidays. Collect snippets of fabrics, sweet papers, theatre tickets, postcards, photographs etc... and place them in a journal...add a few words ... paint a few pages and you'll soon have an interesting piece of artwork.
The choice is yours. To place a design onto a piece of fabric or paper the range of materials is vast. Fabric pens, paints, pens, oil paint sticks and so on..... Use a stencil maybe or make marks by using pieces of card dipped into a liquid medium, or a sponge or even finger painting. All very good fun!
Dark or light, warm or cool shades of colour. Bright or dull. A colour wheel showing the primary, secondary and tertiary is useful. Check out the proportion of colour you will use or the mood and effect the colour might provide.
Try pleating, scrunching, cutting, rolling, wrapping, layering, padding, folding, quilting and burning. Take care of burning techniques and always wear a mask!
So many wonderful effects can be obtained using a sewing machine. Be it a state of the art computerised one or an ordinary household sewing machine. Alter the tension to create unusual effects, use different threads on the top spool and the bobbin....
Lots of these on the market these days. Such fun to use and to good effect. follow the instructions carefully.
These can be made by using a cording machine or just winding a selection of different threads around each other until they form a cord. Braids can be made by twisting yarns together or weaving them.
Try using strips of fabric and yarn on a loom or just make a frame with twigs! Ensure the warp is strong and then the weft will take care of itself!
Use pieces of carded sheeps wool to make felt. Lay pieces onto a cloth and rub a soapy solution into them.Then roll this pre-felt around a wooden rolling pin or similar. Keep rolling! When the fibres have felted together open up and press with a hot iron and leave to dry. The felt can then be stitched or made into a garment, bag or maybe footwear!
Add beads to your textiles...large or small....they add another dimension.
Add handmade tassels to your textiles. Add pom poms of wool.... add fringes....add an unusual edge to your finished work - maybe a fringe or a picot edging.
Stitch into paper - soft handmade paper is best.
Try making your own paper using an old electric blender. Paper can be made from used pc paper, rags etc...just tear the paper into pieces and place in a pan, add some water to cover. Bring to the boil to break down the fibres then place in blender until the 'stuff' resembles pulp! You'll then need to lay out the pulp onto a deckle or Jeye Cloth and leave to dry!
Frame, hang or install:
When your artwork is complete will you have it mounted and framed...will you hang your new textile piece from a rod? Maybe it will hang freely with an invisible hanging mechanism. Or if it is a 3D item then where, or how, will you display or install it? So many choices but whatever you do ensure the frame and your finished piece of work are compatible and complement each other.
This is a therapeutic hobby - well for me it is! It is so easy to hook a rug or a wall hanging that one can watch TV at the same time - well almost! It is also a wonderful way to use up scraps of fabric and create something beautiful to look at. Be green - recycle those old clothes....
The only tool one needs is a rug hook, some background fabric such as hessian (burlap for my USA fellow rug hookers) and strips of woollen fabric or similar. Make small loops in the background and either keep them all the same height and beautifully neat or hook them in a random fashion! Representational designs are traditional for this technique yet it also looks good when hooked in an abstract manner. Whatever effect you want it will be enjoyable to create.
Instead of hooking a rug with long strips of fabric and making tiny loops, in this technique a shaggy effect is created by pulling or poking short strips through a background fabric to create a pile. A rug hook, prodder, sprung levered rug tool or a latch rug hook is needed.
The list of techniques and stitches is endless....here are a few more you can investigate...
Log Cabin Patchwork, Appliqué, Assisi embroidery, Berlin woolwork, Blackwork, Buttonhole stitch, Dorset wheels, Canvaswork, Carrickmacross, Chain stitch, Chevron, Cordonnet, Coral stitch, Bullion knots, Couching, Cutwork, Drawn Thread Work, Ecclesiastical Embroidery, Eyelet stitch, Faggoting, Feather stitch, Fly stitch, Frogging, Hardanger, Inlaid appliqué, Italian Quilting, Knotting, Knitting, Ladder stitch, Loop stitch, Machine appliqué,
and... Mola work, Mountmellick, Needlepoint Lace, Or nué, Oya edging, Cathedral window patchwork, Seminole Patchwork, Suffolk Puffs, Punto in aria, Quilted Trapunto, Stumpwork, Reticella, Richelieu, Rococo stitch, Rouleau,
and of course... running stitch, Samplers, Satin stitch, Seed filling stitch, Shadow work, Shisha work, space dyeing, Stem stitch, Tambour work, Téte de boeuf, Thorn stitch, Twist stitch, Vandyke stitch, Wave stitch, Whitework, and Zig Zag stitch!!!
If you prefer to work tiny samples then how about making ATC's (Artist Trading Cards). They take such a short time to create and are fun to swap or share amongst friends.
I know there are many more stitches and techniques to explore so embark on a project be it traditional work, historical or contemporary textile art.
Remember there are no rules, be creative !!
If you've read this far then I am truly amazed!
updated August 2012