Project 6 Stage 4 – Moulding and quilting

I’ve shown gathering, pintucks, piping, slashing and pleating. Now it’s onward but not upward – in a perfect world I would redo the samples for moulding and quilting. It’s not a perfect world and I’m not a perfect student, so I’ll share my woes with the blogosphere and move on.

“Moulding” is a misnomer in my samples. I’ve used the idea of using dilute PVA to hold fabric shape, but created that shape in the material with my fingers rather than using anything as a mould. I have a tendency to fibre-snobbery, and I am very definitely not a fan of things obviously plastic in my textiles, so the idea of putting a film of plastic over my fabrics was not appealing. However I’ve been proven wrong and pleasantly surprised in the past and decided that I needed to at least give it a try.

Expectations low enough?

Above is the organza. The shape is pretty much as I formed it, so no problem there. But what’s the story with that shine?

Above is the underside of the organza, shown in gruesome closeup. The major shine is the pooled film of pva where the organza touched the worktable (or at least the plastic cover on the worktable) as it dried. That seems to be a constant in almost all this set of samples, but its worse on the organza because you see it through the layers. There are also areas where – I don’t know a word so let’s call it the “pores” of the fabric – are clogged with pva. I diluted the glue with water about 50%, and I brushed it onto the fabric rather than dipping to keep the amount of glue down to a minimum, but it’s still more than the organza could absorb.

The paj silk above has some lovely flowing lines, but that’s not the deep glow of the fabric. The shine is the pva film underneath, and instead of being reflective the silk is translucent. There’s also an unpleasant stickiness to the touch. At first I thought this was because I made a mistake by using the glue I had to hand, labelled “tacky glue”. I assumed it was pva given it’s a white water-based product that dries clear. I’ve since checked the manufacturer’s website and it is pva. Possibly there’s an additive to make it tacky. Another form of pva might improve things, or maybe a more dilute application. The slight stickiness could in fact be a positive, helping to keep a piece of fabric in place while you’re working on it, stitching or whatever. I’m having trouble seeing the point of taking a nice piece of silk and plasticising it.

The tissue silk hides most of the downside of the pva fairly well. In real life there are a few little glints of shine where there shouldn’t be in the matt fabric, but not too much. The texture of the silk is still attractive. It feels soft enough to handstitch into it. I can see (grudgingly) that this could be just what you need in certain applications.

The cheesecloth is amazing. The fibres have somehow absorbed the glue, virtually no shine to be seen on the top or underneath, and it’s holding its shape well. It has more body than the untreated fabric. This is the first sample that has me thinking I’d like to try actually moulding over shapes using this.

Unfortunately something contaminated my cotton sample and it has blotches of purple on it. Possibly there was some old dye on the plastic I used to cover my worktable. I can see this technique being useful to create height and shape on a piece, as long as the shiny back is hidden and you don’t have to touch it.

I actually quite like the panne velvet sample. I was careful to paint the underside of fabric, so the pile generally isn’t too badly affected by pva. If anything the normal shine of the fabric has been reduced a bit, making it look a little less trashy. I don’t feel I can complain too much about the artificial feel on an artificial fabric. I created very deep furrows in the damp fabric and it’s holding well.

The hessian also worked well. It’s even been able to retain a little of that nice hessian smell! There is some nice deep shaping. Hessian is generally very determined to do its own thing, but here it has been tamed. I can see this being used to create sculptural elements, or to add an area of deep texture or relief on a piece.


In the interests of maintaining my learning log I’m going to show my abortive attempts with quilting. It’s only a few brief assays, I didn’t go through my study set of fabrics. Basically the particular method I chose didn’t fit well in the overall approach I’ve been taking. I could have (should have?) revised my method. Instead I chose to move on to my final technique.

Attempt 1 was on cotton. I went very traditional – a sandwich of two layers of the fabric with a bamboo quilt batting in between. There’s a simple grid using straight stitch, a couple of free-form variations, and some denser areas of stitching.  Carefully angled lighting and photography means the unexciting results are at least visible.

Thinking the batting didn’t have enough loft to complement the stitching, I tried again with some wool batting that was lurking in the cupboard. The result is a traditional approach badly done.

In attempt 3 I moved to an organza sandwich and tried comparing results with the two kinds of batting. The wool is on the left, the bamboo on the right. At the top I tried capturing some rayon threads under the top layer of organza. This approach does nothing to enhance or take advantage of the properties of the organza. It also doesn’t fit with my exploration of layering and manipulating light. I decided not to continue.

A better approach would have been to skip the traditional batting and experiment with different inclusions – various grists and densities of thread and yarn; cutout shapes in other fabrics; beads or other items trapped by stitch… All of those could be used to alter the passage of light. Sequins or better, little sisha mirrors, could be effective.


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August 2012

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