Friday, 12 September 2008

Machine applique

I had a pile of applique fabric kirigami-type shapes that I had made a while ago, that were just lying dormant in one of my many craft boxes. I also had a couple of plain tops crying out for some excitement, so I decided to have a go at some applique, using my sewing machine (I have only done it by hand before).
Kirigami - 切り紙 - is a Japanese word meaning 'the art of cutting paper' ( 'gami' meaning paper - same as in origami) - we've all done something similar making snowflakes at Christmas, but the Japanese take it to a whole new level! I first started making kirigami shapes for a series of cards, but then I wondered if the shapes would work well with fabric - so I had a go. I think the more complicated ones look really nice, and work especially well on felt, but how much of a problem fraying will be with regular fabric remains to be seen. Cutting out the shapes with fabric is a lot more difficult than paper, as the technique relies on several folds to allow repetition of the pattern.

I pinned the shape onto the top - a jersey hooded top - and then just set to with the machine, with the speed set to super slow. The slightly stretchy nature of the fabric meant it was pretty difficult to keep enough-but-not-too-much tension on the fabric. Also a bit of the shape, which is very delicate, got ripped on the machine half-way through, so I had to improvise and revise it slightlyby removing some of the 'petals'. I quite liked the way it turned out though.

I also tried some more straightforward applique of slightly easier shapes, on a different top. For this I used a sort of 'petal' design I drew, and some scraps of Liberty fabrics from my stash.

I cut out some templates, and put sticky tape on the back so I could play around with positions, to work out the final placement.Then I cut out the fabric shapes and decided which pattern would go where.Then I removed the templates and pinned on the fabric shapes.

I started sewing with tiny stitches as I thought this would look better - but it actually made the fabric bunch up a bit. Larger stitches worked better, but I definitely found the machine, and the fabric, a lot more difficult to manipulate compared to doing it by hand. I think the end result is less neat and accurate... but a lot faster!!

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