Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer Bloggin': Working with interesting surfaces - part 2

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

Jane from Flaming Nora joins us with the second part of her 'interesting surfaces' series. You can find the first part here - it was pretty cool, wasn't it?

Thank you, Jane!

In my last post I spoke to you about one of the cornerstones of modern society and how to use it to great effect on your textiles, namely tea. Today I want to talk to you about an altogether more distressing aspect of the kitchen cupboard. Cheese graters. In these articles I am drawing on nearly quarter of a century of experience as a costume maker for stage and screen. This is another of our go to techniques to age or break down costumes, which can help create unusual, textural and organic surfaces to embroider on to.

To explore this technique you will need the following equipment:

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Grater with a rough section for grating nutmeg.

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You will also need a selection of fabrics of different weights and thicknesses and I find a piece of a heavy fabric such as drill that you can roll up in to a pad handy.

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Select one of your fabrics, I used one of the tea dipped pieces from my last post. Roll up your heavy fabric and place the fabric to be distressed over it. Using the nutmeg section of your grater start gently rubbing it over the surface of the fabric.

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Don’t be scared; remember frayed bits and holes are good!

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By using the fine grater section you can also create some finer more delicate textures.

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A really amazing textile to use in this process is scrim. If you haven’t come across it before scrim is a very loose weave fabric like a much less substantial muslin. You can buy it here.

Because of its loose weave you can more or less pull it apart with your fingers.

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Using existing old pieces of embroidery can also produce some great results.

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When you think your fabrics are distressed enough, arrange in a pleasing manner over a piece of background fabric, I used an old tablecloth. Try draping the scrim over and around the other fabrics. Place interesting scraps of fabrics with a little bit more colour or pattern behind the holes in your distressed fabrics to add highlights to your piece. Pin in place

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Once every thing is arranged to your satisfaction machine is all down using the free embroidery function on the sewing machine. I stitch a wandering loopy line all over it making sure every thing is caught down but doesn’t look too hammered flat.

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I was going to trim up the edges of this piece to make it have a more uniform size. But once I have stitched this little squirrel onto it I found I preferred the random edges of it.

What do you think? Are you going to try the grater method for your next embroidery? Tell us about it in the comments!


  1. This is amazing! I just want to *play* with fabric and stitches right now! Cx

  2. So wonderful! It's fun to play with new things.


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