Daily Archives: April 14, 2010

Art with My Needle ~ Week 33

Much Later Update as promised.

Well, I was very busy having fun and meeting some bloggers, relations and friends.  I met somebody I have not seen since 1955!  What do you mean – you were not born then?  Recapping on the old days was fun and we plan to do it again soon.  Then I had internet problems……

So to the piece above.   It was a sample of ‘Distressed fabrics’.

Now at this stage you all know how I like to save and re-use items, this ‘Distressing’ was very stressful and distressing for me.  Even today I dislike the wrung out dishcloth look!  I iron the creases out and not into a garment.  Well it was rather restrained fun for me since I am a saver and not a destroyer by nature.  We were in the ‘distressing’ or aging stage of work.  Aged, battered and worn furniture was all the rage at the time.  Mind you, some of the timber used, hardly had time to experience sap rising even once in its lifetime!  Layers of paint were added and then sanded or scraped off in places to give the well worn look.

It is an interesting variation on the basic appliqué technique, with something a little extra added.

I used several strips of polyester silk fabric and machine stitched them to form a grid pattern to the base colour.  The stitching was a set zig-zag on the sewing machine but using a twin needle and different coloured threads in each needle.  All stitching can be hand or machine worked but must be firm in order to withstand the cutting away process.

We experimented ‘ageing’ with fabrics.


  1. Boiled – to shrink
  2. Bleached – to fade
  3. Tore – to give rough edges
  4. Burned – to distort

The burning provided several options:

  • A lighted match – dangerous to fingers and chance of fabric catching fire.  This needs to be done to a single layer before superimposing the layers.
  • A lighted candle – easier on the fingers but still a chance of burning the fabric.
  • A gas flame – easier to control, but not for me thank you!
  • A soldering iron – The method I favoured most.

You need a very steady hand when burning a pattern on to fabric.  It works best on synthetics and leaves a singed edge.  It is important to take some safety precautions.  Set the fabric on a metal surface such as a draining board or old baking sheet, work near a sink or a bowl of water and make sure the room is well ventilated, to diffuse any toxic fumes.  If using the candle, match or gas methods it is important to discover the best method of extinguishing the flames on a given fabric – in water, or by smothering them with an old oven glove.

You can see above how little I wanted – in my eyes – to destroy the fabric, some students produced an almost lacy effect.  Remember once burned the damage cannot be undone.  The part I enjoyed most was working on the edge.