Tracing Cloth Play

A chance discovery of Pellon 830, called Easy Pattern, led me to experiment with ways to use it. Pellon calls it an interfacing-tracing cloth. I bought a bolt of it to make a sample pattern for my silk vest (Why a bolt? It was a 60% off sale and the usual price was $2.48/yard. You do the math.) That went well as 830 sews nicely, but then I began to wonder about other uses.

Out came the paints, the watercolor pencils, the crayons, the stamps, and the brushes. First, I soaked pieces of 830 in containers filled with diluted fabric paint, which resulted in soft pastels. Then I began to stencil and stamp it.

I fused some of the colored 830 to Wonder Under, cut it up and ironed it to fabric. Then I quilted it. I found that it doesn’t fray and even three layers are quite thin.

On other experimental fronts, I traced stencils with markers and found the result to be crisper than on fabric.

Then, I traced a flower from a quilt photo (the 830 is translucent), colored it with watercolor pencils, and outlined it with a fine tip black marker. I think traced designs could be cut out and fused to fabric.

About the time I began my tracing cloth play, I found out that Betty Busby uses this stuff in her quilts. A friend took a class with her where students used this and Evolon. Busby has her students use a Silhouette Cameo machine to cut out original designs from these materials. Here are pieces Busby made that incorporate nonwovens.

“Buffalo Gourd’s” leaves are made of nonwoven material, and sewn onto hand painted silk.

Busby developed “Toupee The Turtle” to teach students how to use nonwoven material. It looks like the background is hand painted fabric.

There are numerous advantages of this material. It cuts easily, is washable, doesn’t fray, is fusible, can be sewn on, takes paint and marking tools well, and is translucent enough to trace designs onto it. You don’t get the drag of fabric when you use pencils or markers on it. Oh, did I mention it’s cheap?

I encountered a few disadvantages. The fabric paints I used didn’t dry to exceptionally intense colors but were more pastel. However, I diluted my paint, so full strength paint may give more color. I haven’t tried acrylic paint or dyes so I can’t speak to how well they do. Also, unless you can get opaque coverage from paint, any fabric used underneath 830 will show through a bit.

Busby’s work shows me I have lots more experimenting to do with this material. Lucky for me I have most of a bolt left.


Filed under Project Ideas, Techniques

9 responses to “Tracing Cloth Play

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’m curious to know how difference the results are when stenciling on the 830 straight from the bolt rather than treated/soaked; If they are still as sharp. It does look like the possibilities would be endless, fun, and apparently cheap!

  2. Fabulous. This looks like fun, and useful in a variety of ways. One thing I always struggle with is making labels for my quilts. The Pellon seems like it would be a better textile than basic cotton for that purpose. I wonder about fusing it. Fusing is a problem for me. I don’t ever have luck with Wonder Under. It doesn’t stick well, sometimes not long enough to get the piece stitched down. I follow package directions and am continually frustrated. Any tips?

    • What a great use for the Pellon 830! Hmmm, your problems with WonderUnder. Could it be the temperature of your iron? I use WU in two modes – tacked down and permanent. The former is helpful when you may need to change/rearrange what you’re fusing. I use a medium hot dry iron and don’t let the iron linger on what I’m fusing. The latter is for keeps, and I usually use steam on hot (depending on the fabric.) Again, I don’t linger over the fabric as you can overheat the WU and end up with a stiff feel. You could try MistyFuse if you have any. You could certainly machine stitch the 830 down for a label. I don’t think it lends itself to fine handstitching.

  3. Jane

    Looks like fun! So many possibilities! The non-opaque could almost be chiffon with an attitude.

  4. I really like the one with the orange background–it looks like a pile of birchbark twigs!

    • If it’s as cold where you are as it is in NE Ohio you may be using twigs to start fires in your fireplace. But I can see using this stuff to make birch trees, drawing in the brown bits with a fabric marker.

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