A Different Kind of Textile Class

I’m in the middle of a two week online class on textile creation given by Tansy Hargan, a British landscape architect and textile artist. It’s called From Sketchbook to Wall, which is an accurate description. We began with en plein air sketches of nature or built environments, moved on to thumbnail collages of the sketches, and then to transformation of clothing to fabrics for our final pieces.

Collaged thumbnails. All but one image based on outdoor sketches.

I signed up for the course to get a different approach to textile art, and I’m getting different with a vengeance. We were to unpick old clothes with a seam ripper, paint them with acrylic until stiff, and add marks to our fabrics in a variety of ways.

Unpicking old clothes palled quickly, and I used men’s shirts I had already cut up plus remnants from my hoard. I combined textile and acrylic paints to use what was on hand, and I had a hard time wrapping my head around deliberately making my fabric stiff. All my past effort to preserve a soft hand in painted fabric made me cringe at the paper like results, but the advantage of that stiffness became apparent later during mark making. Some of the techniques were new to me and possible only because the fabric was stiff. Tansy demoed a variety of ways to mark fabric, including photocopying (stiffness is essential) and carbon paper. I wasn’t brave enough to run sheets of fabric through my brand new printer, but other students did that successfully.

I used dressmaker tracing paper that’s at least 60 years old.

Then it was on to reverse applique, hand stitching, and free motion stitching. Again, this is roughly done and fraying is encouraged.

Rough reverse applique

I’m now at the point of actually composing and fusing the base layer of my 9 inch squares on top of old cotton sheeting covered with WonderUnder. We are to rip/cut our fabrics and arrange them on the fusible surface, inspired by our thumbnail collages.

I learned that the olive strips are polyester after they stuck to my iron.
I think sewing through that denim will be a challenge.

I am saving the last two videos about stitching and further layering until I make more base layers. I suspect I’m overthinking the fabric arrangements, but it’s quite fiddly to get the little bits to stay put as you fuse them. After my ironing disaster I’ve made sure to use a silicone mat.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Techniques

6 responses to “A Different Kind of Textile Class

  1. What a great class! You really do seem to find great ways to expand your horizons. I, too, would have given up on the unpicking seams but very quickly. I love how your pieces are looking. How do you feel about them?

    • I took this class in part to develop new ways to work. While my products are pretty abstract, they are firmly based on observation. So far I have made five, and am amused to realize the one that was easiest to do is the most successful. With these small pieces it’s easy to overwork them.

  2. A lot to process here but it all sounds like interesting fun! I just love the pieces, all the texture, so good. Not to long ago I was lighting fabric on fire with a stove lighter to see/smell of it was synthetic because – iron mess, been there done that. Have you ever used a rotary cutter to unsew seams open? In some cases it works very well. I appreciate you sharing this and look forward to more.

    • Oh my, any fabric with synthetic content smells so awful when you iron it. No, I haven’t tried unpicking seams with a rotary cutter. Alas, most of my seams were flat fell ones used on shirts. I did find that sometimes I got lucky and could undo a whole seam by pulling on one thread. Yes, you you see more of this adventure as I move on to stitching. I am enjoying all the texture, something not all that used outside of quilting stitch in quilts.

  3. Looks like an interesting process. Sorry about your iron! What a mess.

    The layering makes your samples look quite … geographic. Not sure that is the right word. I feel like I’m looking at the landscape from above, and quite like the idea.

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