Fiber Etch in felt work

Fiber Etch has been around for at least 15 years but I only discovered it a few weeks ago when I came across a second hand copy of this book:

The book was published in 2000 but a lot of the garments look like they were made in the 80’s, big square jackets and more geometric shapes thank I could shake a stick at. It was quite entertaining just to look at the photos but I found the book quite predictable in the ideas it presented. Almost none of it could easily be translated to felt or nuno/laminates which is where I thought I would try to use it. The most useful part of this book is a table listing which threads would or would not dissolve when Fiber Etch is applied. Almost everything else you could find in the instructions that come with the Fiber Etch product.

Anyway, enough with the book bashing….

For those not familiar with this product the principle of Fibre Etch is that it is a gel that will degrade any plant based fabrics (i.e. cottons, rayon, linens etc.) but will not etch animal based fabrics such as wool and silk. I had ideas of using this with cotton muslin / scrim – felt laminates; using the Fiber Etch to erode areas of the cotton to reveal the differently coloured wool beneath.

My initial attempt was on some pieces that had already been laminated, this is what they looked like before applying the fibre etch, the top one is muslin, the bottom one scrim:

And after the fibre etch had been washed out, it’s not easy to see where it was applied!

Here is a close up of the scrim:

It’s a little easier to see the etched areas on the muslin:

And some more close-ups, you can see how the edges of the cotton are fraying but I expect they will not fray much further as the wools is gripping it well. I think the frayed edges are attractive in a rustic sort of way but I’m not sure what buyers would make of garments that looked like this?

These aren’t exactly the mind-blowing, artistic revelation I had envisioned but it did what it said it would and removed (most of) the cotton where I had applied it:

Next I tried using the Fiber Etch before laying out the wool, once the eroded areas has been washed away the fabric was tricky to handle, this is what it looked like after applying the Fiber Etch and ironing. It is peculiar stuff as the fabric becomes brittle bits start breaking off before you can get to the sink…

And after rinsing under running water:

After felting:

Although the edges of the cotton were starting to fray after the Fiber Etch had been washed out, they became neatly buried in the wool during felting.

I used cotton muslin for this and found it difficult to handle when wet and full of holes, I expect cotton scrim would be even harder to handle.

I think applying the Fibre Etch to the laminated fabrics was the most practical and would allow for shapes entire shapes such as squares and circles to be drawn with out the centre falling out.

Have you used Fiber Etch with feling? I would love to hear about what you did and how you used it.

new organza laminates

I was mooching aimlessly in Ebay after my win on the blue chiffon (always a dangerous and expensive thing to do) and came across some interesting looking organzas.

It’s not easy to see in these photos but the piece on the left has a shimmery green lustre to it and the piece on the right is a very shiny metallic silver.

I made a couple of samples to see how well they would felt. While they both felted successfully I think the silver one resulted in the prettiest finish, it has the most potential as a laminate for a small clutch bag or as nuno accents in a larger piece.

Since I was felting small samples I included the piece of blue chiffon that I painted with discharge paste last week, as expected, this felted very easily. I’m still feeling good about that purchase 🙂

I am itching to turn it into a dozen different bags and maybe a tunic top but there are sooo many other things I must finish first, including a piece I want to submit to the Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers national exhibition, the deadline in only 4 weeks away and I have barely started on it…. I can’t really say too much about that yet but here is another textured piece I have just started assembling….

Laminating painted fabrics

I have been laminating the fabric painted and printed for my City and Guilds course. Most have been successful, the only one that really gave me trouble was the polyester, despite rolling for 30 min it still only attached in a few small areas. I’m not sure whether this will be seen as cheating or being innovative but after the third attempt I decided to try another tack; stitching to prefelt before felting.

This is what it looked like before felting:

And after:

These are the other printed and painted fabrics I laminated:
The organza was much more successful and I think the sheen on it is much prettier

Silk chiffon, this one resulted in the least puckering and the truest representation of the original design

Cotton muslin with carded top behind, this one has some lovely puckering that compliments the painted design:

Cotton scrim – I think the green merino has worked much better than the white as a backdrop for the monoprint.

This was the piece of cotton muslin with the glitter and 3D paints, the bronze 3D paint worked remarkably well but the glitter has lost some of its intensity during felting.

Experiments in fabric lamination – some finished pieces

Inspired by Ruth Lane’s stitching on her ammonites shells, I put the free motion embroidery foot on my machine and started stitching, these are the results…

I turned this piece into a tablet case with some silver and blue embroidery.

This is the back, I can’t decide how to hold the flap closed, I’m not keen on velcro and don’t want to use press studs or magnetic clasps for fear of damaging the tablet. I’m leaning towards an elastic strap over the top that the flap will slide under but I’m open to suggestions?

 The foil flowers became an iphone case with a cute little flower-shaped button to hold it closed on the back.

I also got around to sewing up some flexi-frame pouches.

This is a really interesting technique I learned from the Sew Sister stand at Woolfest this year. They recommend machine embroidery but I mostly used hand embroidery (chain stitch) and needle felting for these cases. The method involves stitching a piece of fabric to a prefelt base and then felting it in the washing machine. As the prefelt shrinks the areas that have been stitched remain flat but the areas in between become rippled, resulting in a very thick, padded fabric.

Experiments in fabric lamination – take 2

Feeling a bit disappointed with the results from various metallic and hollographic papers I thought I would give fusible film a try. This will require a slightly different approach, the shapes will need to be cut out of the film before applying to the organza. I had expected to be able to fuse the film directly to the organza without the need for acrylic medium but that did not work. The film only limply attached to the organza, peeling away as soon as the organza was moved.

Acrylic medium to the rescue! Painting a thin layer of medium onto the fusible film and the pressing to the organza was successful. The fusible film was firmly attached, I gave it a quick iron before felting (literally less than 10 seconds on a medium heat).

As this had worked so well I thought I would give the aluminium foil another try, cutting out shapes, painting on the medium and pressing the shapes onto the organza. So far so good…. I’m afraid I did not think to take any pictures at this stage – sorry, but here are some after felting each piece.

This is fusible film, I laid out 2 colours, green and purple in a grid, some folds have appeared in the film where the wool has shrunk dragging the organza and film with it. As you would probably expect the felt has not attached where the film lies between the wool and the organza.

 

I love the metallic, multicoloured effect of the film. It is almost holographic in the way it changes colour as the direction of light changes.

I also had a play with aluminium foil.

The foil has rippled where the wool shrank. Laying the laminate with foil beneath the organza means the foil takes on the hue of the organza, in this case a pale blue.

I also experimented with using my die-cutter to produce more elaborate shapes, this sort of worked but the shapes are a little distorted from felting.

In this picture you can see how the foil prevents the felt from attaching to the organza where the foil has lifted in the lower right corner.

Finally, I tried one piece with the foil uppermost. This worked surprisingly well but I don’t expect it will be as durable, although the foil feels well attached now I can easily see it being torn in the bottom of a handbag if I made this felt into a gadget case.

 

 

I plan to follow Ruth Lane’s lead and embroider some of these pieces. Her machine embroidery of the laminated fossil shells really lifted the shapes and made them very special.
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