Monday, July 3, 2023

Discoveries while doing 100 Days of Textile Collages

I wrapped up my 100 Days of Fabric and Stitch Collage project at the end of May. I have 18 stitched compositions that eventually will be made into a textile book... that's the plan, anyway.

Detail of stitching on fabric collaged composition.


2023 is my third year doing The 100 Day Project. I always learn something from the process or at the very least, I get more proficient with some skill or technique that in which I'm interested. Here are my discoveries from this year's 100 Days of Fabric and Stitch Collage.

  • A composition takes as long as it needs to take. At the beginning of the project, I planned on spending [exactly] 5 days on each composition. 20 fabric squares x 5 days each = 100 days. I learned that some compositions come together in a flash, but others need more time to develop and refine. I quickly learned this by Day 12.
  • Yarn, string, thrums and knitted swatches add dimension. When I dove into a basket of old knitted swatches and a jar of yarn thrums, my compositions become more dimensional. This was fun! Clipped yarn tails, knitted gauge swatches, frogged swatches, dyed cotton string from a shibori project, tatted motifs with mistakes, and other leftover yarns and other odd bits brought dimension and variety—and a lot more interest—to the collages.
Tatting, felted wool, yarn-dyed wovens and printed cottons.

Unraveled knitting and novelty yarns couched over fabric scraps.
  • 1 - 6 strands of embroidery floss—all good choices. The weight of a stitched line can be varied by using 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 stands of embroidery floss. I used all of these on various compositions throughout the project. 
Running stitches with 1 or 2 strands of embroidery floss.
Couched floss around flower petals and leaf shapes.
  • A diversity of fabrics. Hand stitching with the yarn-dyed fabrics [from Diamond Textiles] was such a dream! All the background fabrics for my collage compositions were from Diamond Textiles. Various fabrics were used for the collages—yarn-dyed wovens, quilting cottons, batiks, a cotton knit scrap, and a printed linen. The linen was difficult to needle, which was surprising to me.
Yarn-dyed wovens, batiks, printed cotton fabric.
Running stitches, couching, satin stitch, French knots, blanket stitch.

Combining yarn-dyed wovens, quilting cottons and a cotton knit (center).
  • Couching. I really enjoyed the couching stitch. Couching yarn, string, tatted bits... I am enamoured with this stitch!
Couched yarns with French knots.

Dyed cotton string couched over blanket stitch rounds.
  • Stitches are not permanent! Stitching is not like mark-making with ink or paint (thank goodness). There were a number of times that I took out stitches—either the stitch was not appropriate (couching was better than a back stitch), the thread color was not the best choice, the stitch was poorly formed, etc. You don't have to go with the first decision. Over the 100 days, I became less and less hesitant about taking out stitches if I wasn't satisfied. Re-do it if you don't like it!

Embracing the imperfection of frayed edges

Since the collage fabrics were all scraps and fabric swatches, the edges were left frayed or pinked. I liked the organic quality of the frayed edges as well as the texture they provided. It also allowed the process to be spontaneous and relaxing... the wabi-sabi aesthetic.

Frayed and pinked edges of a discontinued fabric sample.

Running stitches with cotton sashiko thread. Couched yarn thrums.
Yarn-dyed wovens and printed cotton scraps.


Documentation and progress posts from this year's 100 Day Project can be found here:

Prepping fabrics for textile collages

Stitches used on my collage compositions: blanket stitch, running stitch, couching, French knots, lazy daisy, back stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch (and maybe one or two others).

Daily photos of 100 Days of Fabric and Stitch Collage are posted on my Instagram feed at @veronica.fiberantics and #100daysoffabricandstitchcollage.  

The backs of these pieces are interesting, too.

Back of composition with couched yarns.

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