Saturday, March 25, 2017

DIY Fabric Art - This Might Get a Little Fishy

I named this project 'Olivia's Fish'. Not very exciting but appropriate since I created it for my granddaughter's nursery. It's a simple project that requires fabric but NO SEWING unless you wanted to sew a fabric border. How amazing is that! Actually, if you can use a pair of scissors and an iron, you've passed the skill-level required for completing this project.

Tools Needed:
Collection of fabric scraps ( I use a lot of batiks because they have a bunches of variation in color tone and value that helps create a stained glass look) 

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers 
  • Tacking Iron
  • Regular Iron and Ironing Board 
  • Piece of black background fabric cut 3" larger on all sides than your finished design. (Olivia's Fish is 8 x 10" - so the background fabric was cut 11 x 13 inches. This allows for bordering or framing your artwork) 
  • Fabric Bonding material (Fusible Web) - I use Wonder Under Medium by the yard. I recommend purchasing at least 1 yard for this project.

With a chalk pencil mark the perimeter of your finished piece. For this piece it was 8 x 10 inches leaving a 3 inch outside area. Keep all fabric fused within the inside area. 

  1. Choose the main fabric/fabrics for your fish and bond a 5x7 inch piece with the iron-on bonding agent being careful to follow the manufacturers instructions. Do the same with 4 more pieces of fabric that you want to use for the fish's eyes, eyebrows, and nose.
  2. After bonding the fabric for your fish, take the fabric you chose for the body of the fish and flip it over. You should be looking at the paper backing of your bonding agent. Free-hand draw a funky little fish body. Mine was about 5" tall and 5" at it's widest point. But yours can be any size you want it to be. 
  3. Now draw the fishes eyes, eyebrows, and nose on the back of the bonded fabrics that you chose for those elements. Mine are simple circles, triangle, and an odd shaped nose. BE CREATIVE - THERE ARE NO ART POLICE - SO HAVE FUN WITH THIS. Nothing has to be perfect, you can always reshape, trim, or simply re-cut the pieces if your not happy with your first try.
  4. At this point I cut out my whole fish body and then cut that into six different sections. If you want your fish to be in one piece, simply leave it as is or cut it into a zillion pieces. Art is about personal expression. Warning: I was only kidding about those zillion pieces. 
  5. I hope you heated up your tacking iron because it's time to use it. Decide where you want your fish buddy to live in this art piece. Mine wanted to live in the center, but yours may have a totally different idea. Composition is another subjective element of art. If your fish wants to huddle in the bottom left corner, don't argue with him, just put him there.
  6. Okay, enough stalling, position your fish where you want it to be. Now, peel the paper off the back of your fish fabric, one piece at a time, and tack it into position. LOOK AT YOU...You did it, Yippee!
  7. Follow the same peeling and tacking procedure for the eyes, eyebrows, and nose. This next step is very important: Study your little creature carefully. Depending on your fabric choices, your little fish will definitely have it's own personality. IT NOW NEEDS A NAME! My fish is named 'Olivia's Fish'. He's been called that for several years now and is very happy with it. As long as he's happy, his owner will be happy too.

  1. I sectioned my background so that I could highlight different colors that I felt complimented Olivia's Fish. I lightly drew these lines onto my black background fabric with a piece of chalk. (Don't worry about the chalk showing, you can hide it as you tack the mosaic pieces onto the background fabric.)
  2. Choose one or two fabrics that will make good seaweed or an aquatic plant of your choice. Back a 5x7 inch piece of each fabric with your bonding agent. Free-hand draw your seaweed on the paper backing. Make sure to give your aquatic plant some variation in width and height. Cut out your seaweed and position it on your fabric. Peel off paper from the back and tack them into place with your tacking iron. Remember: Smart little fish learn to hide in the seaweed to keep from being eaten by bigger fish. 
  3. Now for the bubbles. I bet you didn't notice that Olivia's Fish has a few bubbles coming up from the bottom. Surely you didn't think those little circles were floating rocks...not you?
  4. ON TO THE MOSAICS - Work on one section at a time. BE SURE TO LEAVE SOME BLACK BACKGROUND FABRIC SHOW BETWEEN MOSAIC PIECES. Choose your fabrics for your background sections and apply the bonding agent as instructed. ( Notice that each section has a primary color theme but there are several different fabrics in each. You need a little variety in color tone and contrast. Study the sample photo for ideas.)
  5. Peel the paper backing off the back of your bonded fabrics. Here is the absolutely insane part of this project. It shouldn't work but it does! Snip your fabric into varying sized triangles, circles, leaf-shapes, cone shapes, etc. Just snip away...Oh! I almost forgot the most important part. You must have a glass of your favorite beverage and some jazzy background music, then sip and snip in rhythm.
  6. You will end up with a pile of snippets that look totally useless, but to the contrary, they are priceless. Using your tweezers, pick up 3 or 4 of the larger sized pieces and place them anywhere withing the section your working on, tacking them into place as you go. Now take 6 or 8 of the medium sized shapes and place them randomly inside the same section and tack. 
  7. Can you guess what comes next? You got it! Fill in the remaining area with the smaller pieces. If you don't have enough, just cut up some of the other snippets in the pile. If a piece doesn't fit exactly, you can always trim it to fit. 
I never throw away these snippets. If they don't get used in one project, I use them in another. I find these project fun and challenging. Like working a jigsaw puzzle, it takes a little time but the results are worth the effort. 

The most important thing is not to rush the process. This isn't about speed, it's about the destination. HAVE FUN!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

DIY Fabric Gift Tags...First Impressions Matter

Polka Dots are Always Fun and Fashionable 

Gift wrapping is so much fun. I love picking out bags, paper, tissue, ribbon, and then assembling all those things together to make a unique package that will excite the person receiving it. One thing I've found that really moves my friends and family is the handmade elements I add.

Today I want to share with you how I make my unique fabric gift tags. These have a Shabby Chic appearance, which means nothing is perfect. Don't be overly particular, just let it happen...

This is a great scrap-busting project
You will need: 

  1. Fabric scraps
  2. Colored ribbon
  3. Thread
  4. Sheer fabric (See Through)
  5. Heavy Card Stock (White, Parchment, Cream)
  6. Heavy iron-on stiffener
Let's Do This!
  • Cut your background fabric into 3x4 inch pieces
  • Cut or tear your strip fabric into 1/2 inch width (I like to tear these so that they have a soft edge)
  • Cut the sheer fabric into 3x4 inch pieces
  • Cut the ribbon into 6-8 inch lengths.
I add a little potpourri to my gift tags. You can make your own or purchase some at your local craft store. Sometimes I add flower seeds from my own garden as well. Buttons also make a cute addition, as well as, paper cut-outs, charms, etc.

You will need to back your background fabric with a heavy, iron on stiffener. (It's going to be covered so use whatever works for you)
Music Theme

  • Sew the sheer fabric to the front side of the background fabric on both sides and the bottom. Leave enough seam allowance to be able to finish the edges with your pinking sheers. 
  • Put a small amount of potpourri or filler into the pocket created by the sheer fabric. Then sew the strip piece across the top edge to close the pocket. (Be sure to leave about 3/8 of an inch of the background fabric showing at the top.) Trim all four edges with your pinking shears.
  • Cut the card stock backing a scant smaller than the fabric front so that when sewn, it won't show from the front side. Sew fabric to the card stock being sure to insert the folded ribbon length into the top seam.
I use the decorative stitches on my machine to add more of the Shabby Chic allure. I hope you enjoy making your own version of these fabric gift tags. They are a great way to use up those small scraps you've been hoarding for so long. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fabric Art In Progress - Let What Happens...happen!

Working on a water element...hum...
Art projects are very subjective no matter what medium you work in. Where to start, what focal point, light source, values, composition, color, texture, and other aspects need attention? Don't over think the process! Fly by the seat of your pants...let what happens-happen. Sometimes your gut feeling is better than years of training, at the very least, what you end up with will be uniquely yours.
still building a body of water...

I'm deeply buried inside a new fabric collage art piece. You've often heard me say that, when writing, my characters will, at some point, take over the story. The same thing happens when I get into a new
art piece. I begin with a hazy destination in mind, but along the way, the piece starts telling me what it needs, where it wants to go, how it wants to feel. *Ditsy but true.


It's an exciting way to design because I'm never sure where the
Water element finds a home...
What comes next?
end of the journey will take me. Yes, occasionally I've fallen off a cliff, but somehow I always seem to survive the fall.

For those of you who follow my fabric art and who've asked me to create a tutorial, you'll be glad to know that I am creating a PDF photo tutorial of this piece as I progress. When it's finished it will be available in my Etsy Shop, ICKY CHIC DESIGNS.  I will be creating PDF tutorials for all my future projects, so check back throughout the year to see what's new. At the moment I have one tutorial that has TWO pieces showcased, one collage technique and one mosaic. View that here. If you've never tried this and have no clue where to begin, the tutorials will give you a photo-guide. There is also a starter kit containing a background fabric and a collection of fused fabrics to get you going, if you need that.

As you can see in the photo on the left, the right half of this fabric collage is beginning to form a scene we can recognize. I say beginning, because it still needs a lot of detailing. However, it's now taking on a life of it's own. If you study it for just a little bit, it will begin to talk to you too, telling you what needs to come next, what's working and what's not. I bet you didn't know that art required good listening skills, did you? :)

Happy designing everyone!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

FIRE in the Sky...When the Heavens Burn

There are many wondrous natural events that simply take my breath away: The power of a thunderstorm, the constancy of breaking waves, or the stillness of a moonless night. But when nature displays her beauty in a spectacular sunset or sunrise, who of us can help but pause a moment to thank the Creator. His Ultimate Artistry can never be truly captured, but sometimes, we get a glimpse. That's how I felt when after a particularly strong thunderstorm the sky in front of my home caught fire, at least, that's what it looked like to me. The following photos were taken over a span of twenty minutes as I stood on my front porch. I'm so happy that I looked out my door that evening and ran for my camera, a twenty minute window of opportunity doesn't come often...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Designing and sewing your own Gypsy, Boho, Festival Style Handbag

Just Google: Gypsy, Boho, or Festival Style Handbags and you will have hundreds of examples, patterns, and tutorials at your finger tips. These bags uniquely showcase their designer's originality. But where does one start or acquire the inspiration for such a design. For me, the design begins with the fabric. Once a fabric catches my attention the creative vibes begin to resonate.

I find that tapestry and heavier weight home decor fabrics work best for these designs. But what's needed is not a lot of yardage but a large amount of smaller pieces that I can combine for an original design. In my Etsy Shop, Icky Chic Designs, you'll find collections of such fabrics that will easily allow you to jump start your project. 

Now is the time to plan that new handbag you've been wanting to make.

Dirk Savage never fails to acquire what he wants until he encounters 
Stormee Waters and a backwash of trouble


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fabric Sale: Destashing Quilting Cotton Fat Quarters

 Fat Quarters are popping up all over my Etsy Shop, Icky Chic Designs. Since deciding to down-size from a three bedroom home to a smaller apartment, It's become necessary to down-size my fabric collection. I have vintage and hard-to-find fabrics, as well as, many newer selections. So check out the great Fat Quarter Sale TODAY! Just in case you're not sure what a fat quarter is, it's a cut of fabric that measures about 18" x 22", just perfect for those quilting, sewing, and crafting projects you're planning for 2017.

Dirk Savage never fails to acquire what he wants until he encounters Stormee Waters and a backwash of trouble

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fabric Scrap Project - Gift Tag Seed Packets

Fiber Art Gift Tags

Are you looking for something to make from your scrap stash that is unique, fun, and useful. Well, here's a suggestion from my sewing table. I recently made some fiber art and seed packet gift tags for my Etsy Shop. If you sew, you'll find these exciting to create yourself. If you don't sew, then you're in luck because they're available at Icky Chic Designs.

Seed Packet Gift Tags

Dirk Savage never fails to acquire what he wants until he encounters Stormee Waters and a backwash of trouble