Poppies! Poppies! Poppies!
Size (h w d): 17 x 18 x 1 in
Medium: Fabric, thread, and yarn, on blue ultra suede on stretcher bars
Subject Matter: landscape
Type: Fabric Collage
I’m doing something new here today. I posted a new work on Instagram a few weeks ago and received questions on how I made it. I thought I could answer these questions rather than recreate a step-by-step tutorial. I will also create a packet of fabrics and trims for those who want to make something similar. I’ll post the curated packets of fabric, ribbon and trims at the end here.
In between making art masks, during the 2020 pandemic, I would sew the leftover mask scrap fabrics together and make one-of-a-kind Franken-fabric.
My inspiration for this piece was my neighbor’s front yard.A few years ago they planted wildflowers and each year more blooms pop up with a color explosion. The garden inspired me to create a landscape in the same collage style.
Intimidated by a blank white canvas, I picked a sturdy fabric with a flower-like pattern already on it for the background. I tore fabric in various greens and purples for the leaves, keeping the purple for shadow areas. After scattering them across the surface and fiddling with them a bit, I fused the larger pieces of fabric to the background with an iron and fusible web and used fabric glue for the thin smaller items. Then as I liked a section, I would take it to the sewing machine and top stitch over the layout. I followed the edges of the pieces, more or less. I didn’t care if it all got covered with stitches at this point because I knew there was more going on top of these.
I like to iron everything as I go to smooth out and get some of the puckers to ease up - but not all. They all wont smooth out anyway. So embrace it.
My topstitching acted as additional texture. I would alternate between zigzag, decorative stitches, and straight stitch. All stitches are fair game. The color of thread sometimes matched the fabric I was sewing over, but sometimes it was a contrast. For instance, some of the green leaves have purple thread over them. I found this defined the leaves while also creating interest. If I didn’t want to call attention to a leaf or flower, I changed the thread to match.
I also used thread to create line work. I thought I could also do some hand embroidery here, but changed my mind. My machine has a free motion foot on it so I can move the fabric in any direction with the feed dogs down, so the circles were easier than it may be on a regular home machine. But it can be done. Or embroider the line work. It all will work.
I noticed I needed to push the sky, or top of the landscape back to add depth. The leaves were jumping out all over visually. The piece of netting with a bit of bling fixed that. I layered it over the top fourth of the piece and sewed only the top and sides down. I left the bottom open so I could tuck other things in if needed.
The poppies are a scrunched up piece of a red decorative organza scrap that I didn’t sew flat. I left the center of the gathers puffy, making sure I sewed all the edges down. If it looked like it needed it I would run a length of stitches through the middle of the puff to sculpt it more. I also tucked in some red silk flower petals as I did this.
The last thing was to add the string, yarn, and trim. This was zigzag fun. I did glue some spots of the string to the background so I could sew more than one at a time. **NOTE: make sure it is totally dry. The needle doesn’t like wet glue or hot fuse.
Now what? I had this fabric creation in need of some structure. I found a set of art canvas stretcher bars 17”x18” and my piece was only about 16”x17” and intentionally not straight on any edge. So, I added another layer of texture by sewing it face up, centered onto a larger piece of fabric, 20’x20” that I cut down after I wrapped around and stapled it to the stretcher bars.
Hope this answered some questions for those who asked and inspires you to make a creation of your own.