I hope you are all feeling strong and well and finding ways to get through this strange period in our lives.
Today’s post is about creating a possible woven background for your textile art, embroidery work or English Paper Piecing. The finished piece may look a little like patchwork but will be achieved quite differently and the technique, though simple, will give you the potential to create a variety of very different compositions, depending on your fabric choices.
It’s an experiment, something I have not tried before and I want to see what I can do with it and whether it is as EPP friendly as I hope it will be. I am going to create 2 samples and I invite you to give this a try, too:
You will need:
- 2 pieces of fabric 7 inches/18 cm square for each of your background pieces. This can be linen, calico, a wool mix, or a piece of recycled fabric you may have in your stash.
- A variety of plain and/or patterned fabric which you will cut (or tear if you like ragged edges) to make warp and weft strips. (Just a reminder: warp and weft are weaving terms. The warp refers to the threads (or in this case the fabrics) that hang vertically, while the weft refers to the threads (or fabrics) that run horizontally, in front of and behind the weft.
- Scissors, pins, a needle and some sewing or embroidery thread in a colour that stands out against the background strips.
Choose your fabrics for each sample The fabrics can be soft tones or bold patterns, whatever takes your fancy. Your strips can be thick or thin or a combination of both and your stitches can be any ordinary or decorative stitch that you like. Try to make the first sample completely different from the second.
Here are my fabric choices: Long strips of black and whites and creams for the first sample….
and some some soft beiges, blues, greens and pinks for the second sample.
All of these are just odd pieces picked out of my scrap box but with some careful choices you could achieve a particular outcome – like a monotone or three colour composition.
For my first sample I am using a background fabric of Zakka, a Japanese linen and cotton mix.
Now tear or cut your strips- any width will do – but keep them long for now, so you can decide how much to cut them back later. You may want an uneven edge.
Lay 3 to 5 pieces of your warp strips next to each other, vertically, along the background fabric of your first sample, arranging the colours or tones together in a way that pleases you. There should still be some background fabric visible on either side of them. Pin the strips to the background fabric along the top.
Then stitch them to the background fabric to secure them. I have used a simple running stitch in red Perle 8 thread. Don’t worry about your stitches being even. This just an experiment! One the pieces are stitched down, remove the pins.
Make sure your fabric strips are smooth and flat and then pin the bottom end to the background fabric. There should be no wrinkles in your background fabric. When you have secured the bottom end of each strip, stitch across them to attach them to the fabric behind.
Now choose 5, or more, strips for the weft. Weave the first one under the first warp strip, over the second and under the third and so on.
Do the second one in reverse. Go over the fist warp strip, under the second, over the third and so on. You will end up with alternating rows, as in the picture below. Make sure you are happy with your arrangement of weft strips. If you want to change it around, this is the time to do it. Then pin your weft strips to the background fabric at each end and stitch them down on both outside edges of your warp strips to secure your weft strips.
I used a simple running stitch, with a few cross stitches over the centre black and white striped fabric, to add a bit of interest. If your cross stitches are often wonky, use the guide line in striped and checked fabrics to help you achieve more even crosses.
You now have the beginnings of an interesting woven background, ready to embellish in any way you like. You can add English Paper Pieced motifs and appliqué them on, add more embroidery, or add layers of transparent fabrics.
Lets see what I come up with – the second sample and more, in the next post!