A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fabric Collage: Supporting the Art(s)

Top to bottom: crinoline, canvas, heavy fabric

Beneath the beautiful colors, patterns, and surface are the supporting cast of fabric collage: the backings and the fusing materials. I almost always use one of three types of backings for my collage work - canvas, crinoline, or heavy fabric. My experience led me to the conclusions in this table.

several weights, very stable, easy to find, relatively inexpensive
harder to sew with hand stitching
translucent, light weight, easy to sew through with hand stitching, relatively inexpensive
harder to find, less stable
heavy fabric
easy to find, many color options, often free, ease for hand stitching varies
stability varies

Each backing type has it benefits and draw backs. If I plan to do lots of embroidery on a piece, I fuse it to crinoline. If I’m just going to frame the piece without edge stitching, it’s finished. But if I want to finish the edges with satin stitch, I might fuse it to canvas after I’ve finished the hand work for more stability. I tried fusible nonwoven stabilizer a few times and didn’t like the feel of the collage. It also seemed harder to do my hand embroidery on these pieces.
Crinoline over patterned fabric showing translucency
Back of piece with canvas backing

I have experimented with several types of fusible products. For larger pieces of fabric that don’t require hand stitching, I have used spray fabric adhesive with success. Normally, I use a paper-backed fusible, such as Wonder Under, because of the ease of not requiring another nonstick ironing sheet. I often apply the stabilizer to a larger piece of fabric than I might use immediately, so I have some prepared scraps on hand. One problem with this type of fusible is that on light weight fabric, the fusible can darken the right side and even show a slight pattern if it’s present on the fusible surface. Misty Fuse is best in such cases, and in general is a great all round good choice.

Next: my experiments with various fabric and paper choices in collage.

Posted by Cris Winters


  1. As always great information. I have not used crinoline but now I'm curious about it. Cris, I wonder if you have ever tried a product call Terial Magic Spray Stabilizer? I'm exploring its use in many projects and your post has inspired me to try it with some hand stitching. Thanks.

  2. There is a 4th fabric that you haven't mentioned. That is cotton organdy. I've just gotten back from QSDS and we worked with it in Jeanette DiNicholas Meyer's class, Layers of Light. Very stable if not washed yet easy to stitch thru. Not really expensive and somewhat translucent.


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