Joni’s Textured Cottage Garden Top
Joni’s Textured Cottage Garden Top


Hi everyone I’m going to be doing a
project where I’m going to try and achieve a lot of texture in the surface. First of all I’m going to be using some cotton gauze as my carrier fabric. I’ll be using superfine merino, my most loved material and to achieve the texture I’m going to be embellishing using a variety
of fabrics, including some viscose silk velvets, some polyester, silk hankies various bits and pieces… this is how I sometimes start off, lots of bits and pieces and as I go
along I’ll see how I’ll use them or not use them. I’ll be making a t-shirt
type top using my carrier fabric, merino and embellishing fabrics… so I’ll
catch up with you once I’ve laid out… I started to lay my materials. I’m a
colorist so I work with fields of color but with this project I also had to
bracket in texture as part of the playing with fibers and fabrics.
I laid one layer of superfine merino wool thinking less wool, more fabric
would produce more interesting ruching. I would usually lay two layers of merino
wool when doing nuno with lots of fabric embellishment. I used a lot more of the
polyester material than I had first anticipated… it’s pretty, floral and
reminds me of Monet’s garden or cottage garden motif, as well as containing a
crinkled surface. I thought it also married with a brown sari silk with
embroidery. Both are extremely hard to felt being water resistant
and tightly woven. Not to mention the viscose silk velvet which I really love
to work into my Nuno felt but find these can also be problematic. Welcome back, I’ve got all my pieces laid up. Front, back, and two short sleeves. And I’ve done a bit of gathering with some of the fabrics just
to create a variation in the thickness to see how the wool takes it up. And I’ve also got some polyesters,
which don’t tend to felt very easily, so we’ll see how we go
with the roller handling all these variations in fabric thicknesses and
some fabrics being thicker, thinner or more slippery than others.
So it’ll be a bit of a challenge I think. May not look the best, but in any case it’ll be interesting. Here is an example of my hand ruched or gathered bits of silk sari
fabric which I created to add extra bulk and texture and which I have used
in several places. This rust dyed China silk has also proven problematic when
I’ve used it in the past on the right of the screen you can see
some hand gathered sari silk fabric as well as the brown embroidered sari silk
fabric. I wetted down all pieces with felting solution, four generous squirts
of shampoo in half a bucket of cold water placed them between two drop sheets
and then Philip helped me to fold the piece in half, one half directly on to
the other half, so it could fit onto the drive roller. I was using the eleven
hundred millimeter Gentle Roller. The rolling was taken up from all sides.
We opened the bundle up and folded it in the opposite direction so it was back to
back again and taken up on the drive roller from all four sides again.
It was a large bundle with lots of very tricky pieces of fabrics. The bundle was rolled about
10 to 12000 revolutions, which is equivalent to about
two hours of rolling on the Gentle Roller, without counting of the
inspection times. After rolling was completed all pieces were line dried before I started to embellish with hand embroidery – using different colored and
thicknesses of threads in both cotton and silk to marry the disparate fabrics
into a whole. The polyester floral panels were being difficult and so I used a
running stitch in very fine silk thread around the edges of these pieces to
ensure that they did not peel up. Then I trimmed the edges and sewed the pieces
together using my sewing machine. Seeing the pre-felt, my mother who
had been watching me work didn’t believe it would ever shrink to a wearable size. Here I am finishing the seams … sewn wrong sides together
with the wool side out and I lay superfine merino over the seams, matching the color, wet it, give it a few rubs with the hand roller, until it starts to
bind with the rest of the surface fibers Your Gentle Roller will arrive with a
complimentary hand rolling tool. This will also come in handy to work tricky
stubborn areas if you don’t want to work the whole area of an item. Once the seams were covered
I laid out the whole garment with a thin plastic resist
inside, wet both sides down and sandwiched the pre-felt in between
drop sheets on either side, ready to roll a little longer to enable the seams
to settle and blend into the rest of the garment. Thus the whole piece was rolled
another four thousand times to really bed in the seams –
a thousand rolls from each side… I had felted over the seams and I
put it back on the roller with a plastic resist inside so the two sides
wouldn’t stick together and I gave the whole piece
several thousand rolls I’ve just taken it off the roller and I’ve just worked the seams a little bit by hand.
There was a bit of a pleat forming from the fold in the resist
so I’ve just rubbed those out and I’m going to do is, I’m just going to chuck
it in the rumbler and see how it fulls. I’ve got a whole lot of fabric in it…
It’ll be interesting to see actually how it does ruche. I’ve got a bad feeling
that some bits aren’t going to ruche at all because I’ve used a lot of this
polyester fabric and although the fibers have come through –
it’s just not getting very crinkled. You can see some other bits are very dimpled and marbled whereas
this fabric is still quite flat. Here is the panel of polyester that I was
concerned about… you can see the wool fibers in burgundy pushing through the
fabric but it is not beginning to ruche as well as some other parts. You can see on the right of the screen
a running stitch I did to pick out a flower motif on the fabric. At the bottom of your screen you will notice the detail of the
hand ruched silk fabric placed to highlight the edge of the neckline. By comparison this piece of embroidered Sara’s silk placed down the bottom of
the tunic front is beginning to dimple rather well and was more than ready to
being fulled if only the rest of the garment looked
as good and ready. Anyway, into the rumbler it’s going to go… The garment needed to shrink a great
deal. In effect I was trying to gather a lot of fabric with a minimum amount of
wool. I had used around 110 grams of superfine merino for the whole garment.
All up it took about 2,000 rumbles with some hand scrunching in areas
where I wanted shaping for instance around the bust and
armhole areas, as my pieces tend to be rather
squarish to start with. So the garment experienced around 20
minutes in the rumbler, using only cold water to enable the shrinkage to a stage
where I was happy to say it was done. I could have fulled it more quickly using
warm to hot water but I don’t like to shock my fibers. Also working with cold
water allows me greater control to manipulate the shape and size of the
garment. Here I am modeling the finished top. It’s turned out much better than my
expectations, and I’m extremely happy with the finish. The polyester that I was worried
about ruched in some interesting variations For example, here’s the big
panel of the fabric to the right of the screen with the viscose velvet in the
center and in-between a little hand embroidery with various other
sari silk bits. All the fabrics came together beautiful. The different textures are
wonderful and the colors, albeit I’m not a brown fan, are rather fantastic in
combination. Using the polyester fabric was a beaut
way to upcycle a dress whose fabric I liked but whose style
was old-fashioned. Wearing the fabric in the
tunic will definitely be more me. Voila my textured cottage garden tunic top!

2 thoughts on “Joni’s Textured Cottage Garden Top”

  1. Sonja Hooper says:

    Thanks for Showing Us the Different Fabrics and how they Shrink… Have you Concidered using an Electric Hand Sander ?

  2. Mission Creek Farm says:

    Interesting. I have a bag of silk neck ties, and was thinking I would do some samples to see how they rouche using my sheeps wool (Romney/Merino Cross). This makes me feel much more confident that I may get some good results. Thanks for this! p.s. love the roller… would love to be able to get one someday.

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