I like to work on a layered base. The concept of the base cloth is like painting I suppose, in that it is a canvas, something to put your marks on. But in cloth making, for me it is more than that. It is a way to create a context for your ideas but also a physical environment for techniques I employ for embellishment. A single layer just doesn't do that for me.
My base making approach started way back. Around the time I started embellishing and enhancing existing quilts in the process of mending them. I suddenly began to see traditional patchwork as not a finished product, but a design playground to use as a base for story cloth. The seam lines create that natural grid. Some sort of design safety net. But in addition to the built in guidelines, I also found that working on a pre-layered cloth increased my ability to do what I needed with stitch, cloth and design. And so my concept of the layered base evolved. I started with a the pieced method, sort of creating mini patchwork quilts as base cloths, replacing the batting with cloth to facilitate stitching, and gradually expanded that a bit, coming up with various ways to create a layered cloth environment, as a ground work for the collage method of cloth building that came to be my style.
Tip: When creating a layered embellished cloth, it is best to start with a simple uncluttered layout and less patterned cloth. Build the details as you go.
Less can always become more.
More, on the other hand, is not so easy to deal with as a beginning.
The Layered Base is simply a cloth base that I set up as my canvas (using one of the 3 methods below) plus a light weight backing layer used to stabilize, add body and to begin the layering process. These two initial components are stitched together with what I call the Invisible Baste, or what I call in general, The Glue Stitch. This is the key to how I construct with the collage style and I will show different applications as I move forward. I thought I would start by showing this stitch here so you might get started if you already have a base idea in mind.
Video note 1: basting flat
The Invisible baste can be applied in individual ways depending on your base style and intentions....
The Pieced Base
The Pieced Base gives you a great framework to create design. You can use the seam lines and the spaces for placement ideas. Any method can be used to piece the initial base. Machine or Hand methods, maybe you already have your favorite. I like to use what I call Paperless Piecing. I find it easy to do, I like the aesthetics of the result and with patience any design can be done with precision.
Here are the basics of the method I use.
Since I want this class to cover the basic techniques I employ to make bases, I have also included here, the basics of my freestyle banded patchwork bases, Home Base Patchwork, that I work from a sketch. This can be done on the machine or by hand. I use this as one option to put together my patchwork beast pieces, creating a simple form to embellish, which also falls into the pieced base category. The PDF is from the first lesson in Patchwork Beasts, there is a video link in it showing the process. This process can be applied to any type of design. you could certainly just sew a nine patch together like this, not caring if the corners match up. Who cares really? Sometimes that is just fine too. Right?
When working in layers, it helps to press all seams open, flat, to avoid and extra build up of layers.
The Woven Base
Here is the first lesson, from the Cloth to Cloth workshop... demonstrating the basic woven block. The Woven Foundation Block is structured, by nature, as a layered base and has a marvelous natural texture and grid to work with. It is addictive as a base. The nature of weaving cloth creates layers so stick with thin or very soft fabric. You can tear or cut your strips, depending on what your cloth allows.
And some specifics for the invisible basting process...for the basic woven foundation block.
There are many other approaches to cloth weaving that I will not be covering here, I will , though, be highlighting the weaving again, showing some ways to use it to refine a surface, when we get to embellishment.
The Whole Cloth Base
The Whole Cloth Base is really the easiest start, the basis for the collage method I use in its simplest form. I is more like painting with cloth, starting with just a piece of cloth as a canvas. This is probably the best way to start if you have less time, no plan, and just want to try different embellishment techniques. Or simply play. You can use any cloth, but it is a good way to showcase a nice piece of dyed cloth or something you really like as a textured background. It is good to start with a solid or an overall muted pattern so you have room for detail later. Sometimes the backs of prints are good.
The whole cloth approach can also simply be a matter of collaging fabric directly to the backing cloth itself, creating a layout on the fly. The following video was made in my first Spirit Cloth Workshop and shows some free form approaches to layout and even a less structured approach to a woven effect.
So, just playing and chatting at the same time....