Peony and Parakeet

Fabric Collages

A collage made from fabric pieces, by Peony and Parakeet. See the instructions to make fabric collages!
The idea for this card came from the pile of fabric scraps that I have. I began to wonder: could I use these instead of papers to create fabric collages?

Fabric scraps in a drawer

Fabric Collages – A School Project from the Past

I also remembered one happy moment from the childhood. I was about 10 years old. A teacher asked us to bring fabric scraps to school. We were asked to cut the fabric into pieces and create a collage from them. My schoolmates were not excited but I was thrilled. I cut the fabrics into tiny pieces and began to glue them on a paper.

Fabric collage, a detail

When I had finished the collage, I was very pleased with it. I had also had such a good time. Little did I know that I would be cutting tiny pieces whole my life – that the moment I picked the scissors was to follow me many times afterwards!

A fabric collage made by Paivi from Peony and Parakeet, in the age of 10

1) Cut and Glue the Fabric Pieces

The supplies for fabric collages are simple: scissors, glue, paper, fabrics.

Creating a fabric collage, by Peony and Parakeet

2) Add a Layer of Gel Medium

Because my collage was small, I wanted to add some fine details and extra layering. To be able to do that, I covered the first layer with the gel medium.  When dried, I would be able to doodle with markers and create dimensions by adding more layers.

Creating a fabric collage, adding layers with gel medium, by Peony and Parakeet

My favorite is Golden Soft Gel Gloss but any gel medium will do. Even if I am not a big fan of buying more stuff, purchasing this is a good investment. You can use gel medium not only to create surfaces but also glueing paper pieces when making paper collages.

Unfinished fabric collage, doodling on the gel medium surface, a technique by Peony and Parakeet

3) Add Doodling

When gel medium dries it becomes transparent and you can doodle with thin markers or gel pens on it. Make sure to dry it first throughly!

4) Add More Details From Fabric Pieces

Adding gel medium on fabric surface. See instructions for creating fabric collages! By Peony and Parakeet.

After doodling on the first layer, I wanted to add details like the house in the middle. After constructing the house with fabric pieces and glue, I added gel medium to the details to add some doodling on them.

The photo below shows how the fabric is layered. A part of the card is covered with gel medium and feels like plastic. There are also fabric pieces without any coverage on the top and they feel soft.

A fabric collage card by Peony and Parakeet

You do not need a sewing machine to enjoy working with fabrics!

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Mixed Media Pie Party

Mixed Media pies, Karelian pies by Peony and Parakeet

Karelian pies – tears come to my eyes when I remember a childhood memory of my past mother making them. And her story of my grandmother who made a pile of those for her six daughters every Saturday. Just some water, flour, rice and butter was needed. Or well, that’s what I thought before I made some by myself after moving away from home. Patience too, I recognized!

Mixed Media pies. Karelian Pies by Peony and Parakeet

I wanted to experiment with creating something not so serious. So I recreated Karelian pies. These mixed media pies are made of fabric, wool, lace, beads, buttons etc. And they look like baked after I added some fabric dye in the edges.

Mixed Media pie. Karelian Pies by Peony and Parakeet

When making these I remembered the emotional connection I have for the Karelian pies. They represent caring and love for me. In the area where I grew there where no celebration nor funeral where Karelian pies would not be served. The finer the occasion, the smaller the pies – and there were a hundred of them!

Mixed Media Karelian Pies by Peony and Parakeet

I thought I would create a fantasy world with my pies, linens and fancy tea but my thoughts became more real than I had ever suspected. I became to think how important people from the past quietly fade away when the time goes by. And how we can bring them back to our minds. Like inviting them for a cup of tea, even only in our thoughts.

Mixed Media Karelian Pies by Peony and Parakeet

While taking the photos I remembered a small table linen that I had embroidered as a teenager. Back then I dreamt about the future and wanted to make something very traditional Karelian for myself to treasure. I was inspired by the stories of how young women made their linen before they stepped into the marriage. That embroidered piece combined with the Karelian pies really speaks to me.

Art is freedom. Give yourself the freedom to create! You will get something precious in return.

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Things Learned From Quilting

Learned from Quilting, a collage by Peony and Parakeet

My latest collage here is influenced by fabrics and quilting. After being linked from Amy’s Free Motion Quilting Adventures blog I got the idea to blog about my roots in quilting. And even more: what I have learned from quilting.

I used to be a quilter you know. Within years my quilting became more and more complex. I fell in love with hand embroidery and it felt like the needle was my pen. Quite soon after I made this, “The Time of Miracles”, I knew I could not just go on. It took too much time to complete one, even small quilt.

The Time of Miracles, a quilt with hand embroidery by Peony and Parakeet

I discovered paper crafting hoping it would be faster. And it was! That time I also combined paper with fabric.

Paper and fabric by Peony and Parakeet

But after taking the first steps in paper crafts I realized that I had learned a lot from quilting.

1. Using ugly colors
Choosing only pretty colors makes them all ugly. Every quilter buys neutrals, blacks, whites, solids and other duller fabrics to make pretty even prettier.

2. Selecting colors that differ in intensity
Hues that have the same intensity look flat and unappealing together. Like in nature and in photos, the hues vary and I think it looks beautiful.

3. Mixing patterns
By bringing new and new fabrics to the quilt it gets more and more appealing once the colour choices work. I love mixing a variety of patterns together!

4. Layering 
Applique is the technique where the fabric motifs are sewn on the background. Layering creates depth and makes the end result interesting. I try to maintain clear color contrasts between layers.

5. Attachment
In quilting all the pieces are first attached by sewing. They form a connection within each other even before the final step: the actual quilting. In collages I always try to group elements and give them some kind of border. Pieces that float look like they do not belong anywhere.

Quilted Zip Pouch by Peony and Parakeet

I still make quilts now and then. I do not make traditional blocks or plan my quilts. I like sewing intuitively like I would be drawing something unexpected.

Skills can be mixed and styles can evolve from the experience of making a wide range of things. Whatever you create, hopefully this encourages you to combine your skills for the next project!

Quilted Heart by Peony and Parakeet

More design advice applied to crafting: Folk Bag Workbook

Drawing on Fabric

Miracles Happen, handpainted fabric by Peony and Parakeet

I missed the feel of cotton fabric so I decided to use it as a base instead of paper. It was so much fun! I used both the fabric paints and fabric markers here.

Miracles Happen, handpainted fabric, a detailThere’s not much difference between drawing on fabric and drawing on paper. I use thick cardboard under the fabric so that I do not have to worry about colors ruining the table top. Another tip is to wash the fabric first so that the colors get into it. And iron well before and after painting.

This is quite large piece (19,5 in x 13.5 in) but you can start with smaller ones. I am so tempted to start a new project by painting small squares and use them in the next quilt.

More photos

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