Thursday, 6 November 2014

Easy Button Art

Back in the summer, I was lucky enough to be invited by Fantastic Ribbons to become part of their 'craft posse' that tests and reviews their products for them. I jumped at the chance to choose some lovely buttons and tiny ric-rac from their range, and started planning what I could make with them.

We had recently watched the film UP, which is such a lovely film, and when I tipped the buttons out over the table to have a look at them, they reminded me of the balloons in the film.
So, I googled for an image to copy, and came up with this:

I drew each element of the house out on the smooth side of bondaweb, back to front (mirror image). I cut roughly around each piece, leaving a few millimetres all around the end shape, and then ironed each little piece on to the back of various scraps of fabric. Once ironed on, you can cut around the shapes easily and the bondaweb stops the fabric from fraying.

Next is my favourite bit. It's like Fuzzy Felt for grown ups! Find some fabric the right size for your frame, peel the paper backing off each little fabric 'jigsaw' piece and lay them on the fabric, to form your picture. Once you've got all the pieces laid out how you want them, iron them on. The glue on the back of the fabric will melt and stick them all down. Genius!

I then did a little of free-motion machine embroidery around the outlines. There are good tutorials on the web on how to do this (I like the one by Urban Threads, here) but essentially, you just lower your feed dogs, change to a free-motion embroidery foot (or remove the foot all together) and off you go. Without the feed dogs, you can move the fabric in whichever way you choose and it's just like drawing, with your machine. Considering I don't really like drawing, and am quite frankly rubbish at it, I love free-motion embroidery. It's so much fun and looks so effective.

I didn't want the picture to be all machine stitched though, so I took some sparkly embroidery thread and hand stitched the windows. I then used a disappearing fabric pen and wrote 'Adventure is out there' in deliberately script-y writing. I hand embroidered over my outline using back stitch, and then sprayed the fabric with water, to erase the pen marks.

What I should have done next, and now need to go back and fix, is machine stitch straight lines from the chimney, to where the 'balloons' would go, to make the strings for the balloons. I don't know how I didn't realise I'd forgotten to do this, until after I'd framed the picture!

Finally, the really fun bit. I had Evie sit with me, playing with the buttons and choosing which one came next, as I sewed each one on with silver sparkly thread. I sewed the buttons close together, so that they would overlap slightly and look like the bunch of balloons used to fly the house in the film.

Finally I found some card, the right size for the frame, and stretched the fabric over it, taping it down with parcel tape on the back. I used a box frame from IKEA, so that there would be space for the buttons, without squashing them.

What do you think? What would you do with a bag of pretty buttons?