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My Process

I want to talk about my process for fabric collage. I think it’s fun & interesting, hope you do too.

I usually start with an image or theme. My latest work is a vintage Santa book. First I had the idea and then I searched the internet for copyright free images. I download them onto iron on transfer paper (Jolee’s Boutique easy image – Michael’s, Joann’s, Amazon). The images get ironed on to muslin and that’s what I use in my fabric books.

First I make the base of the book, muslin or vintage napkins, so I know the size and can print the images to scale. I vary the size of the images slightly so they don’t all look the same. I also try not to center them all on the page, some are off and this adds interest.

I take each image to my fabric stash and try to ‘match’ it to a background fabric. I Coordinate the background to the image. I pull as many as I think might work, no filtering at this point, just, “this might work”. Multiple shades of 1 color &/or different colors and different materials, cottons, sheer, velvet, etc. Variety is important.

Above: I was starting to gather materials that I thought would work with the vintage Santas. The only thing here that I used was the fabric at top.

Now comes the fun part. I do what’s known as auditioning. I take each fabric and put the image over it. Does it work? Is it a no or maybe? I may find the ‘right’ one right away or I may need to choose between 2 or 3. Sometimes I need to start again at the fabric stash. Sometimes I’m surprised at what I choose and what works! If I have more than 1 choice I keep auditioning. I may lay the image on a fabric and go do something else & come back & look at it, maybe several times. Then I’ll do it with another fabric until I decide. Occasionally this takes days of looking & deciding on the best choice. I do this for each image. And, of course later on this could all change! Now & then there is a fabric I love and want to use and I just can’t make it fit. At this point I also keep some complementary fabrics to use behind the image or to frame the image, this is usually a lighter, softer fabric.

This is the beginning of a book I called Opulence (sold). I didn’t use an image just luxurious fabrics. Here I’m auditioning the materials and placement. I’ll play with this until I’m happy with the layout If it’s not working I may clear it all and start again. This is where it ended.

Time for the trim bin! I have my images and basic fabrics set out on my worktable so I can see them. I start going through the bin and pulling anything I think might work in the project. Some trims I put immediately with a page where I think it will work. All other possibilities go into my project bin. The project bin is specific to the project I’m working on and this is “no-filter” at this point, picking lots of, “this might work.”

Then I start playing with the layout and auditioning the secondary materials. This could take days and it may turn out totally different from where I started. These are examples below. The secondary edging fabric was a last minute find that worked great. I had been trying to make a Christmas ribbon work and it just didn’t.

Left: This is the ribbon I wanted to use with the image. Looks perfect, right? But. It didn’t work.

The bottom right picture in the above series made it to the final book. It’s also what I like to call interactive, you can arrange the tassels!

Above: This is another page from the book. Auditioning, probably trial #17 and the finished page.

FYI – the blue behind the pix is my work surface!

Above: This went through many auditions to reach this.

Usually a book will take me 1-3 weeks to complete. Although I’ve now made 2 vintage Santa books, no two are alike. I try never to use the same materials more than once in a book. For instance feathers or a particular lace will only be on 1 page.

I like fabric, the feel, the prints & colors and a lot of time I’ll look through my bins with no plan in mind except to look and feel. That, to me, is fun. Sometimes I will find things together and they become my next project.

*To all viewers:

Special offer

I am offering this Vintage Santa fabric book to you before I put it on Etsy. $100.00, free S&H.

Contact me at

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