Monday, January 3, 2011

Tutorial - Fabric Manipulation #1

Easy Fabric Manipulation Tutorial
How to take a boring piece of flat fabric to one filled with texture and design!?

In just a few easy steps you can create your own project with this easy technique. Great for purses, bags, pillowcases, duvets... etc. There are so many great ways to incorporate texture!

For this tutorial I chose a thick grey denim fabric, you can use most fabrics.. my recommendation is something with a heavier weight, this will help retain the texture shape. However you can use a fusible interfacing/backing after texture is complete, just be careful not to smash down folds/texture to interfacing while ironing. I used a interfacing on the red clutch above because it was a very lightweight fabric.

To begin, cut a piece of fabric LARGER than what you need for your project by a couple inches each direction. The texture shrinks the fabric size! You can remeasure & cut the dimentions you need once you have created your texture.

Start by graphing out the BACK of your fabric, the lines depend upon how much/less texture you want your project to have. I chose 1.5 x 2 inch squares for my purse.

Next mark DOTS where you will be pinching the fabric to create texture.
I recommend alternately stacking your dots, not placing a dot directly on top of the other.... this is just a preference however. Practice with your design on scrap fabric first! :)

Pinch the dot point between your fingers...

Then fold keeping that dot point at the very outer edge. You can pin your fold in place and repeat till all your dots have been pinched, folded & pinned.

Then sew along the edge of your fold, the further back your seam the deeper texture folds you will have. I sewed mine along the yellow line, be sure to backstich each seam!!

DONE! - The back of the fabric.  

Notice there are no seams showing from the front! You can carefully iron your texture to create sharper edges for a more polished look. Now you are ready to use the fabric to create your own project. :)
I created this purse for my daughter with mine.

She loves having a big girl purse, she takes it everywhere now... filled with little miscellaneous toys and lip glosses. I need to make momma one now too!! ;)

I also created this fun red clutch for my sister's Christmas gift, I'm addicted to manipulating fabric! It's like creating a sculpture from fabric and makes your project so much more interesting.

Have fun with creating your own project! I would love to see picture or stories from what you have created using this technique.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask! :)


  1. So fun! Thanks for the tutorial, I may just have to give this a try.

  2. Hi Heather,
    Great tutorial, and gorgeous bags- as always; SO creative. You know I was wondering just the other day how to put "pinches" into fabric, I saw a dress (more like a ball gown) with "pinches" all over the skirt, and thought "hmmmm I wonder" and look! You've answered my question, and I didn't have to resort to Google or YouTube :)
    Hope all is well with you
    Lady S

  3. great! Thanks for sharing :-)
    I will try it

    Greeting from Germany

  4. Thanks for showing this project - and for your clear and concise tutorial. I want to make a 'non-lame' apron, this might work!

  5. Wow! This is good information. Thank you for doing blogs like this. I've bookmarked your website. :-)

    - Francis Oliverio, fashion designer in Cebu City, Philippines

  6. Love the detailed steps! so easy to follow. thanks so much:)

  7. you never helped me a all :(

  8. I didn't see you had a question? Did you have a question on this tutorial "Anonymous"? :)

  9. You have inspired me to get back at my machine! Thanks for the lovely ideas. So appreciate talented people in my real life and in the cyber one too:)
    Keep up the amazing work

  10. This is an cool texture. Thanks for the tutorial.

  11. Did you use a different amount and spaces for the clutch?
    it looks differnet I like it, and it's gorgeous....

  12. Very pretty, Lovely work, Here you can see
    Fabric Manipulation Important Designs for dresses @

  13. Gorgeous! I often forget to Keep It Simple; Repeat. Large, easy to read tutorial that leads to sumptuousness - & I didn't even get here til 4 years after your post. So thanx for keeping it up, too.

  14. How is required yardage figured? If your finished piece needs to be 12" X 12" for example, how big would the starting piece of fabric need to be? And would that amount vary, depending upon what type of smocking you are making?

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