Monday 7 February 2011

Art Portfolio pt4

ok so here is the final part of the instructions, bet you thought it would never end eh?

I took a piece of heavy Calico(uk) I think the US girls call it Muslin. The length needs to be as long as your covers plus about 3 inches. The width needs to be 4 inches, (2 inches for the spine and an inch each side to fasten to the covers)

I used transfer dyes to colour my fabric. you paint the dye onto printer paper, dry it and then place it paint side down on the fabric and iron the reverse. Then I took an old paper bag, that had a hounds tooth check pattern on it. i laid strips of the bag down the sides of the fabric, print side down and ironed that too. The ink and pattern from the bag transfers to the fabric. Finally I took some transfer crayons ( they are like wax crayons but made with transfer dye) I drew the letters out onto printer paper, careful to draw the letter 'R' in reverse, then I flipped them over onto the fabric and ironed. I also drew a face and ironed that on.

I now have basic colouring on which to embellish.

I cut some felt letters slightly smaller than the printed letters, and stitched them on. I used a machine for speed, but you could easily do it by hand. The felt acts as padding.

Next I took a pile of gorgeous sheer fabrics, and cut squares from each. I laid about 5 squares over each letter and pinned in place.

Next i cut a strip of medium weight vilene, and ironed it to the reverse of the spine, you only need it 2 inches wide, as it only needs to add stability to the centre while you are stitching.

Using a close zig zag stitch I went around each letter, then cut away the excess fabric. I put the machine into free embroidery mode and stitched over the lines on the printed face. Finally I free machined a wiggly line all over the remaining fabric.

Note I did not do any stitching on the outer inch, as this will wrap around the cover and be glued, so you want to keep it flat.

Now this is a fun bit, the sheer fabric melts easily, so make some slashes in the fabric at different angles, using a craft knife. Vary the number of layers that you cut through. Now very gently heat with a heat gun, you only need to pass the gun over the fabric and it will melt and shrink away from the cut...too much and it will disappear.

Heat it just enough to reveal the different colours underneath.

Finally I added a butterfly. On all of the flaps i used a face to represent the 'artist' and a butterfly to represent' the journey'. So I wanted to do the same on the spine. I knew I already had this butterfly up in the attic, it was made years ago, and was attached to another project (which was packed away,unloved,in an old suitcase) so armed with scissors I ventured into the attic and cut it from the old project. It is made using a technique called Stumpwork. You buttonhole a wire shape to fabric, then fill in the centre with stitching. You cut it out and have a wired, embroidered shape. The body is layers of felt for padding, covered with satin stitch.

I was able to quickly attach the belly of the butterfly to the spine fabric with just a few stitches.

Next I applied tacky white glue to the two outer inches of the spine fabric, then laid my covers onto the fabric and pressed down. It does take a little adjusting to get everything lined up and straight. Leave to set for at least 10 minutes before attempting to turn it over.

Then apply more glue to the ends of the spine fabric and fold then inwards.

You might need to stack some books onto the spine now to weight it down while it dries. i would leave it a good hour.

When totally dry, take some wide black tape, or whatever colour matches the inside of your portfolio. My tape is 2 inches wide. I attached one strip 2/3 onto the back cover and 1/3 onto the inside of the spine. then another strip 2/3 onto the inside of the front cover and 1/3 onto the spine, and finally a third strip right down the middle of the spine. These 3 strips should fully cover all the inside of the fabric and be sufficiently over onto the covers enough to provide lots of strength. I burnished the tape down quite a lot with the back of a metal spoon.

Next apply some white glue to the smaller of the folds on each of your flaps, glue them into place, one at the top and bottom of each cover. Then take a piece of tape and stick that over the edge, so they are stuck from underneath and on top.

Take a couple of length of black twill tape, and 2 shorter lengths of white twill tape. You can make them however long you want, as long as they will tie.

I stitched the white tape onto the black, then stamped a quote on each using stazon ink.

Find the middle of each cover and make a mark about 1.5cm in. Punch a hole using the largest setting on the cropodile.

Pass one of your stamped tapes through the hole, and tie a double knot on the inside of the cover.

The other end will hang down outside, and you can add a big bead on the end, with another double knot.

Finally you are all done, all that is left to do is fill it with artwork.

Close up the flaps, to hold everything in place...

tie it up and you are done...phew! dunno about you but I am exhausted.

I really hope you enjoyed this project, I would love to hear what you think. If you make one too please let me know.

I have no intention of taking mine outside. But if you do, or you are making this for a student who will be going to art college, then a couple of things to think about...

firstly i wouldn't attach anything delicate such as the butterfly, and secondly I would give the whole thing a couple of thin coats of matte varnish to protect it from adverse weather. use a spray varnish, as one that needs brushing on may just make the artwork on your covers go all smeary.


  1. I need to look up alternative words to AWESOME cuz I am going to run out of words with you posting all this stuff lol. That butterfly ROCKS! I got a whoopin from my sewing machine last time I tried to sew a straight line and look what you made! Sheesh that is just cool! And the sparkles in the letters! Seriously just COOL! ( my word of the day lol)


  2. OMGoodness Darcy! The portfolio is a work of art! Nothing I'm brave enough to try, but I love love love looking at it and your process. You are awesomely talented!

  3. You have done a hard but amazing much detail and sooooo much work! I would be making such a portfolio for a year! You are an amzing artist! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Fantastic Darcy, truly, and what...makie one to give away...I think nottle!! It's a great piece, I love to read how you do stuff -it's all so matter of fact and it's stuff I 've never heard of most time!

  5. This project is ......well words escape me are one clever lady ...thanks for a brilliant tutorial make it sound easy....although it is anything but I need to look for old boardgames going cheap as I threw away so many when I moved ...story of my life.