Does anyone remember the little bird project I did a long time ago? I made the little bird by hand stitching the fabrics onto a piece of felt and I really enjoyed doing it.
When I was trying to think of a project I could do with a group of participants at work, I thought it’d be a great idea to do something similar. I mean, we have tons of fabric… Some of it is even halfway decent!
The main problem was that doing it the way I did the little bird involves a lot of hand stitching and the people I work with are disabled. Their abilities are mixed… some have the dexterity to do fine work, others have no fine motorskills to speak of, and none of them can do fine stitching.
My first attempt involved ripping fabric into strips and asking one participant to select the colours she wanted, then lay them out on a piece of fabric to create a picture. She chose the colours and laid them out in colour blocks.
The plan was that I would then use the sewing machine to sew the pieces down.
Of course, the minute I picked up the backing fabric all her scraps moved or fell off so I had to stitch them back one by one. As a result, I couldn’t help myself… I added a few accent bits here and there… Kind of defeats the purpose of getting people to do their own art!
I couldn’t help it! It went against my grain to leave it in plain colour blocks… the fabric got mixed up. Yeah. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!
Given that I’m trying to let the participants make their own art, this method wasn’t an ideal way to do it…
I found a video on YouTube of a lady who does crazy quilting. She recommended using thin iron-on fabric to keep the pieces together!
Now, why didn’t I think of that?
Well, for one thing I’m no expert in sewing and I’m pretty sure I’ve never used iron on stuff before… In fact, I’m not even sure I’d heard of it before!
So, I went out and bought some. I got the second thinnest (cause the lady on YouTube said ‘thin’) and got to work.
I had a bag of scrap fabric which was given to me by a friend. It wasn’t ripped up in long strips like the first experiment so the pieces were different shapes and sizes. This gave the participants more variety in shape as well as pattern and colour.
Once they had their pieces laid out, I ironed them in place, then stitched them down with the sewing machine.
It worked much better. I’m sharing three of the creations we’ve made so far. There are a few more which I’ll share when they’re done.
Aren’t they fabulous? I want to make some cushion covers for my new couch using this method!
For the work project I’ve made these into wall hangings by sewing the art to a backing piece of fabric with pockets for dowels top and bottom. It makes it easier and much quicker. They can now go home and be hung on the wall straight away.
Mission accomplished. We found a way to let the participants create their own work with minimal staff input in the creative part.