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Layer upon Layer - One day

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A class with Larkin Jean Van Horn:

Layer upon Layer - One day

Time: One full day, six classroom hours
Skill level: All, must be familiar with own sewing machine
There is no additional kit fee for this class

Another title for this class could be: Make Haste Slowly. We all know that fabric work is not a speed sport or one designed for instant gratification. But sometimes we just need to get something done, already, and also outrun the voice of our inner critic. So, let's see what happens when we stop over-thinking things, and just make some art. We will work with fused collage, free motion machine stitching, and hand beading. Working in a small and intimate scale allows for more attention to the details and textures of the finished piece. And whether you finish the piece in class or not, you will be well on your way to a small reminder to just go for it.

This class works well in either a one or two day format. In a two day format, students will be able to sample several styles of fabric collage before choosing one to stitch and bead.

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Supply list:

Size: I recommend that you work in the range of 12" to 14" square, or, if you prefer a rectangle, something like 8" by 14" might suit you. But don't get carried away. Keep it small and manageable.

Tools: You will need a sewing machine that is capable of doing free motion stitching, in good working order, with the appropriate foot for free motion work. Don't forget the power cord, foot pedal, and manual. An extension cord might also be useful. You will also want fabric scissors, small thread scissors or snips, a few pins, things to clean your sewing machine, paper and pen for taking notes.

Fabric: For collage, you need a variety of fabrics in your color scheme. I tend to start out with more than I will eventually use, but in the end will use about 12 to 15 fabrics total. You can make fused collage on a background fabric, or fuse directly to the batting - your choice. In either case, you will need batting and backing fabric in your chosen size. (For a 2 day class, bring 3 or 4 pieces of batting and backing, and a larger selection of collage fabrics.) You can bring a fabric to fuse to, and make the decision in class as to which approach you will take. For the backing fabric, I use muslin, since I will be beading extensively, and want to cover and protect my beading stitches with a separate back. In any case, don't bring yardage to class - you won't need it, and it takes up a lot of classroom space. Bring smaller pieces to cut into collage (10" to 12" squares should do nicely).

Fusible Web: You will need enough to apply to your collage fabrics. My preferred brands are Mistyfuse and WunderUnder 805, because they are easy to stitch through.

Thread: Bring a few decorative threads and appropriate bobbins and bobbin thread. If you haven't played with variegated threads before, this might be a good opportunity to do so. My favorites are Rainbows by Superior Threads. Remember the appropriate machine needles for decorative threads: Topstitch size 90 or 100.

Beading Supplies:

Needles: I prefer John James Sharps sizes 10, 11, 12. They are shorter than standard beading needles and I find them easier to work with. The higher the number, the smaller the eye of the needle.

Thread: Standard sewing thread is not appropriate for beadwork. Stick to a good quality Nylon beading thread, of which there are several brands: Nymo, Nylux, C-Lon, SoNo, Silamide, OneG, etc. Choose colors that come close to your chosen color scheme.

Beads: Seed beads are the backbone of beadwork, and they come in a variety of sizes, colors, shades, finishes, and countries of origin. "Basic" seed beads are size 10/11/12, and in fabric work can be used interchangeably. Larger seed beads, sizes  8 and 6, are great for additional texture and different techniques. Bring a goodly selection in your color scheme. Also, include some different shapes: bugle beads, cubes, rondelles, drops, leaves, flowers, crystals, pearls, stone chips, etc. as it suits you. If you want to use crystals, stone chips, shell, metal charms or anything with rough edges, also bring some Fireline 6 lb. test fishing line to use in place of thread.

Cabochon: Essentially, anything with a flat back that will lay down on the surface of the fabric - button, fused glass, polymer clay, ceramic, etc. - that will serve as the focal piece for your beadwork. Optional, but can help pull a piece together.

Beading Mat: These are available at bead shops, but a towel or T-shirt will do. Avoid terrycloth.

Beading Scoop: Used to put the beads back into the containers. A teaspoon will do.

Task Light: Take good care of your eyes, and give them good light to work with. Optional, but highly recommended. You might throw in an extension cord as well.

Other preparation:

The most important thing you will do before coming to class is choosing your color scheme for the day. Once you have done that, pulling your supplies together will be much easier. Perhaps you will start with a focal fabric. Or a theme from nature or art. Or grab a travel magazine and see what it may have to offer. Whatever you choose, don't start second guessing yourself or you will spend more time assembling materials than actually making the work!

If you want to be ahead of the game, you can apply fusible web to the collage fabrics before coming to class, thereby avoiding waiting in line for an iron.

Additional Resources:

I am a big fan of supporting our local shops, but if there is not a bead shop in your neck of the woods, here are a few of my favorite online sources:

Shipwreck Beads — Lacey, Washington
If you are in driving distance of Lacey (just north of Olympia) this place is a must see store — 80,000 square feet of beads!
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads — Grants Pass, Oregon
Great selection of crystals.
Beyond Beadery — Rollinsville, Colorado
Best source for permanent finish metallic seed beads — hard to find, but well worth the price.
Cartwright's Sequins — Mountainburg, Arkansas
The best source for sequins.
Beadcats — Wilsonville, Oregon
The best variety of beading thread colors. The website is no help in choosing, but call Carol and tell her I sent you.