Tag Archives: Betty Busby

Tracing Cloth Play

A chance discovery of Pellon 830, called Easy Pattern, led me to experiment with ways to use it. Pellon calls it an interfacing-tracing cloth. I bought a bolt of it to make a sample pattern for my silk vest (Why a bolt? It was a 60% off sale and the usual price was $2.48/yard. You do the math.) That went well as 830 sews nicely, but then I began to wonder about other uses.

Out came the paints, the watercolor pencils, the crayons, the stamps, and the brushes. First, I soaked pieces of 830 in containers filled with diluted fabric paint, which resulted in soft pastels. Then I began to stencil and stamp it.

I fused some of the colored 830 to Wonder Under, cut it up and ironed it to fabric. Then I quilted it. I found that it doesn’t fray and even three layers are quite thin.

On other experimental fronts, I traced stencils with markers and found the result to be crisper than on fabric.

Then, I traced a flower from a quilt photo (the 830 is translucent), colored it with watercolor pencils, and outlined it with a fine tip black marker. I think traced designs could be cut out and fused to fabric.

About the time I began my tracing cloth play, I found out that Betty Busby uses this stuff in her quilts. A friend took a class with her where students used this and Evolon. Busby has her students use a Silhouette Cameo machine to cut out original designs from these materials. Here are pieces Busby made that incorporate nonwovens.

“Buffalo Gourd’s” leaves are made of nonwoven material, and sewn onto hand painted silk.

Busby developed “Toupee The Turtle” to teach students how to use nonwoven material. It looks like the background is hand painted fabric.

There are numerous advantages of this material. It cuts easily, is washable, doesn’t fray, is fusible, can be sewn on, takes paint and marking tools well, and is translucent enough to trace designs onto it. You don’t get the drag of fabric when you use pencils or markers on it. Oh, did I mention it’s cheap?

I encountered a few disadvantages. The fabric paints I used didn’t dry to exceptionally intense colors but were more pastel. However, I diluted my paint, so full strength paint may give more color. I haven’t tried acrylic paint or dyes so I can’t speak to how well they do. Also, unless you can get opaque coverage from paint, any fabric used underneath 830 will show through a bit.

Busby’s work shows me I have lots more experimenting to do with this material. Lucky for me I have most of a bolt left.


Filed under Project Ideas, Techniques

Sometimes Failure Is An Option

We all love to hear success stories, so the duds tend to get shoved to the back of the closet and forgotten, metaphorically speaking. However, I want to tell you about a failure in hopes someone out there has tried this technique and succeeded.

The technique involves cloth, fabric paint, and rubbing alcohol; and is supposed to produce cool effects of spreading circles. At least that’s what happened in Betty Busby’s video.

I gathered the simple supplies – fabric paint, rubbing alcohol, Q-tips, and scraps of silk.  You put a dot of paint on the fabric and touch the center with an alcohol dipped Q-tip. The paint is supposed to spread out from that center like ripples from a stone dropped in water. Here’s my first result. Not quite like Betty’s. This is after spraying the whole thing with alcohol. It bears a distinct resemblance to a paintball target.

IMG_7281I thought I should investigate more videos and found some where 91% rubbing alcohol was touted as the secret ingredient. Usual rubbing alcohol is 70%. All right! I thought, and purchased the stronger stuff.

More failure. The results were even worse with no spreading of the paint, possibly because I used cotton, not silk fabric.

Back to YouTube. I got sidetracked by videos of rubbing alcohol used on drawings done with Sharpie markers. I had that cup of alcohol and a bunch of Q-tips already laid out, so why not try it.

Alcohol on SharpiesThe blobs of color underneath the marker lines are my attempts with the 91% alcohol.

Then, I decided to see if I could get a blurry line around shapes on an old printing experiment. I outlined the leaves with a brown marker and then went over the lines with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol.

Sharpies on PrintI like the shadowy effect I got, and may try it on other made fabrics.

So, Betty may be holding back the real secret ingredient, or I may simply not have used the right fabric, or the paint was too thick/thin, or …


Filed under Techniques