Chapter 5: Rusting Fabric

Seven years ago I decided to expand my quilting art. This is what I decided to do. Every other month I would try something that I have never done before. I would get a book on what I wanted to try and do some research and even take a class if one was available. Living in this part of Maine it is really hard to find that kind of class! LOL!

This was the month I wanted to try rusting. I have never even heard of it till someone gave me a book one Christmas called  “Fabric Embellishment the Basics and Beyond” by  Ruth Chandler, Liz Kettle, Heather Thomas and Lauren Vicek. Just to try it out the technique I found some old nails in our workroom. I then followed the instruction in the book.

Finding Rusting Objects

Finding Rusting Objects

Put a piece of plastic down on your work surface. ****Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Place a piece of fabric (that has been washed and dried no fabric softener) on top of the plastic. Spray fabric with solution till really wet then lay rusted objects on top of one half of the fabric. Fold other half of fabric over the top of the object. Spray some more solution on the top piece of fabric then place a piece of plastic on top to the  keep moisture in. You want to keep the fabric damp and wet. The only thing I did different was mixed solution in a small container and soaked the fabric before I started. If there are wrinkles in the fabric it will show up with a rusted pattern.

Rusted differently on both sides

Rusted differently on both sides

Let sit anywhere from 24 hours to a week making sure during the week that the fabric has not dried out. When satisfied with the look you want you want to rinse your fabric to get the vinegar smell out. I loved the look!

One white fabric, one off white fabric

One white fabric, one off white fabric

So I raided the house and the yard for any old metal pieces I could find.  Old drill blades, nails, rebar, bicycle chains. Anything you think you might like an impression of. I actually went to the store to find certain washers that I liked the shape of only to find out they were galvanized like a lot of hardware now. It doesn’t rust!!

My work table was full for a week of things rusting. The house smelled of vinegar also so I kept lighting scented candles till finally I was happy with the results!!! I tried rusting on just white fabric then on off-white and even printed tone on tone fabric. What is interesting is that even though you have the same object the rust pattern is different from the top and the bottom piece of fabric. You never know what you will get.

During the time of the rusting I had this brilliant idea for a quilt top. I would do individual panels of the rusted objects and quilt them all, add beading and embellishments, then connect them somehow.

rust d

I was so excited till I went to quilt my rusted fabric pieces. Needles kept breaking. I put in an even larger needle and it would still break after just a few stitches. I could quilt a little better further away from the rust. I was getting frustrated at this point! So I went on line and did some research and a light bulb went on. The fabric has rusted metal on it. METAL!!!  Oh my poor machine. I took my sewing machine apart. The whole thing to vacuum and blow out everything I could find and oiled it. You see the metal left on the fabric was breaking my needles and pushing little flakes of rust into my sewing machine. But I got it all out and my machine runs fine. Yahoo! A save.

Jewelery connectors

Jewelery connectors

I really wanted to do this project though! Solution: I scanned in every rusted piece and printed onto photo fabric sheets. I use Miracle Fabric Sheets by C. Jenkins. This took a lot of sheets and a lot of time to get the photo sheets to match as close to the color of the original rusted piece. I then cut up the printed sheets into a design I liked for each individual section. I was then able to quilt it the way I wanted, add beading and embellishments.  It was so worth it.  I am so happy with the results.

Finished Piece!

Finished Piece!

**One last note when you rust fabric the integrity of the fabric is also compromised. It might not last as long due to the rust on it!



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8 responses to “Chapter 5: Rusting Fabric

  1. This is really cool, I had no idea you could do this. would be perfect for some steampunk projects I have up my sleeve .

  2. Patricia, your quilt is amazing! And beautiful! It was great to read about how you maked it! Thank you!

  3. Patricia, I love the way this fiber art piece turned out! Thank you for sharing your process.

  4. This is absolutely amazing! I would love to try this. It turns out really neat. I might just have to do this. Thanks for sharing this with us. 🙂

  5. Kathy kinsella

    How cool … This is something I have been wanting to try, too … But I didn’t know about breaking needles!!! I wonder how it would be for hand stitching? Tanks so much for this blog post.

  6. Thanks for sharing B’fly!

  7. Pat

    The quilt is truly a work of art!!! great story!

  8. Julie Tillema

    Hey Patty, I love reading your blogs, seeing your beautiful quilts and your amazing new designs!

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