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Machine Fabric Collage

Ellyn Mosbarger

This technique has a raw-edged, layered confetti appearance, created by the use of remnant of scrap fabrics. Pieces are approximately ¼" to ½" in size, randomly or specifically arranged on a backing fabric, which may also serve as a lining. The pieces or chips need to be held in place with pins and overlaid with a layer of sheer netting or water-soluble stabilizer to secure the pieces until the machining is accomplished. Motifs cut from printed fabrics also work well in combination with the chips. The stitching may be done in free motion to outline, enclose or enhance the layered pieces. The machine thread used may be ordinary machine thread or decorative, metallic or variegated in contrasting or coordinating colors. Selection of background layer sets the tone for the project, and the manipulation of chips, thread and free motion machining contribute to an endless range of surface design effects…

Materials & Tools

  1. Backing Fabric: solid color or small print of any weight, may also serve as the lining. Possibilities include cotton, linen, dupioni and other silks, organdy, panne velvet, satin…
  2. Confetti Chips: scraps or remnants of contrasting cotton or silk prints, solid, even fragile or exotic fabrics that may be used to good effect under the invisible net, or be wet when rinsing away stabilizer.
  3. Taffeta and organdies have body, satin and silks have sheen. Keep chips collected in plastic snack bags for easy viewing.
  4. Netting: Mainly to be used to contain the chips as an invisible overlay, may also be used for Decorative effect with different colors, decorator nets with metallic flecks, even sheer dotted swiss or curtain lace with delicate patterns. A fine metallic fabric makes an interesting cover layer as well as chips.
  5. Stabilizers: Organza / organdy is excellent for sheer projects, iron-on interfacing for silks, etc. and batting, brushed flannel, muslin or batiste as needed for a manageable sewing surface.
  6. Machine Thread: poly/cotton, metallic, variegated or solid color Sulky rayon, size 30/40 is a good choice. Bobbin thread: should match top thread color for best results. Match the backing fabric if it is to be the lining as well.
  7. Fabric scissors or rotary cutter and mat.
  8. Silk pins: Long and thin with tiny heads to facilitate the free motion machining process as well as for easy removal.
  9. Tweezers: indispensable for controlling chips!
  10. Magic Seizing: spritz and iron remnant strips and print fabrics for extra body before cutting.


  1. For confetti pieces, assemble assorted remnants of solids or print cottons, satins, polyester blends, panne velvet, hand dyed silks, or any other interesting textured fabrics that might come to hand. With scissors or rotary cutter and mat, cut remnants into ½" wide strips, strips into chips. 
  2. Have a background fabric prepared if necessary…according to how well it will stand up to the machine work. It may be used is, or backed with iron-on interfacing, flannel, muslin or light batting to be lined later. 
  3. Scatter or arrange and pin the remnant scraps onto the backing fabric according to the color scheme in mind. Overlay the pinned area with chosen net, lace or other sheer fabric, or for cut out motifs, or as an alternate choice, a piece of water soluble stabilizer. 
  4. With the machine set for free motion stitching, and threaded for the chosen color, do outlining over and around the pieces, enclosing them with a simple line design or extending out into the surrounding areas if desired. Trim excess netting away from outer edges, rinse away stabilizer. 
  5. Variations might include the use of netting only for backing, double layers and cut out portholes from one, arrange an overall design, sew chips on by hand with a bead or an eyelash stitch and leave the ends loose. Couch ribbon or decorative thread, do machine-made "dots", enclose shisha mirrors under net, and add some beading or sequins for sparkle. 
  6. If the fabric is washed, the cut edges of the chips or motifs tend to fray, adding to the texture.