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Layered Cloth
The Art of Fabric Manipulation
The Textile Artist Series
Ann Small

Search Press
5 July 2017/ ISBN 9781782213345
How-To Books/Needlecraft

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Layer stacks of fabric, and then slash and decorate them for a richly textured look. I thought that I had done (or at least seen) most forms of fabric manipulation, but this is new to me and looks most impressive. It is a good way of making the most of all sort of leftovers and doing a lot with a little, turning the ordinary into something new and exciting. Most of the tools needed are the same as those required for ordinary sewing, and if you sew you will already own stacks of fabrics. This is a book aimed squarely at the experienced needlecrafter who is up for something fresh and challenging, and who already has the basics under their belt.

There are seven step-by-step projects in here, and plenty of preliminary information to get you started. This large format book also has lots of lush good-sized photographs to get the creative juices flowing. All the staged photographs are a decent size, too, which is essential for such an unfamiliar craft, where the samples have so much detail. After the section on tools and materials there are several chapters showing how to layer the fabric and grids for the slashing part.

Each chapter has ample written instructions and enough photographs and diagrams, including some for simple embroidery stitches. After this comes a section on inspiration and design, focusing on ideas, keeping a sketchbook and stylizing the real world into workable drawings. This is very helpful, showing the progression from inspiration (eg a field of lavender) through to a painting, a simplified drawing, a design and finally the finished piece.

The next section, entitled Pushing The Boundaries, looks at “advanced techniques” and contains four staged projects. The final section on 3D appliqué has three projects, and each project is designed to get you working on a particular type of layering technique. Fabric puffs, trapunto, booklike stacks, twisted spirals of cloth and more look amazingly complicated until they are explained and you work through the stages. It is all great fun for needlecrafters and something a bit different. As a maker of wearable art, I was pleased to see how many projects are for wearable items as opposed to the usual pictures and cushions. One for the keeper shelf.

If you cannot find a good range of fabrics and other sewing materials locally try for a list of suppliers.

Reviews of other titles in the The Textile Artist Series

Felt and Fibre Art
Layered Cloth
Layered and Stitched Pictures

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2017