Week 6. /Smocking and Shirring

Securing finely pleated or folded fabric with a decorative stitch

“Smocking was prominent in the 18th and 19th centuries because of its ability to stretch. Prior to the advent of elastic, this was the only way to secure large amounts of fabric while still allowing for movement for the body.”

Direct Smocking

Material needed:
– Smocking pattern paper
– Fabric
– Needles
– Scissors
– Thread

– Select a grid pattern
– Mark the dotted pattern on the back side of the fabric (Try not to use permanent ink pen)
– Following the stitching path shown in the pattern, draw the needle and thread through.
– Stitch the points together and secure them with a small stitch.
– Cut the thread and continue until the pattern is complete

Reference: http://kaliwan.tistory.com/entry/How-to-do-Canadian-Smocking 

Process photos

Challenges, learning points and application

 In modern days, smocking has become a decorative statement rather than a functional one. Indeed, I also find smocking a technique which produces very stunningly beautiful result if you do it well. One challenge for me is to sew at the right spot, as I sew more and more and the fabric becomes more crumpled, it is quite difficult for me to determine where to sew and often I end up with a messy pattern. I guess with more practices, I should become more meticulous and precise in sewing in order not to end up with disastrous work.

Final outcome


Creating fabric that is contracted into a smaller size when gathered along multiple rows of stitching 

“Shirring was first developed to gather large pieces of fabric to fit snuggly against the body. It is especially useful around necklines and cuffs because it stretched over the body and then fits snuggly against it with sliding or pulling.” 

Basic/Elastic Shirring

Materials needed:
– Fabric 
– Elastic Thread
– Sewing Machine
– Elastic Bands

– Determine how long you want the final piece to be and add seam allowances to all edges if possible.
– Plan a pattern of lines (or you can skip this step)
– Stitch along the lines with the sewing machine and elastic thread, straight stitches or zigzag stitch
– When done, hold the threads on one end of the fabric, using the other hand, draw the fabric towards the secure threads.
(For elastic shirring, insert the elastic band between 2 pieces of fabric before stitching)

Process photos

Challenges, learning points and application

Shirring is one of the easiest and least time-consuming technique so far. Just like smocking, shirring also produces beautiful results. If there has to be one thing hard about this technique, I would say that is to determine the amount of fabric needed in the first place such that when the fabric is shirred, it does not become too small in size.

Final outcome

Week 5. /Applique

Attaching another fabric or patch to the surface of another fabric.

“Appliques have been used in various ways in many different cultures – all of which achieve distinct effects.The chosen patterns depended on the purpose of the garments and the natural resources available.


Material needed:
– Fabric
– Scissors
– Thread
– Sewing machine

– Create a design and cut out the pattern pieces from a piece of fabric
– Place the small fabric on a base fabric on a sewing machine.
– Begin at one corner of the design and stitch around, making sure that edges of the patch are completely covered with the thread.
Tip: The edge of the fabric should be in the center of the presser foot.

Process photos

Challenges, learning points and application

I feel that applique is one of the hardest technique to master, other than knitting. In order to make an applique looks nice, it requires a lot of skills, imagination and also control over the sewing machine. The biggest challenge I face while doing applique is to make sure that the thread aligns with the edge of the fabric. However, I find it interesting if I could use patchwork technique to make a quilt to present the processes. 

Final outcome



Week 4. /Creating Unconventional Fabrics

Creating Unconventional Fabrics
Fusing threads and plastic to create fabric

Fusing threads

Material needed:
– Water soluble stabilizer
– Threads, yarns, fabric strips, trimmings
– Sewing machine

– Place the threads in any order you would like on half side of a water-soluble stabilizer
– Fold the water-soluble stabilizer and sandwich the threads in between
– Secure the threads with pearl pins
– Stitch the threads together on a sewing machine
– Wash it with warm water

Placing the threads in random or organized order

Unable to decide what my final theme for my final project would be, I tried using different coloured and types of cloth, yarns and threads. Hopefully, as time passes and I get to learn more new techniques, the color of my work would be more consistent and linked to my final project theme.

Securing the fabric and stitching them together

Mistakes and Challenges

On my first attempt exploring the sewing machine, I find it hard to remember the numerous steps to connect the threads, what to switch on or turn before starting.  I screwed up plenty of times either forgetting to push down the pressure foot or getting the threads tangled and jamming the machine. With more practices, I became more and more used to the consistent movement of pushing down the pressure foot, connecting the threads and turning the needle down whenever I want to rotate the piece. What I find the hardest about the sewing machine is controlling the speed and direction. However, I’m sure with more practices comes improvement and eventually perfection.

Revealing the final outcome

Here comes the most satisfying part of this technique~ Can’t wait to see the results!

20170210_003405-min 20170210_003426-min 20170210_003250-min20170210_003320-min

Learning points and application

All in all, I feel that the fusing thread technique gives really amazing and surprising results and could be applied to make many beautiful things such as wallets, pencil cases, dress, lamp shade cover and this list continues. I quite like this technique, but I would say that this would not be my favorite technique because I prefer to have control and be able to visualize what the end result would turn out to be.


 Fusing plastics

Material needed:
– Iron
– Plastic Bags
– Scissors
– Baking Paper

– Cut and place the plastic in any order you would like on a piece of baking paper
– Place another piece of baking paper above
– Iron over the paper and constantly check to avoid overheating. 

First design


Final outcome

Learning points and application

I feel that this technique, similar to the fusing thread technique, could give a very web-ish or lacy kind of look at the end. It also depends on how much layers of threads or plastic you put. I personally like the web-ish kind of look more because they cast beautiful shadows. If I were to use this technique, I would probably make a lamp shade cover. However, like I mentioned earlier on, I prefer being able to control and visualize what the end result would be. I feel that this technique, compared to the fusing plastic technique is even more uncontrollable and unpredictable. 

As always, looking forward to learn new techniques~ Thanks for reading~

Week 2. /My (Failed) Heat Printing Experiment

Here’s my story of me trying to use the heat printing machine~

It all started with the idea of printing a new shirt for my baby nephew for Chinese New year. It was a day filled with lots of mistakes made and I would like to document it down so that I hopefully will not make the same mistakes ever again. 

The design (Shirt front and back):

royce-page-001P.S. The design itself might be a mistake which I will talk about later…


Mistake no. 1:
Firstly, I printed the design on a ttc 3.1 transfer paper using an inkjet printer instead of a lazer printer. (I think I somehow mixed up and thought we were supposed to use inkjet printer instead) It resulted in smudged ink and a sheet of wasted ttc 3.1 transfer paper…

Result of the inkjet printer printed design

There goes my $1 paper…

img-20170130-wa0031In the end, I went to North spine to print a new sheet of design wishing that everything else will go on smoothly afterward. However, things happened…


Mistake no. 2:




To be honest, I’m not quite sure what mistake I made though. I followed exactly what the instruction said on the paper…

Digital print TTC 3.1 on T-shirt fabric 
400 Fahrenheit @30 Secs Hot peel

However, the result wasn’t satisfactory as the ink was not transferred fully at all. I went to reflect awhile and came up with 3 things that may have went wrong.

1. I mentioned from the start that the design itself may be a mistake. Maybe the font was not solid enough, or the color of the words was not dark enough, resulting in insufficient ink on the transfer paper. 

2. Another possibility is that maybe I did not peel fast enough after lifting up the heat printing machine. I tried many times though, leaving a longer timer each time and working faster on peeling the paper, it still failed in the end. 

3. The last possibility I could think of is the material of the baby shirt. I am not exactly sure what material it is though, (probably cotton), however the ink came off once the shirt was washed.

All in all, I have learnt a very important lesson. Which is to never assume that your first try will be perfect and to always have a backup plan. Never leave things to the last minute to do and always start early just in case things does not go how you expected it to. Looking forward to learning new things and starting on the final project. Hopefully, I would be able to find some time to practice using the heat printer again. 

Week 1. /Transfer Printing

Transfer printing
Images transferred through heat and pressure

Type of fabric: Polyester Satin

2 Methods:

  • Dry Transfer:
    1. Draw with Fabric crayons on a piece of paper
    2. Place the paper facing downwards on the fabric
    3. Place a piece of tracing paper on top to avoid Ink damaging the Iron
    4. Iron over the paper for approximately a minute, constantly check to avoid overheating. 
  • Wet Transfer:
    1. Paint with Transprint Inks on a piece of paper
    2. Place the paper facing downwards on the fabric
    3. Place a piece of tracing paper on top to avoid Ink damaging the Iron
    4. Iron over the paper for approximately a minute, constantly check to avoid overheating.

Series of initial paint and crayon drawings

Process of Ironing & heat transfer


It was pretty disastrous that this happened while I was trying to make a cape from the 1m long cloth for Chinese New Year. The result of leaving the iron there for too long at the highest temperature and not noticing that the cloth has melted. Fortunately, the tracing paper saved my ironing plate. In the end, I decided to tear all of the fabric into small square handkerchiefs. There goes my DIY new year cape. It’s cool. At least I’ve learned my lesson.


Final Outcome


Learning points & Application:

 I find transfer print an easy, fun and fast way to create and transfer pattern designs on a fabric. Apart from trying not to overheat the cloth, one thing I have learned about this technique is to try to overlap more abstract paintings to create nicer patterns. 

Overlapping to create a pattern
Overlapping to create a pattern

The color tends to fade away when I ironed over and over again so maybe I could have paint more pieces of paper using the same technique and color if I were to create a huge piece of cloth with pattern. If possible, (monetary and time wise) I would buy the transprint paint someday and DIY my own cape, clothes or even dress. 

Looking forward to learn more new techniques in the surface design!