Introduction: FORGED FABRICS: How to Make High-end Specialty Fabrics for Couture, Textile Art, Tapestries & Fashion Design

Picture of FORGED FABRICS: How to Make High-end Specialty Fabrics for Couture, Textile Art, Tapestries & Fashion Design

FORGED FABRICS: HOW TO MAKE HIGH-END SPECIALTY FABRICS FOR COUTURE, TEXTILE ART, TAPESTRIES, FASHION DESIGN & MORE!

I get so much inspiration from materials.

When I see a material that gets me excited, my mind races with ideas of what I could make with it!

I love “playing” with materials of all kinds (not just traditional textiles) - to see what their limits are, how they can be used in new and different ways, re-mixing, and applying techniques used for one material to another.

Here, I’ll show you how to apply branding techniques traditionally used for wood to create spectacular, exciting results on fabric.

Applications:

These heat-batiked, torched textiles are beautiful pieces to display on their own, framed or as a tapestry. The resulting textile art has rich 3-D textures for sculpting, painting or mixed media compositions. The custom fabric often takes on a lacy effect and becomes designer fabric ideal for garment embellishments or couture.

Bringing a new meaning to “fashion branding”, I create one of a kind garments out of the custom fabrics that I make using this technique; you can see some pictures in this Instructable and on my website www.amykarle.com

I’m excited to see what you make out of your “Forged Fabrics”. Please share your work!

Step 1: Get Your Materials Together

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You will need:

  • A well-ventilated place to work
  • A place to safely heat metal: a forge, kiln, or fire pit (+ fuel if needed like coal)
  • Work surface: metal table, sheet of wood, or xl piece of cardboard
  • Paper: packing, brown or newsprint
  • Fabric
  • Metal stamp to use for branding
  • Protective eyewear
  • Welding gloves
  • Tongs
  • optional ~18 gauge wire
  • optional weights, pins, or painters tape

*See pics of what different metal stamps and various fabrics look like at the end of this Instructable*

Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace

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  • Lay out paper that is a little larger than your fabric on your work surface. (Work surface can be a metal table, sheet of wood, or xl piece of cardboard.) This paper will become a temporary "backing” for the branded fabric.
  • Next, lay your fabric out on the paper. Make it as flat as possible. I like to double my fabric or layer 2-3 different fabrics on top of each other.
  • Weight, pin, or tape down the corners of fabric if need be (you will need to do this if you are outside).

Optional: Attach wire to the back of your metal piece as a makeshift handle.

Step 3: Get Your Fire Going!

Put on your safety equipment (goggles, gloves, etc).

Prep your heat source to a temp that will get your metal hot, but not red.

The temp of the heat source and metal will vary with fabric. It will take some experimenting to get the desired aesthetic.

In this Instructable, I’ll be using a fire pit with coals to heat my metal grates. You could use a forge or kiln. I have used a forge and kiln with great success branding into fabric, wood and other materials. Although a forge is the easiest heat source to use because of quick, uniform heating and steady temperature, I am using a fire pit on the beach for this Instructable to show that anyone can make these fabrics even if they don't have access to a studio.

Step 4: Branding Your Fabric: the Most Fun Part!

Picture of Branding Your Fabric: the Most Fun Part!
  • Place the metal piece in the heat source.
  • Before red hot, remove it with tongs.
  • Immediately stamp the hot metal on the fabric, starting in an upper corner. Press firmly and remove quickly.
    • The first stamping will be your test. If you like how it looks, keep going. If not, adjust stamping time, temp or fabric type.
  • You can usually get 2-3 stamps out of each heating.
  • After you have stamped your fabric, return the metal to the fire and repeat until you have completed your piece.

Watch this 15 second video to see how I do it!

Step 5: Finishing Up

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Once stamping has been completed, the fabric will be left seared to the paper in some cases. It is your choice if you’d like to remove the paper and reuse/recycle it at this point or a later date.

Although it takes up more space, I usually keep the fabric attached to the paper until I am ready to use it; this way the pattern stays intact and I don’t loose little pieces. The exception is for fabrics that do not stick to the paper, in which case there is no need to keep the paper backing.

Step 6: Now What?

Now that you have created beautifully branded fabrics, you may have created something so interesting that you are ready to hang or frame your textile art as is… or your torched textiles may just be the beginning, inspiring an amazing new creation out of your custom raw materials!

Some things I’ve done with the forged fabrics is:

  • Bunch and scrunch and sew together
  • Embellish with other materials (feathers, furs, led lights etc.)
  • Dip in epoxy resin, drape over forms and make into sculptural pieces
  • Create into Haute Couture

What will you make with your branded batiks?

Please add your ideas below and share pics of your creations!

Looking forward to seeing what you create :)

Best Wishes! -Amy

Step 7:

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Comments

AmyKarle (author)2015-02-10

If you like this Instructable, please tick the "Vote" ribbon in the upper right hand corner and check "this is a winner". Thank you!

Brooklyntonia (author)2015-02-10

The technique is truly striking. Do you have any tips on where to find metal grates or other items that work well?

AmyKarle (author)Brooklyntonia2015-02-10

Hi @Brooklyntonia! Thank you!

Architectural salvage stores, antique shops and hardware stores are good places to find metal grates. Any metal items with a flat face and interesting pattern will work, like trivets. Unpainted cast iron is best.

Another option is that you can make your own stamp by designing it in Illustrator then cutting a 1/4inch steel plate with a waterjet (@Techstop if you have one near you). You could also create a flat wire sculpture using wide-gauge steel wire that could be used for your branding iron.

Brooklyntonia (author)AmyKarle2015-02-10

Thanks for the tips! I'll have a look around. I love the idea of creating my own with wire. Now all I have to do is come up with a garment to justify the means.

cecilia.welden (author)2015-02-21

Gorgeous unique texture. Looking forward to seeing new creations made with this method.

Iggylu (author)2015-02-16

Stunning ideas. Can't wait to have a go.

kenhfisher (author)2015-02-16

I know who's designing my 2015 burningman wardrobe!

poccione.leondocard (author)2015-02-15

Stunning as usual Amy!

EugeneDetroit (author)2015-02-14

Great work. So cool and wonderful use of texture. Brava!

emilyvanleemput (author)2015-02-14

Wow. This is breathtakingly gorgeous!

Shellbelle2020 (author)2015-02-13

Beautiful work Amy , you are always using your creative mind to produce interesting and inspiring work . Keep it going and best of luck in the contest. You so deserve it

DIY-Guy (author)2015-02-13

Wow! This is how it was done before laser cutters.
That's hot! (Yep, I punned on purpose.)
Nice work.
Inspiring.

justin.mardex (author)2015-02-13

Voted for you, fabulous!

maya.korzhen (author)2015-02-13

These are beautiful Amy! Well done as always :)

buzz2times (author)2015-02-13

Love this technique. So innovative and engaging. Amy is a true artist, stretching her skills across so many platforms.

ziggystripe (author)2015-02-11

Very Impressive. I'd like to buy your fabrics. Msging you through your website for more info.

SharlaL (author)2015-02-11

Love it!!

helmuel (author)2015-02-11

Wow! Amazing work! You got my votes!

benjamin.w.julian (author)2015-02-10

I love your fabrics in the finished pieces! The garments are so beautiful!

susiefreckleface (author)2015-02-09

wow. very cool /hot!

Chris Logan (author)2015-02-09

Ghillie wedding dress.

I love it.

About This Instructable

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Bio: visit website www.amykarle.com follow on facebook https://www.facebook.com/AmyKarleArt
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