Introduction: Sewing Embellishment Technique: Furrowing

About: I wrote a book. I run, I craft, I write. I'm a gentle-living, hard-rocking, granola-geek-like, yoga-practicing, veggie-eating, wife-mom-friend-sister-daughter-artist. I spend my time sewing, because I love …

I am always on the lookout for new (or old), unique techniques for manipulating fabric. I found furrowing in "The Art of Manipulating Fabric" by Collette Wolff.

I tried it out on my daughter's holiday dress in 2008 and was very pleased with the effect. This tutorial is for everyone who requested info on how to achieve this effect.

Step 1: Prepare

Prepare two pieces of fabric - one smaller foundation (called a "stay"), and a larger piece to be gathered to the size of the smaller stay.

In this example I use plain muslin. For simplicity's sake, I have also made both pieces square. In the first photo you can see the baby holding a 4x4 inch square, and in the next she highlights the 6x6 inch square with gathering stitches ready (in red thread).

I have also marked the pieces a grid of dots to illustrate their centers. On the 4x4 inch stay, I marked every inch from the edges; on the larger piece (6x6 inches) I marked a dot for every 1.5 inches.

To Gather - pull the threads to match the size of the larger square to the smaller square on all sides. Pin and stitch the pieces together. The larger piece will form a "puff." This puff is what you will tack with small stitches to form the peaks and valleys that make the furrowed fabric so interesting!

Step 2: Tacking Stitches

Thread a needle with matching thread (I used a contrast here only for instruction) and knot.

(aside: I know it's a small thing, but aren't the little things what makes life fun? I have found that tying a perfect knot is so much easier and more fun now that I know how to do it using Heather Bailey's tutorial found here )

Begin in the center.

Insert your needle into the center dot on the stay and pull up through the center dot on the larger square. Take a stitch back through the center, a couple threads away from where you brought the needle up, and then back through the center dot on the stay, also a few threads over from the first stitch.

Take another stitch through the center to anchor the larger piece down, and repeat at each marking. (second photo)

Step 3: Finished!

This is how your sample will look from the front (main photo) and from the back (second photo).

If you want smaller peaks and valleys, you can takes additional stitches between the marked dots until you are satisfied with the outcome.

For Ella's sleeve cuff (final photo), I did not start in the center, I started at one end and worked my way around the sleeve. I also didn't mark the locations, but after the first try, you'll see that it's not entirely necessary if you're not looking for absolute symmetry. For Ella's sleeve, I was simply looking for the illusion of movement.

In my next project (a sleeve for my *own* blouse!), I will use tiny beads in each stitch.

I hope you will enjoy furrowing. I'd love to see what you create using this technique in your own projects!