- Burlap and jute, coarse cotton—save the potato, feed and seed, flour bags—ask at the local plant nursery, big bakery or animal feed store. Often a rough or coarse fabric, these are perfect for the primitive, antiqued or frayed edge look. Wash them separately first, to remove any dirt, additives and chaff! These are also great for rougher, tougher threads and patches.
- Decorator samples are often available at drapery and upholstery outlets. They are usually small, can be quite expensive yardages when bought by the metre, but cheap as an “end of the roll”. Some places will also have samples that were sent by a manufacturer and they may sell those as well.
- Local dressmakers and tailors can be a good source of scraps as well. Offer something in return, or be prepared to pay if they request a little “something”.
- Always recycle clothing and household linens!! Memory items, special occassions and your taste can make your art for giving or keeping a more personal work of art.
- Trims—hit the thrift shops: grab those old linens, special occassion dresses and curtains. Consider the cost of the materials–if you can’t see paying 5 bucks for one special bead or bit of lace that was used to embellish, then don’t spend it. Check the jewellry, bags and belts sections also: even broken bits can be re-purposed.
- If you paint your own fabrics, save the cloths you use to wipe your brushes or that are being used as a work area. Often with the addition of stencilling, or stamping, these can be very unique and completely original!
- You can use less expensive acrylic paints on fabric IF you add a textile medium. Golden sells a big bottle that you can judiciously mix with your acrylics, at a ratio of one to one. I find the most cost effective way to do this is to use a small measuring spoon. I generally add 1 teaspoon to the same amount of paint, mix well and that gives enough for a small area. Adjust your quantities as you need, though i find it better to do less than i think i need as it does cover a surprisingly large area. Remember to heat set!!!! (You can do this in the dryer when the paint is dry, or press with an iron and parchment paper or a press cloth to prevent paint adhering to the iron.) If you’re painting something that is not to be worn or used everyday and therefore doesn’t need washing, you can forgo the textile medium, but still set it in case of moisture hitting it.
- It’s small pieces, but if you look around you can find 100% cotton at the auto and workshop suppliers. I lucked into a package of a dozen 18Ã—18 white flannelette “shop towels” that will take dye beautifully, perfect for small projects or dye and paint experimentation. They also come in bright red! Regular price was 4.88, but i got them for half, on sale. They also have very interesting “10 lb rag bags”, in miscellaneous fabrics, colours and prints for anywhere from 5-10 bucks, perfect if you’re interested in “used” looking.
- Swap with friends and strangers!!!!!!!!!!!!
Arlee Barr is a Canadian artist, working primarily with textiles. She describes herself as “curious, eccentric and just a little opinionated“. Surrealist in thought, Fauvist at heart, Arlee likes the eclectic, explorative and absurd. Sprinkled around the interwebs, she can be found hanging around her fantastic blog.