Book Review: Layered Cloth, The Art of Fabric Manipulation by Ann Small

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Layered Cloth, The Art of Fabric Manipulation by Ann Small

SEARCH PRESS, 2016

This book’s cover drew my attention instantly; it is really eye catching for me. I have never seen fabric manipulation like this before. I got so curious what is inside that I bought it. And I love it.

Stacking, sewing and slashing fabric

Most of the examples in the book utilise stacking layers of different coloured fabrics on the top of each other, sewing them together and slashing in different manners. Each technique is followed by an easy to understand step-by-step description with high-quality photos. There are not too many techniques (trapunto, stacks, puffs and faux chenille), yet Ann Small demonstrates how to combine them together or add different types of embellishment to create fabric art.

Faux chenille style heart. Faux chenille fabric manipulation technique.
Faux chenille style heart inspired by Ann Small’s book.

Amazing source of inspiration

In her book Ann describes multiple large projects based on the mentioned fabric manipulation techniques. She creates big images made of fabrics, costumes, even sculptures. I was so impressed that I decided to try it myself. In the beginning I just made a small faux chenille square with four layers of cotton fabrics. Although it came out nice and proved easy to make, I still was not sure how to utilise these impressive techniques.

I did not wish to start with such big projects as Ann Small writes about in her publication. Moreover, the accessories in the book aren’t quite my style. However, I still felt intrigued to give it a try since I found these techniques truly fascinating. I finally came up with the idea to create a girl’s head band and simple applique I have sewn to a dress.

Butterfly applique made with faux chenille style fabric manipulation technique.
Butterfly with stripes sewn on the bias.
DIY flower head band. Flowers made by fabric manipulation technique.
Headband with flowers.

While paging through the book over and over again, I got some ideas and created small cotton appliques for girl’s dresses as a result. And I am really happy with them. It was a good idea to enrich my library with this work by Ann Small as find it a great source of inspiration and a helpful manual as well.

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