Creative articles about embroidery

Create textured fabric book covers. Part 1 texture tips and tricks

The biggest compliment that I got about the large textured fabric bag that I made was from my youngest son, aged 22 and studying 3D design at university  “was wow mum that is brilliant I would buy that.”

bag 3

Then, as he is also a sailor maker in his free time he said “that gives me an idea for my final project”! After some experimenting together with different techniques and patterns for creating textured fabric here are the first items he made in sailcloth and photographed on the beach.



Back to simpler things  a wet holiday weekend saw me making textured covers for my notebooks aided by our kitten.

kitten and 830

If you would like to do the same I can’t loan you my kitten, but here are the instructions and some tricks and tips to help with creating the textured panels.

This  project can be easily done with a simple sewing machine by manually stitching curved or straight lines with a straight stitch or a pattern stitch, or as I did using the 830’s embroidery module. The wave line motif was created in the Designer Plus Software and then used to fill the rectangles.

wave motif

saved motif

wave pattern with settings

filled rectangle with space settings of 15 -20 mm

narrow panels

rectangle with outline added

 Test sample of textured fabric

First make a test sample of the textured fabric as different stitch patterns and different fabric shrink in different ways. Stitch your design either manually with the sewing machine or create a design as I did in the software and let the embroidery unit do the work. This is especially important if this is the first time that you have tried this technique.

test sample

My Test rectangle


1. Take a rectangle of fabric and back it with a piece of water soluble fabric. The plastic kind does not work.

2. Draw a rectangle on the fabric, minimum size 10cms x10cms.leave a fabric margin around it.  Stitch around the outline of the rectangle and then lines in your chosen design within the rectangle. If using an embroidery machine hoop fabric with just water-soluble stabiliser, then stitch.


3. Leave a reasonable margin of fabric around the rectangle but cut the water-soluble stabiliser back to the edge of the rectangle.



5. Either use a heat gun and carefully heat the water soluble stabiliser, or use a steam iron set at cotton or linen and hover the iron over the top steaming well to shrink the stabiliser which creates the textured fabric. Too much heat will create holes in the stabiliser and risk burning the fabric. Do not let the irons plate touch the surface, this results in a sticky mess! !WP_20150429_16_25_25_Pro

6. Measure the texture fabric rectangle and compare the measurements to those of the original sized rectangle. this will give the percentage of shrinkage.

Using quilters cotton, a steaming iron and my curvy line design I found I had a shrinkage of between 25 – 3o% so erred on the side of safety and added a shrinkage of 30% to the measurements of my notebook.

Acetate lining fabric can be used in place of water-soluble stabiliser and has the advantage that the finished item can be washed. If using acetate lining use a heat gun to shrink it; it is also more controllable.

Tips and tricks for successful textures!

1. Lighter weight fabrics i.e. no heavier than quilters cotton texture the best. I have even used layers of organza fabric successfully. Stretch velvet looks great but trying to get a good photo to show is difficult.

2. Any shape can be stitch ie not just rectangles but always put an outline around the shape to cut the water soluble stabiliser or lining fabric back to. If you do not cut back before shrinking you can end up with a hard edge of melted fabric around the edge.

3. Fill the shape with any open pattern of stitching, different patterns will produce different looks when fabric is shrunk. circle will create a bobbly look, grids a square look.

 This just one of many patterns I have used. The size and spacing’s were all changed to figures between 20mm and 30 mm. Note red with outline

Same pattern but it has been morphed.

morphing effect

same pattern but with a wave angle applied

wave fill

Finally completely funky same pattern with wave angle and then morphed!

pattern 753 waved and morphed

4. If the item needs to be washed or could get wet like my sons cushions use ‘acetate lining fabric to replace water soluble stabiliser otherwise when the item is washed or gets wet most of the texture created disappears. Not a surprise when you thinks about it. (There is a product called ‘texture magic’ available which looks and works exactly the same as acetate lining fabric but sold at a higher price.) Not sure how polyester lining works but worth trying as here in France my local fabric shop only stock acetate lining.

5. The more you heat the stabiliser or lining fabric and the higher the heat controls how much shrinkage you get. Experiment until you achieve the look you want. It can go from the large stitched piece on the left of the photo to the very texture piece on the right. Looks not unlike smocking.


5. Just experiment and have fun!





Related content you may be interested in

Comments of this post

0 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Required fields are marked *

Dear BERNINA Blog readers,

if you want to publish pictures via the comment function, please log in to the blog first. Click here to sign in.

You haven't registered for the BERNINA blog yet? Click here to create your free account.

Thank you very much

Your BERNINA Blog Team