Fabric Texturing Techniques

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Fabric texture refers to the feel of fabric. The feel will depend on the weave of the fabric. However, finishing techniques can add textures. Textures can add color, effects or performance. Some of these textures are complex while others are simple. Many textures are achieved by wetting fabric and then drying in a different formation to achieve the texture. Other textures can be achieved by a chemical process or by sewing.

Shrinking

  • Sew your first fabric onto a second fabric that shrinks a lot with heat, such as synthetic nylon fabric. Steam the fabric excessively. The nylon fabric will shrink, which causes the desired first fabric to bunch up. For large bunches do not use many seams to connect the fabrics. For a lot of small bunches, make a lot of seams to connect the two fabrics. Do not just seam along the edges but sew seams into the interior of the fabric panel.

Painting

  • Use fabric paints, fabric markers, stamps, paint pots and more to create textures, patterns and pictures on the fabric. In particular, acrylic paint can not only add color but also create a textured surface. Some of the techniques used for textured fabrics include printing with stamps, reverse stamping, scratching and screen printing. Only paint on chemical free fabrics. It may be necessary to wash and dry the fabric first before painting.

Applique

  • Applique refers to sewing one piece of fabric over another. It is possible to create complete designs using applique. Applique can be performed with several different methods, including hand stitching or machine sewing. For advanced sewers, you can even create 3-D appliques.

Crinkling

  • Crinkling fabric is a great way to add texture. Wet the fabric with cold water and twist it into a tight rope or ball. Hold the fabric in place by wrapping it with rubber bands. Dry the fabric with a hair dryer, taking care not to burn the fabric. If you want more crinkles after the first application, wet the fabric with water and twist again. The crinkle effect can be achieved by adding sodium hydroxide to cotton fabrics.

Pleats

  • Add pleats to the fabric by using the crinkling method. However, after you have twisted the fabric into a ball, boil it in water to set the pleats. Always test the fabric first because hot water can cause some dyes to run.

Crushing

  • Crushing works particularly well with silk. Twist the silk into a long, but slightly loose sausage shape. Tie the ends so the twist does not open up. Follow the instructions for hair perm solution but apply the solution the silk sausage instead of hair. Dry the fabric in between each hair perm solution application. After the final drying step, you will have crushed silk. For a different look, you can gather lumps of the fabric for random crushing instead of a long twist.

Chemical Treatments

  • Chemical treatments can be used to apply fabric textures. Tanning, dying and printing will all use different chemicals to fix the dye onto the fabric. Synthetic dyes, all natural dyes, chemicals for fixing the dye onto the fabric and more are available.

Machine Finishing

  • Fabric can be put through machines to achieve different textures. By passing fabric through rotating bristle brushes, a texture in which fibers are raised, called napped, is produced. Passing fiber through emery cylinders will produce a peach fuzz-like finish. Micro-sanding is used like regular sanding to produce a slightly fuzzy and raised fiber texture. Many different machines that can create a range of textures are available. Some create dry finishes while others produce wet finishes.

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  • Photo Credit Jordan Siemens/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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