We recently had a group session working with embellishing machines. Only three or four of our members actually own one so it was great to have the opportunity to use one. Eimear Moloney took the lead at this session and shared her knowledge and experience of working in this medium. She showed us framed artwork she had created and beautiful handbags and hats she had made using her embellisher machine. We also got mountains of fabric and fibre scraps with which to experiment.
For those of you who have never encountered such a machine, it is quite ingenious and very easy to use! It looks like a sewing machine but it doesn’t sew! Instead of one needle it can have between three and seven needles! There is no thread involved either!
In simple terms this machine will meld together the fibres of bits and pieces of fabric or wool or ribbon or knitwear to form a new textile. The needles are in fact felting needles which are extremely sharp and have little barbs or hooks at their base that pull fibers from the top layer through to the bottom layer and embedding them together. In this photo you can see that there is a plastic guard around the needle mechanism to protect one’s fingers from serious damage!
The exciting aspect of the embellishing machine is that it encourages you to create in a unconventional way. By developing layers of texture via many materials you create something totally unique. The materials integrate and distort into one another enabling you to create infinite possibilities. It’s all an experiment really and it would be very difficult to create two pieces the same.
Here is a hat that Eimear made using layers of wool, fibre scraps, velvet, ribbon, organza and wool fibre. She then embroidered it by hand to create a very unusual and unique headdress.
This process can be used to add embellishment to an existing piece of clothing or to incorporate some small fragment of treasured or unusual fabric into a permanent piece of art or keepsake.
Or it can be used to change the appearance and texture of a knitwear as seen in these before and after shots.
Pfaff and Janome are two manufacturers of the most widely available embellishing machines here in Ireland – you could start your search for one at Sewing Machines Ireland.com or search directly on the manufacturer’s websites.