Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Andrew Borloz: Embroidery & Beading with Crazy Quilt Stencil

Hi, I'm Andrew Borloz, and I have been designing stencils for quite a number of years. I wrote a post here in this blog about the crazy quilt stencils back in September of 2017. I always look for new creative ways to use them in my work. As mentioned in that blog post, I explained how I was inspired to create a series of three different crazy quilt patterns. As shown below, the top two photos showed the basis for the designs.
The two photos in the bottom of above photo showed what I did with two of the Crazy Quilt stencils using the acrylic paints and Posca paint markers only. Just when I thought I ran out of ideas for these stencils, I came across Jane LaFazio's photo (below) of her colorful milagros at the beginning of this year. She created them for a workshop at an art center in San Diego, California. I went crazy over how she used the beads & sequins to create colorful patterns. I have used some of the beading techniques before but never thought of doing the same thing for the crazy quilt patterns.
These flat sequins intrigued me, and since the only kind of sequins I have at home were the cupped sequins. Instead of ordering them online, I decided that I would figure out how I can make some on my own. I had a bagful of bread closure tabs, so I said to myself why not punch the sequins from them, as I liked the matte look as opposed to the shiny and glossy look of my collection of cupped sequins.
I got to admit that these flat sequins were not easy to make. First punches are much easier than making holes in the center of the rounds. I had to position the rounds to make sure that the holes will be, not necessarily perfectly, but fairly centered.
After punching over a hundred sequins in various colors, it became a rather tedious and labor-intensive process. So, I succumbed to the temptation of ordering flat sequins on-line just to save my time. While waiting for the flat sequins to be delivered, I came up with another ideas for the rounds.
I had a stack of synthetic felt sheets, and I tried using the same punch that I used for the bread closure tabs. This hole punching technique was not successful as the cuts were not clean. I thought about using Japanese punch and it worked much better. However, Japanese punch is NOT recommended for use on the bread closure tabs, as they are too thick. I didn't bother to punch small holes in these felt rounds, as they're easy to stab through with sewing needles.
While I was making these rounds with tabs and felt, I knew that I had bought a "necklace" of tri-colored paillettes (large flat rounds which are also known as spangles) at a bead store in Arizona. I had trouble finding them in the basement of my residence; however, I was determined not to allow this to stop me from proceeding with the project.
I started gathering together all the supplies that I have accumulated over the years: acrylic paint (Dylusions from Ranger), fabric spray paint (Tulip), various beads bought afar and near (mostly bead shops in several states), Posca paint markers, sewing needles in varying sizes, embroidery threads, tiny buttons, and sequins. I picked one stencil from a series of three Crazy Quilts stencils, and found a piece of chino (or khaki) fabric cut from my worn pants.
I used six different colors of Dylusions - one for each pattern. After they were dry, I ironed them to heat set the paint. I then used a permanent fabric dye spray for each pattern. The stencil that I used for this project is Crazy Quilts Crosses and Rounds.
I didn't have a predetermined plan for the marks and placements of beads. I was using my previous work (see second photograph in this post) as guides for selection colors of the marks. At first I was using an embroidery hoop but stopped using it because it was causing wrinkles that were difficult to iron out. I worked on the rest of the piece without a hoop. For each cross, I used a flat sequin and a seed bead. I also used Posca markers, which I had to apply several times over the same marks as the fabric quickly absorbed them making them semi-transparent instead of opaque.
I used the punched felt rounds that I sewed on each short maroon line drawn with Posca paint marker. I used embroidery thread to make thinner lines between the crosses.
The first section completed. I was pleased with the initial results, but I was still not sure what to do with the rest. I worked with one pattern at a time, hoping that I could use some colors or texture that would help tie all of them together and at the same time maintaining the uniqueness of each pattern. After completing the first section, I then moved on to the second pattern, and allow the design of the pattern to guide me.
In the second section, before I started embroidering I used yellow Posca marker to add color for each spoke. I then embroidered the yellow bread closure tab sequin with red thread using the French knot technique. I added the brown glass beads to the spokes, and used the light green punched felt rounds between sets of spokes.
As I was working on this section, I decided to add dark green dots with Posca markers, and also used French knot technique for the white flat sequins. Sometimes I used one, two, or three strands of embroidery threads and doubling them by threading through the needles halfway, and tying the ends together. The size of the needles is depending on the size of the beads or the desired thickness of the lines.
Sometimes, as I was not sure of the final result, I would just simply arrange the beads, rounds, and buttons before I started sewing them down. I would use a white pencil to see what the overall pattern would look like. The above photo shows the third section that I was working after four days of working on the first two sections. I went to a five and ten store to buy more embroidery threads in different colors, and I happened to walk through a children's toy section and spied the beads in a children's creativity kit. I thought the colors on the plastic beads were perfect for this section, so I bought the kit just for these beads. 
I am pleased with the final result of the third section. Sometimes, I would start working on next section before completing the current one. Several ideas have popped up in my head while I was working on the screw heads section, and before I forget, I would immediately implement them.
Sometimes I had to modify some of the embellishments to suit my design. For example, I made marks with blue Posca paint marker on the yellow paillettes to make them more colorful. I also sewed down the black crosses with yellow threads in the center to keep the black threads from becoming snags. I sewed a drop bead and a punched felt round in the center of each pailette after securing it to the fabric with purple threads. I used a little bit of super glue underneath the pailette to keep it from being rotated.
I used long glass bugle beads to create "boundaries" around each paillettes. I also added four bread enclosure tab sequins with beads inside the crosses to form a square like design.
For the fourth section, I happened to have the small buttons in various colors. Instead of just one color, I used four colors to produce a gradual effect. I started this section before I completed the third section (right side of the photo). Note that I didn't sew them down yet as I wanted to place them down to see what the whole section would look like. Also note that I cut the paillettes in halves and quarters for the edges and corners - I secured them down with both threads and super glue.
All of the five sections completed. The next and last section is a bit more challenging than the others. After looking at what I have on hand, I decided that I would give it a touch of Southwestern by incorporating metal beads.
I strung up eight drop beads with metal wire, and twist them closed before securing it down with a large round turquoise bead in the center. I decided that I would put the felt rounds in each quarter to give a nice balance. I also embroidered a sunburst-like design with a yellow glass bead in the center.
I continued to work on the last section, and I was very happy with the way it blended with the adjoining sections.
After I finished the last section, I decided to get it framed with a clear plastic to keep it clean and clear from lint and dust. The whole process took me 10 days for a total of 60 hours.
I've included a before and after photo so that you can see the big difference. The final size is approximately 9x12 inches, and I've signed it using a brush tip fabric marker (Stained by Sharpie). I am very pleased with the final result, and I hope I will inspire you to learn some of the techniques to create your own designs!

Special thanks given to Jane LaFazio for allowing me to use her photo of her beautifully embroidered milagros in this post. 


  1. I love this project and loved reading about your sequin-making adventures! I'll bet your hand was cramped after making all those bread-tab sequins! Thanks for sharing, Andrew!

    1. Yes, you're right and that's why I bought flat sequins afterward.

  2. Wow! Your ability to create and work with such detail is mind blowing to me!!! This is just awesome.

  3. Absolutely marvelous! This is just beautiful. I am awed and inspired!


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