Taking a section of my folded butterfly book as my source I have made a representation in fabric scraps, ready to be hand stitched. Firstly I gathered together all my fabrics, taking care to select them as closely as I could to the colours on my rag book. My base fabric is dyed cotton velvet, but it could be anything as long as it is in one of the wing colours. Select all others fabrics on the basis of colour – in my selection I have used scraps of cotton, silk, lace, furnishing fabric and a range of synthetics.
I then cut a piece of bondaweb the size I wanted my finished piece to be – in this case, just a little larger than the actual section from my folded book. I traced the veins of the wing on the paper side of the bondaweb, then flipped it over and traced again on the rough side. I then ironed this onto the cotton velvet base.
This gives you a faint outline to work with – although if you had a very close up image of a butterfly you may not see the veins at all, maybe just the individual scales. Then start to chop your fabrics into very small pieces and arrange them on the background in drifts of colour. This is quite time consuming but it is a good idea if you can make the colours merge into one another a little.
You might be able to see that I have also added a little bit of chopped Angelina fibres. I have also laid on some gimp to emphasise the veins, but I don’t think it matters whether this is done before or after the scraps – I did it part way through as I didn’t think of it in the beginning! There’s much more chance of the gimp holding in place if you do it at the start.
When you are satisfied with the colour blending of your scraps lay a piece of baking parchment on top and give it all a good iron. It won’t all adhere to the background as your scraps are probably in layers by now, but it will give enough of a hold while you cut a piece of ordinary, cheap black nylon net to go over the top. Give this a good iron too, with parchment paper over the top. Voila – instantly transformed into a butterfly’s wing!
You may be pleased with all of your butterfly wing and want to use the whole piece for stitching or you may want to select a small section.
Finally, to prepare for stitching, gather together a selection of threads in the colours of your butterfly wing. Again, a wide variety is preferable, just concentrate on colour and maybe consider that as this work is quite delicate stranded threads are ideal. In the picture there are several sorts – ordinary Anchor/DMC stranded cotton, Stef Francis rayon and some of my own dyed threads. I will continue this strand when I have done some of the stitching and hopefully finished the piece.