Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rusting Fabric

Last summer, I fell in love with rusting fabric. Unfortunately, I live in a very clean city and no matter where I looked, I couldn't find any rusted objects. So I actually ended up buying my first rusted objects online. Imagine!

Now, my garage is full of plates, nails, horse shoes, gears, metal sheets, you name it, I have it! I experimented with white and colored fabric and decided a combination of these gave me a great palate to work with. Not only did I love the surprising results each time, but using this fabric in my art quilts also gave me great ideas for enhancing the marks with machine quilting.

Here's how I rust fabric. (I do this outdoors because of the smell).

Mix 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar into a spray bottle. I wrap the fabric with the rusted objects and spray until it's soaking wet. Cover with plastic and let it sit for 24 hours. If it dries out, spray with more mixture. Unwrap the fabric and if you like it, it's done! If not, re-wrap with different objects, spray and wait another 24 hours. you can keep doing this until you get the affect you are looking for.

When it is just right, put the fabric into a bucket of water and add 1/2 c salt and let it sit for an hour or so and then wash the fabric with soap & water in your washing machine. I like to let it air dry or I use an iron to get rid of the wrinkles.

Two of the art quilts I made from this fabric were featured in American Quilter Magazine in January 2010. Here are the two quilts that were featured. This one is called Universe.

This one is Earth & Sky.

I was thrilled to have Earth & Sky selected for the Rust-Tex Collection curated by Lois Jarvis. It was awarded Honorable Mention for design. This show will be traveling worldwide over the next year, starting in Chicago at the Spring International Quilt Festival.


  1. Wow - sounds like alot of fun and I love the colors you're getting as a result!

  2. I love this technique and would love to try this on paper also...and you had to actually buy some rusty items? maybe we need a trip to a coast with a U-Haul.