Fabric hints for 1:144 scale

Hints by Anna-Carin Betzén

Subjects covered on this page:

For information on where to buy fabric and lace, try the Supply sources page.

You'll probably want to experiment a little with scraps to get used to the techniques, before you use them in your projects.

Fabric upholstery

If you want to upholster your 1:144 scale furniture with a nice thin fabric, I have a trick to help you: if you coat the back of the fabric with a thin skin of glue and let it dry, then the glue won't bleed through when you later glue the fabric in place. It will also prevent fraying. And, this method works even on thin silk fabrics, that would be near impossible to glue otherwise. The right side of the fabric isn't affected at all.

There are limitations to the method of course. The fabric will look darker and glossier on the glue side, so you probably don't want to use it somewhere where the back might show. Also, the treatment will make the fabric stiffer, so you can't gather it.

What originally gave me the idea, was a doll dressing project by Sally Manwell in Little Enough News, where she told you to spread a thin layer of glue on the back of a piece of fabric, appearently so it could be cut to shape later without fraying. I've used it often since in dressing dolls, and eventually realized that it would work great for upholstering 1:144 scale furniture too.

Preparing the fabric

Put a small piece of fabric on a flat surface and carefully spread a bit of glue on the back. As you can see, I use a bread bag clip for spreading the glue.

Or, you can try dipping you fingertip in glue and dabbing lightly on the back. In either case, don't apply any pressure; that would make it bleed through to the front. If you make a few attempts and still can't get it to work, try another fabric.

When you've succeeded in coating the back with glue without it bleeding through, leave it to dry for at least half an hour before you use it.

When you use the prepared fabric, the glue-coated side is always the back!

If the glue bleeds through anyway:

Stop edges from fraying

When making curtains, blankets, skirts, and many other things, covering the back with glue may be overkill, as it changes the way the fabric handles. Still, you don't want the fabric edges to fray... The easiest way is to apply some regular craft glue to the very edge; I use Tacky glue.

Dip your index finger lightly in glue, dab it on some surface so there's a thin film of glue on your finger rather than a drop or blob.

Then dab lightly on the edge of the fabric, along all the edges you want to keep from fraying.

When the glue has dried, the fabric is ready to be pleated, gathered, or whatever you want to do with it.

Faux bound edges

If you want to accent the edge of the fabric, here's a trick you can use to prevent fraying, and get the look of bound edges. It's easiest to do before you glue the fabric in place!

You need a creamy water-based paint (e.g. FolkArt brand) and a paintbrush or toothpick for applying it. Cut the fabric edges on straight grain if possible, dip your tool in paint and stroke the very edge of the fabric using a light touch. Note that the side you work from will probably look a little neater than the back. When the paint is dry, use the fabric however you like.

If you want to treat edges aren't cut on straight grain, I suggest you practice on a scrap first, to see how the paint and fabric behave. It's easiest to get a neat, even, line on edges cut on perfectly straight grain.


Pleated fabric

I use a pleater built from Frances Armstrong's hints; they're found on the Tools page in her Tips and Techniques section. I strongly encourage you to build one yourself. It makes great pleats, and pleated fabrics make beautiful interiors... Pleating seems to work much better for 1:144 scale than gathering does.

Don't try to pleat fabric that has been prepared with glue on the entire back, it'll probably just end up sticking to your pins or pleater. Use "regular" fabric instead, but finish the edges with glue or paint before you pleat it.

When you're gluing "regular" fabric in place, if you press it into the glue it'll usually bleed through (especially if it's a thin silk). But with pleated fabric, you don't have much choice. You can minimize the risk by appling just a thin layer of glue, perhaps waiting for it to become a little tacky, then gently patting the fabric into the glue. If you're unsure how the fabric (or you) will behave, try on a scrap first!

© Copyright Anna-Carin Betzén 2005.
www.btz.se/minis/ web site by Anna-Carin Betzén. All rights reserved.