Coursework Part 4: Exercise 4.5: Collage-Inspired Yarn

Research: Flat Yarns

On an industrial scale, flat yarns are manufactured on machines like this one from Botheven, or see one in action in this YouTube video. Yarns may either be flat or bulk. Flat yarns have continuous filaments running parallel in a flat, smooth profile (no twist), while bulk yarns have fibres that are twisted together and have a roughly circular profile. Manufacturing methods for synthetic continuous filament flat yarns may include:- melt, wet, dry, or gel spinning (Sinclair, 2014 describes these processes). They are used in numerous applications: anything from hosiery (super fine yarns) to carpet making (coarse yarn).

Types of Flat Yarns

Ribbon Yarn (can be flat or, more usually, tubular, consisting of finely knitted textile). They have a soft, shiny, silky look and feel.

Tape Yarn (can be braided, or warp or weft knitted). They can be made from narrow ribbon, narrow tape or slit/split film.

Repurposed Yarn (made from fabric strips, such as strips of t-shirt, cut spirally by hand; or cotton bedsheet, cut or torn into strips; ribbon yarn made from offcuts of sari silk is available commercially).


Ideas that come from this research are:- flattened tubes; slitting or splitting films or other flat media; extruding; cutting or tearing strips from a textile; making flat braids or knitted strips; using ribbon or tape.

Exercise 4.5 Collage-inspired Yarn

The focus of this exercise is on developing yarns (flat yarns, in particular) based on my collages of Exercise 3.4 – here and here.

My initial thoughts are to introduce some constraints, so I will work from this collage, and will select a subset of colours from this rather large palette, to work from.


I drew a mind map (not shown – it was in pencil and didn’t scan well), then sketched ideas. The colour scheme at top right is actually inspired by one of the other collages.


One of my drawn ideas (seen diagonally at bottom right, above), reminded me of a chain we used to make as children, out of chewing gum wrappers. This origami website explains the folding and joining technique.

I made some small samples using (top to bottom): magazine x 2 (varying the length of the strip); tissue paper x 2 (shiny side out/dull side out); wrapping paper/felt pen; cotton textile; miniature version using tissue paper. I decided that I liked the tiny tissue paper version best. I explored some colour palettes for the yarn, and decided to go with the one shown at top right, above (orange, magenta, red, purple).

Materials: tissue paper in four colours

Construction: paper is cut, then folded six times, then interlinked.

Handle and appearance: soft, delicate, colourful, geometric, reversible.

Possible variations: this technique can be scaled up or down, using any fine material that is malleable, but has some stiffness (I believe this technique is similar to one used for basketry using leaves.) Untreated textile did not work easily or well. The individual strands can be interlocked and sewn to other strands to form a structure that can be made into, eg, handbags, bowls, even dresses.

Thoughts and ideas: I thought that this represented the original collage quite well (the bright colours appearing in small patches in that piece). The tissue paper was similar to the magazine paper used for the collage in surface quality. I liked the technique, however, making it on this small scale was a rather intricate and time-consuming process, so I would think twice about using it again. However, on a larger scale it is ideal for recycling plastic and paper packaging, and since it can be joined into sheets of material, is a flexible technique for making fashion accessories, containers, perhaps even larger objects such as room dividers. The material used for the technique could be linked to the subject matter of an artwork: recycling/waste spring to mind as appropriate issues.



Materials: assorted cotton textiles, Bondaweb, plastic tie fasteners

Construction: a double layer of cotton textile was sandwiched with Bondaweb to make a reversible fabric square. Four small samples were made to test possible ways of joining the squares: brads, plastic ties, snaps, and jump rings. I chose the plastic ties as having the least impact visually, but still allowing movement between the joined squares.

Handle and appearance: regular, cheerful, colourful, geometric, reversible.

Possible variations: any shape or mixture of shapes could be joined in this way or in rows to form a textile. Thread ties might be possible if knotted on both sides either incorporating the knotted threads as part of the design, or trimming them close to the knot for a less conspicuous finish. It could be used for other materials, such as plastics, acrylic, sheet metal, etc.

Thoughts and ideas: I liked this yarn. It retained the flexibility of a yarn, while including the squares from the original source material. I reintroduced some surface pattern, much like the images cut from magazines in the collage. I think it would be a good way of making a structure for fashion applications, worn over another layer of textile, as it is flexible and allows the under layer to show. It could also be made in precious metals as a necklace or bracelet.


Materials: assorted cotton textiles, Bondaweb, plastic tie fasteners, pink cotton ribbon.

Construction: as for #2, but squares were joined to a ribbon instead of to each other. A random construction was employed, so that some squares move around an edge; others are attached by a corner; some are fastened at the centre.

Handle and appearance: random, colourful, non-reversible, flexible, geometric.

Possible variations: similarly to #2, any shape or mixture of shapes could be joined in this way, and other materials could be used. All of these squares are joined to a central ribbon, but they could be joined to each other. Different joining methods could be used.

Thoughts and ideas: a further development could be adding press studs or hooks and eyes to different corners or places on each square, they could then be combined in a random or structured way to make a yarn or a textile.


Materials: wool and acrylic felt, pink cotton ribbon, linen embroidery thread.

Construction: three sizes of square (1.5″, 1″ and 0.5″) were cut from felt in colours inspired by the collage. Six colours of felt were used and the squares were stacked in diminishing size order in pleasing (to me!) combinations. The stacked squares were sewn with four large stitches forming another square, to pink cotton ribbon.

Handle and appearance: flat, bold, bright, chunky, some flexibility, but not reversible, matt appearance, soft handle.

Possible variations: other shapes, other scales, different materials and colour palettes.

Thoughts and ideas: this could be joined crosswise with ribbon to make a textile. It has a 1970s vibe and I can imagine fashion accessories made using this technique. I find the repetition of shape with changing colour combinations pleasing and I quite liked this yarn concept.


Materials: synthetic ribbons, polyester thread.

Construction: this yarn was inspired by one of my drawings, although I decided to leave the ends of the ribbons in place rather than trimming them flush to the grey ribbon. Three lengths of grey ribbon were taped to the desk and short lengths of other ribbons woven through and hand sewn in place.

Handle and appearance: flat, colourful, autumnal feel, not reversible, mixture of matt and satin surface qualities (similar to source material), soft/feathery handle.

Possible variations: larger or smaller scale, different materials (plastic strapping, wisps of yarn, or textile strips), other colour palettes.

Thoughts and ideas: quite fiddly to make, but I liked the outcome. It again feels like something that could be adapted for fashion or jewellery. I love these colours together, but feel that other colour palettes would be successful: monotone, or pastels, for example. It makes me think of Lauren DiCioccio’s large, woven sculptures, that I see are no longer on her website, but I have an image in this research. Such weaving could be carried out to cover a 3-D object.


Now to put the yarns from the last five exercises together in a presentation file and box for Assignment 4.

In this exercise, I have learnt:-

  • drawing helps to crystallise ideas, and suggests ways of making objects (yes, I have been reading Kyra Cane’s book Drawing and Making!)
  • constraints can help make a collection feel coherent
  • I need more variety in my palette proportions (I think I stuck with my favoured option of using an even spread of the selected colours for this exercise, looking back at them all)
  • the samples were useful in refining my options for particular techniques/outcomes
  • joining materials was an important aspect of this exercise, and would have relevance in many fields (fashion, interior design, art, etc)



Fangueiro, R. (ed.) (2011) Fibrous and composite materials for civil engineering applications. Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing. (Accessed through Google Books online, 21/02/17).

Cane, K. (2012) Making and drawing. London: A & C Black Publishers.

Sinclair, R. (2014) Textiles and fashion. Materials, design and technologies. Edited by Rose Sinclair. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing. (Accessed through Google Books online, 21/02/17).

Websites:- Accessed 21/02/17 Accessed 23/02/17 Accessed 25/02/17 Accessed 22/02/17 Accessed 21/02/17

Flat Yarn Making Machine on You Tube Accessed 21/02/17

3 thoughts on “Coursework Part 4: Exercise 4.5: Collage-Inspired Yarn”

  1. I echo the comment above – ‘coherent’ is exactly the word that came to mind when I looked at this – the whole process seems to flow clearly through to the final outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

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