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Clay QuiltsThe very-generous Maria Maestri allowed me to teach a couple of projects from her Simply Ornaments CD (reviewed here) to my local polymer clay guild last weekend. As I was preparing samples for the class, I tried to come up with a variety of suggestions for changing up the projects and personalizing the characters. Turns out, one of the easiest ways to do that is to dress your characters up in different polymer clay clothes.

Here are a few ways to make your own "fabric" from polymer clay — whether you need it to clothe your custom characters or make mini clay quilts:

  1. Make Patterned Canes: Canes are an obvious choice for creating your own polymer clay fabric, since you can cut lots of identical tiles to replicate a fabric's repeating pattern. If you need a starting place, check out Lisa Clarke's tutorials for making weave and plaid canes.
  2. Extrude Your Own Fabric: I'm not much of a caner, so I was excited to find a recent tutorial by Sue Choppers-Wife on Art Ravings. She shows how to use an extruder to make your own polymer clay fabric.
  3. Just Applique It: If you want an even easier option, use small cookie cutters to create simple shapes from an unbaked clay sheet. (Or use a hole punch with baked clay sheets.) Apply your appliques to a solid color or Skinner blend background to make a simple fabric.

Whichever method you use to create your fabric, don't forget to texture it. The Art Ravings fabric post suggests a straining screen, and I love her results. I also like ShadeTex Texture Sheets — the Textile set is perfect for texturing fabrics.

And once you've made your fabrics, what can you do with them?

  • Clothe Your Characters: Maureen Carlson's books have the best instructions I've seen for making realistic clay clothes, with tips for making "patterns," draping fabric, and more. I can personally recommend her excellent How to Make Clay Characters. And while I haven't read it yet, her Family and Friends in Polymer Clay also appears to include good fabric- and clothes-making advice.
  • Make Polymer Clay Quilts: If you've got some fabric scraps after clothing your characters, use those to make your own patchwork quilts. Sarajane Helm and Judith Skinner wrote the definitive book on this: Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay. But you can also check out these sites for more quilted goodness:

Winter may be on its its way — but if you follow these tips, your polymer clay characters will be happily bundled in warm clothes & quilts til the springtime thaw!


Ha, I knew I wasn't the only one that had issues with using canes for fabric! :) thanks for the mention and I love all the helpful tutorials you've put up on your blog. I'm subscribing so hope to see a sample of your fabric if you try this method .

Hi Sue -- thanks for your excellent article. I actually did give the extruder method a try, but my first attempt didn't work out too well. You can see photos here, including notes on where I went wrong. I'm sure I'll give it another try though -- your example turned out great!

Oh, I think there's nothing wrong with anything that makes you think of chocolate :D Really, you had a wonderful design going, and I didn't think about using different sizes...in fact a lot of my design was just plain clay packed around the extruded pieces. But I do remember that I rolled my rolling pin over it very lightly to press down the higher areas before putting it through the pasta machine, so that may have helped. I like the fact that you just went with the flow when it didn't work out and ended up with a very cool quilt design :)

Thanks for the tip, Sue. I'll try pressing it down first next time and see what kind of results I get. I suspect there's a bit of trial and error involved in consistently getting results you like...

And I always *try* to move past the "this didn't work out" phase. It's harder sometimes than others. But giving up doesn't accomplish anything, while trying to take it in a different direction sometimes leads to something wonderful. (Or sometimes things just get worse -- but hey, it's not like you have much to lose at that point anyway!)

I don't know where to put this comment really, but I'd just like to say thanks for a wonderful blog! I'm itching to try my hand at polymer clay crafts and this is a real inspiration for me :o)

Thanks, Jo -- that's wonderful to hear! Would love to hear from you once you give polymer clay a try... I'm sure you'll love it!

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CraftyGoat's Notes is all about sharing polymer clay tips & tricks that have worked for me. (And even a few that haven't!)

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