Sewing Vloggers

Monday, September 21, 2015

Foiling 101

I've completed the foiling on my Marcy T. jacket and I'm pleased with the results. There was a lot of experimentation in the studio and out on my picnic table over the past week, too nice to be in! I will pass on what I have learned about the process, knowledge gained through a LOT of samples. Last night I asked myself, "why would I do this technique instead of a Lumiere metallic paint or Shiva sticks?" I'll tell you the back story.

A little over a year ago I was in a Chico's, you know, the store with awesome fashion for us post menos. There was a fabulous sweater I fell in love with and tried on. It was small cable knit and had this layering of silver on the top that was not paint or inherent in the knit. It was clearly applied on top. It was a low shine silver on a grey angora type sweater. It was gorgeous and since I refused to part with the hundred thirty bucks it cost I made mental notes and decided it was "foiled" and I would figure it out. I had seen this foil thing way back when and it didn't turn me on. It was shown as a technique to get a lion's head or such on your new most favorite sweatshirt, very Michaels and so not my style
. But this treatment on the sweater was exquisite. I sighed, took the expensive little sweater off and later kicked myself for not buying it.  Above you can see a pair of foiled Levis. Trust me, the sweater was gorgeous and looked very refined with its matte silver overlay and the areas between the cables showing the original knit hue. I was smitten and on a quest to figure out how to do this

I went back to DD's and my excitement must have been so obvious. I no sooner got home and there was a box with a sweater she found at the thrift store for me to "practice" on and info on how to get the foiling goodies. The thrift sweater never worked out and I never did find the right sweater but I did buy the foil and glue and did my research. I was anxious to try this technique. Life, like it does, butt in, and this project was replaced by the next manic endeavor. I know  you know how that is.

Enter my latest attempt at conquering Marcy Tilton designs but the fabric I chose could have been appropo for a prison in the gulag. Embarrasingly, I liked it. It was a cross dyed linen cotton blend I had used before Surely I could jazz it up somehow. Enter the foiling technique, lots of samples  and eventual execution. So this is what I did.

First there is the foil. Here you can see my two rolls of silver foil. One is slightly matte and the other is chrome bumper shiny. I went with the shiny for my top. The Chico's sweater was like the matte foil. I ordered this from a place called Jones Tones. You can now get it from Dharma Trading.  Next is the glue.

There are two techniques. One uses Steam a Seam 2, the Light version and the other uses "foil" glue, again from Jones Tones. I have read that you can also use Mod Podge, but the Foil Glue makes a washable garment, as opposed to the Modge Podge,  and my samples prove that. It needs to be washed on cold, and more important, line dried. Heat is not the friend of this technique.

Before we go any further I want to say that the effect of "foiling" is a very artsy, irregular result, sort of flaky looking when you use the Steam a Seam. You MAY get perfect outlines or solid areas using the glue but really, you get what you get and don't get upset.  But, you can do solid areas like my fantasy sweater with the Steam a Seam technique.

The glue technique:

The glue bottle has a really fine tip but it does take a bit of practice not to get all bloppy. Basically, you squeeze and squiggle, as simple as that. There is not a whole lot of control here, however. This technique also gives a three dimensional look to your efforts, sort of like puffy paint. But if you don't like that, like me, I'll show you what to do. So first you squeeze out your glue in the design you want. Above you see some squiggles. Then you leave the glue to dry until it is CLEAR. It can take from an hour to overnight if the glue is applied heavily. It will probably still be tacky but that's OK. You want it clear. Here you can see the glue applied to my jacket back.

First I drew the area using a ruler and a Frixion pen. Then I taped off the rectangle with masking tape. Now it was time to squeeze the glue. This is fairly heavy and took at least four hours to get clear. I let it sit overnight and it was fine. Remember, it needs to be clear, not dry, so it will be a bit tacky when it its prime for you to put the foil on.  The tape comes off right after you put on your glue. You DO NOT want to leave the tape on until the glue dries, big mistake, The Frixion pen will come off after with the heat of the iron.

Once the glue is clear, not necessarily dry,  you take your piece of foil and place it, shiny right side UP and press it on the glue. I tried a few things but the best thing is to just rub it all with your fingers. Rub and press. Be aware that if you press hard you are flattening any globs you may have had. Your fingers work better than a credit card or other object. Rub horizontally then vertically to get the foil on every side of the three dimensional glue.  Before you start rubbing make sure you have the right shiny side up. I can't tell you how many times I didn't do that (eye roll). I used the "chrome" silver on my jacket. Once the area was foiled and left to dry a few more hours, I added my own extra step. I tried different things, but trust me, the best pressing cloth is parchment paper from your kitchen. I placed it on the really dry foiled area and ironed, no steam, quickly. This flattens out the blobs and makes the foil/glue mix grab into the fabric a bit more. It also makes it a bit more matte. It takes away that puffy paint effect for sure and that's the big reason why I do it.  Let it COOL COMPLETELY. Walk away and come back. Then carefully lift a corner. If it's foiled, quickly rip off the parchment. It should slide off easily. The foil will now be flatter and more matte and it seems to me to have a better grab on the fabric as well.

The foil comes in many colors and effects including lots of holographics. I will stick with the simple silver, thank you.

Now for the Steam a Seam 2/Lite method. You can see below a piece of wool boucle waiting to become a Chanel jacket one day. In the meantime I cut a hunk to play with as it was not too different from my sweater fantasy. This was basic SAS methodology. The sheet has one layer of paper peeled off. It is place, glue side down on the fabric. The paper side is then ironed holding the iron for about ten seconds wherever the SAS sheet is applied. LET COOL.  Once the piece is cool, gently take off the remaining paper. You now have the adhesive web bonded to your fabric and it should be somewhat visible.

Place your foil, again, shiny side up, over the web. Press. This is not interfacing and it does not take more than a few seconds, maybe three or four, to transfer the foil to the fabric. If you hold the iron too long the foil dulls and becomes sort of wrinkly looking. I don't know if it is the fibrous texture but it took to this boucle really well.

By comparison, here is the same SAS application and you can see it did not take to the linen as well but I still like the look . This can be unpredictable so be prepared for what you get. This is well washed linen which prompts me to tell you that your fabric must be washed. Any finishes , and there are plenty on new fabs, will prevent the foil from sticking. The above sample was made from just cutting shards of SAS and letting them fall as they may.

At this point my top  has most of its foil applied. I am going to complete the  hem and then decide if more foil is warranted. I am trying to keep it a bit low key. As of this morning the jacket is totally finished other than buttons, which I am still searching for.

A few points I want to stress:

* Do your gluing in a FLAT state. It killed me to not continue sewing but I spent the time cutting strips of bias for the Hong Kong seams.

* The foil/glue combo cures over the next two- three days and will be much more hardened and secure then.

* That final press with the iron and parchment paper - it literally is for 2-5 seconds, very quick. More heat than that will change the effect a lot. Don't lift that paper, LET IT COOL. Make some samples when you are gluing just for practice.

*Don't lift the foil or parchment paper until it is TOTALLY cool. Just in case you didn't hear me the first time!

*Don't throw away your foil scraps. They still have foil and can be used over and over until totally clear.

*You can buy this in sheets or by the roll.

*Supposedly it also works with Heat and Bond and other fusible webbing. The SAS2 Lite is the most drapeable of the bunch so that's why it is recommended. I found the glue technique did not alter the fabric much if at all. The SAS method does, the same as any heat/webbing fusible would. .

* The glue method can also be used on faux vinyl and leather as you see above. They are done with the matte. The foil is very hard to photograph and impossible to capture the sheen. These are matte but still with a very silvery glow the camera does not pick up. This could be fun on a faux or real leather bag.

One of the things I like about this is the lack of mess. Other than maybe a stray glob of glue on your fingers, its pretty mess free as opposed to washing brushes, etc with dyes and paints. There is a lot of bang for your effort so my advice is to stay low key with your design ideas. I hope you give it a try.

The Marcy Foiled jacket is done. I just need to find the right three big buttons. Hopefully that will be happening soon and I can get this on and wear it. It's different and all that volume is new to me but overall I think it looks pretty good. More to come.
Every year the hibiscus are the last blooms of summer to grace our yard before frost. That will happen soon as we were in the high thirties last night. I know winter is right around the corner when the hibiscus blooms..............Bunny


  1. I love what you've done. Can't wait to see your finished jacket! Thanks for a this thorough explanation. I'm trying to think how I could use your technique. You always inspire me.

  2. Thanks so much for the details here! Even if I never manage to try it (and I want to, very badly, after reading!) I really enjoyed the narrative and photos! The jacket is surely spectacular!

  3. Never heard of Chicos ( I am NOT a shopper in the least...) but looked it up to find that there are several stores in my city. So, I will drop by and get some ideas. A store that doesn't cater to teens only sound heavenly!

    Foiling .... yet another technique to try!

  4. I did foiling years ago. One of the things I had was a bottle with several different tops that had various size nozzles. That allowed me to get a much finer line than just straight from the bottle. I bought them at an Expo and unfortunately I don't think I have them anymore.

    Can't wait to see your jacket. Maybe I'll take another look at foiling.

    1. Something like this? Right track?

    2. Close. The one I had had several different sized tips, 4 I think, in the package from a super fine line to a thicker one.

  5. Woohoo! I am into leafing big time, but haven't accessed any fabric suitable types, which seem very different. To get real metal leaf to adhere to the size, I use a dry brush, rubbing the foil rigorously. It may be worth a try?
    But oh how I love the idea of foiling a garment like this. I can't wait to see the finished article! And I think I have the perfect buttons. I will send you a pic if you email me your email xo

  6. Love it! I, too, saw a sweater (years ago) and was intrigued by the technique. Saw several sweaters in Paris last winter using the technique. Your description of the technique is so helpful---the first time you used the SAS acronym, I translated "Sewing as Science." That works as well as Steam A Seam which I figured out a few words later. Can't wait to see the finished jacket!

  7. Bunny, you've provided a ton of inspiration and lots to ponder. I love the glue method. Using freezer paper for the "stencil" and a Silhouette die-cutter a myriad of interesting shapes would be easy to produce.

    The leather samples are really gorgeous as well.

  8. I certainly DO understand the intense interest and determination you used to accomplish this! Filing the idea away for future use :) You could teach a workshop with all this knowledge.

  9. This is just too much fun!!! Must give this a try. Thanks for the inspiration.
    I too have the large winter hardy hibiscus in my garden. They such a joy and a lovely way to cap off the summer.

  10. Oh thank you!! Clear directions with photographs are such a treat to those of us a bit hesitant to try new techniques. You are so generous with your time and expertise. I cannot wait to see the jacket.

  11. You are a bad girl teasing us with a new technique, Bunny. But as usual you give tips and tricks along the way and the pitfalls too...excellent tutorial! That leather looks yummy too!

  12. Bunny,
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience with this technique. It's great to have such detailed instructions & pictures. Can't wait to see the jacket.

  13. I have been interested in foiling since I saw Marcy Tilton's Vogue dress in green seersucker. It seems more complex that I expected, so I appreciate your tips.

    By the way, I started shopping Chicos in my 30s, and my 19 year old sees things she likes in their windows frequently!

  14. Ohh, little tidbits is all we get......I want to see this creation! I love how innovative/creative you are. Looking forward to the next post :)

  15. I love the detail you give when you demonstrate a technique.

    I love JonesTones and didn't even know they were still in business. They made the best glitter available because it was made from foil so it was weightless and didn't change the hand of the fabric. I have a Cinderella costume that I made over 15 years ago that has been worn for several productions where I stenciled the Jones Tones glitter onto the ball gown skirt. That stuff is still as shiny as the day I first did it. I guard my containers of JonesTones glitter very carefully.

  16. The foiling on those Levis looks amazing! I never thought of using foiling to jazz up my clothes, but now I'm excited to experiment with it when I design clothes online. Thanks for the inspiration!


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