Fabric Manipulation Book Launch

You are invited to Ruth Singer Studio to celebrate the publication of Fabric Manipulation, 150 Creative Sewing Techniques by Ruth Singer.

Thursday 4th July 5-7pm at Ruth Singer Studio in Leicester city centre.

As well as books for sale, you will be able to see my recent work on display, including smaller pieces and new range of cards.

If you wish to buy a signed copy of Fabric Manipulation (£19.99) please pre-order here so I can have enough stock available (select the Collect from Studio option for no postage charge) or just let me know that you wish to buy one and bring cash on the day. My first two books Sew It Up and Sew Eco will be available at a considerable discount so you can get a whole collection!

Pleat and Fold

Part 1 of a series of blog posts exploring my new book Fabric Manipulation in more detail, looking at the history of the techniques and how I have used them in my own work.

I first became fascinated by pleating when I started studying 18th century costume. The most luxurious women’s gowns have lavish decorations down the front, often made from pleating, folded, stitched or gathered fabric.

Once I started to explore, I found all sorted of pleated and folded decoration on costume from all kinds of periods and from all over the world. One of my favourite pieces is a 1940s hat with a pleated grosgrain trim which I bought in a vintage dress shop.  It took some experimentation to work out the technique used to make it but I got it eventually; this is the Arrowhead fold in page 60. I’ve also made a necklace using this technique (more about this in a future post).

Other techniques in the book have also come directly from historic clothing, although I tend to add my own interpretation to them. The Dips and Diamonds fold on page 46 is inspired by a Victorian dress in the V&A which you can also see in 19th century Dress in Detail, .

Decorative box pleating has been one of my favourites for years; I originally learned the technique from 1980s books about soft furnishings, used to create decorative trim from ribbons. I have used the technique to create embellished cushions  and cuffs and a few years ago developed the technique further to create the double-sided Box Pleat Neckpiece from silk organza.

Other techniques in this chapter have come from Indian dress; the Pointed Ribbon Fold (p59) and similar techniques are based on an old technique called Gota using real metal ribbon which I researched when I visited India in 2003 There’s a nice example of Gota work here.  Most modern gota-style work is made using synthetic ribbon, and finding the real metal ribbon is a challenge, but it can sometimes be found in vintage fabric shops or specialist ribbon shops.

I’ve included a selection of quite well-known techniques that I have seen around for a few years, such as Tuck and Fold, as well as some origami techniques transposed to fabric like Trefoil Fold and techniques that I have created myself through experimenting, such as Wings and Aeroplanes folds.

A shorter version of this post appears on Stitch, Craft, Create.

Trapunto quilting

One of the most popular sessions I teach is Trapunto or Italian quilting. My new book, Fabric Manipulation, 150 Creative Sewing Techniques, covers this technique in detail and includes lots of variations including shadow quilting, corded quilting and using stretch fabrics.

Time Bubble 1 detail
Detail of Time Bubble 1. 

I’ve been using Trapunto for years in small projects but this apron was the first major exhibition piece I created using the technique, stitched into a vintage apron.

round pincushion
Pincushion with trapunto, featured in Pretty Little Pincushions

Trapunto sample

I’m always on the look out for vintage examples of trapunto work, and recently bought a piece of corded quilting which I will be featuring on the new website later in the summer.  I’d love to know if you have seen or even own any vintage pieces with trapunto. 

Framed trapunto currently in the shop at NCCD

Detail of doll’s quilt in Pretty Little Mini Quilts
Trapunto purse in Quilt it With Wool

I am teaching trapunto this summer at Hampton Court Palace (2-day intensive summer school), and running 1 hour taster sessions in at Festival of Quilts and Fat Quarterly Retreat. 

Detail of History’s Hand.

Fabric Manipulation; 150 Creative Sewing Techniques

My new book is available for pre-order now! Signed copies will be sent out as soon as they arrive with me, early in June.

I’ll be doing book signings, demonstrations and related workshops throughout the summer. Sign up to my newsletter for more information.
There’s much more to come on this blog about the book but for now, why don’t you have a look on my Pinterest board for other examples of fabric manipulation. 

Fabric Manipulation techniques

I’ve been a bit quiet about this, but it is finally time to announce that I have written a book on fabric manipulation which will be out in 2013, published by David & Charles.

Details are to be confirmed so I can’t tell you a lot yet, but it will be out in the summer and it has over 150 techniques covering pleating and origami-style folding, gathering with stitch including smocking plus lots of appliqué techniques.

More information to come, but in the meantime, here’s a couple of samples – not from the book – which I am working on for a teacher workshop next week.

Gathered circle

Faux smocking

Pleat and Fold


Pleats and folds have fascinated me since I started designing and making professionally, seven years ago. It all started many years before with an obsession with 18th century dress trimmings made from folded and manipulated silk.


My new book on fabric manipulation, due out in 2013, has a whole chapter on pleating and folding techniques. Working on it has been a joy; a chance to experiment and play with new (to me) old techniques and the chance to invent some of my own.

pleats detail.JPG

You can get an advance preview of some of the techniques in the book at my next fabric manipulation workshop on Sunday 30th September, 10-4 at Ruth Singer Studio, Leicester.

Garrick Cushion detail

Sunday 30th September 10-4 £45
This is an exciting creative workshop exploring decorative pleating and folding techniques in fabric. We will learn box and knife pleats, decorative variations, pin tucks and origami-like folds in fabric to create samples for use in quilting, embroidery and fashion projects.
All materials included.
Suitable for all levels

pressed pleat.JPG