Making Crankie Scrolls from Fabric

The Story of Mending is a hand-stitched crankie by Ursula Populoh, a storytelling and fiber artist from Baltimore. See more of her work below.

There are so many material options for the scroll, I decided to divide them up into two pages: one page for scrolls made from fabric and one page for scrolls made from paper and Tyvek.  As you will see, there are lots of different ways to go about it. 

Thank you cranksters for sharing your work! ❤

Repurposed Fabrics, Thread and Embroidery Floss on Canvas

From Baltimore, MD, Ursula Populoh uses a variety of repurposed materials to sew crankie scrolls: cotton,  embroidery floss, felt, wool, and other materials. A pair of good scissors and a variety of threads and needles is all she needs. Visit her website for some inspiration.

Cotton Sewn to Muslin

Cotton and other fabrics appliqued to muslin backing. This is one of Anna and Elizabeth's (Anna Roberts-Gavelt and Elizabeth LaPrelle) first crankies entitled Lord Bateman. (2010)  Watch the video here.

Paint on Unbleached Muslin Epilating Tape

From Montana, the very creative Marla Goodman had the idea to use epilating tape for smaller crankies.  It comes in 2.5", 3" and 3.5" rolls.  Pen, ink stamp, prisma color and markers all work well.  It cranks nicely!  Marla also sells little digital crankie box kits on her Etsy site.

Embroidery on Black Pellon

From Georgia, Sue Sellew used embroidery floss to stitch images to a black Pellon scroll. Totally unique!

Pellon is an interfacing fabric used to give more body to lighter fabrics. For example, it is used inside collars and cuffs of shirts.  It's light but has enough body to stand up in the box with less tendancy to droop as with cotton fabric.

Sharpie on White Pellon

From Springfield, Missouri, Sandi Baker used a Sharpie to draw the Lady Margaret image on white Pellon.  She  "inlaid" the image to the vellum scroll by cutting away a section of the vellum and hand-stitching the image in!

Appliqued Fabric, Paint & Micro Pens on Cotton Sheeting

From Winnipeg, Manatoba, Melanie Wesley used a white sheet for the background. To give it more body, she fused it to "iron-on" Pellon.  She appliqued a varity of fabrics including knitted elements and vintage linens. She painted some of the background with gauche paints but said that gauche can be problematic if the paint turns powdery.  Using thinned acrylic paint might be a better option?

She also used pencils and micro pens to draw details. Her advice: always use a scrap of test fabric before using pens to make sure they don't bleed before drawing on the scroll.

Ink on Cotton

From Maine, Annie Bailey used ink to paint on cotton to create this LARGE crankie. Read more about it in this article Winter Window fetes 'Lighthouse Heroine' 

Visit her website

Cotton + Various Fabrics Glued & Sewn to Muslin

Maggie Isaac Helton from Indiana and her sister Sharon Isaac from Texas were the primary makers of the Maud Muller Crankie. They started by story boarding the poem on butcher paper. Then they divided the scenes between the two of them. It was constructed on plain muslin backing and most of the fabric was attached with fabric glue. They added some interfacing for stiffness. Certain elements were sewn, especially those with detail and dimension.

A FAMILY TRIBUTE - This crankie is a tribute to their grandmother, Maggie Patrick Issac.  The audio is a recording of their grandmother reciting the Maud Muller poem. You can watch the video here to listen to Maggie and her sister explain the background of the story.

Eco-Fi Felt and Lace Hand-stitched to an Eco-Fi Felt Scroll

The Lacemaker is made from  Eco-fi felt, lace and burlap stitched to a cream Eco-fi felt scroll, stitched by me, Sue Truman. Eco-fi felt is made from 100% recycled plastic bags. It is inexpensive and available at most fabric stores. Because it is essentially plastic, it can be backlit, the light shines through it nicely. 

Cotton Stitched to Pellon

The Ima Schur crankie was made by me (Sue Truman) and Ima Shur who stitched the quilt blocks in the 1930s.  I purchased the blocks at an antique store. Some of the fabric was 100 years old- very fragile!  I used white Pellon for the backing, then  stitched a cotton back ground to the Pellon and then stitched the quilt blocks to that.

Wool Felt and Eco-Fi Felt Stitched to an Eco-Fi Felt Scroll

Large, 19th Century Moving Panoramas

n 1847, a volcanic eruption at Fogo Island, Cape Verde. I love that you can see small folds in the cotton scroll. It was hung statically as it is too fragile to crank. Photo by Sue Truman.

All the large 19th century moving panoramas were painted on fabric. One of the few surviving examples is the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage Round the World, housed at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA.

The scroll was painted with water-based, distemper paint on cotton sheeting in 1848. It measures 1,275' in length and 8.5' in height making it the longest surviving moving panorama from that era.  A few sections of the painting were revised/painted over by the artist. Revisions were not uncommon in those days.  After performing the panorama, he might have gotten more ideas based on the audience's reactions. 

Years of wear and tear took a toll on the painting. The paint was flaking off in some sections, leaving some of the original artwork exposed. The museum made the decision to leave it alone so that we could see a bit of the editing process.

The moving panorama was on display July-October, 2018. Read more about it here.

A ship floundering at sea near the bergs. Photo by Sue Truman.
A pretty hotel on Palmer's Island. Photo by Sue Truman.

This page updated March, 2021 -  Sue Truman ❤