Here is something fun to make with strips of sheer fabric and funky yarns. I came up with this after numerous utterances of “what do I do with this?” from shoppers in my quilt show/market booth. I sell packages of assorted funky yarns, and many visitors to my booth love them, but get stumped on using them. I also had to find a way to use a stash of beautiful vintage rayon scarves that were a surprise in a big box lot from a recent auction. The technique is an expansion of thread lace from two sources: Fun with Sulky Blendables and Solid Color Cotton Threads, (Joyce Drexler/Sulky of America, 2011) and Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond (Ruth Chandler, Liz Kettle, Heather Thomas, Lauren Vleck, Landauer Publishing, 2009)
2 pieces water soluble stabilizer (Sulky Solvy or Superior Threads Dissolve 4X), cut both pieces same size.
HINT: Start small for the first try, about 10x10”
Assorted fancy yarns
Vintage scarf (rayon, polyester or silk)
Machine sewing thread to complement your color scheme
Here’s what you do:
1. Thread your sewing machine, set for free motion quilting
2. Cut narrow strips of scarf, roughly 1” wide, doesn’t have to be exact, vary the widths if desired
3. Place one piece of water soluble stabilizer on your work surface
Place strips of scarf on top of stabilizer, some horizontal, some vertical, some diagonal. You don’t have to cover the entire surface, some gaps are OK. You are creating a rough grid pattern.
4. Add random cuts of yarns on the strips; straight lines, curves lines, whatever looks good to you.
Add some more strips of scarf, but don’t completely cover the yarns you just used.
5. When you are happy with your arrangement of strips and yarns, place the second piece of stabilizer on top, matching it with the bottom piece.
6. Carefully take the resulting “sandwich” to your sewing machine. The fibers will shift as you sew, so watch for areas that are bunching and thin them out as you go.
7. Start quilting in a straight line pattern to “baste” the stabilizer sandwich, making your lines about 2”apart.
8. Once you get the basting lines done, you will now free motion quilt the entire sandwich. Pick a quilting pattern that will allow you to easily double back over your design. The first one of these that I made, I used the pebble design, and I simply stitched each pebble twice as I went. The idea is to make sure the stitching is absolutely secure. The quilting could take a while, since you are essentially quilting twice. I also found that the stabilizer is difficult to maneuver at first, but it gets better as you go along. I actually had to grab a fistful of one side of my sandwich to help it along. Just be exceptionally careful that you don’t jerk it and break the needle.
9. When you are done quilting, you get to soak away the stabilizer. Follow the instructions for the product you are using. Let it dry, then you are ready to use it an embellishment, or attach to a piece of cotton and piece it into your next project.