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6 steps to making thread lace using Sulky stabilizers and metallic threads

by Jennifer Houlden

A great way to make embellishments for quilts is to create lace-like pieces with thread. Wash-away stabilizer is the preferred stabilizer to use when creating these embellishments. Follow these 6 easy steps to thread lace and create some cool embellishment pieces.

From the 18 different stabilizers I covered yesterday I’m going to focus on the wash-away ones today.

Playing with Wash-Away

Remember the bird’s nest of thread I had last month? Well I’m going to show you what you can do with it rather than throwing it in the bin.

A variety of thread ends that look like a bird's nest sitting on a blue mat

A bird’s nest of thread

For this little project I’m using the Sulky Fabri-Solvy wash-away stabilizer. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions prior to starting. This one only requires water to wash-away with no temperature specification.

To begin, cut pieces of the stabilizer to the size needed. I’m using 2 – 8 ½″ x 11″ pieces.

Step 1: Place the bird’s nest of thread on one piece of the stabilizer.

Bird's nest on top of piece of Fabri-Solvy

Bird’s nest on top of piece of Fabri-Solvy

Step 2: Cover the thread with the second piece of stabilizer.

Thread sandwiched between 2 pieces of stabilizer

Thread sandwiched between 2 pieces of stabilizer

Step 3: Pick a thread that will blend in with the bird’s nest. I prefer that the thread blends in but it can also contrast and stand out – all depends on the look you want. This time I decided to choose a metallic thread in light blue – in fact it’s called holoshimmer and should make my thread lace shine.

Sulky has 3 different types of metallic thread – Original, Sliver and Holoshimmer. The original is made by wrapping a fine metallic foil around a strong core and this produces a soft smooth thread. The sliver is thin and flat as well as very reflective. This reflective property is due to the polyester film being ‘metalized’ with aluminum. The holoshimmer is very similar to the sliver but is metalized with a holographic aluminium layer to give it a reflective shimmer.

It’s recommended to use a 14/90 metallic, topstitch or embroidery needle with these threads. The recommended bobbin thread is rayon or polyester bobbin thread.

Sulky metallic threads

Sulky metallic threads

Step 4: Stitch all over the top piece of stabilizer taking in all or most of the thread bits. I have done a free motion spiral on this piece but crazy stitching or small stippling will work too. You may wonder if this needs a hoop but I don’t find it does as long as you keep pressure on the pieces to keep the sandwich together. A hoop can certainly be used if preferred.

Note: As you can see from the photo below the stitching is not blue – it’s peach. Despite following the tips for metallic thread I talked about last month I was having no joy with the metallic thread today so I switched to a Sulky Rayon thread which cooperated for me and I added strands of the blue metallic thread to the bird’s nest.

Spiral stitching on stabilizer

Spiral stitching on stabilizer

Step 5: Place the piece in water to rinse away the stabilizer. It does get quite gooey so make sure to rinse well. And I did find that hot water dissolved the stabilizer much faster.

Step 6: Place on a paper towel to dry and soak up the excess water. If you’re in a hurry a hair dryer can be used to speed up the drying process as well as a hand dryer in the women’s washroom if you are at class somewhere. You’ll notice that the thread looks darker than what I started with but as it drys, it will lighten.

Stabilizer has been removed from the bird's nest of thread

Stabilizer has been removed from the bird’s nest of thread

Now that it’s dry I have a piece of thread lace ready to be used as an embellishment on my next quilt. I see this one as a moon or a flower.

Bird's nest turned into a piece of thread lace

Bird’s nest turned into a piece of thread lace

I attempted to use the Sulky Heat-Away Clear Film to make more thread lace but unfortunately when I started stitching it kept getting sucked down into my sewing machine so for this stabilizer a hoop is needed to use it. I didn’t have a hoop so I’m afraid I didn’t get to see it melt away and form little balls.

That was so much fun I decided to try making the outline and veins of a leaf. I drew the design on the Sulky Ultra Solvy stabilizer with a marker before stitching. The Ultra Solvy is 4 times as heavy as the Fabri Solvy so stitching should be a breeze.

I really wanted the thread to stand out so debated between the Sulky Blendables 12 or 30 weight. I went with the 12 weight as it’s much thicker and will make a more prominent line. The blendables are a long staple, highly mercerized Egyptian cotton thread that come in both variegated and solid colors.

Beautiful autumn colors of Sulky thread

Beautiful autumn colors of Sulky thread

Using a zigzag stitch I stitched around the shape and then washed away the stabilizer. Once the stabilizer was washed away it seemed like I had nothing but a piece of string.

If I ever do this again I think I would make sure that the leaf veins meet up with the leaf edge to form a more rigid shape as this one is rather flimsy.

Since drying it has a bit more body and looks like a leaf – still not quite sure how I’m going to attach it to anything but I’ll work that out when the time comes.

The thread lace leaf

The thread lace leaf

Working with the Sulky wash-away stabilizers has been a lot of fun and these 6 easy steps to thread lace make creating embellishments a breeze.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: A comprehensive look at the wide and varied world of Sulky stabilizers

Go to part 3: 4 great reasons to foundation piece with tear-away stabilizer


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