So there I was, working on some shawl patches for a client. Beautiful silk velvet…I would be happy in silk velvet sheets. I was using the sticky back stabilizer in my hoop because these are patches, so everything was prepped the way I always do, the topper was doubled, all was basted into place…and 20 stitches in, the thread breaks. I re-thread the machine, rub the needle with some silicon to help things along, and re-start.
15 seconds later, the thread breaks again. I fix it, re-start…10 seconds later it breaks again. My ears are starting to steam mainly because every time a thread breaks, my machine BEEPS & BEEPS & BEEPS in a high pitched tone that drives me insane. Just so this blog does not become x-rated, suffice it to say that my frustration hit dangerous levels and I almost knocked that machine through the wall.
Why was this happening? Well, because I was embroidering on SILK velvet on top of sticky back. The silk shed more fibers than anything I have ever used and it also picked up huge amounts of the gummy stuff so that every few seconds, I had a ball of stuff at the top of a thoroughly coated needle and the machine would have a fit. I cleaned it out top to bottom to no avail.
I resigned myself to standing there, in front of my machine, taking deep, cleansing breaths, swearing up a blue streak as these little patches that should have taken 30 minutes tops, including fabric trimming, took me 2 1/2 hours.
That same day, I get an email from Colleen Murphy. I had just sent her some designs for her daughter’s dress, and because she was having to re-hoop for a big bodice design, she was using sticky back…and her thread was not only breaking, it was shredding! The dressmaking gods were in a really bad mood.
I called Susan. I am thinking there has to be a way around this, that there has to be a way to coat the needle with something that will repel the gummy silk lint and help Colleen. Susan and I start tossing it around, and suddenly, Susan says, “Waxed paper.” Ooo. Was this another genius moment?
She and I talk a bit about whether or not to use it on top or the under the sticky back, but I do not remember now if we came to a conclusion.
I write Colleen back with several suggestions, including the waxed paper idea.
She writes back to say it worked beautifully. Her thread stopped breaking and shredding. I was psyched because I was prepping a big skirt job using what looked, felt and behaved like more silk velvet. Colleen used it on top of her solvy topper, so I asked her if it left any tiny pieces. She said no, that she was happy with the way it looked.
First thing I have to do is make two long appliques for a belt for this dress which meant I had to trim this velvet which was going to leave all sorts of silk fibers everywhere which was really going to test this waxed paper theory. I took a breath, put the waxed paper over the solvy topper, and began.
The first applique, after trimming, stitched out without a single break. 15 inches of dense stitching with metallic thread…45 minutes of non-stop embroidering. I was stunned. There is always a break or two, sometimes more with metallic threads.
The next applique only stopped once.
Here they are:
And Colleen was right, the paper just came right off, no bits.
So, I do a test for the skirt design using a different velvet, but I use the waxed paper anyway, just to see what happens with this design. Here are pics of the process:
Waxed paper over the solvy, basted in place –
Stitching out beautifully…not a single break –
Finished design, paper beautifully perforated –
Tearing it off first –
But this time, there are little bits that I cannot overlook –
See the “rough” edges? I start to pick all of those off, but I know that if I have to do this on 13 separate pieces of embroidery on this skirt, I might lose my mind. This will make me very cranky.
I contemplate putting the waxed paper under the sticky back, but something tells me that might be a moot point. So, what if I put it on top of the sticky back? But then why use sticky back at all since it won’t be serving its purpose of anchoring the fabric in place so I can hoop it according to the placement lines on the skirt?
So I try it this way:
(See the end of this post for simpler instructions if the thought of being this ANAL makes you twitch!) Around the design area, I added extra placement lines that were then stitched out onto the sticky back –
Using half the design template, I cut pieces of waxed paper –
I laid a piece on one side of the central placement line –
…and the second half on the other side –
I left an open area of sticky between the 2 pieces –
Why? Because I did not want my center line to slip around as I was placing the fabric on the sticky back. I also had the sticky exposed around the design area to hold the fabric as well.
So, I stitched out the design…with no breaks, no huge lint and gum build up –
And I am doing a little jig around my embroidery room -
I ripped off the solvy fast to get this pic, so there are a couple of pieces, but it looks great! Much better!
Is it more work? Yep, but sitting there pulling all the ittybittyteenytiny pieces of waxed paper off would take me WAAAYYYY longer.
Yeah, genius moment, Susan.
UPDATE: I could not continue to be this anal, so now I just hoop a length of waxed paper under the sticky back, and off I go. In fact, because I have now found the best sticky back ever (strong and thicker) I do not always use a tearaway as long as the fabric is fused with a good woven cotton. Works beautifully!