Sewing, Quilting, Crocheting, Knitting, Spinning, Embroidery. “The world is made of string.” This is what my husband says almost every time some esoteric fiber art or textile fact is dropped upon him. That string world doesn’t make itself though and as a maker you may be familiar with the number of tools that can accumulate for each string related hobby. Often a tool is discovered as the solution to a problem or simply on the way to something else. Don’t want buttonholes, try snaps. Can’t keep knit and purl stitches straight try a knitting loom. Occasionally, however, I will pick up a tool without having a plan to use it, yet. This is happens when a trusted source explains its wonders, then I find it on sale or it is gifted to me.
These trusted little scissors with their hook end are an example of this. Once as I sat pulling out stitch after stitch my grandmother asked me if I had a pair. That lovely little hook is for lifting up and cutting stitches. It can be a savior when it comes to fixing an error that requires removing fussy threads or lots of stitches.
In my spring push to thoroughly clean the house I came across some Solvy Wash Away Stabilizer in the drawer of my cutting table. I’m sure it has been there for a few years now and don’t know if there was originally a project for which it was intended, but when I pulled out A’s new jean jacket and the CutesyCrafts mermaid embroidery pattern that seemed perfect for it. I realized that my usual surface embroidery transfer method wasn’t going to cut it. There would be no window light box or flashlight under a glass table tracing. My carbon papers could be unreliable on the slightly stretchy denim and the waste canvas that was perfect for last years cross stitched jacket wouldn’t be of help. Still doubtful as I’d read reviews saying it stays sticky or doesn’t wash out I gamely traced the simple design onto the stabilizer with a fine tip marker and hooped it up layered on top of the jacket. Tracing did take a little finesse as the stabilizer could stretch ever so slightly in a way that paper doesn’t.
The stabilizer travelled with us to North Carolina to visit my Grandparents and Aunt. It was easy to stitch through and left no residue on the needle, though I could see that being a problem if you have sweaty hands or hot muggy weather and are working a more complex pattern. Most of my stitching was done in AC, but I did do some at the playground one morning without incident.
My favorite part was that with the design not on the fabric the lines didn’t need to be carefully covered and I could make alterations without worry. As far as the design. It is a lovely free pattern (from CutesyCrafts) and comes with color recommendations. I decided to shift the outline of the tale to a slightly greener color for better contrast with the blue background and used an variegated floss for the scales.
The design relies heavily on stem stitch, but used back stitch for the lettering, which I didn’t like. Wanting to diversify my stitches I tried other things with the letters only to find I liked stem stitch and outline stitched used in conjunction, then realize that it would be difficult to take out the other stitches due to the small size of them and the transfer medium. Live and learn. Finally finished, it was time to remove the stabilizer.
I carefully cut around each motif removing and setting aside the leftovers, which could be used on a small project or (apparently) dissolved to make a paint on stabilizer (Wouldn’t this be the same as starch?). My water was hot enough to make you want to take your fingers out quickly, but not so hot as to scald. The directions say the stabilizer should wash out in water in 30 seconds two minutes. Dipping the jacket in for about 5 seconds seemed to do the trick. I reached down to help brush the stabilizer away and didn’t feel anything. Bringing the jacket up out of the water showed no signs of the stabilizer and the cotton threads and denim felt normal.
And here it is all dried out again.