Playing with fiber

 When I was in college, my friend Alan used to tell us how his family fortune was based on a patent held by his grandparents. The patent was for a material that could be used to create machine made lace. This material could be stitched to recreate traditional lace patterns and then when the stitching was complete, the material could be washed away leaving the lace like fabric. My friend Alan used to say that this is what created the lace table cloth industry.

Now, it is possible for home sewers to purchase the same sort of stuff. It has been on the market for a long time. It is sold as wash away stabilizer. When you pull the roll out of the package the stabilizer feels like a rubbery plastic.when it gets wet it feels like gelatin.

Over the years I have read several articles about using the fabric to create not just traditional looking lace, lots of people use machine embroidery motifs to do just that but wilder more organic looking lace similar to the work of the designers that sell under the name Rodarte.

I have been fascinated by the idea of making fabric out of thread. I had bought a roll of the wash a way stabilizer a few years ago but had never gotten  to use it. I decided to finally try it out. I made these two scarves. the first one I made was the red and black one. The black comes from a roll of silk tubing that I had found in a bin at "Material World" on 39th street. "Material World"  is a complete jumble of a store with random rolls of trim displayed in broken down corrugated cardboard boxes.

I had purchased the red silk organza ribbon on EBay several years ago. It wasn't exactly what I had expected to purchase. It shows up now and again in my work. To  make the scarf I cut two lengths of the wash a way stabilizer. I at first made the mistake of trying to lay of the yarns for the entire scarf before I began stitching. I discovered that it is better to work 6 inches at a time. But if you think of the stabilizer as the bread of the sandwich and then loop in the yarn six or eight inches at a time, and then roughly sew down the yarn arrangement . you keep adding yarns and stitching them down until your scarf length in complete.

Then you go back and stitched bridged between the open spaces. Yes, this takes lots of thread. Each scarf took three complete bobbins full of thread, and my Janome takes big bobbins. You want the scarf to be stable enough to not fall apart.

After the stitching is complete you wash the scarf in warm water while agitating it with your hands. I used a big kitchen bowl. Then I rolled the finishd scarf in a towel to absorb much of the moisture and let it line dry.

The light scarf is made out of a cotton yarn and a silver lurex yarn.

I know that it is possible to make such scarves just out of sewing threads, but I liked using up some of the yarns in my stash. It's fun obsessive sewing .

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  1. What fun. I've read these articles for years and never done anything with it.

  2. so cool, I'd wear one, looks so light and frothy and fun and elegant


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