Saturday, April 09, 2011

Dimensional Leaves

One of the things I thought I might float across the surface of "Fracture" is sheer dimensional leaves, just barely tacked on. I had the gold sheer in hand, just wondered how I would technically pull off making stand-alone leaves out of it. I thought about fusing two layers together, but feared that would make them too opaque. I wondered if I could hoop it up with stabilizer and just straight stitch the outline and trim near it. Would that be enough or would the stitching be all wobbly and the whole thing limp and lifeless? As I pondered this technical problem, I discovered my answer in a Quilting Arts show on PBS. As I watched Heidi Lund demonstrate her technique, I could see I was on the right track. With her additional suggestions (available in pdf form on the website, TV series 200, episode 205), I gave it a go with excellent results.

As luck would have it, I'd recently received a sample of the very stabilizer Heidi used: Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer. I really had no idea what to try it on so I am glad for this direction. Peel it from its backing and smooth the sticky side on either the top or underside of the fabric. I was amazed at how well it stuck to this synthetic sheer, providing ample stability when placed in the spring hoop even though it feels quite soft.

If you use it on top as I did, you can draw your design directly on it. I'd placed a transparency sheet over my pieced center and drawn some leaves to make sure I was making them the right size, then just placed my hooped fabric over that drawing and traced. I'm using a Sulky Ultra-Twist Rayon thread in the top and a Madeira Polyneon thread in the bobbin to do the first round of stitching - as I had thought it is a free-motion straight stitch around the outside and along the veins. What I had not thought though was Heidi's second step of going back over the outlining straight stitch with a free-motion zigzag stitch. That is what makes this really work. Because my leaves are relatively small, I used a relatively narrow width of 1.5 compared to Heidi's 2.5 or 3 width.

Once the stitching is complete, it is relatively easy to trim each leaf close to that zigzag stitching before removing the stabilizer. Without the white of the stabilizer, it would be more difficult to get in close without accidentally snipping the thread. Now all that is left is to soak the leaves in warm water until the stabilizer magically disappears.

And here are my lovely leaves drying. I like the way many of them are curling slightly, just like real leaves would. Once dry, I have one more thing I want to try with them - stay tuned. I have to admit, I was letting myself be intimidated by the whole free-motion thing again but I really must stop that. Once I got going, my stitching was fine and I found these a lot of fun to make. I'm not at all sure that these belong on "Fracture" but if not, I will certainly find a use for them somewhere. And in the meantime, I have found a new stabilizer that I just love.


Sherrie Spangler said...

Those are lovely leaves indeed! Another use for that stabilizer is to make lacey scarves. Arrange snippets of silk and other sheers and interesting yarn on a sticky layer and then cover it with a plain Solvy layer. Press together and then stitch. No need for a hoop.

Connie Rose said...

They're delightful, Sheila. They look like crisps cooling!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks for the tip, Sherrie. I did see mention of taking advantage of its stickiness for laying down threads and such, but no mention of topping with Solvy, which makes so much sense. I may have to try that with some of my silk and sheer scraps.