Friday, May 10, 2013

On Making Thread Lace

With traditional quilting and textile art techniques, there is less waste than with sewing fashions. Many traditional quilts utilize strips or geometric shapes which maximize fabric yardage and textile art pieces are created by stitching and fusing even the smallest of scraps so a scrap has to be pretty tiny to get thrown out. That isn't true with fashion sewing. When I cut out a garment, the amount of fabric left around the edges bothers me. I've paid for it, I would prefer to use it, which is why finding ways to use scraps has become a priority - my zero waste goal.




Ideas for fabric can be hard enough but... what about thread? I love thread and I hate throwing out the ends from stopping and starting. For years, I've collected them in jars around the studio. There's one beside the serger, the sewing machine, and the iron. When they are full, I either make lace or bag the threads for another day.




The product above is Aqua Magic. It's a soluble stabilizer that dissolves in water. There are many similar products on the market and you'll need to experiment with which one you prefer. I use this one or another one called H2Gone simply because they are available locally however, I recently read about a product that is sticky that I want to try because...




... the thread lace is created by building up layers of loose thread that need to be secured together. Above left, the bottom layer is soluble stabilizer, then a layer of netting, and then a layer of loose threads on top. Above right, the netting has been omitted. Netting secures the layers more easily but it's not always desirable. Without it, the lace is softer and more organic. It depends on how you plan to use the finished product.




Once the loose thread layer is complete, a cover of soluble stabilizer is placed on top. In the image above, the stabilizer is pinned in place. My understanding with the sticky stabilizer is that the bottom layer is sticky and the top layer is not but it will adhere to the bottom layer. In theory, that sounds like it'll work but it would definitely depend on how thick the loose thread layer was and how many open spaces there were because if the two layers can't connect, they can't stick. Pins may always be necessary.




Free motion stitching is used to secure the thread layer and create the lace. Any stitch pattern can be used. A geometric grid is the most common formation. What's critical is that the securing thread lines overlap and interconnect otherwise the loose thread layer will fall out. The securing thread layer must hold it all together.




Above is a detail of the finished lace with the netting. It includes bits and pieces of silk as well as thread.




This detail is of a textile art piece with thread lace off the bottom. To create this look, the stabilizer and securing threads were overlapped onto the art piece. The securing thread created the lace with no layer of loose thread ends in the middle.




You can see how dense the loose threads are in this piece. They were layered over...




... the background of a textile art piece and the securing stitches extended over into the edge of the piece. The tucks added dimension to the rectangular shape.




This isn't the best picture. The piece is much brighter in person with colorful threads on a coppery-red background. The focal point was created from melting and shaping a product called Fosshape and then painting and securing it. I've experimented with that product for creating jewelry but haven't figured out a way of working with it that I really like yet. Soluble stabilizer would remind you of paper towel. Fosshape would remind you of batting.




A lighter thread layer with less free motion stitching will create a more open piece of lace whereas a heavier thread layer with dense stitching will create a more dense lace. Again, the end use will help to determine the density of the loose thread layer and the density of the securing thread layer.




This piece of lace was made from bits of hand-dyed chiffon layered thickly. The resulting lace is more fabric-like than lace-like and quite rigid with no drape. It was used...






... as the ground in this textile art piece (also a bad picture) of a single daisy. The highly texturized aspect of the dense lace adds more visual and tactile dimension to the finished piece.



Most of the thread lace I've made in the past has been for textile art pieces or for items like purses. Recently, I saw this bodice on a dress by Koos. As you can see in the detail...




... the concept is very much the same and has my mind pondering ways to incorporate thread lace into casual, creative garments. Along with the bodice, using lace on the collars, button bands, cuffs, waistband, or hem seems like a doable option and fun way to utilize the "waste" in the garment. Maybe even sleeves. If you have any more questions on making thread lace, please ask. I'm happy to answer them if I can.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - interchangeable techniques, warm sunny days

17 comments:

  1. Thanks Myrna, I have done something similar in the past, making a scarf, but I am wanting to try some of these techniques now. Thanks for the "tute"...Anna H

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    1. You're welcome. Are there pictures of your scarves anywhere I could see? I've been contemplating how to use some of the knit scraps in scarves.

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    2. Sorry Myrna, that was several years ago, and I have since sold them. Have been thinking about doing more though, since you have me "re-inspired"....

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    3. Now I'm terribly curious since I've been contemplating do I want to try and make these to sell. Where did you sell them? Did they do well? Do you feel they sold for a "makes it worth it" price? What did you learn?

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  2. Wow, Thanks For Sharing Myrna!

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    1. You're welcome. This is a really fun technique and not too hard to go wrong with. It's play.

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  3. Exciting possibilities.... Elle

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  4. Love the idea of thread lace but considering that I've been working with a lot of black and white me thinks it would be boring!

    I was recently given a challenge to do something different with a tank top and the picture of the Koos garment was just the inspiration I needed. I had been thinking along the lines of some sort of panel down the middle, probably not thread lace, but seeing the picture makes me think I'm on the right track. Now the wheels are turning! Can you hear them squeaking? LOL

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    1. Black and white wouldn't be boring depending on what you did with it. You can add in whatever else you want.

      LOVE to see that tank top when you're done.

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  5. I love this idea of repurposing thread scraps!!! I've started my own jar of thread! Myrna, you are so inspiring! I've seen something like this done with ribbon for a scarf. I'm a seamstress and have alot of thread scraps!!! :o)

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    1. It's addictive. You'll love it. Send me some pictures of what you put together. I'd love to see them.

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  6. I have seen the the sticky soluble here in the UK but it is really expensive so have not tried it. There is alternative. When making thread lace in the past I have used 505 fabric adhesive to keep the threads and scraps under control. Spray a thin layer on your base layer of wash away, position your thread/scraps, spray another light layer of glue, place your top layer on top and away you go, no pins involved. I used this method at collage but have recently come across the books by Jeannette Knake, in which she uses this method to make all sorts of things, even felt.

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    1. I'd wondered about using 505. Thanks for letting me know it works. For the top layer, are you spraying the soluble and then placing it over or spraying onto the threads? The later sounds like it might disrupt the layout. How large of a piece have you worked with? Is this a method for smaller or larger items?

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  7. Not really thought about it but I think that I have mostly sprayed the threads as they are lightly stuck down and you lightly spray from a distance. Since most of these pieces were playing and not for anything in particular I haven't worried too much about disruption but it hasn't been a problem. I find this more a method for larger pieces. I use water-soluble Vilene which feels like a light weight interfacing as you don't have to hoop it and as it is more fabric-like you can sew with feed dogs up to stitch an initial grid to hold it together. As it is the widest soluble I have found (90cm I think) and cut from the roll it is the easiest soluble to use to do big pieces. To make clothing you make the pieces separately and then butt the pieces together and stitch the pieces together. Burda has a jacket pattern (7700) which has a jacket and a vest variant using this method. For smaller bits I tend to use bits of other solubles from my stash and use my spring hoop, the tension of the hoop holds the bits in place between the layers of solubles.



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    1. I'll give it a try with some lighter layering. I looked up the Vilene and found that Vilene D0102 is also sometimes called Wet N Gone or Aqua Magic so we may be using the same product. I don't use a hoop either. I really like Aqua Magic. I also see that they have the tacky in 59" widths at http://www.allstitch.net/department/water-soluble-stabilizers-vilene-badgemaster-aqua-magic-10009.cfm

      The Burda 7700 jacket looks interesting. I'll read more about how they're doing it when I'm at the fabric store next but your description makes sense.

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  8. i'm not sure if it was your blog i'd seen about a year ago, and i foolishly didn't bookmark it, or someone else's. .......but i am oh so glad to have found you....
    the possibilities are endless aren't they?? i'm pondering..... hm.... rotary cutting tiny tiny strips of fabric, and possibly cross cutting them (almost like a cross cut shredder) and creating a colourful fabric to make something with........hm....
    talk about a work of art....
    love what you've done, and thanks for your education!!
    xo
    eva

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.