Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Working with Stablizers: The Embroidered Gauze Shawl Revisited

Remember the gauze shawl I was nattering on about back at the beginning of May? Well I finished it a couple of weeks ago. Of course now it is far too warm in Atlanta to even think about a shawl, but it will be ready for fall. Wish I had a pretty model to help with the photos - or even a dress form for that matter, but alas, I don't.
I did end up sewing two pieces of fabric together to cover all the ugly knots, and to keep from catching threads on rings and things. And, since the fabric has a really nice ravely selvage, I decided to leave the piece with a raveled edge all the way around, which gives it a really soft look.
As I mentioned in the earlier post about this project, when working with something as flimsy as gauze, stabilizer is essential. There are three basic stabilizer types for embroidery. First there are sheets of paper-like fabric that is intended to be torn away from the stitching after the project is complete. I decided this would be a problem since the tearing with such a lightweight fabric and delicate stitching could stretch everything out of shape.
The other two alternatives are a water soluble roll of fabric that is layered on the back of the piece and washes away by soaking in water or machine washing, and a spray-on type of stabilizer that also washes out after the piece is finished. I decided to try both – one on each end of the shawl. For the spray on I used PerfectSew liquid wash-away stabilizer, and used Sulky water soluble roll stabilizer on the other. My conclusion is that I far prefer the liquid spray on product. The Sulky roll does stabilize well enough, but if you aren’t very careful it will bunch up and shift around. With PerfectSew you simply spray it on to saturate the fabric then wait for it to dry. You can accelerate drying time with a blow dryer. Once you iron it with a dry iron to remove the last bits of moisture, you are set with a stiff piece of fabric ready for the hoop.
The particular fabric I used is called bubble gauze, which means that it has been treated to shrink up and be really crinkly when washed. However, the washing did some interesting things to the stitching. Since the fabric shrank up and the thread didn’t, what was a tight row of stitches is now quite loose and a bit loopy. I’ve decided I like it, but let me know what you think.
Next up? I have a beautiful piece of red bubble gauze. I think I’ll try some machine embellishment on that. Metallic thread would make something pretty for the holidays.

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