Did you know you can make fabric made from scrap threads? Early in the year I posted photos of my empty Orts jar and said I had thought of a way of using them. If you are not sure what Orts are, they are a the little bits of thread hand embroiderers have left over after embroidering a line of stitches. They are little snips of thread that since they are only an inch or two long usually go in the bin.
Some stitchers save their orts and use them to stuff pincushions. Some stitchers put their orts outside so birds can use them in nest building. However although well meant, experts tell us not to do it as strands of yarn can wrap around the leg of a baby bird and cut circulation. This is a danger even if that thread is short. (if you are interested in this topic here is a link to article in Audubon about what nesting materials are safe for birds) So I think we had better stick to using our Orts in creative ways.
After collecting these Orts for a year I thought I would share with you how my fabric made from scrap threads turned out.
Dissolvable fabric looks like plastic and is sometimes called wash away stabiliser or a water soluble stabiliser. This material is designed to dissolve when wet and is used to make a non woven material. Some brand names are Dissolve, Solvy, Aqua Film, Rinseaway. If you google water soluble stabiliser you find it. They all work in a similar manner but check the directions before you start.
In this example I am using the wash away hospital bags as water soluble stabilizer. I was given a batch a few years ago and I am still using them up!
With all these products the principal is the same. You stitch on the product then wash it away and are left with only the thread you stitched. Some really lovely work is created using this technique. one technique is to make little samples and join them together. With this technique you can not only use up your orts but you can use wool scraps, textured yarns, silk ribbon ends and tiny scraps of fabric.
Take a piece of dissolvable fabric and lay the threads out as evenly as possible. Look for interesting combinations of colour and texture as you go.
Place the other piece of dissolvable fabric on top so that you have a sandwich with the threads in the middle. Pin it well.
I sew around the edge to create a pocket. This stopped bits falling out of the sandwich as you work!
Drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine as you do for freehand machine embroidery. Freehand machine stitch over the top of the dissolvable fabric in a freeform net like pattern. Make sure the stitching loops and cross es over itself many times so it produces a freeform net that is quite close as this stitching will be what holds your fabric together once the dissolvable fabric is washed away. This stitching will trap the threads. I used different coloured thread and added some metallic threads.
Wash well under cold water and the dissolvable fabric will disappear, leaving just your sewn threads. Iron this dry under baking paper. If it is a little stiff you have not washed out all the dissolvable fabric. Wash it again.
I could make a scarf from this. The photograph does not quite do it justice as there is metallic threads and silk ribbon scraps in it. It has far more life in it.
I think I will treat it like a fabric and feature small pieces of it in works that can be beaded and embroidered.
Anyway that is what I did with my Orts. I now have an empty jar ready and waiting for next year!
Have you seen my book?
My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results shares practical methods about how to design and make a crazy quilt. I teach you how to balance colour, texture and pattern, in order direct the viewers eye around a crazy quilted project. I show you how to build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways using a handful of stitches. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be both practical and inspiring.