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!
Experimenting with different threads can be expensive, as you would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. So I have made up my thread twisties which are a combination of different threads to use in creative hand embroidery. These enable you to try out stitching with something other than stranded cotton. For the price of just a few skeins, you can experiment with a bundle of threads of luscious colours and many different textures.
These are creative embroiders threads. With them, I hope to encourage you to experiment. Each Twistie is a thread bundle containing silk, cotton, rayon and wool. Threads range from extra fine (the same thickness as 1 strand of embroidery floss) to chunky couchable textured yarns. All threads have a soft and manageable drape so that twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle. Many are hand dyed by me. All are threads I use. You may find a similar thread twist but no two are identical.
You will find my thread twisties in the Pintangle shop here.
Hi Sharon, my eldest granddaughter and I made some badges this way abou 3 years ago. We use bits of material as well as thread and wool, they turned out really great.
Yes it is a very useful technique
I have a pretty basic old machine. Unless anybody knows different, I don’t think I can drop the feed-dogs on it, or do I have to raise the foot?
The old machines don’t drop the dog feed but some models have a metal plate you can cover the dog feeds with. Google your model and check out your gadgets and stuff that came with the machine as you may be in luck.
You can cover the feed dogs with a piece of plastic . Works great
That is great to know Colleen
I use a piece of heavy plastic ( a sour cream lid ) and tape over the feed dogs. Some machines actually have a plastic cover to use.
Older machines have a cover for the feed dogs. It looks like a metal plate with little ‘legs’ on each corner to raise it above the feed dogs. If your machine doesn’t have one you may be able to find it on line. Judie
I have an enormous quantity of hand-spun, hand-dyed mohair yarn, all about 3 metres long. This could work for using up those, I think.
Willene yes they would work well – longer pieces are easier as you don’t have to machine stitch the surface quite so much for it to hold together
Love the fabric you created! I do not have access to shops at this time, could you suggest anything else I could use? Thanks kindly
Hi Elaine – no sorry I can’t suggest anything else – shop online – google is your friend in times likes these
Elaine, is it the Solvy you have a problem getting? You can make a successful and fun fabric from scraps using net. I use a firm piece of fabric and lay on small pieces of fabric, pieces of foil for bling (sweet wrappers!), Lots of threads. Cover with the net (I prefer black) and stitch like crazy.
What a GREAT idea! My mind is full of ways to use this “fabric”. Thank you for sharing this.
Hellow, I AM from Chile and I don’t understand The English. Igual regret your tutorials don’t hace translations.However, I Will try to getting materiales and make tour great projet. Thania and hugs from The end of The world
Marianela, did you make one? I am interested to see it! Shawn
Now I can use all the old thread that my sewing repair person says to throw away. I can just up cycle it to creating my own fabric. What fun.
This is a fabulous idea I can’t wait to try it out you have given me some great ideas in creating wonderful scarf patterns. Thank you.
That is beautiful. I have a jar full of snips and scraps of fabric…. now I know what to do with them
Can you tell me where I can get this hidrosoluble material?! I leave in Buenos Aires ,Argentina,
Lucia if you google some of the brand names listed in the article such as Dissolve, Solvy, Aqua Film, Rinseaway I am sure you will be able to find suppliers online that will post to you
Thank you !
Just found this through Pinterest and WOW. I’m a knitter, and have always lamented throwing away even little pieces of yarn, especially beautiful hand dyed. Now I have a reason to save all the scraps! This is so beautiful, and such a wonderful way to allow me to use EVERY inch of my skeins. 🙂
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I use this technique for making small pieces to add to my designs.Washing the stuff out is gross!!!!!I have a not very complementary name for the wash out material….think of dirty hankies!!But its fabulous for adding something different.
FYI if you dont wash all the fabric out it gives the finished piece more substance .. like starch!
Now this is COOL! Love it!
Wow! Great idea.
I don't think dissolvable fabric is available in my country,got to find out an online source.
Not sure where you are but if there are any sewing machine dealers selling embroidery machines they should have it. It is sold under some of these names for reference: Aquasolvy, Solvy, Aquamesh. It comes in a few types as well. Some of it looks like plastic wrap and some looks like paper towel and there are different thicknesses too. The material is made out of starch so it washes away.
Wow! The possibilities are endless! Thanks for the great idea.
How fun Sharon! I save my bits and pieces of thread and then cut them up real tiny. I sprinkle them in my garden in the spring for the birds to use in their nests. This is great idea too! Pam
This is so neat. My orts jar is full and I'm definitely going to try this. Thanks for posting! 🙂
Thanks for visiting my blog Sharon and for your lovely comment. I've been having fun experimenting with these blocks. I frequently review my notes from your CQ class from a few years back which are very helpful with design challenges.
Thank you Sharon for this tutorial.
Now I know what to do with "unusable" leftovers.
Want to try it too. Just have to find melt away material.
Wow, that is fantastic!!! A wonderful, artistic way to use up the ORTS.
Fabulous idea! Thank you for sharing these pics. My orts jar didn't get quite as full this year as I would have liked, but am looking forward to a full jar next year from TAST 🙂
I've used my Orts in fabric postcards and ATC's, beneath a layer of organza fabric, to add a lively background. It's fun.
Do you lay the organza fabric over the SOLVY water soluble sheets. I want to make organza scarfs.
Donna I dont use organza over it at all – its just solvey
This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing the how-to. I'm not sure what the 'hospital bags' are but I have a water soluable material I was going to experiment with. The colors and fibers in your piece are beautiful. I have so much to learn. I have been away from sewing for probably 30 years (until this past year) and I'm constantly amazed at all the new products available.
Now that is what I call re-cycling…great idea, thanks sharon