Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How to Make a Fiber Shawl- Part 3: Stitching and Finishing

Hello- I am back from my holiday travels to visit family members, and am ready to post the final part of my fiber shawl tutorial.

If you recall, in Part 2, the fibers were packaged between two layers of water soluble stabilizer, basted down with water-soluble thread. For those with long-arm quilting machines, the package is pinned to the leaders. For those with domestic sewing machines, it is pin-basted into a long plastic-looking creature ready to stitch.

All these fibers must have something to hold them together once the stabilizer is dissolved. The answer is a tight network or grid of thread. You must stitch about every quarter-inch both horizontally and vertically, and then free-motion over all of the grid. If you have channel lock on your long-arm, the straight-stitching is a monotonous but easy task. Don't forget to switch to your polyester thread! On this shawl, I used a copper Bottom Line on the top and medium brown in the bottom. You get a slightly different appearance on both sides of the shawl due to the change in thread color and also the placement of your Angelina and other fibers.

A new needle at least size 4.0 (18) is helpful to pierce all the layers. I even changed mine halfway through the project.

You don't have to measure or fret about the quarter-inch spacing. Just keep stitching! Listen out for the dreaded snap of your thread breaking, which happens occasionally.

In my case, I had to roll my project to complete the stitching, since my shawl's width was wider than the throat of my sewing machine.

When you finish your grid, it is a good time to see if you need to add any fiber to an area with a "hole" or bald spot. This is easily fixed by adding more fiber over the existing project, and then adding another piece of Water-Soluble Stabilizer over that. You will need to stitch your grid over this area as well.
This step can be done at any time if your shawl needs repair!

Once the grid is done, have fun with free-motion quilting to further strengthen your network of thread. In this case, I was pretty tired of straight lines, and decided to stitch swirls and spirals of different sizes. I also do lots of tiny circles and tight zigzags around the border, but I don't try for a straight edge. I like the organic look of a curvy edge.

Okay! Finally your stitching is complete! The thing looks like some giant scaly fish lying there. Well, take that fish to water so you can reveal what is lurking beneath the plastic-looking skin. Off the machine, and into the bathtub to soak in hot water! This part looks a little repulsive as the water-soluble stabilizer becomes gobs of goo in the water. You may also see some color discharged into the bath water. Not to worry.

After a good soak and rinse, you will carefully remove your shawl by wrapping in a towel. Then lay it out flat to dry on towels. (Beach towels work well!)

When it is dry, iron the project flat. I ironed mine between two layers of a silicone sheet. You don't want the Angelina to fuse itself to your iron or table!

If you left tails for a fringe when you laid out your yarns and fibers, trim them to the length you desire. Mine are about twenty inches- lovely and luxurious! You may need to add some additional yarns by sewing, knotting, or poking through with a small crochet hook.

That's it!

Now your shawl is complete, with all its sparkly fibers shining like jewels. You are ready to be an instant fashion success at events from weddings to symphony to cocktail parties! Total strangers will come up and stare, pet your shawl, and ask how you made it! Just say, "Oh, I made it on my sewing machine!"

Good luck and I hope you enjoy your fiber shawl project!


Ferret said...

Fantastic. I have made scarves before on the Longarm but nothing as lush as your shawls. Now I know why, I need silk and lost of it. Yum. Now I just have to be good and not start on it until I have done all the work I need to do....

Michelle said...

Really great tutorial, Jeanne, and these are SO beautiful!!!

Susan Italo said...

Stunning stunning, gorgeous gorgeous!! Your tutorial really spells out each step clearly, and the colors are just luscious and so inviting.
BTW-- did you have any trouble with your needle pushing the yarns down into your bobbin area? I have had that happen-- wondering if you've come up with a "fix"?

nanacosta said...

Thank you so much for a wonderfull tutorial!!! and to think that I spended about $40 on a book that did not explain it so well!!!! Now, I have to start my shawl!!!! Best regards from the beautifull rain forest: Costa Rica!!!