Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fiber Curtains, The Beginning...

Today I will begin the saga of the "Fun Little Project" that ended up causing a BIG problem last weekend. Those who know me locally or who have read my blog for awhile are familiar with my fiber shawls constructed on the long-arm using water-soluble stabilizer and lots of ribbons, yarns, silk fibers, and Angelina. Here is one that I made for my daughter-in-law, Emily.

And here is the first one I made for myself.

The inspiration for this method of "sewing" fiber garments came from an episode of
Simply Quilts featuring Marilyn Badger (instructions still available on the web.) She was making ponchos with this method. I had no desire to make a poncho, but I had a March wedding coming up on a cold weekend, and needed something dressy but warm. I just adapted Marilyn's methods to make a big shawl. I bought my Tussah Silk tops from Myrna Ficken's web site, A Quilters Choice.

I even wrote a three-part tutorial on how to make these shawls on the long-arm.

Now, you would think that someone who had a wonderful web resource like the Simply Quilts episode, and who had even written their own (provide favorite expletive) tutorial on the process, might actually refer to these instructions before attempting this project again. Ha Ha Ha! Big Mistake.

I decided to make a pretty curtain for my sewing room. The room is painted in peach and marbled with a yellow glaze, so it has a sunny, happy glow.

There is only one small window from this third floor room, but it overlooks a big hemlock and a woodsy back yard. I did not want to cover up this view with a big curtain.

So, I gathered up my yummy supplies of hand-dyed silk ribbons, Tussah silk tops, yarns, and Angelina in colors that I thought would be pretty in my sewing room if I made a lacy fiber valance.

Since this project would be only about fourteen inches wide, I brilliantly decided to just use the actual width of my Sulky Solvy and pin it to the long arm. Just one layer. Quick, quick.

This time I decided I would like some silk ribbons to form a vertical pattern, so I machine-basted them down to the water-soluble stabilizer with water-soluble thread (Vanish Extra).

Once that was accomplished, I started adding silk tops. These come in long, hand-dyed ropes in gradients of colors when you purchase them from Myrna. You just pull off a hunk and start fluffing it apart. Here is the project with the silk tops added. Beautiful!

Then, I started adding some more ribbons and fluffy yarns horizontally to build up this lacy fabric. Those are my actual canvas leaders on the long-arm just above and below the pretty stuff.

Can anyone guess the problem that occurred when I started stitching?

But not yet. I added in some Angelina in several shades of white, pink, yellow, and green. Oh, this is so pretty!

I did not take a picture of my last step, which is covering the whole works with another piece of Sulky Solvy Water-Soluble stabilizer. That is pinned down on top of everything. Then, I started basting across the top of this sandwich with the water-soluble thread to hold everything in place until I started stitching a grid with real thread.
I did one pass across the top, and when I got six inches from the end of the row, the Sulky stabilizer on the bottom tore away from the leader, exposing the ribbons and fibers to the sewing machine needle. In just seconds, there were ribbons and yarns wrapped all around the hook assembly of my poor Gammill. This jammed the motor, which started making loud, scary, groaning noises.
So, I stood practically on my head to access this bobbin area, yanking and pulling on threads and ribbons to unwind the big mess they made in there. When I had removed all I could, I tried to turn the flywheel on the machine, but it would not move. Still jammed.
The worst part is that this had happened when I made the first shawl, except that I was able to clear that problem away myself. This time, DH had to come to the rescue, remove the hook assembly, take it apart, put it back together, and re-set the timing of the machine. Yikes!
When I made the the second shawl, I made sure to put a double layer of Solvy on the bottom and leave a wide area at the top and bottom before adding the fibers.
So, now, I have removed the pretty fiber sandwich from the machine, and will be packaging it much more intelligently next time.
Meantime, I am preparing some quilt kits for my quilt bee's Charity Sew-In Day tomorrow, and must finish those. I have only had the fabric to make these quilts since July! Should be a fun day tomorrow.


Quilts and Cats said...

OMG...You must have the patience of a saint!! How awful to have to pick out all those threads, etc. It was looking so beautiful. Are you going to do a "do over"?

Robin Olsen said...

Beautiful scarf! I love all the textures and color.

Tuesday said...

OMG...You must have the patience of a saint!! How awful to have to pick out all those threads, etc. It was looking so beautiful. Are you going to do a "do over"?