Silk Thread Upcycling!

Happy Day 2 of Cheryl’s Blog Challenge!  As promised, today we begin a series of posts on fun ideas for tree ornaments.

My studio is (mostly) pretty neat and I try very hard to not become a pack rat. [Art quilters everywhere will take a moment for uproarious laughter here.]   But…if you work with silk dupioni (and you should!), you will notice a pileup of gloriously colorful silk threads, merrily fraying all over your cutting mat. Resist the urge to throw these away.

Instead, pull out a small piece of heavy two-sided fusible (such as Peltex II) and fuse a scrap of silk to one side.  Of course, don’t forget your pressing sheet.

Turn it over and scatter a handful of those loose threads on the other exposed fusible side.  Keep going until you have completely covered the surface, then (with the pressing sheet to hold everything down) press down until the threads have fused into one beautiful tangle.

Now take your piece to the sewing machine, and thread your machine- top and bottom- with invisible thread (I like Superior Threads’ MonoPoly).  Set your stitch to a loose and very wide zigzag stitch, and stitch across the surface repeatedly in a random fashion (if your machine can do free-motion zig-zagging, go for it) until you’ve created an invisible web holding down the silk bits.

Note that if you are working with a piece that will remain very square or rectangular, you can also create an interesting effect by stitching a grid of straight stitches, using metallic thread, like this piece which used a base fabric and fewer threads:

Ok, back to our ornament.  Decide what finished shape you would like, preferably something fairly rounded, by using a cookie cutter as a template :). Trace the outline on the back with a pencil or ball point pen (not a felt tip unless you want some ink bleed) and cut out carefully.

Back to the sewing machine!  Choose a heavy glitter thread for your bobbin (I use Superior’s “Razzle Dazzle”) and a lighter weight metallic for the top.  (I keep a second bobbin holder for my Bernina that is always set at a lower tension for bobbin work.). Remember that you want the bobbin thread to show on the front, so make sure your ornament is upside down on your machine.  

Beginning at the top of your ornament- this is important! – leave a “tail,” zigzag around the edge, and leave yourself another tail at the end.  Carefully tie these ends right at the base of the ornament, and again 2-3 inches away from the point.  This excess glitter thread forms the loop through which an ornament hook can hang.

More tomorrow!


Published by neonkittyquilts

Laurie is a fiber artist who combines her passion for animals and quilting by producing pet portraits though a technique she calls "Pet-lique." A frequent teacher at IQF's Open Studios and The City Quilter in NYC, she has been published in Quilting Arts magazine and The Canadian Quilter. Her art quilts have been juried into special exhibits in Houston and the National Juried Show of the CQA. She sits on the board of the Quilt Alliance and is an enthusiastic member of SAQA. Laurie lives in NYC and Connecticut with her husband, their two angelic German Shepherds and three mischievous felines.

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