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Fiber Art with Dissolve™ Water Soluble Stabilizer "Making Guitars"

Posted: 19 October 2011 at 5:15 a.m.

A step-by-step guide on making Fiber Art using Dissolve 4-x™ Water Soluble Stabilizer

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer UkeleleFiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer All embellished and complete

I have wanted to make a Fiber Art project for some time and have been waiting for the right inspiration to hit.  I have also been wanting to make a Guitar wall hanging for years but couldn't figure out exactly what to do design wise.

When both ideas came into my mind at the same time, it was like a light bulb turning on.  I knew that tracing one of my regular size guitars as a template would be too big for my first real fiber art project so I turned to my Ukulele. Having the same shape as a standard acoustic guitar but on a smaller scale, I knew I could take the idea and turn it into a wall hanging.  I took a roll of Dissolve-4x and proceeded to gather up other needed materials.

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble StabilizerDissolve-4x (16" wide roll)
MasterPiece prewound bobbins
Razzle Dazzle
Superior Topstitch Needles
Glitter Hologram thread
Superior Silk Ribbon
MasterPiece thread tails (or use any other fiber/yarn as the filler).

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer Guitar

I had never before attempted to create a Fiber Art project and I was excited to try something new.  I rolled out the Dissolve-4x (see educational article on Dissolve) and placed the MasterPiece thread tail fibers on top of the Dissolve-4x sheet, creating the outline of the Ukulele.  These MasterPiece thread tails are remnants from our MasterPiece bobbin operation but any other thread or filler fiber would work also.

I then placed another sheet of Dissolve-4x on top of the fibers creating a Dissolve-4x sandwich with the thread fibers in the middle.  The top and bottom layers of Dissolve-4x will keep all the thread fibers in place while stitching.  I lifted up the top sheet of Dissolve-4x and took a damp paper towel and dabbed it onto the outer edges of the bottom sheet of Dissolve-4x.  This created a temporary adhesive because the Dissolve-4x becomes a little sticky and they will stick to each other, keeping the fibers from falling out of the sandwich.  It was time to sew! 

I set my machine to the zigzag stitch, put clear MonoPoly as the top thread, and inserted a #70/10 Superior Topstitch needle.  I used MasterPiece in the bobbin.  I set my top tension to 3.0 and sewed fairly fast without any breaks.  I sewed a tight grid pattern over the fibers.  The grid must be tight and close because the Dissolve-4x will not provide support after it dissolves away.  Having a tight grid ensures that the filler fibers and sewing threads will keep the project together.

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer Sewing

Once I had the grid stitched out and the sandwich became flat as a pancake, I trimmed the excess Dissolve-4x fromFiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer Trimming all sides.
This made it easier to add the embellishment stitching because it reduced the overall size of the project.
(Note: Keep the cut away Dissolve-4x as you will use it later.)

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer Tracing The UkuleleNow it was time for the fiber art to take shape. 
I placed my Ukulele on top of the trimmed piece and traced the shape of the body, neck, and head stock.
I used a blue pen to trace the shape because I was using mostly blue fiber. The ink will dissolve away with the Dissolve-4x.
After I had the outline penned, I drew in the guitar frets (the horizontal lines on the neck), the sound hole (circle in the middle of the body), bridge (rectangle piece below the sound hole), and the tuning pegs (on the headstock).

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer Outlining the UkuleleFiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer Silk Ribbon Frets

Now that all the details were drawn, it was time to get embellishing.  I started by outlining the shape of the Ukulele with a deep red Glitter Hologram thread color #130, using a Topstitch #90/14 needle with the top tension reduced to 1.0. I stitched around the design four times to add depth to the outline. 

I then cut 10 strips of Silk Ribbon (Black, 2mm size) about 2 1/2" long and placed them on top of the frets (horizontal lines on the neck).  To keep the ribbon in place, I took the excess dissolve that I trimmed and cut little rectangles 1/2' wide by 3" long.  I took these pieces and rubbed one side of them on top of the damp paper towel and laid it on top of the Silk Ribbon.  This created the temporary adhesive I needed to keep the ribbon in place until I could stitch on top of it.  After I had all the ribbon applied to the frets, I used MonoPoly and sewed a quick back-and-forth zigzag stitch on the ribbon to set it in place on top of the fiber sandwich.

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer Razzle Dazzle Sound HoleI wanted a thick thread for the Bridge, Sound Hole, and Strings and Razzle Dazzle color #262 was perfect for this effect.  Because I had already outlined the shape of the Ukulele with Glitter, I cut out the Ukelele shape to help with the next step.

Cutting out the final shape before stitching the Razzle Dazzle was advantageous because Razzle Dazzle is a bobbin thread and I needed to apply it by reverse stitching.  I wound Razzle Dazzle onto a bobbin, put MasterPiece in top and used a #80/12 Topstitch needle.  I turned the project upside down, noted where the sound hole and bridge would be located and started to stitch. I went around in a circle for the sound hole about 6 or 7 passes to make it nice and thick.  I repeated this for the bridge.

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer All embellished and completeOnly one more step! Time to add the strings.  Because this is a Ukulele, it only needed 4 strings.  I really liked the look of Razzle Dazzle around the sound hole and bridge so I thought it would be a nice look to use it for the strings.  For a bolder look, I took Razzle Dazzle color #251 and measured the length from Tuning Peg to Bridge and multiplied that length x 3.  I tied a knot at both ends and twisted the three strands together to make an extra thick thread.  I placed the Razzle Dazzle guitar strings on top of the sandwich and couched it in place with MonoPoly.

Fiber Art using Dissolve 4x Water Soluble Stabilizer All embellished and completeI prepared a bucket of hot water and let the thread guitar soak for about 30 minutes.  The water soluble stabilizer dissolved away and I was left with my Fiber Art Guitar. After air drying overnight, this was the final result.

I was surprised that I was able to create this piece because I could never color inside the lines of a coloring book as a child.  I think the difference was that I was making my own lines and didn't need to stay within any boundaries because this was an original project.  I love the fact that the strings don't line up exactly straight and that there are other imperfect aspects to this piece.  After all, it is a guitar made 100% from thread.

Todd Purcell. August 2011

Note: Todd loves music and plays multiple instruments.  He even plays some crazy quilt songs written by his parents, Bob and Heather Purcell. 
Click on the links to watch Todd and the Superior Band play two fun quilt songs.
Where Did I Hide My Stash
The Longarm Rap

Superior Threads Products used in this project

MasterPiece Thread

Dissolve-4x Water Soluble Stabilizer

Glitter Hologram Thread

Razzle Dazzle Thread

MonoPoly Thread

Superior Silk Ribbon

Superior Topstitch Needles

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  • 3. Superior Threads (20 December 2011 at 4 p.m.)

    We don't offer a class...yet. We can tell you it is one of the courses in the Superior University curriculum beginning in January. Todd has also written the instructions above.
  • 2. Lana (20 December 2011 at 3:23 p.m.)

    OMG...fiber art seems so far out there for me. How does one even begin to start to think in that direction! Are you in to giving a class? I sure would love to learn something new.
  • 1. Celeste (01 November 2011 at 9:30 p.m.)

    What a cool fiber art project! I read about it a few months ago on your blog and never forgot about it. Now that I have some gorgeous thread tails saved up in a big jar I'm going to make applique shapes out of them. Nice job Todd!

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