- Thread Tails
Creating fiber art from thread tails
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 wanted 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 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.
- Dissolve4x (16" wide roll)
- Super Bobs Cotton bobbins
- Razzle Dazzle
- Superior Topstitch Needles
- Glitter thread
- Superior Silk Ribbon
- MasterPiece thread tails (or any other fiber/yarn as the filler)
Thread not properly seated in the takeup lever
Example of eyelashes from uneven tension
I had never attempted a Fiber Art project and I was excited to try something new. I rolled out the Dissolve-4x 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.
Then I 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, used 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.
Once I had the grid stitched out the sandwich became flat as a pancake. I trimmed the excess Dissolve-4x from 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.)
Now 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 machines (on the headstock).
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.
I wanted a thick thread for the bridge, sound hole, and strings. 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.
Only 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.
I 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 created 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.