Tutorial: Making Fabric Using Water Soluble Stabilizer

Posted by Linda Matthews on September 21, 2011

Don’t you just love getting creative with new and fun products and techniques?

Even though this product isn’t new, water soluble stabilizer is one of my very favorite products and I use it in various ways to create different types of thread and fiber effects.

Soft edges…

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Lace windows …

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Tassels …

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

This is one of those products that produce seemingly magical results with very little effort.

Water soluble stabilizer comes in two types – hot and cold but cold water soluble stabilizer is by far the easiest to work with and my personal favorite.

And cold water soluble stabilizer also comes in two types – clear or see-through (looks like a piece of plastic) such as Sulky Solvy, or fibrous (looks like a fabric mesh) such as Floriani Wet’n’Gone and Sulky Fabri-Solvy.

Generally with the thin type of clear water soluble stabilizer such as Standard Sulky Solvy, you would need to use an embroidery hoop to stop the stabilizer from distorting as you stitch. However with the fabric type as well as the very thick Sulky Super Solvy (clear type), you don’t need to use a hoop. The stabilizer is thick enough to support a heavy load of stitching.

My personal favorite water soluble stabilizer is Floriani Wet’n'Gone which is a fabric type. The fabric type stabilizers tend to be a little more supportive of a heavy stitch load and you generally need only one layer to work with. Plus I’ve found that this type also washes away more easily than the clear type.

This is an easy tutorial to get you started using water soluble stabilizer.

This is a simple technique for making pieces of fabric using thread and decorative yarn. These fabric pieces can then be used as background pieces on art quilts or other projects, or focus pieces on wearable art and clothing. Or you could extend the width and length and turn it into a scarf!

Set up your machine for standard sewing with decorative thread in the top and the same thread in the bobbin, and use a zigzag stitch.

Tip: You could also use monofilament thread for effects where you don’t want the sewing thread to be visible and the yarn looks like it’s just floating in place. Very magical!

To begin, cut a piece of thick water soluble stabilizer approx 8” x 8”, or cut enough layers so that the stitching doesn’t distort things while you sew. You might have to do a test first to see how it holds up.

Using a marking pen, draw a 1” grid to be used as sewing guidelines. For this tutorial I’m using one layer of Sulky Super Solvy.

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Cut some lengths of decorative fiber or yarn 12” long.

Starting from the center and working your way out towards the edges of the stabilizer, position the lengths of yarn along the marked lines and allow the ends of the yarn to overhang by 2” at each end. This will turn into a fringe. Sew the yarn to the stabilizer using a zig-zag stitch.

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Continue working from the center out, adding strands of fiber until all the rows are sewn over. Take your time and enjoy the process.

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Now sew rows of straight stitch in between the rows of fiber to hold everything in place. This will also help to keep the shape.

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

The final step is to wash away the stabilizer and watch the magic happen.

It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s directions, but generally you only need hold it under some running water until the stabilizer washes away. This can take a little while when using this thick Solvy, so I generally run most of it away under a running tap, and then let it soak in a bowl of water for ten minutes or so and then rinse again. You may need to do this two or three times to totally remove the residue.

What you have left is a soft, lacy piece of cloth.

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Once you’ve got the basics mastered, you can experiment a little. Try adding other elements such as sheer fabrics, or angelina fiber, or even some free motion stitching using metallic threads.

Making Fabric Using Water Soluble Stabilizer

You could also go crazy and instead of a structured grid, just do the whole thing freehand. This is one of my favorite methods because you know how much I love to work intuitively.

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial

Isn’t that magical? I *love* working with this stuff.

In the meantime if you haven’t explored the amazing world of water soluble stabilizer, you’ll find some resources to get you started.

Categories: Fabric and Thread, Tutorials, Tutorials: Fabric and Thread
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  1. This is very good

  2. Hi Linda. Interestingly the last couple of days I’ve been working on a piece using water soluble too! It is amazing stuff!

  3. I often wonder why soluble doesn’t have a grid pattern marked into it somehow, if they did, that would be too brilliant.

    • I don’t expect there’s many requests for it, however as you can see, it’s very easy to add a grid yourself.

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