Friday, September 24, 2010

Fun in the Sun

This is Tashi, just one of my helpers this week behind a pile of packaged silk, wool and slushies. Some have gone to Dale at The Thread Studio, the other with Rae to the textile show in Geelong.
Tashi was very proud of her tower. Or, The Great Wall of Tashi!
I will be in Queensland for a week with the girls so I thought I'd leave you with the 'destruction's'
for sewing a silk fibre scarf. This is best done with silk- not wool as the wool eventually pills.


Lay one 1.5 metre piece of baking paper on a flat surface, padded with towels to protect your work surface. Then, holding the silk in one hand, gently tease away a tuft of fibres using your other hand. You will need to be holding the silk about 20cms from the end in order to allow the fibres to pull free from the silk. The larger the amount you ‘grab’ from the end of the silk, the thicker the tuft will be. (This will affect the final thickness of your scarf so if you want a delicate scarf, only tease away fine tufts from the silk.) Begin to lay the fibres on the paper in a random fashion interspersed with torn strips and pieces of the velvet and other fabrics. You can make your scarf as wide and long as you like. Mine is about 15cm wide and 130cm long.

When you are satisfied with how the fibres and fabrics appear- spray with Fabulon, or spray starch (Crisp) taking care not to disturb placement of the fibres. Cover with another piece of baking paper and iron carefully until fully dry and the fibres have adhered to each other. If some are loose—you can respray.

Carefully remove the silk scarf from the baking paper and centre it on the soluble(it dissolves in water and leaves just the fabric, fibre and stitching, for example -Romeo from The Thread Studio). Pin to secure and place the centre of the scarf in an embroidery hoop, taking care not to displace the fibres. Fill four bobbins with the machine embroidery thread supplied. Fit a darning foot to sewing machine, loosen the top tension by one (or a little) and drop or cover the feed dogs. (Check your machine manual if you have not done this before.) My machine’s top tension is usually on four, so I reduce the tension to three. Machine embroidery thread is not as strong as cotton or polyester so is prone to breakage. It helps to have a needle with a large eye; I recommend Topstitching needles or a jeans needle.

Set your stitch width and stitch length to zero. Bring up the bobbin thread before you begin stitching and hold it and the top thread away from your stitching.

Using the machine needle as a pencil, move the hoop with your hands making circle or spiral patterns. It helps if you practise drawing these with a pencil first. Start off slow and smooth. Use a medium to fast speed of stitching and move the hoop slowly and smoothly. If you have not done this before it can take a little practice. Try using some scrap fabric in a hoop first.

If you wish, you can use automatic stitches to stitch your scarf or interconnecting lines if you are unsure of free machine embroidery.

Machine stitch the length of the scarf, moving the hoop along as you move along the scarf, interconnecting the spirals or circles for added strength. At each end of the scarf you can extend the spirals further and overstitch the spirals or circles to make a lace edge. Each spiral needs to interconnect with another and be overstitched 4 times at least so when the 'Romeo' Fabric dissolves away, the stitching will not fall apart.

When you have finished stitching the scarf, take it out of the hoop and check for any areas not stitched, re hoop and fill in. Cut away any ragged edges and place the whole scarf in a bucket of warm water for an hour. Rinse the scarf carefully ensuring all of the 'Romeo' has dissolved away. Gently iron the scarf when dry. Hand wash as needed.

Copyright –Jacinta Leishman The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.


  1. Oh, it is really Great Wall! :)
    Such wonderful and unusual scarf, Jacinta!
    I have never heard about such method and I want to try it!

  2. Those scarves are fun to make, but I must confess that I don't bother to hoop when I use Romeo. Hope the weather is not too awful for you in Qld. Cheers, Robin

  3. Hi! Jacinta,

    Love the "destructions" for the scarf, I'm going to try a small piece so I see how I go and dont use all my silk tops.
    Cheers Judy