Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced stitcher, you will, at some point, muse over just how to get that “perfect pattern” transferred onto the “perfect fabric” to embroider it. Transferring embroidery patterns is probably my least favorite part of the embroidery process, but a water-soluble stabilizer like Solvy can make the process a lot easier.
I’m not quite convinced that Solvy is the absolute answer for embroidery transfer, but it definitely has its uses. To experiment a bit, I decided to try it with cotton velveteen and see how the process worked.
You can find the first steps in the process of using Solvy here.
After I finished stitching the piece, I took it out of the hoop and cut away the excess Solvy. This happens to be “Ultra-Solvy,” which is extra-thick – in retrospect, I should have used regular Solvy. Here’s the trim job:
After trimming it, I plunged the whole thing into a bowl of lukewarm water and let it sit for just a few minutes:
As it soaked, I got a little nervous, since the black from the Sharpie permanent marker seemed to be clinging to the threads. The next time I do this, I won’t use such a heavy line! That’s what I get for rushing! The thread was darkened a bit by the ink, I think. It’s not super-noticeable to anyone but me, but still….
Once the work soaked for a while, I decided to use a mild soap, very lightly working it around the surface, even of the stitches. Normally, I wouldn’t do this, and I don’t recommend it, as the movement tends to separate the fibers of the thread. By the way, I stitched this using one strand of soie d’alger silk by Au Ver a Soie. After very lightly working the soap over the darkened areas (they were pretty noticeable before I did this), I rinsed the whole work in running water:
And, lastly, I laid out the piece on a towel to dry:
You can see the “fuzziness” of the stitches – normally, it should NOT be this way, but this was due to lightly “scrubbing” over them with mild soap, using my fingers. Usually, I get a very smooth result with the soie d’alger, which I find perfect for satin stitching (see here for an example).
Overall, I was pleased with the experiment, and I learned a lot about using a water soluble stabilizer for transferring an embroidery pattern. Some definite do nots:
- Don’t use ultra solvy – use regular.
- Don’t use a heavy line permanent marker, like a regular Sharpie. Use a fine-lined pen, like the macro pens found in the art section of a hobby store.
- Don’t scrub over your stitches, even gently, with your fingers and soap – in fact, this is more or less a hard & fast rule when cleaning anything you’ve embroidered. Only in the most extreme cases of necessity (say, you spilled something directly on the threads and it’s a toss-up between light scrubbing and scrapping the whole work) should you “scrub” the threads.
Will I use Solvy again?? YOU BET!
If you have any tips on how you use Solvy or on how you transfer your designs for embroidery, let the rest of us know!! Thanks!