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Working with Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy (or any soluble stabiliser!)

Soluble stabiliser is great for a number of crafty things but did you know you can use it to print your embroidery pattern

on to, skipping the need to trace designs before stitching? You stick it to your fabric, embroider over it and then soak it away leaving no sign! Magic 🪄


This is the only way I have ever successfully stitched a design on to blank, black fabric. Unless it comes ready-printed in a kit, getting an embroidery pattern on to dark fabric is suuuuch a faff. Same applies for fabric that is too thick to trace onto (hello, denim jackets).


It's also great for stabilising fabrics like t-shirts, silk, or anything that needs some reinforcement before you stitch on it. Stitching on t-shirts is fun as hell, but they are demanding little numbers that need to be stabilised before you start. This is the perfect solution!

My fave brand of soluble stabiliser is Sulky Fabri-Solvy, as you can buy it in printable A4 sheets (do check first - not all types are A4 or able to go through a printer) so it's THE easiest way to get straight to stitching - other than buying an embroidery kit that has the design printed on the fabric (like mine 😇).


DMC offer a version called Magic Paper but I haven't tried that yet.


Before we start here are a few tips and things to check:


Make sure your embroidery floss is colourfast so it doesn’t run when you soak your fabric at the end. DMC threads are colourfast, but I've worked with cheaper floss that has ruined my work by running 💔


If you think your fabric might shrink (eg wool blends), wash it before starting so you’re not left with saggy stitches at the end. Not gonna lie, I don’t usually bother and have never had a problem… but just a warning!


OK let's go!


Print your design on to the Fabri-Solvy paper. Make sure you pop it in your printer the right way up - you want to print on the side that feels fuzzy. You can use an inkjet or laser jet printer, a photocopier or you can draw straight on it with a pen - just check the ink isn't going run if you go manual and use a pen.


I would also make sure your lines are thick enough to see, but print in draft mode to stop any possibility of printer ink bleeding. It's never happened to me but you never know!

Cut it to size - don't use your fabric or embroidery scissors, you might blunt 'em. Any normal scissors will do.

Peel off the backing and stick to your fabric. I like to do this once my fabric is in the hoop to make sure my fabric is taut - otherwise your stitches may be slack when you've finished.

Before you start stitching, do a long running stitch around your piece (going through the stabiliser and fabric) before starting, especially if it’s a bigger project. Fabri-Solvy is sticky but it isn’t going to hold like super glue so tack it down with some stitches to stop movement mid-project.


Stitch your piece as normal - pretend the Fabri-Solvy isn't there and work as you normally would. If you want to check how colours are looking and find it hard to tell on the Fabri-Solvy, peek at the back (#hoopbutt).


TIP: If your needle is getting sticky, a baby wipe will fix it! Or a little bit of water, but then it might rust apparently - I’ve never had that problem though. Experts say to use rubbing alcohol, but I never have any 🤷🏻‍♀️


Once you've finished your embroidery piece, snip off that running stitch from the edge.


Now it's time to rinse, and this is where I tell you to ignore the packet instructions. The instructions say:


"Carefully cut away the excess Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Remove any that remains by submerging and agitating the project in water for 2-3 minutes".


Lies!


Firstly, I never usually cut away any excess unless it is easily accessible for fear of snipping my stitches. More importantly, 2-3 minutes is not long enough! I usually submerge my project (without agitating, again I don't wanna annoy my threads!) for AT LEAST 15 minutes. When I have soaked it for less time, I never get all of the Fabri-Solvy off, it still feels sticky and my threads have dried hard. So soak for much longer! Trust me.


Once it has all soaked away, give your project a really good rinse in lukewarm water and then gently roll your project in a clean, dry towel to remove as much as excess water as you can without squeezing it too hard.


Air dry your project flat on a towel or drier. They dry up pretty quickly! If it dries with any stiffness remaining, repeat the soaking, rinsing and drying steps.


Once dry, frame it and display it as you choose. If you think it needs an iron, do so carefully, using a cool-ish temperature - lay your piece face down on a thick towel so you don't flatten the stitching, and iron gently on the back.




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