Quick Tip of the Week: Incredible Shrinking Threadcomments (12) April 3rd, 2008
My friend Gail started experimenting with this cool thread to embellish a sweatshirt jacket she was working on. She used it instead of traditional decorative thread to stitch across panels of her jacket. After she was done, she steamed it with her iron. The thread shrunk up, creating interesting texture similar to smocking. To experiment further, she asked me to create some circular embroidery designs that she could try as well. She embroidered simple circular designs on sweatshirt fleece and got an effect similar to trapunto after she steamed the embroidery.
I wanted to see how this shrinking thread would work if I embroidered it on other kinds of fabric. After gathering up different stabilizers and embroidery designs, I embroidered on all kinds of fabrics, from soft, shiny silk charmuse to polar fleece. I thought the light-weight fabrics would be perfect if I used a soft sheer stabilizer. However, the stabilizer seemed to be too much for the thread, and even though it shrank, it didn’t look as nice.
I was most pleased with the results I got using no stabilizer at all with wool crepe and a light, open quilting design. The wool can hold up to embroidery without using stabilizer, but go gently when you position it in the hoop so you don’t get hoop burn or make a hole.
I tested a lot of light-weight outline designs similar to the floral quilting embroidery I used here. Designs made of small circular shapes seemed to work better than the swish and swirl vine and leave patterns. Thread your machine and wind a bobbin with shrinking thread. Embroider the design as usual.
After the embroidery is complete remove from hoop and trim threads. I discovered that when you steam the thread, the excess fabric that is created as the thread shrinks is raised on the opposite side of the fabric that you have steamed. So, if you want to have a nice raised texture on the right side of your fabric, position embroidery on an ironing board, face down. Hold iron approximately 2 inches above the fabric and gently steam the back of the design. The thread will shrink, creating interesting puckers. Turn fabric over and stream the right side of the design for added dimension.
Try this technique for yourself!
Tip: Clearly label spool and bobbin. If you mistakenly used this thread for another project or garment construction, it would be tragic!
There are other brands of shrinking thread, but Incredible Shrinking Thread is available in more colors than other brands (black, white, ivory, beige and two shades of gray). You get this thread at Manchester Sewing Machine Center 800-44SEWIN or on-line at www.shoppersrule.com.