Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wash Away Thread Applique

This post is for Donna at Brynwood Needleworks,

who does absolutely bloody gorgeous needlework!

Check out her gallery albums when you have an hour

to spend on enjoying some wonderful eye candy.

I wanted to explain how I used

wash-away thread to get a smooth,

turned under edge for applique on

this little clutch that I made.

The first thing you do is trace your scallops or applique shape onto your fabric.

I was making two sides for this little purse so

I have two pieces of black fabric here but

if you only needed one applique design,

you could trace it onto a used dryer sheet,

which you would then place on the RIGHT side of your fabric

& stitch directly on the traced line

then you would discard the dryer sheet after

turning & dissolving the wash-away thread.

Be careful not to lick your wash-away thread

as you put it through your sewing machine's needle...

Yucky & it will dissolve!

Some people use it in their bobbin instead of on top.

Regular thread is used opposite the wash-away.

Sew along your traced line of the design.

Here I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance

because I had already cut my scallops

per instructions in the magazine article,

but if you were using the dryer sheet on the

RIGHT side of your applique fabric,

you would sew directly ON the traced outline.

Turn your pieces right side out.

To do this in the case of the dryer sheet method,

you would cut a small hole in it &

turn your applique right side out & smooth all the edges first,

clipping curves where necessary.

I turned my two black fabric pieces right side out & used a blunt

tip to poke out the points & get the edges smooth.
Press well with a hot, DRY iron!!

Do not use steam until you are happy with your shape

of the applique edges.

After that, you can saturate with starch & steam the heck out of it

to dissolve the wash-away thread!

Don't scooch your iron...you don't want to distort those nicely

pressed seams.

Here you can see how I just pulled apart the two pieces after

dissolving the wash-away thread with steam,

leaving nicely turned under edges.

It will just pop open because you no long have any bobbin thread.

Each piece of the black was then topstitched onto the pale pink fabric

by machine,
in this case,

but you could do it by hand if you were working on

a special applique quilt block.

Here are the two completed sides of the purse, with the black sewn in place.

I didn't get great points, as this was my first time trying this method,

but it didn't really matter, since I was going to do hand embroidery on top of them anyway.

If you'd like to try making this little purse,

it is in issue #58 of Inspirations magazine.

They did not use the wash-away thread method

but the embroidery design & purse instructions are in there.

Issue #58 is still available from Country Bumpkin Magazine HERE.

I hope this helped someone understand the wash-away method of applique.

Be sure to remove your bobbin of wash-away thread

& store it, as well as the entire spool

in a plastic bag to keep it dry.

Excess humidity will make it sticky.

I'm back to cooking tomatoes again today.

I'd rather be sewing!!!



  1. That purse is so pretty!

    This is exactly the kind of step by step that I need to give me the courage to do something besides sew a straight seam.

    Especially when the above mentioned seams aren't always even straight.

    VERY cool to me about wash away thread!

  2. That is a beautiful bag. I used to have time to make things but I don't anymore. When I see things like this it makes me want to try to sew again. I love the touch of pink with roses. So feminine.

  3. Rett,

    That purse is beautiful and your embroidery is exquisite.

    I have the pleasure of knowing Donna and her work is as lovely as she is. We go to the same stores in Sarasota and she always has something gorgeous she is working on. Small world.


  4. OH, RETT!!!
    You did this for me? You are such a sweetheart! I can't tell you how much your effort of posting this tutorial means to me.

    The little purse is beautiful, and your technique is simple and easy to understand. You know I'm going to have to try it! I love your work, girlfriend...and your generous spirit.
    Thanks a million!

  5. Dearest Rett, Thank you so much for posting this wonderful tutorial! I found you through Donna at Brynwood Needleworks. I'm so happy that I did!! I am a follower now and looking forward to keeping up with you!
    Thanks again for this great tutorial. I love your bag!

  6. So glad your shared this technique! I have used it when making scallops for those little heirloom dresses we love! I do have friends who have forgotten to switch back to normal thread after using the wash away, only to discover too late when their whole project falls apart! That is always the most difficult aspect for me, too. I become so engrossed with the stitching and project finishing!

  7. Rett, this is one of my favorite projects that you've done besides that pretty Coco dress. I used this technique when I made Elisabeth's Christmas capelet. Aren't you proud of me that I remembered how you told me to do it?? It was fun to do!

  8. Absolutely beautiful, Rett!!! I LOVE the bullions - they are gorgeous!

  9. This is amazing, Rett, and the purse is beautiful!


  10. Rett,
    Beautiful bag! I have not tried the wash away thread. I will pick some up this week and try it! I love to try new things. Your applique is exquisite too!

  11. Wow...I'm just amazed you made this darling bag. For those of us who don't sew, this just hardly seems possible. I love it, you did a beautiful job!

  12. That is beautiful!
    But I am afraid you need to come here and do a hands on lesson with me! Come, we can shop after we sew! :)

  13. Thanks so much, Rett, for highlighting this technique. If only everyone knew how easy it could be to get such perfect curves and points. Your purse is gorgeous and your bullions perfectly beautiful as always.

  14. Gosh Rett~ That purse is a work of art! If only I knew what you were talking about.
    I love to learn new things, and this one is new to me. but the finished product is gorgeous... like everything you sew!

  15. I've never heard of this thread - great tip.
    The bag is so sweet - it would be special with a little black dress.

  16. You keep on producing these amazing projects. Wish I had a fraction of your ambition and talent. This is a beautiful little purse. Love the color combination and those sweet roses your embroidered.
    Love the new header. Your talents in the kitchen are also totally amazing! ~ Sarah


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