Dissolving Fabric [Video]

Hello after a couple of weeks! Thanks for your patience as I’ve battled severe allergies. Finally, after discovering I was having 2 separate allergic reactions, I seem to have sorted out which medications to take.

If you’ve been following my Instagram posts, you’ll know I’ve been sharing photographs of my latest embroidery experiment. I’ve been stitching a face onto a thin, fussy fabric several people guessed was muslin. In fact, it’s water soluble fabric, meaning that the material dissolves when it gets wet! Nerve-wracking!

Before this project, I had never worked with this material before. It’s not a new invention, but is usually used with machine embroidery.
If you’re interested to see the dissolvable fabric used by a machine embroidery artist, you should check out Meredith Woolnough. Her work is incredible – my favorites are her pieces inspired by coral.

Here’s the thing with this project: Hand embroidery requires attention to tension. The fabric must be stretched in the hoop until it’s tight as a drum. Floss must be pulled through so that it is not loose, but also not so tight that it pulls the fabric. Knots, in particular, will only look right if all the tension is calibrated just so.

This water soluble fabric I’ve been working with was not built for tension. It tore easily when I tried to adjust it in the hoop. Stitching through it was challenging, as my usual stitch tension also tore through the fabric. I had to build layers upon layers of stitches to get it to look right.

It was pretty stressful for an experiment, especially when I was wondering the whole time if this thing is even going to stay together when it gets wet! But I’ve kept my eye on the prize (and all of the possibilities!) and finished my first hand embroidery project on this horrible, wonderful fabric.

So here we are! The stitching is done and it’s time to see if this experiment works, or if I will unravel along with all of my threads:

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