A ‘Birds Eye View’ – New stabiliser

Since my solo exhibition ended in late October I have spent the last few months thinking about what my next series of work will be based on and and the approach I may take in creating it.

I am an associate member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art (SGFA) and this is the piece I hope to enter this year. The closing date of the 3rd of March is coming up very quickly but I have really enjoyed such a different background challenge and hope I am successful in having it shown at The Mall gallery in London later this year.

I have been playing with the idea of a ‘birds eye view’ and stitching scenes of London as a backdrop to birds in flight. I spent a few weeks looking for a suitable aerial image over St Pauls In London to base a piece on. This stunning image taken by Nick Sidle is the one I have selected and Nick was kind enough to give me permission to base a piece his photograph.

This piece will need to be framed to meet the criteria for the exhibition. Looking to the future I am hoping to start entering SAQA Studio Art Quilt Association challenges more often and need to consider making work which is not framed and behind glass for transportation and meeting Quilting art criteria set. With this in mind a new stabiliser/adhesive will be required.

BondaWeb has been used in all my pieces to date, its become a habit to use it and I had not considered other options available. I use Bondaweb to fix the backing fabric to the firm Matilda bag wadding I use.

The advantage has been the adhesive and fabric remain firm and in place, reducing puckering in areas of heavy stitching such as text. When I iron the outline pen marks away the creasing is minimised within the tiny areas of the letters and between the words.

The disadvantage is that when the piece is rolled or gently folded to transport or whilst stitching there can be a cracking effect which can remain in the fabric after ironing and distract from the final finish.

De at Midsomer Quilting is my ‘go to’ expert when I need advice. Being self taught is great as you don’t know there are rules but the downside is lack of knowledge of the options out there to help with a problem! De suggested using Solufix, a self adhesive stabiliser that would dissolve in cold water. I have been experimenting with this stabiliser over the past two weeks and my progress to date is shown below.

SOLUFIX

Product information from the website

Application areas

For all kinds of machine embroidery, new creative techniges and as an ideal sewing aid for mini-quilts. Suitable for all fabrics and textile materials that are washable and sewable; especially suitable for elastic fabrics.

Processing

1. Draw the desired motif on the rough side and remove the film.

2. Position the Solufix on the right side of the fabric and press it on.

3. For thin fabrics, you can also attach the Solufix to the reverse side of the fabric and embroider the motif with a close zigzag stitch.

4. Then wash out the Solufix.

Important: Do not iron or tear out!

Advantages

 • Soluble in cold water

• Self-adhesive

Above – test image drawn onto the Solufix, backing removed and stuck to the right side of the fabric. It’s easy to draw on and apply. I washed the fabric first to ensure no shrinkage when I came to wash the stabiliser away and then popped the fabric in a hoop and started stitching.

Once stitching was complete I washed the piece in cold water under the shower, some of the more tightly stitched areas were trickier to remove the stabiliser but came away when gently rubbed with a wet cloth.

Above – Testing thread colour for the final piece. I want the city scene to be very much a backdrop and not too dominant. The grey thread I used in the test was too dark so some quick test images gave me the answer.

Above – the whole scene drawn onto the Solufix and applied to the backing fabric. The iron removable pen was far easier to use on the stabiliser with its paper backing than the fabric. I used adhesive spray to fix the backing fabric to my firm wading, pinned around the edges and then applied the Solufix image.

Above – Over the last week I have been stitching the scene using free motion embroidery. This image shows the piece after the Solufix was removed. It took three washes under the shower to remove the final areas of stickiness. Once dry I ironed the initial pen details away ready to add more details which would be finished with smaller machine stitched details.

Below – final marking stage for areas to be hand stitched.

Conclusion – I have been very impressed with the Solufix and think it will be a great solution in the future giving me a firm base whilst stitching and no issues if the piece is rolled for transportation. Removal with cold water was time consuming but worth the effort.

Below – the pieced and painted Swallow ready to the stitched. I so enjoyed hand stitching the lapwing over lockdown I am considering doing the same with this swallow. The image below shows the back of the work.

I look forward to updating you on progress over the coming weeks.