Free standing lace is a thread design that may be stitched over fabric, or may be stitched over wash away stabilizer. Wash away stabilizer (sometimes called 'vilene') is a fabric that sometimes looks and feels similar to plastic sandwich wrap. This fabric is placed in an embroidery hoop that is attached to the sewing machine. The machine creates stitches according to the design the seamstress selects. After the stitching is complete, the seamstress removes the fabric from the hoop, uses scissors to trim the excess stabilizer, and then rinses or soaks the design in water to finish the lace. An alternative to soaking in water, is to use a heat tool (which looks similar to a soldering iron) to burn the excess stabilizer. However, the heat tool should only be used with synthetic (rayon, polyester, etc) threads and fabrics, to prevent burning away your design.
Test stitching lace designs is recommended, since not every lacy looking embroidery has sufficient overlap of stitches to remain intact after washing away stabilizer. Look for the acronym 'FSL' in the notes of pre-purchased designs when evaluating which designs to try with wash away stabilizer. An internet site with a nice section of designs is www.suebox.com. Here are some samples created by assorted digitizers that our presenters shared:
Using two sheet of stabilizer, with grain lines perpendicular (rotate one sheet of stabilizer 90 degrees before hooping), can help produce results that minimize distortion due to movement of the stabilizer in the hoop. One member offered that medical supply laundry bags were a cost effective alternative to commercial wash away stabilizers.
If you elect not to rinse away the stabilizer, you can create a lasting three dimensional lace sculpture. These may be used as ornaments, bookmarks, purse/picture frame decorations. If the stabilizer was to be rinsed from the above baby shoe, it would become a free standing lace baby sock. You may dampen a completed design, and then allow it to dry over a pencil to create a bend in your lace once it is dried. Plastic canvass sheets that were meant for yarn cross stitch, can be handy drying racks for free standing lace.
Some free standing lace designs were created to include a mylar tissue paper applique; these designs have areas free of satin stitch, whose densely placed needle holes could tear the mylar. Mylar is similar to the material of metal birthday balloons; you may see this material offered to crafters as 'embroidery film'. This is a fun way to add the bling to your crafts that catches the attention of so many teens. If you are interested in using this type of material for clothing, look for Angelina, which can be dry cleaned and pressed. Angelina is available in threads, as well as sheets like mylar.
In addition to our creating a mylar design, as well as our choice of a butterfly, napkin, or snowflake ornament, we were treated to a demonstration of Embird embroidery editing and digitizing software.
We are grateful to our lovely volunteer presenters, Bev (left) and Dutch (right), as well as Princeton Chapter volunteers Rosemary, Lily, and Helen. We also thank our caterer, Chris, for serving a delicious hot lunch followed by blueberry shortcake; and the Pemberton Library staff for providing space for this event.