Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What to do with those little scraps of yarn? Fiber fusion tutorial

I collect yarn because it’s beautiful, or unusual, or because I know it will work for a particular project. But what happens after you’ve made something and you have little pieces of yarn left over? I hate to throw anything away and so needed to come up with a creative way to use those nummy little bits of yarn.

I’m also an art quilter and a mixed media artist, so worked out a way use those little scraps to make free-motion felt.

Before we get to the tutorial, just a gentle reminder - this is an original tutorial, designed and written by myself. It's copyright and may not be copied or transferred without my direct permission.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way - let's get to the fun stuff!

I usually start with a piece of fabric that has heavyweight interfacing fused to the back. You can also use a heavyweight water-soluble stabilizer as well, if you want a lacier finished project. I’ve used a 100% cotton batik print for this project:
I’ve selected a blend of yarns and have pulled them apart to show the detail a little better:

There’s mohair, metallic yarns and a couple different types of novelty yarn in here. The next step is to spread them over the fabric until you like the arrangement. You can also add scraps of fabric, plastic, silk or roving - be creative! As long as it can go through a sewing machine and can be washed - you can use it.

Like how it looks? Good! We now have to pin a lightweight water-soluble stablizer to the top of the fabric/yarn sandwich:

It’s better to use too many pins than too few and have yarn falling out!

Before you begin, drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine and switch to a free-motion foot (if you have one)

I usually use a thread that matches the fabric in the bobbin and a contrast thread for the top. Play around with different colors and see how it changes the look of the piece.

Start stitching in loose circles or squiggles, we’re not trying to be really accurate, just to make sure the yarn is securely attached to the fabric. Pull out the pins as you work across the fabric, it can trash your machine if you sew over a pin! After you’ve covered the fabric uniformly, try using a different color thread. I’ve used three different threads for the sample project, and have used many more depending on the effect I want. You can see how densely the fabric has been covered by stitches, it’s very important to do this, otherwise the yarn will just pull away from the fabric!

The next step is to wash out the water-soluble stabilizer using warm water (it’s not neccessary to use soap) Make sure the stabilizer is completely washed out. Place the fabric face down on a towel and use an iron, set to an appropriate temperature for your yarn & fabric, to dry & flatten the fabric:

Now it's time to embellish! I used a fine ribbon yarn in my bobbin to stitch the large flower, and silk sari yarn for the smaller flowers. The largest flower also has a metallic yarn in the middle of the petals. I couched the sari yarn using a zig-zag stitch:

I’m planning on using this piece on an art quilt, but you can use this same technique for clothes, jewelry, accessories… or anything you want! The sky is the limit for this technique, as long as it can go through a sewing machine and warm water, you can use it.

Here's the finished piece:

tutorial & all images are copyright C Findlay-Harder


  1. Nice tutorial, easy to follow. I have a large stash of yarns, and may need to give this a try. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Thanks Chris - I'm glad you liked the tutorial :-)

  3. How peculiar, what a great idea, I have so many scraps and stuff in a big box, I'm going to try this sometime :-)

  4. How clever ... and pretty ... and you make it sound so easy. Thank you!