The Last Word: Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Today I finished the embroidery on the first of the Vintage Tin blocks. There was a lot of stitching to do on this one, and it has taken me quite a while. If you'll recall, I was trying out a new-to-me product called Sticky Fabri-Solvy.

In short, this is a product that makes it possible to transfer embroidery designs onto fabric without tracing with a lightbox and marker. Those of you who do embroidery know what a pain in the neck that whole process is, especially when you have a design like this one with lots of little details. You can read my original blog post about how this works right here. Today it was time to remove the product from my completed stitchery.

Here it is freshly unhooped.

You can see here that the corners of the product peel up from repeated handling. This is a very minor disadvantage, and it's important to be sure that the design continues to lay flat in your hoop. You can easily stick it back down to the fabric, but I noticed that mine didn't just peel up. At times it tried to wrinkle up, and after handling it for weeks, I needed to keep smoothing it out against the fabric. This is not a reason to avoid using the product, just something to pay attention to as you work.

Uncharacteristically, I actually read the instructions for removing it.

Ah, cut away the excess. I wouldn't have done that if I hadn't read the instructions. It's a good idea, as you will see in a moment.  

I was a little nervous about cutting so close to the fabric and the stitching, so I used my applique scissors. Yes, I am holding them wrong in this picture. You see, my camera has a right-handed shutter. And I am right-handed. And my scissors are right-handed scissors. Try juggling all of that for a demonstration shot, especially if you are as dorky using your non-dominant hand as I am. Now, pretend that I'm holding the scissors the right way. Thank you.

It's very easy to cut away. I found that I didn't even need to open and close the scissors. I just put the blade against the Sticky Fabri-Solvy and then slid it across like a knife. It slid through like butter.

Knowing what I know now, I would probably go the extra step and try to cut away the bit above and below the word "motorcycles".  

So with that finished, I was ready to dunk. I used my largest stainless steel salad bowl and warm (but not hot) water. Dunk. Swish. Rub.

The water got slimy and my hands and fabric felt slick. Here's the reason for cutting away the excess. As it dissolves, it fouls the water pretty seriously. And I'm just about to tell you why I think it makes sense to dump this out and do it again a couple of times before even thinking you are finished.

After that, I spread it out on a towel and smoothed it as much as I could.  I noticed that my hands felt sticky after doing this.

The instructions say it's fine to put the piece in the dryer to dry (use your best judgment about whether that's okay for your piece). I was feeling impatient, and so that's what I did.

I was feeling pretty smug about how well this was all working until I started to take pictures of it and was horrified to notice some dark smudges in certain areas.

I'm hoping you'll be able to see this.  It's much easier to see in person.

It was a little horrifying to notice this because as I was investigating the product, the one negative comment I saw about it referred to this very thing.  Here is Chris's comment from Dogwood Lane Rambles:

. . .I ran into a problem after finishing my embroidered piece. After rinsing the stabilizer off the fabric and it was dry there was a shadow around the entire embroidery design. I did contact [the merchant]. The gal was terrific.....asked if I would send the piece to her . . . she sent it on to the manufacturer of Sticky Fabric Solvy. The conclusion was that the type of printer and ink left the shadow and there was nothing that could be done about it. . . 

Reading this comment ahead of time, I determined for sure and certain that my own printer was an ink jet printer by asking the resident expert on such things. It is. Nevertheless, I wondered if these dark smudges were the same that Chris had complained of. Then I remembered my sticky hands as I smoothed it out and wondered if I simply hadn't rinsed it all out. I dunked, swished, and smoothed again. It still felt slick in the areas where the heaviest stitching was.  And you can see that the water was still cloudy.

Once I was certain I had it all rinsed away, I spread it out on a towel again. The sticky feeling on my hands was gone.  After smoothing it on a towel and soaking up as much moisture as possible, I put the piece in the dryer again and then ironed it. (Incidentally, I was ironing it on the wrong side. I didn't want to risk melting the product into my fabric with a hot iron. Ironing it on the right side made it feel tacky, but I had no problems from the wrong side.)

After the second rinsing, the smudges disappeared, and so I'm prepared to say that, in my case, they were caused by not rinsing it out completely.  

And with that, I'm prepared to say that I give Sticky Fabri-Solvy my two thumbs up of approval.  Definitely give this product a try if you love doing hand embroidery. I think this could also be used for quilting. 

As an aside, I want to make a few more observations about this particular embroidery piece. For one thing, I noticed this little mark after I had rinsed the Sticky Fabri-Solvy the first time.

Hm. I had my piece backed with muslin, and so I peeled the fabric back from the muslin to see if it went through to the wrong side of the fabric. Also, I wanted to make sure there was nothing between the two. Nothing there, and it did indeed go all the way through.

If you read my original post, I commented that the embroidery design hadn't copied at the extreme edges of the sheet, and I filled in those spots with a Pigma Micron Marker. Here is the image from my original post:

I had an idea that I might have inadvertently touched the marker to the fabric during the process, and so I hit it with some Oxy-Clean. It definitely made the mark lighter, and in any case, I think this little bit will be trimmed away when I trim the block to size.

Also, you might recall that I whined about my floss being the same color as the printed design, and there were a few places where I missed some stitches.

No problem. I'll just go back and fill those places in. This wouldn't be a problem with a different color of floss. It's just unfortunate that the two are so close on this project. Too late to change my mind about it now. I'm thinking I might see if there is a way to print using a color other than black, but that will involve another consultation with the resident expert.

So that's the last word on this product. I'm very happy with it, and I will continue to use it. I encourage you to follow all instructions before using it, make sure you have the right kind of printer and ink, and be sure to get it all rinsed out. Although the instructions don't say to do this, I would suggest two or three changes of water before drying and ironing your finished piece. And I'm updating this post to say that I've taken to putting my finished pieces in a mesh bag and washing them on gentle cycle in my washer. I've done it dozens of time with no ill effect to either the washer, the plumbing, or the embroidered piece. It rinses the remainder of the product from the piece much better and easier than hand-washing. Just hang it to dry and iron it well. 

Later on this morning I'm picking up my friend Carla for a weekend of making doll quilts. If you don't hear from me, it'll be because we're having too much fun. Carla will be making her first quilt! Just think of me as a sort of quilt pusher...pushing perfectly good and sane women into a quilt-making addiction. Do you think Carla will be able to resist the evil pull of quilting? Will she become the next fabric addict you see with those before and after pictures?

Horrifying, no? With that in mind, check back here on Monday to see the exciting conclusion of Carla and Barbara's Doll Quilt Weekend Shenanigans.

I'll be linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.


Carol Swift said...

This was a great explanation and tutorial...thank you! I'll have to try this stuff.

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Loved your review! I think I'll give mine a try now. One question. Did you pre-wash your fabric?

I'll pray for Carla...;D

Chris said...

I had a very bad experience with this product. I had embroidered a snowman tablerunner using the product with white on white fabric. There was a shadow around the entire design that 4 rinsings could not budge. I finally called the company where I purchased the kit and the solvy and they asked me to send the finished piece to them. They sent it on to the manufacturer of the product and I was told by both that they had never had that problem. The piece was returned by the manufacturer and the store web store where I bought the kit and pattern replaced the fabric and thread so I would have enough to redo it. They did say that ink jet printers were more likely to have this happen. I'm just as happy to continue using my light box and tracing patterns as I've done for 50 years.

Barbara said...

From Cat Patches--Usually, I don't reply to comments directly on my blog, preferring to use email instead. I wanted to respond publicly to Chris's comment, and so this is what I said in my email to her:

Yes, yours was the comment I read and included in this post. The instructions say to use an ink jet printer, and so I certainly have no comment on why you had this experience. It has worked for me, and so I'm happy with it, but yours is definitely a cautionary tale. I included it in my post because I think folks should probably start with a small project or even a sample project and test out their particular printer first. Thanks for including your comment in my blog post. I think others need to know of your experience.

Teresa in Music City said...

Great review Barbara! I've heard both positives and negatives about this product, and I have to say I'm still a little nervous about using it. Of course, most of my stitcheries are not as dense and complicated as your motorcycles ;-)

Angie in SoCal said...

You are a first rate scientist, Barbara - very thorough explanation! Thanks for sharing.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

A well written review. I don't hoop when I stitch so I think the constant handling would create a problem for me with this product - as well as my printer tends to be finicky with certain products run thru it.

WoolenSails said...

I got some that doesn't stick but it dissolved really easily. What I didn't like what that it shifted and like you, I missed a few spots. It is a nice product though for dark fabrics. I usually use an erasable marker on light fabrics, not as fine a line, but works for me;)


Dogwood Lane Rambles said...

Thanks so much for this very detailed review, I think you've covered all the bases and now folks can decide with confidence whether or not to try this product. I'm still stitching away on my piece so I don't yet have a final opinion.
Patrica - dogwoodlanerambles.blogspot.com

Diane Wild said...

I'm almost done stitching my first piece with this product and glad you explained your experience with the rinsing process. I'm hoping it'll turn out okay because those little toy sewing machines I'm doing are very intricate. Thanks for your feedback.

Lyndsey said...

Thanks for your thoughts on the product. So far I'm pleased with it but still at the early stages of using it. I think it is important to use draft mode when printing the pattern onto the solvy so it is lighter than normal printing.

Brown Family said...

I saw the vintage tin pattern at the quilt show this weekend. Very nice!

I wonder how the printer ink will affect white thread? I think I want to try this product!

Dana Gaffney said...

I've use the ultra solvy to make lace, (yes, I make lace) and it's really difficult getting it all out. Since I don't want that gunk in my drain I take it outside and use the hose gently to get the majority off then use a bowl of water to let it soak and rinse.

Meg said...

Great post - lots of good information!

LethargicLass said...

I think I mentioned to you that I use a similar product... I just rinse with the water running and have no problem... maybe try that? As well, I know that sometimes the embroidery threads can leak colour, so they suggest testing that ahead of time... so glad it worked for you :)

kc said...

I can just imagine your horror at finding the shadows & the spot, so I'm realllllly glad you were able to mostly resolve it with another rinse. Doing a small sample project with your own printer & threads is a good idea.

I use Solvy a lot in machine embroidery, as a topper for pile or nap fabrics, and in the creation of lace, and yes, it most definitely IS slimy & sticky. And it will re-formulate when it dries, too, something to keep in mind if you value your plumbing. (ya might want to just dump the bowl of "used" water outside in the driveway or something, rather than down the drain)

You sound sooo much like my good friend, Gail - y'all both have great senses of humor & are always upbeat, in spite of incredible challenges (well, she's had a really rough life of late, with cancer, mental & physical illness, and adult-child/grandchild drama, but she still keeps her smile!), and she hooked me into quilting with a little Patchabilities project..."oh, sure you can quilt, look, do this and that, and before you know it, you're an expert!" ?? Well, I'm not an expert, but I've sure learned a lot over the last couple of years, thanks to her and you too!!

Kate said...

Thanks for the info on the Fabri-Solvy. I'm hoping to do some embroidery from a pattern that will either have to be traced or printed, so it's good to know how the product works.

Hope you and Carla have been stitching up a storm this weekend.

Quilter Kathy said...

This is an awesome product review...great job!
Loved the before and after photo...I am a quilt pusher too!
Thanks for linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching!

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

Great info in this review! I usually
do very simple designs so I will probably continue to trace my patterns. So glad that all your work was not in vain!

Tami C said...

Loved your review. If I had an ink jet printer I might just try this product, but I have a laser printer.

quiltzyx said...

I'm glad that everything came out OK with the solvy - the motorcycles look fab! Thanks for doing all the work to give us such a detailed review too.

Celtic Thistle said...

Really thorough review Barbara, I will definitely be putting this product on the "to try list" but with all of your pointers in mind.

AppleApricot Wen said...

Hi Barbara! Happy to see you solved some problems with the product. After all the work you'd done on this beautiful piece of embroidery. Not sure if I will ever try this product, I'm far too impatient I'm afraid :)
Coming over from Kathy's.
Hugs, Wendy