Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Soldering Iron + Synthetic Fabric = Hot Melty Fun

The front and neck facings.


I think I mentioned that when I attended the Sewing Workshop open house earlier this month, a gentleman there teaches a class in using a "hot knife" to cut synthetic fabrics. I could not take the class (I have a conflict when the class takes place in late February) but I was inspired to dig out my soldering iron, some synthetic scraps, and play.

For this technique, if you want to use templates, they need to be metal, as plastic templates will melt from the hot iron. I went to the hardware store and bought washers in every size they carried. The total cost for the six washers was about $2.

The soldering iron is at the top of the pic.


In addition to a soldering iron (or woodburning tool, or hot knife, or whatever you want to call it), you need a piece of ceramic or glass to use as a base. And you need a fully synthetic fabric - something that will melt when burned. In my case, I liked the effect when I played with scraps left over from my recent Au Bonheurs raincoat.

I drafted up a little gathered pocket.


The cuffs


Fabric Dots, anyone?


Since this process throws up some fumes, I suggest you do this in a well ventilated area. I also took breaks, because it did make me sneeze, so it took three or four sessions for me to finish this project. The iron is VERY HOT, so be careful. If you have those flexible, heat proof gloves, this would be a good time to use them.

I don't have those. I managed to give myself a tiny burn on my index finger towards the very end, when I started rushing a bit. It created a small, but impressive blister, and hurt like heck. So don't do that. ;)

For the larger washers, I was able to hold them by the edges, but the smaller washers were too small, so I placed a larger washer on top, pushed down hard, and held to the outer washer. This worked pretty well. And, having said that, I burned myself when using the largest washer. Guess I got cocky. ;)

For the design, I used my self drafted dolman sleeved top. I just barely managed to squeeze the top out of the fabric I had left. I drafted up a little gathered pocket and modified the pattern with self fabric bands around the front/neck and sleeves. All of these details feature the circle cut outs. For the front/neck facings and the pocket, I cut three of each pattern piece. Each required the third layer for the contrast underlining. For the pockets, I cut two of each pattern piece – because they folded over, they were actually four layers thick.

Size 4 Sew-On Snaps. I intend to wear this closed.


Snapped closed


The pocket is gathered with elastic left over from the Bonheurs coat.


Back


If you are located in the Bay Area and are interested in this technique, I'm sure there is a lot more to learn by taking the class at the Sewing Workshop.

20 comments:

  1. Oh, My goodness Shams!! You have done it again. It is adorable and as usual, extremely creative and unique. I love it and always appreciate your tutorials too!! Merci beaucoup....

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  2. Great technique,Shams, despite the burned finger (hope it's getting better). I just love to see your sewing. Always something new and fun!

    Kathryn

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  3. Questions: can you describe the method a bit more completely? Do you place the washer on the fabric which has been placed on ceramic and then place the soldering iron on the washer? For how long, approximately, do you apply the heat? Why do you have to push down on the washer, to get it to cut all the way through the fabric? Can you use a small spatula to exert that pressure?

    TIA,
    Kathryn

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  4. Kathryn, yes, that is the essential technique. I am holding the washer down firmly so it won't shift on the fabric - the pressure I am using for the washer has nothing to do with the iron itself. The iron has a sharp, pointed tip on it, so the motion required is similar to tracing with a pencil. If the iron is nice and hot, it cuts pretty quickly, though I usually go around the circle twice, to make sure it cuts through completely. If you practice on a scrap of fabric you get the hang of it pretty quickly. :)

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  5. I recall Summerset also did something similar in cutting out flowers for her Garden Path (I think it was called) project. I can't recall how she made or cut her templates though.

    This is a great project, Shams!

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  6. What a great technique! Very creative. I have a wood burning tool that has some interesting tips that you can scorch the fabric with. Oh, it makes me want to go burn something! But not my finger!

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  7. Yup, Gwen, put the pointy tip on it and play. That's the same tool I am using. :)

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  8. That is a great top. But do I need another tool? Love the top.

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  9. What a great garment and idea. Luckily DH already has the solidering iron, so need to find some fabric and try it out. Thank you for the idea.

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  10. How intriguing. You have made a very effective design.

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  11. Shams, you are so talented! Love the jacket!

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  12. Oh, Shams, can I come and hang out with you? |grin| I have one of these gadgets, a piece of glass and all kinds of metal stuff -- I should play! Thanks for the inspiration and I LOVE your top -- gorgeous.

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  13. Thanks, everyone! Let's do it, Patti. :)

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  14. Too cute!! Fascinating technique - you always have something fascinating on your blog!!

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  15. *gasp* that is AMAZING and gorgeous and, at the same time, cheerful. Excellent job and what a neat technique!

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  16. You are one fabulous and talented lady! I was just in San Fran over Christmas and my DS1 gave me exactly one hour in Britex! Boy can I spend money fast! Wish you lived closer as you sure would be fun to 'play with.' But since you're on the Pacific and I'm on the Atlantic, maybe next time I visit the kid we could meet for lunch.

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  17. Just let me know when you're in town, Re. :)

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  18. I just found your blog. WOW. I love it and this is the most interesting technique ever. And this top is fantastic. There aren't words to describe how much I love it. Fortunately I own a woodburner and all the required tools to play today. Thank you.

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  19. Hi Shams, cute jacket!I came across your blog in my search to learn how to cut synthetic fabric using a soldering iron...so glad I did. Where did you buy your soldering iron and is there a temperature setting on it? If so, what temperature did you use for the fabric cutting?

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  20. Thanks, Nikki. You need this sort of hot knife: http://www.amazon.com/Electric-Hot-Iron-Knife-Tip/dp/B000Y0NR2E/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1274991089&sr=8-6

    Mine came with different tips, but use the pointed one and make sure it's screwed in tight. :) Mine was pretty cheap and I bought it years ago to cut mylar stencils for quilting. Hardware stores and craft stores are the places you would check.

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