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.


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.