Stinky fun with wool and silk

I have a show coming up at the end of July; it’s for art quilters and other fiber artists. They will be looking for things no other vendor offers…and I have a laser and lots of fiber/cloth.

A while back I bought some mill ends of dupioni silk. This batch I dyed first and then cut–I ironed the cloth, folded it twice and ironed it flat again. That enabled me to cut four elements at a time. (think real old-fashioned silk flowers if I burn the edges lightly of roundish shapes.) [Stinky, but not too bad.]

The scrap is getting re-dyed and ready for another experiment. Art quilters may find the scrap more desirable than the shapes.

I’ve got lots of wool/mohair fuzzy yarn that will knit up quickly on my midgauge knitting machine. After laundering with a hot wash/tumble dry load, I put the fulled fabric in the GF and cut some shapes. [Stinky! Very stinky!]

I found that bulky shapes work a lot better even though you can cut very narrow elements. But imagine someone using this as the base over which they embroider, or stuff and stitch around for a raised effect.

All the results are going back into the dye bath so I can really insult them. What will they be like then? I won’t know until I try!

Please feel free to weigh in with ideas.


This is really interesting. It would never have crossed my mind to even try it. How did you hold down the silk layers while cutting?

I hope you return to tell us the response at the show!


Love your dye colours, I don’t know enough about working with fabric to contribute ideas but I would imagine that the laser cut shapes offer a way for more complex shapes and designs to be included, especially for people who are learning.


yeah, not having to cut out fiddly fabric without distorting it is a challenge. I’m going to make some shapes that have tiny tabs to a selvage so the shapes can be manipulated as part of a larger cloth; then the tabs and selvage can be cut away.

@ChristyM I used tiny little magnets that would not interrupt the fan operation. Put them all around the borders of the cloth. Once the cutting starts, the laser ‘heals’ the edges and keeps the layers together. A few shapes escape–I try to arrange my cutting operation so the laser goes bottom to top. Helps blow loose things out of the way of the next shape. Dupioni is firm compared to other cloth, much more compliant.


Cool idea!

Maybe cut some fancy shapes they could incorporate into wall hangings? Dragons, butterflies, bees…


I like that, thank you.

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Would fusable interfacing help? I haven’t tried but I remember my grandmother using it.

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It certainly would. I’m not going to incorporate it yet, because I don’t know if that would be considered inappropriate for an art quilt. (I’d use it, but I’m not an avid art quilter. It might be the equivalent of offering acrylic yarn at a sheep festival.)


Hmmmm! Are you saying that by cutting four layers, the laser is fusing the edges together? That would be pretty cool.

Wishing you best of luck in your show!


Thanks! The fusing is there, but deteriorates with handling. All 4…o my, you have just given me a wonderful idea. I’ll play with it and show it if it works out. Anyway, the fused edge can be gently peeled apart from the others. Water releases the edges readily, so now I’m dyeing the cloth before cutting, rather than after.

Ideas, ideas…it’s not the end of July yet!


These are great! I have heard, but not tried, that if you soak silk in gelatin and let it dry it is not so annoying to work with and easier to cut out fiddly bits accurately. Gelatin might also help the knitted wool stay together a bit more.

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I knew that about fine silk weaving yarns, but had never thought about it with cloth itself. The wool I’m not so worried about–it had already made one trip through a hot wash/tumble dry. That one spot was just where the “grain” wasn’t in alignment with the cut.

I’ll experiment, but the biggest drawback is at this point, I don’t know if a stiffener like that would be considered inappropriate for use in an art quilt. I think it would have to be washed out before its final placement, or it will be found by insects eventually. Plus, I don’t know what kind of “hand” the buyer wants; I’m going to err on the side of less finishing rather than more.

I think the my solution will be to figure out the best sequence of dye vs laser cut vs embroider/sew together that I need to complete before considering it ready for sale.

Since it’s in a nearby town and the sale is a two-day event, if I learn something substantial on the first day, I can whip it up at home that evening and have some available the next day.

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I heard about the gelatin for making silk undies, so it definitely gets washed out.
You will have to show us pictures of your booth - it sounds amazing!

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