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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Langenfeld from Landscapes in Fabric

Sew with Olive Oil

So a few days ago, I was trying to do a simple project-should have known 'simple' isn't really part of my vocabulary. Anyway, I was making melted felt starfish ornaments. First I fused Lite Steam a Seam 2 onto the back of velvet and synthetic fabrics . Next I cut (a lot) of circles and triangles from the fused fabrics and fused them onto the felt, My next step was to sew through all of the circles and triangles and across all areas of the felt shape so it wouldn't just fall apart when I hit it with the heat gun. Here's where it all went south.

I could sew maybe six inches and the thread would break. Tried different thread in the top. Snap! Tried different thread in the bottom. Six more inches-snap! New, smaller needle. Snap! Desperate times call for desperate measures so I even cleaned the bobbin case! Six more inches-snap!

I have used Lite Steam a Seam 2 a million times and recommend it in all of my classes. Never have I had a thread breaking problem like this. Oh, yes, I discovered, at about 18 inches of stitching, that the needle was gumming up too! I took to the internet-

It turns out that they call the fusible Lite Steam a Seam 2 because you are supposed to use steam when fusing it!!! If you don't use steam the fusing doesn't completely happen and you will get a gummy mess. When it isn't fused properly, the needle friction heats the needle and sort of remelts the fusible-onto your needle. (Oh, how correct that was!)

Well, I had used steam before, and I think I've even gotten away with fusing without steam, but never on such thick fabrics. And I didn't want to use steam this time because I was afraid the synthetic fabrics I was using would melt before I was ready for them to do so.

So I knew what caused my problem, but I still had a gummy set of fabrics, a gummy needle and snapping thread. What to do? Another internet search led me to the kitchen. I had no products like silicone (Sewer's Aid) which several sources suggested using on the needle. But I did have olive oil-extra virgin, by the way. I found that rubbing a drop of it on the needle every six feet of stitching, or so, did the trick. I also found out via the internet, that it's easy to clean a gummy needle with a bit of rubbing alcohol. But I didn't need to clean it once I used the olive oil. A word of caution-too much oil on the needle can stain your fabric. Just put a drop on a tissue and rub the tissue on the needle.

Remember, when you're needle gums up, reach for the olive oil!

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