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Magical Threads Poncho

Marilyn Badger creates a trendy thread poncho on a long-arm quilting machine.

Instructions provided courtesy of quilt artist Marilyn Badger.

2 yards of heavy-duty water-soluble stabilizer
2 yards of lightweight water-soluble stabilizer
2 packages of Tussah silk tops
1 package of Angelina fibers
yarn or fringe for trim
2,000 yards of polyester thread


1. Draw a 28" x 64" rectangle on a piece of heavy-duty water-soluble stabilizer with a permanent marking pen.

2. Fasten the stabilizer piece to the #3 and #1 roller on the long-arm quilting machine directing it under the #2 roller. If using a home sewing machine, place the marked stabilizer piece on a flat surface.

3. Cover the stabilizer piece with silk tops, yarns (figure A) and Angelina fibers. Distribute colors evenly until the desired design is obtained. Leave threads or yarns hanging beyond the edges for fringe or add fringe later. Each poncho requires two packages of silk tops.

4. Cover the designed piece with a piece of regular lightweight water-soluble stabilizer (figure C) so that the hopping foot (long-arm machine accessory) won't snag on the fibers while stitching. To stitch on a regular sewing machine, pin-baste the entire piece so that all of the yarns and fibers stay in place while sewing. The designed piece consists of the bottom heavy-duty stabilizer, the fiber center and the top lightweight stabilizer.

5. Stitch along the perimeter and then stitch in grid fashion in either straight or wavy lines, 1/4 inch apart over the entire piece with colorful or variegated threads. The hopping foot (figure E) is used as a guide for stitching — it doesn't have to be perfect. The idea is to make fabric with the threads and fibers. The grid stitching holds the piece together. When the grid work is complete, stitch the surface all over with loops and curvy stitching for a lacy texture. Marilyn Badger refers to lacy stitching as doodling.

6. Stitch along the edges with extra loops to secure the fibers and to ensure that the stitches hold together when the water-soluble base is dissolved (figure F).

7. Soak the fiber piece in hot water (figure G) for approximately 20 minutes or until the water-soluble stabilizer is dissolved and the piece is not sticky. Tip: Soak the piece in a bathtub.

8. Roll the fiber piece in a towel to remove excess water. Lay flat to dry (figure H). Press. If using Angelina fibers use a Teflon pressing cloth on both sides to avoid fibers sticking to the iron and the ironing board cover.

Note: If there are gaps or the piece is not interconnected after rinsing, attach another piece of dissolvable stabilizer, stitch and rinse. This technique also applies if the poncho develops a tear.

9. For the neck opening, fold fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together, and pin 13 inches in from fold at the top (figure J). Using a 1/4-inch seam allowance, begin stitching and continue for four inches for an opening over one arm. For a closed seam down the arm, stitch to the end. To finish the neck opening, turn under 3/4 inch at center front and back and taper to the neck edges. Machine stitch in place.

10. Hand or machine-stitch fringe (figure K) or yarn along the edges of the poncho. Marilyn Badger attached fringe with a crochet hook.

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