Thursday, March 23, 2017

Using DMC's Metallic Mesh on Needlepoint

At the end of last summer, I heard about DMC's new stitchable metallic mesh fabric.

In December DMC sent me some to play with.

My first task was to try and mount it somehow so I could stitch with it easier.  I ended up using stretcher bars and thumbtacks.

My plan was to stitch one of Threedles' counted Christmas ornaments using one of the charts in Needlepoint Now's December 2015 issue.  Sadly, that didn't work out.  I found it impossible to count out such a complicated project on the metallic mesh.  I simply couldn't see the holes well enough.

My Darning Cat And More

I even had trouble doing a simple darning stitch.   I  tried one of Sheena's Halloween cat diagrams but even this wasn't easy to work.  I found the holes being so small a real handicap for stitching.  (I was using two plies of cotton floss, by the way.) You can see the cat in the upper left of the photo above, by they way.

So I stopped and thought about what I was doing, then came up with A Plan.  (I love a plan!)  DMC says this metallic mesh is meant to be embroidered on and they provide a floral design outline to trace and then fill the outline with stitching.  So why not sketch a shape on the mesh and then stitch inside the outline using needlepoint stitches?    I decided I would draw the rough shape of my Computer Pixie's tote bag on the metallic mesh and see if I could stitch it, then cut out the shape and appliqué it to my needlepoint canvas.    I used one of the blue quilting pens to draw the shape on the metallic mesh.  These are the pens that are supposed to disappear over time or with the application of COLD water.  (Hot water sets the lines, as does ironing, leaving your project in the car in the summer, etc.)  It worked quite well.    If you look at the Darning Cat photo above again, you'll see the blue outline of the tote bag on the right plus my blue quilting pen posing in front of its work.

Tote Bag and Applique

By the way, in the photo above I've already stitched the tote bag on the needlepoint canvas by weaving it on the surface.  I simply repeated the weave stitching on the metallic mesh.   I used two plies of Mandarin Floss for each version of the tote, stitching long vertical lines and then weaving shorter horizontal lines by going over and under the vertical thread lines.

Buttonhole Stitch Holds the Folded Down Top Edge

Then I cut away the top part of the metallic mesh—using paper scissors instead of my good embroidery scissors--turned under the top margin of the tote bag appliqué, and using buttonhole stitch, started securing the top.  That's what you see above, the buttonhole stitch underway.  Note on the left side near the buttonhole stitching that the metallic mesh is starting to fray.    When I cut out the other three sides and turned them under, intending to attach them to the needlepoint canvas, leaving the buttonhole edge free so I could insert something into the tote bag, fraying became a problem. I still managed to attach three sides of the appliqué tote bag to the canvas, stitching through the turned under metallic mesh edges and the underlying canvas with a sharp needle, with one ply of the same Mandarin Floss I used to create the tote bag weaving.  But fraying was a constant issue and it showed in places.

Shape Outlined with Fabric Glue

The fraying taught me that I should have used something to stabilize the edges of the tote bag shape before cutting it out.  So I tried again, first outlining a rough square with my blue quilting pen, then going around outside the shape with a line of Arlene's Tacky Glue, which dries clear on needlepoint.  (In the photo above the glue has not yet been spread as close to the blue line as it should be since I wanted you to see both the line and the glue.)   I used a toothpick to place and spread my glue and let it dry 24 hours.  Then I cut it out as close to the blue line as possible, using my paper scissors, not my good embroidery scissors.

Glued Metallic Mesh, Top Edge Buttonholed

This is the end result, seen from the silver side.  (I always drew and stitched on the gold side, reasoning that the gold mesh, if visible through my green threads, would look better than the silver.)  The top edge is turned under and I've been doing buttonhole on it.  The spacing is odd because I was attempting a decorative buttonhole stitch.  Note the fraying on the bottom of the piece of metallic mesh.  I deliberately did not cut through the middle of the dried glue there.  Instead I cut the mesh next to the dried edge of glue.  It would be relatively easy to turn under the bottom and side edges to the blue line, then stitch right through the glue (using a sharp needle again) and also through the needlepoint canvas to appliqué this onto the canvas.

Glue solves the fraying issue nicely.  By the way, when I was playing with this—I handled the glued sample quite a bit, trying to make it fray—I realized that the silver side, properly glued and cut to shape, would work beautifully as a window screen on a canvas of a house.  The painted canvas underneath will show through the holes.  The only drawback is that the holes are small so you'll have to attach the silver mesh side out to your canvas with floss.  Those holes are pretty small!

Tote Applique Fraying on the Upper Right Corner and Left Side
But back to my Computer Pixie.  I now had an appliqué tote bag but the frayed edges were showing slightly.  What to do?!

Computer Pixie, Done and Awaiting a Frame

Heck, just put stuff on top of and inside the bag.  Easy peasy!

Many thanks to DMC for sending me the metallic mesh fabric to play with.   I have most of the sheet still and will be playing around with it as time allows.  Maybe I can come up with more uses.

And maybe I'll get the glue out of my hair, too.

Jane exits,  laughing at herself

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright March 22, 2017 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.