So I have new toys 😉

text 1a HEAT GUN and a SOLDERING IRON, both from Lidl’s occasional bargain section, tbh I would not have bought these right now, but £17 for both, when a heat gun is £25-£45 on its own, was more than I could pass up …

I enjoyed torturing fabric on the embroidery course, and while I lived with an open fire could still use a hot poker, but I have missed it since.

So, how to get back in the swing of it/ get familiar with the new shiny toys 😉

I made an organza sandwich, using an 8″ x 18″/ 20 x 45cm length of organza in a colour I bought cheap  and am not fond of it (I’m aiming to burn most of it off, remember). This is a good chance to use scraps of silks and rayon, nylon, tulle, satin, chiffon, mixed with sturdier fabrics, moving up from lingerie lace to cotton. Only use polycotton if you are brave, it can do VERY strange things under heat, and STINKS to high heaven.


text 3

I like to use quite vivid scraps, and arrange them in a jumble, though because this is a test piece I grouped my cottons at one end. Pin a few anchor pieces to the halfway point and then fold the organza down. The fabrics need to join/overlap because the organza will, in effect, DISSOLVE, and what will hold the piece together are the threads and the remaining fabric.

Use leftover ends of thread, clear bobbins etc, but try and keep the front multi coloured and the back black or plain. I use different stitch patterns or colours as I stitch across linked fabrics, eg feather stitch across all the tulle, pinking across the silks, so I can guide the scorching for the effect I want.

All this bit is much quicker than it takes to explain, but experimenting will be more effective if you take photos or make notes. I colour coded on the course which helped keep me on track 😉


using up

At this point I stopped (fibro fatigue) but making a few at once is a good idea, even duplicates if you are testing effects for a specific piece.

Now to the hot stuff!



SET UP YOUR WORK SPACE: open 2 windows/a door to the outside to have a through draught, have a bowl of cold water in the sink in case of burns. Have a metal surface to work on and use a foil baking tray to rest the organza sandwich on, and barbecue tongs are very handy! (£/$ shop is your friend!)


NEVER lay a hot heat gun on fabric, it will scorch and burn in seconds and could burn the house down when everything fuses. ALWAYS work at least 3inches/10cm above the surface, coming in closer as you need to. Know where you will lay the heat gun if you get tired/ burn yourself/ the phone rings/ the dog barks… I use an upside down metal biscuit tin, not ideal, but ok if I can turn off the heat gun as I lay it down, as the ridge keeps it in place.

So, having scared you all into health and safety, prepare for fun! The artificial fabrics scorch and melt really fast, so start high up and move in slowly, ready to draw back..watching  the organza shrivel and the colourful scraps emerging is very pleasing.

Tulle and foiled fabrics go quickly too, cottons and thread are slowest, this is where threadsyour stitch patterns/colour lines come in, there will be a heat shimmer and the organza dulls down the fabrics, so follow a line to bring out the interesting scraps, and make holes in the dull parts 😉

org,notcotCotton won’t burn into holes, unless you have a top range heat gun. But you can use an incense stick, a match, a skewer heated in a gas flame or a soldering iron to make small to large scorch holes (see further down!) So, turn everything off and lay it down safely and evaluate.

dogsdinnerAfter all this, your sample may look like a dog’s dinner. Do not despair if the effect is not what you wanted! Mine looks pretty dullllll…

or does it?

Bring it to the light!


Silhouettes give you a much better idea of where the work is really at…if you are a process artist, this is where the ideas really start flowing, because the silhouette can be so striking…

wiindow 2

The soldering iron can be used to make bigger holes in cotton, but I bought it more for other things, because I don’t like the mess it makes of the end, it cleans up easily, but because I have the tools for hot knifing, it’s much easier to use those, kind of like washing a food processor or a grater, the grater is slower, but if you count the washing up, tons easier 😉

More work to be done on the sandwich, my sewing machine is not happy at the moment, so part 2 may take a while…