Stitching Rust - One Option

Stablized rusted fabric, two layers (I know hard to believe) wool quilt batting, black cotton commercial backing fabric.

The quilt to the left was orginally as thick as the quilt sandwich to the right, heavy stitching reduced the piece to a very thin piece.

Already you can see how the heavy stitching will decrease the thickness of this piece.

I'm stitching the outer areas first with a dark rust colored thread, will come back in and fill the strata layers with two other colors of rust and ocher threads and finally will begin stitching the heavily rusted area in the center.  The reason for this approach is I don't want to have to change my needle, as the heavily rusted areas will dull the needle quickly, in order to finish stitching the outer areas once the center is finished.

I will fill the hole in the center, where the fabric rusted through, with decorative hand stitches and maybe some beads. 

Sewing Rusted Fabrics - Supplies

Supplies for stitching rusted fabrics with left to right: Mistyfuse TM fusible interfacing, sewing machine needles with large eyes, rusted fabrics, heavy cotton threads, pearl cotton, hand sewing needles with large eye, nymo thread. Other items needed are scissors, iron, ironing board, teflon pressing sheet, pins.

Hole that where the rust went completely through the fabric.

Nymo beading thread, fireline may also be used, basically any beading thread that is designed to be used with sharp and/or metal beads will work well with rusted fabrics.

Crewel or tapestry needle with large eye.

Pearl Cotton for those areas that your machine needle, and threads, absolutely refuses to play nice with, sometimes you  just have to think outside of the box!

I prefer Schmetz needles, I typcially use the largest leather needles I can find for my machine.

Aurifil 12 wt cotton thread, hasn't failed me yet but then again neither has the 50 wt cotton thread!  For those super rusted sections I simply used other threads to sew the area with and work more with embellishments.

Sewing Rusted Fabrics Tutorial

Sewing rusted fabrics is no different that stitching any other fabric except, and that's a big EXCEPT, when the fabrics are heavily rusted!  Then there are all sorts of problems that arise. 

For moderately rusted fabrics as seen in the above photo, a heavy cotton thread and a sewing machine needle with a large eye, like a leather needle, work well. 

But what does one do when the fabric itself or the thread shreds during the stitching process??? 

This tutorial will help you stitch those fabrics and get the look you are wanting.  I highly recommend having some extra rusted samples on hand and taking good notes on which processes worked for each sample, BEFORE you start the large commission piece.  Doing so will guarantee fewer headaches in the future ;-)

Materials Needed:
Rusted fabrics
iron on interfacing of some sort I use Mistyfuse TM
Sewer's Aid TM (Dritz) - liquid
Fray Check TM (Dritz) - liquid
Needles with large eye such as a leather needle
Heavy cotton or poly blend threads, rayon and silk thread will only shred to pieces in this process.
Nymo or Fireline for heavily rusted areas that you don't/didn't want to discharge.

Heavy Rust What To Do???

Heavy Rust What To Do??? I'm asked this question frequently especailly by quilters who are battling shredding threads, broken needles, etc.  Following is a multi part tutorial that will hopefully reduce the frustration of shredded threads etc.  

As you can see in the above photo there are heavily rusted areas that appear to be actual rusted metal.  That's because it is rusted metal.  The rusting process allows rust particles, iron oxide, to accumulate on the surface of the fibers/fabrics.  The end result, depending on the length of time the fabric is allowed to rust, is sharp jagged metallic edges that shreds thread, dulls needles, and leaves little flecks of iron oxide everywhere.