Silver Into Color Vest


Project Overview

This exciting vest project shows the length to which you can go to express the bursting of color that can come from totally machine stitching Sulky Rayon, Sliver Metallic and Original Metallic in jewel-tone colors over a foundation of Sulky Super Solvy or Ultra Solvy to make the vest fabric. The finished piece emulates a silk plaid that would enhance any ensemble from day to evening wear.

"This is a fun vest to do and is so satisfying to the true 'free-motion' artist. It is not for the faint of heart or those without patience or endurance. I worked a total of 30 hours per vest, stopping to make notes, take pictures and ponder my plan of action. I did enjoy it and some may say 'she's nuts', but I enjoy a challenge. My mind is racing at the possibilities for this technique! I used 2 to 2-1/2 180 yd. spools each of 30 wt. Rayon color and at least one spool each of the 250 yd. Sliver colors, and 2 spools of Original Metallic, plus 5 spools of 30 wt. Rayon for bobbin thread."


About the Artist

 Carol Ingram
- Artist, Designer for Sulky of America®, Cactus Punch®, and Fabric Traditions®

Carol is an accomplished artist in the Fine Arts field, including oil painting, pastels and pencil drawing. She has studied art extensively in college and under private instruction from notable national art instructors. her background brought Carol to a cooperative designing relationship with Cactus Punch, and they have produced seven top-selling computerized machine embroidery "Signature Series" cards from Carol's original artwork. She has also designed an embroidery card for Husqvarna Viking.

In 2001 her first line of fabric, "Snow Follies" was produced by Fabric Traditions.

Her 40 years of sewing experience has provided her with special insight into combining art and textiles into a versatile product.

She presently is a designer and educator for Sulky of America. She has taught at Husqvarna Viking Sewing Conventions, and does free-lance teaching at local sewing stores around Florida. She was a first place winner of the Everyone Loves Sulky Challenge in 1996. She has also contributed many exclusive designs for other Sulky books and presentations for PBS TV sewing programs such as Martha's Sewing Room, Sew Creative, and America Sews with Sue Hausmann.


 Carol ingram's Full-Size Vest Pattern
  • Zig-Zag Sewing Machine
    Free-Motion Darning Foot and 4-6 bobbins
  • Machine Needles
    • Metallica Size 80/12
    • Jeans Size 90 and 100
    • Top Stitching or Embroidery Size 14/90
  • Sulky Threads
    Sulky 30 wt. Rayon
    • 1195 - Dk Purple
    • 1535 - Team Blue
    • 1517 - Coarchman Green
    • 1079 - Emerald Green
    • 1122 - Purple
    • 1250 - Duck Wing Blue
    • 1192 - Fuchsia
    • 1255 - Deep Orchid
    • 1162 - Deep Teal
    Sulky Metallic
    • 7022 - Multi-Color
    Sulky Sliver™ metallic
    • 8013 - Fuchsiz
    • 8016 - Dk. blue
    • 8017 - Peacock Blue
    • 8018 - Xmas Green
    • 8050 - Purple
    • 8052 - Royal blue
  • Sulky Stabilizer
    • 1-1/2 yds. of Sulky super Solvy™
  • Fabric
    • 1-1/2 yds. Fashion Fabric for Vest Back
    • 3/4 yds. Lining Fabric to match
  • Notions
    • 2 German 8" or 10" Hardwood Machine Embroidery Hoops
    • Textile Marking Pens in various colors
    • large Teflon Pressing Sheet
    • Iron & Pressing Pad
    • Rotary Cutter, Ruler & Mat
    • Scissors & Pins
    • Felt Pad for Spool Pin
    • Sewer's Air™ or Silicone Spray


  1. For each vest front, layer together two 20" x 25" (or a size suitable for your chosen vest pattern) pieces of Sulky Super Solvy and fuse them together by applying a Teflon pressing sheet and a hot, dry iron for a few seconds. Or use one layer of Sulky Ultra Solvy.

    Place the vest front pattern piece in the cneter of the Super Solvy. Use a colored fabric textile marker in a base color to draw around the outside edge of the pattern, adding about 3/4" all the way around to allow for shrinkage due to the amount of free-motion fill-in stitching that follows.Using a

  2.  quilter's ruler and the same textile marker, draw a 2" grid over the entire pattern.

  3. Decision making time! At this point, you need to have a plan of action for your colored grid. Carol was inspired by a plaid fabric she had used for a silk ribbon pillow she had made some time ago. Following the designs in the fabric, she drew a 2" grid and indicated the colors with the same color marker in that square along with the Sulky Thread color number and type for easyreference at the sewing machine. This makes for a wonderful colored map to stitch by and it will aid you a great deal if you have to lay the project aside and days later return to work on it. This way you will know exactly where you left off and where the correct thread colors should be stitched. 
    Set up your sewing machine for free-motion.
    Working on a flat surface, lay the Sulky vest front over the outer ring of the hoop. Insert the inner ring and press down with the heel of your hand. Once the hoop is as tight as possible, thump the center; it should have a "drum" sound with no looseness in the center. Because you will rehoop and change thread colors and types many times, at some point in the rehooping process, because of the bulkiness of the stitched areas, hooping may become difficult. Using a high-quality German hardwood hoop with a solid brass screw closure allows you to tighten the hoop with a screwdriver. Don't be timid with Super Solvy, it can take it! Stitch three times over all the grid lines on each pattern front to create stay-stitching for further embroidering. To prevent perforating the Super Solvy, do not stitch over and over the exact line of stitching, but rather right next to each other. 
    Using a circular motion with the hoop, completely cover the entire grid pattern with large circles; make sure each circle comes around and connects with the last circle, joining all the circles over the entire grid pattern. This stitching serves as a base for the application of the Sulky Rayon, Metallic and Sliver Metallic Threads. Coverage does not have to be particularly dense, but do not leave any large, sparsely stitched areas. 
    Thread your machine with one Rayon 30 wt. color and one Sliver of the same color through the same size 100/16 needle. Fill your bobbin with the same 30 wt. Rayon. The handling of two threads, either Sliver or Metallic with 30 wt. Rayon was a dream with relatively no breakage or shredding using the Thread Pro™. Thread each thread independently through their own tension on the Viking #1+ and then both through the eye of the needle, avoiding the final thread guide just above the needle.

    It is of utmost importance to hoop and rehoop the Super Solvy very tautly to prevent stitches from drawing and shrinking the grid. Choose your starting place in one of the center squares of the grid. Be sure to lower your top tension at least two numbers at this point. 

    Using a large width zig-zag stitch, begin in the corner of the square and zig-zag up and down to sparsely cover the entire square. Change your hand motion to a side-to-side fill-in stitch and starting at the top (or bottom) of the square, move the hoop slowly back and forth, making a line of fill-in stitching from one edge of the square to the other and then back again until the entire square has been filled smoothly. The side-to-side motion elongates the stitch and completely shows off the flat, shiny Sliver Thread the best. When you have finished one square on the right front piece, repeat the procedure on the left front piece in the same mirrored square.

    Change thread colors and begin stitching the square next to the completed one; do the same thing in this square, making sure your zig-zag motion from left and right connects and goes slighly into the previously stitched square. This connecting of squares also helps to hold the finished project together. Continue this until both sides of the vest are entirely covered. (In my case, 20 hours later!)

    At several stopping points between hooping, use your original vest pattern piece that you drew around in step 1, to check sizing and shrinkage. Make any necessary adjustments such as enlarging the grid area or adding squares so it fits the vest pattern before the shrinkage becomes a major problem. You should expect some minimal drawing up, but not anything that you can't overcome if checked periodically.

    If the vest piece is not handled properly and kept tautly in the hoop, it could become warped out of shape.

    Tip: Get organized and save time...
    Organize thread colors beside your machine. Prewind bobbins. Use two seperate hoops. Utilize the largest needle that accommodates the job. Although Super Solvy responds excedingly well to continual needle punctures and stretching in the hoop, if you have a mishap that makes a hole in the Solvy, it can be easily patched by ironing a small piece of Solvy (larger than the hole) to the underneath with an iron and teflon pressing sheet. If the stitching should pull away and cause a hole to develop, you can cut a piece of Solvy (slightly larger than the hole), and from the edge of your working piece, slide it under the hole and continue stitching over the patch.

    It's pure heaven when you finish your last color! Trim away the excess Super Solvy from around the edges of each piece. Place the entire finished pieces in a sink of cold, clear water and dissolve away the Super Solvy. Rinse throughly. Roll the pieces in a terry towel, block them, and allow to dry. 
    While the pieces are drying, construct the back of the vest and the outside facings or bias edge for around the vest fronts. Use an iron-on interfacing inside the facing that acts as a trim for the vest front. To add a professional finish to the inside of the vest, finsh the inside edge of the facing with a serger stitch using a matching Sulky 30 wt. thread color. Finished facing on the sample vest was 1-1/4" on the outside and 1-3/4" on the inside.
    1. Lower the feed dogs.
    2. Attach a free-motion darning foot.
    3. Insert a new size 14/90 embroidery needle.
    4. Thread the top and bottom with Sulky 30 wt. Deep Teal #1162.
    5. Select the straight stitch.
    6. Tension adjustment: You do not need to adjust your tension while using the straight stitch. However, as soon as you begin using the zig-zag and/or Sliver thread, you will need to drop your top tension dramatically.
  4. Once the front stitching panels are dry, lay them on top of the front facing and attach them with a blind hem stitch using a 30 wt. Sulky Rayon Thread that matches the base color. Sew to back and add ties if desired. 

Using the same techniques as in the original Sliver Into Color Vest, Carol made this beautiful Cut-work style Sliver Vest for Joyce to wear on the TV show, "America Sews with Sue Hausmann". Instead of filling in all the squares, she left every other one empty. The pattern she used for this vest was the LONG AND LEAN by Sally Lampe, with techniques shown in this book. You could make a 1" grid if you preferred a smaller cutwork look.