Thistledown & Company
quilt patterns with a playful fusion of fiber & creativity
Linda Zokan ~ designer

What is Whisperlite tracer/foundation, and how do I use it?

I developed Whisperlite as a super, lightweight, leave-in, alternative to paper foundations for string quilting, collage quilts, paper-pieced quilt blocks, crazy quilts and more.You can do wonderful things with felted wool using Whisperlite tracer, like make a wool smoothie. (see tutorial below)It is also fantastic for preparing appliques for either hand or machine applique.You can also use it to mark your quilt top for quilting, or to trace designs for hand embroidery.Below, are the tutorials on how to use Whisperlite tracer/foundation. There's more to come....

Whisperlite tutorials....

How to string piece a quilt block using Whisperlite tracer/foundation

String piecing is a great way to utilize your fabric scraps or use up some of your precious fabric stash.
String piecing on a foundation will stabilize your work along with any bias edges. Traditionally, muslin was used as a foundation, but muslin adds a lot of extra weight to your finished quilt. Sometimes paper foundations are used but then when you are done stitching you have to tear away all the paper.
Very messy and time consuming. Don't know about you but I'd rather spend my time stitching.
By using Whisperlite as the foundation there is no need to remove it when you are done sewing and it is super lightweight.

You can string piece free form (without any drawn lines) or, if you like, you can draw the position and width of the strings directly on the whisperlite foundation. In this example I am showing a string pieced quilt block with the stitching lines drawn on the Whisperlite tracer foundation.

Step 1. Cut the Whisperlite foundation to the size of the block you want. Make sure to add your 1/4" to all sides. Draw the stitching lines for the strings in your block with a regular pencil. The closer together the lines are the smaller your strings will be. That means you can use narrower strips, but it also means more stitching. The strings can be of varying widths, and can be lined up evenly, or skewed like this example. It's up to you.

Step 2. Cut your fabric into 'strings" (strips) allowing extra width for seam allowances and placement. I cut most of mine 1-1/2" to 2-1/2" but again it's depends on your design. Place two of the strings right sides together and place them under the Whisperlite with at least 1/4" extending past the line you are going to stitch on. Pin.

Step 3. Stitch your first strings on the drawn stitching line, with the Whisperlite on the top, through all layers.


Step 4.  Turn your block over and then flip the strips open as shown. Press. The new string should cover the next stitching line with an additional 1/4" for the next seam. You can hold and fold your strings as you put them in place to be sure they are wide enough before stitching them in place. If you are free-form stringing you don't have to worry about it.
Step 5. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4" if your seam allowance is more than 1/4". Do this after adding each string.
Add another string to the last one sewn. Make sure that when you place it that you have at least a 1/4" seam allowance.


Step 6. Continue adding strings until the entire block of Whisperlite is covered with fabric strings.
It's as easy as..... stitch, sew, trim, flip, press....repeat
Step 7. Turn the quilt block over to the wrong side and trim it square using the edge of the Whisperlite as your guide. may find yourself addicted to string piecing.  


Got Wool? Let's make a wool smoothie......

What is a wool smoothie? if you've ever worked with felted wool or woolfelt you know it's a wonderful medium to create with. It comes in many luscious colors and textures and is a fabulous fiber to embellish with hand or machine stitches.

One drawback is when it comes to piecing a seam with felted wool. Because it is a thicker, bulkier material, the seams are thick and bulky too. Using Whisperlite as a super lightweight foundation will allow you to make a pieced wool project without the bumpy lumpy seams that traditional piecing would produce. This can be used with either felted wool or woolfelt.
So.....lets make a wool smoothie.
Cut a piece of Whisperlite 1" larger than the size of your finished project. Using painters tape, tape the Whisperlite to a flat surface. using a regular #2 pencil, draw a 1/2" border around all 4 sides.

In this tutorial demo, I am making a table runner.

Cut your felted wool, or Woolfelt pieces for your project to size, but DO NOT add seam allowances. i.e. if your pattern says to cut a 2-1/2" square, cut a 2" square instead. 

In a well ventilated area (or outside) spread out some newspaper or an old towel, and spray baste the backside of the wool with your favorite quilt basting spray.
Hint ~ do not over saturate with basting spray. It only takes a light spray to work. Do not use spray will gum up your sewing needle and your sewing machine something awful.

Beginning at one end, or one corner, begin placing your spray basted wool pieces onto the Whisperlite foundation. Pat in place. Position the wool shapes side by side, with no gaps, and no overlaps. Layout several pieces at a time.

The Whisperlite foundation allows you to create a "pieced" wool project without lumpy, bumpy, thick seams.... but it is so lightweight you wont be adding extra stiffness or weight to your project hence ~ a wool smoothie. Read on......

After you have placed several pieces in place you will stitch them down to the Whisperlite foundation using decorative, bridging stitches. You can do this by hand (if you love hand embroidery)
or by machine.

For this project I used a 30 weight variegated thread, and two different machine stitches.
Chose a stitch that "jumps" from one side to the other, left and right, so you stitch into both pieces of wool as you "stitch in the ditch". I make a stitch legend on a scrap of felted wool to refer to as I work on my project. I also write the stitch number and length/width of the stitch on the legend.
On my machine I used stitch # 55 and stitch #10.

Continue adding your wool pieces and stitching them in place. You will have a nice smooth finished project. Perfect for table toppers, mug rugs and more.

You can also make mini wool quilts as shown below.
This mini was made using 1" squares. I drew a 1" grid on the Whisperlite foundation. For this little quilt I spray basted the Whisperlite foundation, instead of spray basting the wool pieces.

The image below shows an applique over a wool smoothie pieced wool background.
No lumps under your applique!
Make a Wool Smoothie today.  Whisperlite tracer is available by the yard and is 42" wide.
Click here to place your order for Whisperlite tracer foundation.

Use Whisperlite to prepare turned edge appliques. By using Whisperlite you can get the same look of needle turn applique, but quicker and easier. This technique is great for beginners, and for anyone that has limited hand movement, or hand pain that makes needle turn applique to difficult.

Here's how you do it......

Trace your applique motif onto a piece of Whisperlite using a #2 pencil.
Place the traced Whisperlite onto the
right side of your applique fabric.
Using a short stitch length, stitch on the drawn line, all the way around the design.
In this example I am using a heart motif. For best results, use a 50 or 60 weight thread to match the applique. I used a contrast color here so you could see it.

HINT ~  If you set your machine to a shorter stitch length, you will get a smoother curved edge.
Trim the applique to a generous 1/8" seam allowance.
Make a slit in the center of the Whisperlite and then, turn the applique right side out. Use a turning tool such as the "Purple Thang" and place the tool in the seam allowance between the fabric layers. If you place the tip of the turning tool between the Whisperlite and the fabric, you'll poke right through the Whisperlite. It's that lightweight.

Continue smoothing out the turned seam allowance, clip inside corners and trim outside points of the seam allowance and then press. Now you have an applique with nicely turned edges that you can stitch to your background either by hand or machine.

Build your fabric Collage designs on Whisperlite;
Whisperlite is a fantastic alternative for voile or muslin, as a super lightweight foundation to build your fabric collages on.
It won't add extra bulk or weight to your collage and it trims away nice and clean.
Here's how you do it...
Simply cut a piece of Whisperlite lslightly larger than your collage drawing. Tape the Whisperlite over your drawing and trace your design onto the Whisperlite with a #2 pencil or washout marker.
Build your fabric collage onto the Whisperlite foundation. Whisperlite is not a fusible product.You will add a lightweight fusible web of your choice to the wrong side of your fabrics. Cut out your prepared fabric pieces and fuse them to the Whisperlite foundation. Once your collage is completely built, then simply trim away the extra Whisperlite from the outside edges.  Now your collage is ready to place onto your background. 

This next tutorial will show you how Whisperlite can be used to mark your quilt top for quilting. You can also transfer designs onto your fabrics for hand embroidery using this same method. No need for a lightbox.

Whisperlite Tracer is available in 1 yard packets or by the yard off the bolt with a minimum of 1 yard cut.
Click here to place your order for Whisperlite tracer foundation.

Step 1.
Place a page protector or piece of plastic over the quilting design you wish to trace (to protect the page).
Step 2.
Place the Whisperlite over the design and tape in place.

Step 3.
Using a *blue wash out fabric marker, trace the quilting design onto the Whisperlite tracer.
*(always test marking pen on a scrap of like fabric to test if it will wash out. Also follow all of the pen manufacturer's recommendations and instructions.)

Step 4.
Place the Whisperlite tracing onto the quilt top where you wish to mark your design. Pin in place.
Step 5.
Using the same fabric marker, re-trace the quilting design on the whisperlite. The porous nature of the Whisperlite allows the pen marks to show up on the quilt beneath. see last photo

The markings are now on the quilt. If needed you can darken any lines if you find them hard to see.

NOTE - DO NOT use any type of permanent marking pen for any of the steps.

DO NOT IRON YOUR FABRIC AFTER MARKING WITH THE BLUE WASH OUT PEN. Ironing it will set the marks and they will not wash out. Also leaving it in a hot car for long periods may set the marks.