Sulky’s 30th Anniversary: The History of Sulky Solvy

Sulky’s 30th Anniversary: The History of Sulky Solvy

It’s the 30th of the month again, which means we’ve got another 30% off sale for you to celebrate Sulky’s 30th Anniversary! Every 30th of every month through September, we are having a 30% off sale on select items. Today’s sale is all about Sulky Solvy Stabilizers. So, today only, all of our Wash-Away Stabilizers are 30% off! 

Also to celebrate today, we spoke with Fred and Joyce Drexler, the co-founders of Sulky of America, to learn how Solvy got its start here at Sulky…

The History of Solvy® in the United States really began 34 years ago at the Bobbin Show in the World Congress Trade Center in Atlanta. This immense trade show showcased every imaginable type of equipment and product that Ready-To-Wear and Commercial Embroidery Manufacturers needed or wanted, to be able to manufacture clothing and do large-scale embroidery jobs. Attendees came from all over the world and walked miles of aisles to check out all of the latest products.

When Joyce and I heard about this show, we decided to attend in 1983 to see if we could find any products that we felt would be appropriate for the home sewing market. It had to be fate that our future German partners also decided to exhibit at this show for their very first time and, more importantly, to introduce to the world their new water-soluble stabilizer product called Solvy.

When Joyce first saw Solvy she became very excited about all of its possible uses in the Speed Stitch™ kits that she was planning to produce.  These included Cut Work, Battenberg Lace, and Monogramming. At the time, Cut Work was done very laboriously using the plastic film that covered your clothes when you got them back from the dry cleaners. Solvy made the process light years easier and faster. And thus a star was born and a relationship was begun that would lead to the creation of Sulky® of America 4 years later!

Our company, Speed Stitch, immediately began packaging and marketing Solvy under the trademarked name, Wash Away™. Over the next 10 years, we sold it to a dozen different distributors who sold it to thousands of retail stores across the United States and Canada.

sulky's 30th anniversary: the history of sulky solvy

The Start of Sulky Solvy

In 1989, Sulky of America acquired the licensing rights to the trademarked name, Solvy, from our German partners, and Sulky introduced it, along with Totally Stable™, to Sulky retailers and consumers.

By then Joyce had found numerous other uses for Solvy including: using it as a design template; as a pattern guide; to support stitches on the edge of fabric; as a topper on napped fabrics like towels to keep the loops or piles from poking through; to keep stitches from getting lost in any fabric; for bridging and buttonholes; to enhance the clarity of fine lettering and detail stitching; and to make your own liquid, brush-on stabilizer, to name a few.

Super Solvy

In the early years, we discovered that you could make Solvy twice as thick by fusing 2 layers together with a warm, dry iron so it would be heavy enough to support free-motion embroidery stitching or lace making. A short time later, we introduced Sulky Super Solvy™, which was twice as thick as the original Sulky Solvy, so you didn’t have to fuse layers together.

Ultra Solvy

As consumers wanted to make increasingly larger and more complex embroideries and laces, they were fusing 2 layers of Super Solvy together to be able to stitch them. Eventually, we introduced Sulky Ultra Solvy™, which is a very heavy water-soluble film that is 4 times as heavy as the original Solvy, again to avoid having to fuse layers together. Ultra Solvy has all the firmness that is required when creating stand-alone Thread Lace, Cut Work, Battenberg Lace, Digitized Lace, Hoop-less Machine Embroidery, or Free-Motion Embroidery.

Paper Solvy

When Paper Piecing became popular, we introduced Sulky Paper Solvy™ to make this technique much, much easier. By inserting a pre-cut 8 ½” x 11” piece into a copier, ink-jet printer or bubble-jet printer, you can print any design directly onto the Paper Solvy.


Several years ago we introduced Sulky Fabri-Solvy™, which has the firmness, strength and feel of fabric. It is non-woven so it doesn’t stretch in any direction while having the strength and quality to support stand-alone Computer Embroideries, Cut Work, Lace-Making, Free-Motion Embroidery, and Turned Appliques.When we added a sticky back and release sheet to Fabri-Solvy, we created, by far, the easiest way to transfer a pattern using your printer or copier so you could stitch over it by hand or machine, then easily remove the remnants. It is also perfect for printing quilting templates. This product is marketed under 3 distinct names for 3 distinct markets.

  • Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Because home sewing, quilting and embroidery consumers knew and loved Fabri-Solvy, it seemed intuitive to originally name the sticky-backed version Sticky Fabri-Solvy™.sulky's 30th anniversary: the history of sulky solvy

  • Stick ‘n Carve

Then, along came a culinary expert and professional carver of watermelons who raved about how much easier it was for him to get a design in place on watermelons for him to carve. Through extensive testing we found that to also be the case for Pumpkins as well as other fruits and vegetables, wood, rubber stamps and much more. And so, Sulky Stick ‘n Carve™ became the second distinctive name for this product.

  • Stick ‘n Stitch

With ever-increasing numbers of consumers discovering and loving the beauty and convenience of using Sulky 12 wt. Cotton Petites for hand sewing rather than floss, we realized that getting designs in place to stitch was a big component.

Since neither of our other two names for this product really spoke to this market about how easily this product made it to get their design in place we created the third name, Sulky Stick ‘n Stitch™.

We never would have imagined 34 years ago what an important role Solvy would play in the history and growth of Sulky of America.

To celebrate Sulky’s 30th Anniversary, and to honor Solvy’s history, all of our Sulky Wash-Away Stabilizers are 30% off today! 

Sale ends tonight 6/30 at midnight EDT.


Sulky’s 30th Anniversary: Looking Back

Sulky’s 30th Anniversary

Looking Back: Hurricane Andrew

We spoke with Fred and Joyce Drexler once again to discuss another one of their most memorable moments with Sulky. Here’s what Fred had to say…

One of my fondest memories has to do with Sulky’s involvement in the 10-month “Operation Mend” hurricane relief project that I spearheaded in 1992 – 1993. I carried it out with the help of 60 Port Charlotte, FL Rotarians and their families, along with the Miami chapter of the American Sewing Guild and a local church in Homestead, FL.

Many of you may recall that in August 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated the Homestead area below Miami with wind speeds as high as 173 miles per hour. It looked like a 35-mile wide tornado had moved across the land wiping out virtually everything in its path.

Operation Mend invited sewers all over America to “Share their Stash” with Hurricane Andrew victims. Thousands of generous people donated their supplies, netting two full semi-trailer loads of sewing machines, fabric, patterns and every other imaginable sewing tool and notion.

Our small staff of Sulky marketing personnel, who were in Harbor Heights, FL at the time, received, logged in, and sent thank you cards to every person who sent something. They then transported all of those thousands of boxes to another building in Port Charlotte where Rotarians and their families sorted them in preparation for distribution to Homestead sewers who had lost everything.

I am very proud of my son, Eric Drexler (who has gone on to become one of our most recognized Sulky National Educators) who, on his own time, refurbished over 250 sewing machines and spent two weekends with us showing the Homestead recipients how to use them.

The hard-working members of the Miami chapter of the American Sewing Guild located many hundreds of victims for each of the two distributions, and helped them get to the church that was the distribution point. They also screened and selected the most needy to receive the sewing machines and helped us teach the recipients how to use them.

american sewing guild

I will always cherish the memory of the joy on those people’s faces as they received their sewing machines and sewing supplies and realized that they would now be able to engage their passion for sewing again.

Take 30% off all Embroidery Design Cards, today only! Sale ends 5/30 at midnight EDT.

Sulky’s 30th Anniversary – Where it all began

This year marks 30 years of Sulky! We met with Fred and Joyce Drexler, the founding partners, to discuss the history of Sulky and where it all began….

What was your vision for Sulky when you started? 

Our vision for Sulky of America when we first began in 1987 was to create a company that would focus on educating consumers and sewing store owners to the joys of Creative Sewing as a fun, interesting and rewarding hobby that they would love to do with our 193 colors of super high quality, silky, shiny, Sulky 40 wt. Rayon Threads.

The seeds for this educational program were sewn eleven years earlier in 1976 when Joyce first started teaching free-motion embroidery in the sewing store that we owned. Within the first couple of years, as women who took Joyce’s class spread the word about how much fun they had in her class, hundreds more flocked to our store to learn this intriguing art form. For most, this led to a life-long passionate pursuit of self expression as a creative hobby.

Before they bought the rights to the name Sulky, their publication was known as Speed Stitch


This was not always the case. I began my career in the Sewing Industry at age 23 in March, 1965 as a Singer Salesman, when the vast majority of women who used a sewing machine did so to save money for the family.  However, even then, women were beginning to work in jobs outside their homes in ever increasing numbers.

Joyce Drexler in a Sulky publication

Fast forward to 1969 when I opened my own Singer Sewing Machine Dealership, to 1974 when I met my future wife, Joyce. In 1976 she started teaching in our store and we began to realize that many of these working ladies no longer had the time and/or inclination to sew to save money when they got home. However, they absolutely loved spending their evenings and Saturdays in our store. In 1980 Joyce founded Speed Stitch to teach her methods to store owners and consumers all over the United States and Canada. Finally, in 1987 we partnered with a German thread manufacturer to begin Sulky of America.

Little did we know that what began as a fun-filled, one-day, 6-hour lesson would spawn the Home Embroidery explosion that we have experienced over the last 23 years.

How is that different from what the company has become?

It is interesting to reflect on the difference between what our initial vision for Sulky was compared to what it has become. Our vision for Sulky of America when we first began in 1987 was to create a company that would focus on educating consumers and sewing store owners to the joys of Creative Sewing as a fun, interesting and rewarding hobby that they would love to do with our 193 colors of super high quality, silky, shiny, Sulky 40 wt. Rayon Threads.

I believe that by staying true to that vision for the past 30 years we have been able to grow the company far beyond our wildest dreams. Indeed, today in Sewing, Quilting and Craft Stores all over the United States and Canada, and on our website, millions of Sewers, Quilters and Crafters are able to purchase and enjoy over 4,000 of the highest quality Sulky Products to make their fun, interesting and rewarding hobbies far more enjoyable.

Sulky Solvy back in the day!

The path to get here has been filled with Industry educational milestones including conducting thousands of Sulky Sew Exciting Seminars in retail stores based on 22 Sulky publications. Sulky has also trained numerous aspiring teachers in the Sulky Certified Teacher Training program, and conducted hands-on “Embroidery Zen” programs for consumers to learn in-depth how to get the most out of their embroidery machines. We have showcased thousands of works of wearable art during the 10 years of the “Everyone Loves Sulky Challenge” contest and have made frequent guest appearances on Sulky sponsored PBS Sewing shows.


Currently, Sulky has 6 National Educators teaching five different “Sew Exciting” seminars, which are conducted in retail stores throughout the country. Each year, Sulky educators also teach at more than 25 consumer shows, and Sulky has a very active program that it presents to Sewing Guilds and Quilting Guilds all across the country.

The digital age…

Fearless Free Motion Stitching taught by Eric Drexler, son of Fred and Joyce

The digital age has ushered in the availability of numerous on-line Sulky courses for consumers to broaden their creative knowledge at home, on their own machines, and at their own pace. Free Sulky Webinars 4 – 6 times per year, along with our involvement on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and of course, this Blog have helped grow the Sulky community tremendously over the years.

While our vision when we started Sulky of America in 1987 was to grow the company by focusing on education, we never imagined how many rewarding avenues we would be able to open and follow to make this happen.

Do you have a favorite memory from the past 30 years?

I have loads of great memories from the past 30 years but I would like to share one of my favorites today.

A thread manufacturer from Mexico was trying to get Sulky to market his thread a few years ago. After he did a careful study and analysis of both his thread and Sulky thread, he told me, “Fred, you have too much quality in your thread. You don’t need that much quality”. This only reconfirmed my belief that we would always strive to have “Too Much Quality”.

Be sure to check out next month’s blog on May 30th as we learn more about Sulky’s history with Fred and Joyce.