Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Perfect Paper Piecing ~ Choose the right thread

paper-pieced-star-quilt-1-of-1

 

Paper Piecing! I spent the last weekend finishing this quilt top and table runner. Starr Design Fabrics created the pattern and fabric kit. This project has been in the works for 13 years! I know some of you can relate. I purchased it on my 40th birthday so I know exactly how long it has been hanging around. One reason it has taken so long to finish is that I discovered after oh...about...the second star that I really don't like paper piecing. (gasp!)

 

Fortunately, I have a great friend who doesn't mind paper piecing and she helped me get through these blocks. Truth be told she made most of them. :-)

 

One benefit to working on a project like this for so long is that it has a bit of my personal thread history in it. I started this quilt before I had embarked on my mission to undercover all the mysteries of thread. So, it is a bit of an experiment on what threads work best with paper piecing.

 

I started out with a medium weight cotton thread. Nice and strong but it made it difficult to get all the many points to meet where I wanted them to meet. Too frustrating for paper piecing these complicated patterns.

 

Next I tried a couple different ultra-fine threads. I began with InvisaFil and DecoBob both by WonderFil. These ultra fine threads worked great and gave me totally flat seams and the points all behaved nicely and met where they should. But, these particular poly threads are a little stretchy so when I was tearing away the paper the stitching stretched a bit and had to be repaired in a couple places.

 

My recommendation for paper piecing thread is Coats and Clark Dual Duty Fine. This thread is strong, not as stretchy as the others I used and is fine enough to give you nice flat seams. Don't forget to shorten your stitch  length too.

 

I have gifted my paper piecing hero with all my add a quarter rulers! I won't be paper piecing in the foreseeable future. I hope to get this quilt top quilted later this fall but have a baby quilt to do first! Another boy grandbaby will be joining us in late Jan. Love those boys!!

 

 

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Demystifying Bobbin Case Tension

One of the frequent questions I get at any lecture or class is about that pesky bobbin case tension. It seems to make smart women doubt their skills and abilities. It isn't really very confusing but we have been told to keep our hands off that bobbin case tension screw! We might mess it up. Really? How tragic could it be? It is one screw. Righty tighty lefty loosy. Pretty simple.

for those of you who aren't quite sure why you would need to adjust your bobbin case tension well, I have a few words for you: uber yummy ultra heavy threads!

Farm Fresh Tencel-bobbin work close up sm

I chanllenge you all to make friends with your bobbin case tension! Be brave! There is nothing more staisfying than knowing you can make your machine do what you want.

Today, I am sharing my video that tells you just how to adjust that bobbin case tension.

Now that you have concqured that fear head over to Textile Evolution to create with us in our free on-line book studies. There is one for Fabric Embellishing: the Basics and Beyond and one for Threads: the Basics and Beyond. You do need a copy of the book for the details but the book study is totally FREE. Ask us questions, share your work.

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ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist!

Threads: The Basics and Beyond


I am soooo excited....Threads: the Basics and Beyond by me and Debbie Bates is a finalist in ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards in the Craft and Hobby category.

This is such a huge honor! The category includes all craft and hobby books not just quilting and fabric art. Wow...can you say thrilled?? I may need to tie weights to my ankles to keep my feet on the ground!

Passport for Threads Basic and Beyond


I am so delighted that I think this calls for a giveaway! Don't you? Leave a comment here and on April 1st ( no fooling!) I will use a random number generator to give away a copy of Threads: the Basics and Beyond! Tell me what you love about thread, your favorite thread or just cheer for thread!

And, for all you thread lovers don't forget that I have a FREE on-line book study in the forum on this site. Actually two FREE on-line book studies...Fabric Embellishing and Threads. We even have a few dedicated stitchers in both studies. Come on in and play with us. You don't need to sign up for the class but you do need to get a user name and password to participate in the forum...you can look as a  guest. Getting a user name takes about 1 minute and you can find the log in on the forum page.
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Lint Mountains


Last week I had the pleasure of give two thread lectures at High Prairie Quilts in Parker CO. I love talking about thread and sewing so giving these talks is always a lot of fun. One topic that always comes up at these lectures is linty thread.  When exactly did lint in the bobbin case become a terrible plague on stitching humanity?  Have we made a mountain out of a molehill?

In the last 5 or so years there have been quite a few thread manufacturers telling us their brand of thread is the best we can buy because it is lint free or as close to lint free as possible. We ooohh and aaahh over this marvelous product and believe that lint free is the way to be. I admit to buying into the lint is bad story myself. But, if you stop a moment to really think about lint and its origins you just might have to accept an alternate reality. We tend to forget one little detail…the fabric we are stitching on supplies our machines with its own bit of lint. If we are stitching on homespun or loose weave fabrics we are rewarded with copious amounts of the evil lint.

I will let you in on a secret…if you take all the lint off of a thread you will cause un-spooling problems because the thread is so slick it just falls off of the spool. The little hairs you see on thread are actually beneficial. Yes, I admit that excess lint in the bobbin case might cause all sorts of problems from skipped stitches to the dreaded bobbin rats nest of tangled thread but how much can we blame the thread and how much our sewing machine hygiene regimen?

It may seem unlikely that my thread lectures include a firm admonishment about appropriate sewing machine hygiene but it is actually one of the more important parts of my lecture. Every time I ask how many attendees clean their machine regularly I am met with embarrassed and yes, even shame filled faces! We are so quick to blame poor defenseless lint for our stitching woes when the hard reality is that we have simply neglected the task of cleaning and oiling our precious machines.

How often should we clean and oil? That depends on how much you sew, the type of machine you have and even the environment you live in. Always refer to your machine’s instruction manual to learn how to clean and oil your particular machine. When I am sewing for most of the day I will clean and oil my machine before I stop for the night. It seriously only takes about 2 minutes. A good guideline is to clean and oil after every 8 hours of sewing. I live in a dry and dusty environment so I try to clean my machine more often. Remember that cleaning out the lint is only one goal. Oiling your machine properly will add years to its life and your machine will thank you.

The bottom line is that there are very few threads on the market today that cause so much lint that it can be problematic. Clean your machine (often), don’t take everything a manufacturer tells us as gospel and let’s let lint dissolve back into the molehill that it really is.

If you have thread questions leave a comment. I am working on some thread FAQs for our forum here since most of my awesome blog readers can’t get to one of my lectures. If you have a photo of a very linty machine send it to me to help illustrate this post…my machine is clean. ;-)
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Fall Quilt Market

Fall quilt market was great. The atmosphere was upbeat and some of the stressful faces from previous markets were replaced with cheerful smiles. Business in the quilt world is thriving.  I didn't have as much time to talk to fabric designers and see the whole quilt show but I do have some photos to share.

M&S Textile from Australia



I didn't take a lot of photos during the Schoolhouse sessions...just plain forgot! But I did get this photo during the M&S Textile session. Their Aboriginal fabrics are wonderful and wow do they create an intricate quilt. This quilt is actually a very simple pattern...the fabric does all the work. That is my kind of quilt!  Artistic Artifacts carries an extensive line of these fabrics...I want them all!!

1/2 of sample spree



Sample spree is a shopping experience not to be missed. Store owners, teachers and designers have a chance to pick up some of the hottest new products and fabrics so they can get their samples and classes prepared before the products are shipped. It is a bit of a mad house as everyone rushes to their favorite vendor table...quantities are usually limited. This photo shows just half the ballroom where it is held.

Ruth Chandler and I in Landauer booth



Ruth Chandler and I had demos for Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond every day and I had demos for Threads: The Basics and Beyond as well. We love talking about the books and getting store owners and teachers excited about giving classes based on them. Our demo table is always a pile of samples! Other quilt authors bring nice neat stacks of quilts and we bring all this little stuff! LOL! It is sort of a treasure hunt as we try to show cool techniques amid the jumble of book samples. No one seems to mind though. We were very excited to learn that Fabric Embellishing will be translated into French! Hope I can get a copy.

I had two big book signings at distributor's booths. Unfortunately, my co-author Debbie Bates couldn't attend. These signings are a lot of fun and I get to talk about thread! They had to listen very intently in the E.E. Schenck booth because I was losing my voice.

Book signing at E.E. Schenck



Threads signing in the Checker booth



I also taught a Take and Teach class designed for shop owners to give them ideas for teaching from Threads: The Basics and Beyond. We made this cute little quiltlet with a flower power theme. The students had a great time and almost everyone finished their mini quilt. Those classes are hard on the store owners because we start at 8am! Then they hit the show floor at 9:30...it is pedal to the metal stitching! Fortunately I had my dear friends Ruth Chandler and Deb Prewitt manning the heat guns so we could get their thread lace flowers dry enough to stitch on to the quilt. Friends who will get up at 5:30am to help are priceless.

Take and Teach students hard at work.



Susie's finished Flower Power quiltlet.



Tomorrow I will post some photos from the market floor and then more from Quilt Festival...stay tuned because you know I brought home some goodies for a giveaway!
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Poor Nameless Piece



This is the final piece for the technique I demonstrated for Quilting Arts TV at my taping earlier this month. The show will air this summer. I am not sure when but i will be sure to let everyone know. This technique is also in Threads: the Basics and Beyond which will be available in May. I love this technique which combines free motion machine embroidery and hand stitching.

I struggled with how to present this piece because it was overwhelmed by quilted background, which is one of my standard methods of showcasing these embroidery pieces. A painted canvas was too stark. I finally hit upon this idea. The canvas is loosly wrapped with a sheer fabric. I tried wrapping it tightly but that didn't 'fit' either. This piece wanted to have a soft resting piece. I used Misty Fuse to fuse the sheer fabric to the back of the canvas. The Misty Fuse worked perfectly. I like how it turned out and may try it again on future pieces.

I don't have a name for this piece yet. Usually names come to me as I work on a piece and I worked on this one a long time with all the hand stitching but the 'just right' name hasn't come forward. Let me know if you have any ideas!
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