Welcome you intrepid In Stitches blog tour followers, welcome to my home on the web! I want to tell you a little bit about my article in this jam packed issue of In Stitches. Conquering metallic thread is the topic...Metallic thread questions are the most frequent ones I get. It is a finicky thread but with a few tips you can easily become a metallic stitch queen! Here are my top metallic thread tips!
1. The thread you use in the bobbin is important. I find that a fine(50-60wt) or ultrafine (70-100wt)polyester thread solves a lot of problems. Metallic threads are wiry and often not smooth so pairing them up with a soft drapey poly thread eliminates a lot of tension problems.
2. Speaking of tension...reduce it! The upper tension dial is one of your best and often underutalized tools on your sewing machine! Reducing the top tension (lower numbers) means less tension on the thread so it will be less likely to break. When I am free motion stitching with metallic threads I set the top tension to zero!
3. The needle...A metallic needle is handy but not necessary. Depending on the type of stitching you are doing a size 90 embroidery (for free motion) or 90 topstitch (programmed and straight stitches) work just as well.
4. Slow down. Sewing fast creates more friction on your thread and friction causes heat and increased force on your threads...causing them to stretch and break. In addition, when you are free motion sewing and moving the fabric fast you are adding stress/tension to the thread. So often in our daily errands we do things in a hurry; slowing down allows us to actually get into the zen of stitching and relax!
5. Thread delivery. Some threads just need a bit more time and space to relax before they hit those tension disks...wow...I could go down this philosophical path on how we would all benefit from more time and space before we face our own daily tension...but let's get back to thread! Try using a thread stand or a jar placed behind and away from your machine. Make sure the thread path goes no where near your fly wheel! Also make sure that the thread is coming off a stationary spool. Dragging the spool along as it unwinds adds more tension.
6. Know your stabilizers! Every thread fanatic should have a wide variety of stabilizers at their fingertips! Stabilizers can make your stitch world so much more beautiful and solve so many stitch problems...and you will have younger looking skin as well. Ok, just joking about the skin but seriously...get to know your stabilizers. They are so valuable in the studio!
You will find even more metallic thread info in the current issue of In Stitches and lots of great ideas and inspiration like:
One thing I want to do on my blog this year is talk about something that has become very important to me...self care and nurturing your heart. I thought about calling it Self Care Sunday and post every Sunday because Sunday is generally a great day to slow down a tiny bit and do a little self care..Right! BUT, all of you who know me well, know that doing something on a set schedule is just not part of my genetic make up! So we will call it Self Care Whenever! Which may actually be better because so many of us need to fit self care in whenever we possibly can.
This last weekend I attended KC Willis' Collage Conference. I really waffled back and forth about should I go...could I justify spending the money on myself and my business...in January no less...right after Christmas spending! I would have to get a hotel, meals out, be away from my family...etc! All those reasons we can easily come up with when we aren't sure we 'deserve' to take care of ourselves. Now isn't that a stupid thought? Who else deserves our love and care more than ourselves? So, after much dithering about I finally decided to go. KC has a lot to share about art marketing in addition to her unique style of collage. I thought maybe starting the new year with a conference would be a good kick in the pants to get focused on my business and art goals. The weekend ended up being a great investment self care!
I was delighted to find a classroom full of great artists and new friends. The speakers, Sarah Fishburn, Jenny Doh and KC were inspirational and heartfelt. There is something magical that happens in art workshops and retreats...magic beyond learning techniques and making art. That of course is why I started Textile Evolution, why Jacki Hefty started Whispering Woodlands, Jenny Doh is starting Crescendo workshops and why KC started her series of retreats.
This magic is hard to describe to someone who has never participated in an art retreat but produces knowing smiles from those who have and creates retreat addicts. I love retreats and wish I could attend one a month. I love teaching at retreats for that reason too. Connecting with others who share the same passions as you do, have the same fears as you do and have similar struggles and successes as you do...it creates a magical environment. An room full of creative swirling energy, love, sharing, support and fairy dust. There is so much joy! Retreats fill my creative well whether I am student or teacher.
I have heard discussions from those who don't like to work in class settings. I think this is because they may think they are supposed to be creating big...real...serious art in class. Classes are not for serious art creation. That has to happen in quiet...alone in the studio. Don't get me wrong...you can make meaningful art at a retreat but classes are to remind us that art is first and foremost a conversation...a connection between the artist and viewer. Oh, yes, classes are also to help us stretch, learn, try new things, see a different point of view and as KC so elequently said...get out of our tiny tent so we can count the stars. Connecting with others allows us to connect with our own hearts.
Have you gifted yourself with a class, workshop or retreat lately...ever? There are so many retreat options from the energetic Art and Soul, the more intimate Textile Evolution, the focused Whispering Woodlands, KC's and many more. Workshops are taught in quilt and art stores as well as private studios. If money is tight...don't use that as an excuse for lack of self care! Create your own retreat. Invite some friends over and have everyone teach a technique or simply make spontaneous art out of a pile of the good stuff while you laugh and play.
I want to share some photos of our weekend...there were smiles and a few tears, laughter and joy, snorting water, chocolate adoration and an adorable dog named Fiona. I hope you will consider the self care loving gift of connecting with other artists sometime this year.
I apologize that I didn't get these photos up sooner...a nasty cold took hold and laid me out for a couple days. Working on these photos is good medicine becuase they are full of delightful things. Art Gallery fabrics always has great booth displays and this year was even better than last! Their fabrics are luscious as well as beautiful.
More designers are branching out into housewares as well as showing their fabrics used in home dec, craft projects and clothing.
If you are looking for unusual threads especially in metallic look for Kreinik. They even have iron on metallic braid.
I was first introduced to Havel's scissors at spring market. I am really impressed with their quality, weight and sharpness. These scissors give a beautiful cut. Some of the styles have a micro serration that makes cutting slippery fabrics so easy. Plus the handles are a little larger than most so they are more comfortable...not to mention that they are pink so they are fun and easy to find amid the sewing clutter. I am excited to announce that I will be creating a few projects for Havel's blog and they are a new sponsor for Textile Evolution Retreats.
I had a half a day to rest between Market and Festival so what to do...why go fabric and bead shopping of course! We stopped at Universal Fabrics...such a great store full of treasures.I found a beautiful silk and linen nubby fabric that will dye beautifully. Two bead stores are located within a block of Universal Fabrics so of course we had to check them both out! Finally Ruth, Deb and I went to the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. This small center always has an amazing show to inspire us.
Festival was a whirlwind and the Artist Artifacts booth was hopping...I completely forgot to take photos...I didn't even have time to shop! Fortunately, a friend took photos of my MIU class. These classes sponsored by Cloth Paper Scissors are always a blast. I had students from Italy and Denmark as well as across the US. My project was called Silk in the Meadow: a mixed media necklace. We used silk cocoons, image transfer and sari ribbon to make these necklaces. I love seeing how every piece turns out different even when we start with the same supplies.
Woo Hoo!!! Threads has arrived! I am just a little bit excited...OK so I am bouncing off the wall kind of excited!! I am so incredibly delighted with the entire design and layout of this book. It is hard bound with a SPIRAL binding so it lays flat! The design is clean and contemporary with hundreds of awesome step by step photos and clear directions...176 incredible pages! Threads is the complete visual guide to thread techniques and creativity and if you do any sewing with thread you are going to treasure this go-to guide.
For any of you who have been hesitating about joining us at Textile Evolution Retreat next week...just think in one short weekend you can gain the confidence to tackle any specialty thread that tickles your fancy and become a certified fearless stitcher! In my Stitch Journeys class we will be working through Threads: The Basics and Beyond and playing with all sorts of luscious threads. Here are just a few of the techniques you will learn...
I am not much of a dyer. I don’t measure or take notes, nothing I dye is ever reproducible. I do follow all safety rules but that is where order stops and chaos begins. I do have a lot of fun and try to remember my color mixing theory so I don’t end up with mud…but even when I forget I end up with some nice surprises.
The two shirts dyed up fabulously also...love free material! One was a sage green sueded silk and the other was a peach shirt. Don’t you love the pockets!