Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

Heat and Shape: Mad Scientist/Artist at Play!

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

cycada song2Somewhere in my family background, there has to be a mad scientist somewhere. Either that or a wild woman who was brewing some very odd teas. 

I’ve been a dyer for over 30 years now. It’s not all of what I do. It’s never really been the focus of what I do. But my work would have been much less rich without it. 

I’m also incapable of measurements. Not in cooking, not in dyeing, not in any way. If you just can’t pour it in and hope for the best it’s probably not going to happen on my watch.  Soups and stews, yes. Much better at bread than cake. It’s all a dyslesics view of the measuring cup. It’s a sugguestion, a guideline. Don’t ask for accuracy.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love  experiments.So I was delighted when I got a package of Heat and Shape. 

I’ve pasted in the information for you. Of course, it never occurred to me to do trapunto. 

Heat & Shape is a revolutionary heat-activated batting that allows the home crafter to create unique, 
rigid, three-dimensional fabric designs.  There is no need for water or messy chemical additives, Heat & Shape is non-toxic and is activated with only heat and pressure. Heat & Shape can be easily 
cut with scissors or a rotary cutter and, prior to heating, can easily be sewn through using standard
needles and thread.  Due to the nonwoven nature of Heat & Shape it will not fray at the edges like 
Woven stabilizers.  

Ideal as a hidden stiffener to add stability and crispness to handbags, tote bags and
placemats.  Let your imagination run wild with fanciful masks, costumes, millinery, boxes, bowls, flowers 
and ornaments.  Heat & Shape is mold and mildew resistant and is machine washable and dryable.

Quilt Heat & Shape into some of your favorite fabric, lightly steam and you have what we call
“Poor-Man’s Trapunto”; a beautiful stipple  effect as the Heat and Shape crisps and shrinks as you steam!

I found myself thinking, Leaves! So I cut a bunch of leaves and shaped them and veined them with the iron and the heat. As you heat them, they shrink and take on the forms around them. It’s like shrinking felt that can be molded and marked and seamed.

When I got done they were fearfully white. But they were polyester. It’s been a long time since I played with Rit, but Rit is one of the dyes that is formulated for all kinds of fibers. 

crockpot 2It was like my old college days. We used what we had.At that time Rit was it. Rit responds to vinger, salt and heat and I used a lot of both of those. I put it in the Crockpot and left it for two days. It remains to be seen whether the mix of purple and green made that brown or whether I singed them. But theydiyed leaves are very, very fall like.

dyed leaves 2

dyed leaves 3

 

 

They’re currently pinned to the Cidada quilt that is in process on top. I’m excited to see what they’ll look like with veining and stitching all over them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll find Heat and Shape at InnovativeCrafts.Com. Even though it’s polyester, we’ve proved it will dye with heat, salt vineger and Rit. Although, there’s a rumor that it could be made in rayon.  Which would dye with cold water procions. The mad scientist in me is completely overjoyed. cycada song detail

 

Thread Magic Summer School: Buying and Choosing Threads

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

I‘d like to say that if you know about threads, you know how to buy them. That’s not strictly true. It’s sort of like knowing how to cook an eggplant. There’s a separate skill in picking out a good one. On that’, I’m clueless.

True for thread too. I have three concerns when I buy thread. It’s true if I’m buying for myself of for students at class. 

  • Is it Beautiful? If the color, texture and hand of it aren’t beautiful what are we doing. Don’t buy anything that isn’t really lovely.
  • Is it Strong? If it isn’t a strong thread that works well in your machine, again, what are we doing? Don’t buy thread you know is problematic. We can use weaker thread through the bobbin. Make sure it’s a type that works for your machine. There’s only one way to know that. Test it out.  Are there threads that I know are always good? No not really. I know some that are universally troublesome, but the only real authority about your thread is your machine. It will tell you, pretty directly, if this is a thread for you.
  • Can we afford it? Well, it all comes down to priorities. I find my thread bill is much worse than my fabric bill. I accept that I can afford anything. I just can’t afford everything. But I will say that NO ONE CAN AFFORD CHEAP THREAD. I’m not speaking of inexpensive thread. I mean cheap. Your time and energy (and potential heartbreak) are very expensive. Don’t buy a thread that costs you all of those.

That being said here’s some dos and don’ts

  • Do buy colors you love. If you love it you’ll use it.
  • Buy several colors that sing together. No one child plays alone well. Get colors that will work together and again, if you love it, you’ll use it.
  • When you can, buy thread that’s wrapped in plastic. It does keep thread from getting old. Do consider storing thread in plastic.
  • Don’t buy huge quantities of something you won’t use up for years. Thread DOES GET OLD.
  • Pay attention to what your machine likes. It’s the final authority for what thread is best for you.
  • If you have a local source, for heaven’s sake support it. There’s no pleasure like being able to walk into a store and match your colors. Color charts are always, at best, a translation. And 25 cents less on a spool will not pay for the shipping.
  • Don’t buy thread you think is old. It probably is. Old thread will do nothing but break.
  • Remember that more fragile threads can be used in your bobbin case.
  • For store owners, a rack of thread is a huge expense. Try out threads in your store with a nice selection of the very best colors, and a pretty basket. Your customers will love new options and you won’t have a huge object to fill and dust.
  • Finally, if you have an older, useless cotton or rayon thread, unspool it and leave it for the birds. You’ll have fabulous bird nests. PLEASE DON’T USE METALLIC, POLY OR NYLON. It can cut their feet.

I always bring thread for students to class because I know their choices are limited. Of course, the threads I bring in depend on their class choices. But here are some of my favorite thread companies

 

 

 

Madiera Thread

  • Supertwist, 
  • FS 2/20 metallic
  • Poly Neon
  •  Glamor

YLI

  • Candlelight
  • Pearl crown rayon
  • Decor 6
  • Wonder Thread

Superior

  • Metallic
  • Rainbow
  • monopoly
  • Razzle Dazzle

Valdoni

  • Pearl cotton

For Dyeing

DMC 

  • Pearl Cotton
  • Dyed Pearl Cotton

Tomorrow is the quiz. Win a free book!

 

Thread Magic Summer School: Novelty Yarn

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

 

So far we’ve talked about threads that go through  the machine and form a stitch. But there are ones that just don’t. Any thread that is too thick or goes from thick to thin can, of course, be used. You just have to couch it on instead.

Novelty yarn goes in and out of vogue with the quilt community, but your yarn shop always has it. And little quantities work beautifully, so you can get years of joy out of a single ball.

 

 

I prefer to use it to create an “air line” that continues the visual path of the piece. It’s a squiggle that helps your eye travel through the surface.

Couching with your regular sewing foot

How do you put it on? It’s simple. Instead of running it through the top or bottom, you couch it on.There are lot’s of different couching feet. But your regular pressure foot works just fine for thinner yarns.  Just run it through the grove.  Thread your machine on top with a cool thread to see or monofilament nylon if you don’t want to see it. Zigzag it down, feed dogs up. 

Novelty yarn creates great texture, interest, visual direction and a lot of old fashioned fiber-joy. It’s a pet you may need to dust but you won’t have to feed. And it’ a great addition to your thread stash.

Summer School is coming to an end. Your pop quiz is on the 20th! Make sure you know all the answers by reviewing now!

Remember the first three people who post their test results on facebook get their choice of a Thread Magic Studio Publication! And who says you don’t like school?

 

.

Thread Magic Summer School: Mono-filament Nylon Threads

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Mono-filament threads are a whole other class. They are an embroidery thread of a sort.They are a war horse thread with specific purposes. But they do not really work for any classic dense embroidery.

Why?

Because they are so strong. In general, threads that are made of one particular thing are stronger than threads made of several substances twisted together. Metallic threads are always weaker than single fiber threads, because they’re really not all of one piece. It’s lurex, viscose, poly, and often a partridge and a pear tree. Metallics are not only a test tube baby. They are hybrids.Mono threads are one single substance that is stronger than the cotton threads of your fabric. Which means it can, if misused, cut through your surface fabric. So some caution and information is a real help here.

Early mono-filament nylon:

In the seventies, when we had the beginning of of knitted fabrics and sewing for knits, mono-filament came to the fore for lingerie and stretch knits. It was almost like a cord. It also melted easily with an iron.You could iron your garment and watch the seams separate. It was a heavier weight thread at around #20, which made it way too strong. It was wonderful for hanging sun catchers and that was it’s very best use.Lots of the bad stories about mono-filament thread are in response to those original ones.This was the mono filament nylon they said could hurt your machine. It could. It came in giant cones. If you still have any of this left, use it for hanging pictures or make some mobiles. Please don’t sew with it.

Mono-filament now:
We’ve come a long way.Because of the intense strength of these threads, it’s recognized that they should be usually 40-70 weight (remember that larger numbers are thinner threads).  They’re perfectly safe for machines, both in the needle and bobbin.They also come in polyester and in nylon. The polyester ones are also available in colors.

If they aren’t in colors, they’ll come in clear and smoke. Clear is for white and pastel work. Smoke is for anything darker. Withing those formats, it really is invisible.

They shine as stippling threads. They work very well in both contemporary work and in traditional machine quilting looks. They are much safer for your surface fiber if they’re done with a straight stitch.

You may be tempted to use the colored ones for zigzag embroidery. Don’t. They’re #70 which means they won’t fill in well. And they will cut through your top fabric.

I do use mono-filament as an appliqué thread and for couching, with a zigzag stitch. But in both cases I never stitch densely. I stitch just enough to attach everything. Dense zigzag stitching with mono-filament will cut through your surface fabric, even now. But I haven’t had one of the newer mono-filaments melt ever. They’ve licked that problem.


I also use them as a major part of bias application. If you check out my book, Quick and Easy Machine Binding Techniques, you’ll see it used to sew down the top edge of bias tape. I’m not sewing those puppies by hand.


Wrapping it up

Mono-filament threads are brilliant for sewing things down invisibly, for stippling, and for straight stitching. They can be used zigzag, but with caution. And as always, garbage in, garbage out. You can’t afford cheap threads.


Quick and Easy Machine Binding Techniques is available on my site.

More Thread Magic Summer School posts coming. Read up to be ready for the Goodreads quiz and contest

 



Cheesecloth! The Cotton Sheer

Monday, June 18th, 2012

It’s such a good thing people don’t generally look in my washer. They would need medical attention pretty fast, and perhaps that’s just as well. There’s a large quality of the embodied question.”Just what is that?”

This is a cheesecloth lump. As advertised, it’s a lump of cheesecloth, tucked carefully into a nylon stocking so it doesn’t unravel and trap the whole washer in threads. Is this some special fabric we’ve never heard of? No. You probably put it on a turkey breast last Thanksgiving. 

 

 

Even open it’s a bit of a mystery for folk. But you  can see the colors. Cheesecloth is one of the appliquer’s and dyers best kept secret. It’s a cotton sheer that dyes beautifully, can be ironed like cotton ( with a pressing cloth) and is fabulously textured. What it does best is sheer bright color behind stitching.

 

Here it makes the background behind these great mushrooms

 

 

 

 

This great flower is cheesecloth in two shades. All the other coloring is the thread work.

 

These soft leaves are cheesecloth with polyneon thread stitched in different colors on

different sides.

How do you dye cheesecloth? It dyes just like cotton. The trick is not in dyeing it. It’s in washing it out. Like every other bad boy, you can’t let it play with others. Stick it in a nylon stocking, tie it up and your good to go.

I apply cheesecloth with Steam A Seam 2, iron it down thoroughly and stitch it with abandon.

Sheer, bright, lovely,  cotton and  completely addictive, add it to your applique stash.

If you can’t find it, or dye it, I do make it available for folk. Email me and we’ll set up mailing you a box of it. 

View Cart | Check Out