Archive for the ‘Thread Magic Summer School’ Category

A Summer School Gift for You

Sunday, August 18th, 2013
color outside the wheel.indd_Page_01

Color Outside the Wheel An Ebook for you!

We’ve had a great week. I hope you’ve learned some great new ways to approach color, past picking the colors off the wheel. I need to thank Caryl Bryer Fallert, Kathy Weaver, and Susan Shie for letting me explore colors in their magificent work.

french toast

French Toast, Susan Shie

Robo Sapien Agent 4

Robo Sapien Agent 4 Kathy Weaver

Feather Study 1 by Caryl Bryer Fallert

Feather Study 1 by Caryl Bryer Faller

 I need to thank Monique, Kleinhans, Rebecca Dorian Brown, Lauren Strach, Joan Davis, and Roberta Hoover Ranney for letting me put them in places of honor on the refrigerator gallery.

 

I have the answers to your tests here. Not that that matters. The real test is, does this change how you think? What you choose? And that’s as much a test for me as for you. But here’s your answers.

Color cast is
C. whether colors lean towards the sun or the shade.

2. The color wheel is
C. a map of color relationships.

3. Differences in value
A. help us sort things visually 

4. We all recognize the same color names
B. False

5. Color temperature is about
 C. Both

6. Color theory works the same for mixing colors as picking colors.
B. False
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7. All blues are the same.
 B. False

8. Everyone sees color the same way
 B. False

9. Differences in hues are
 B. differences in light and dark

10. Contrast
C. Pops out the figure from the ground

11. You should never use a color your hate.
 B. False

12. Color theory is
 B. A theory that works up to a point. C. 

color outside the wheel.indd_Page_01As a gift to my students. I’ve packaged up this class in an ebook you can enjoy and work with at home. Thanks for being such good students. And go color off the wheel. You can download it at issuu.com or click the picture for a link.

Next week I’m exploring the new box of Inn Fuse that Innovative Craft sent me so I can do a demo for them. And, of course, for you

Thread Magic Summer School: Color Outside the Wheel Pop Quiz

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

893 for the bees pleaselFor the last week I’ve talked about color, not just in terms of color wheel but what we do with our color choice past the wheel. My hope for you is that you’ve come away with new thoughts about how you might choose color, play with color and color way outside the lines and outside the wheel. I hope it makes you try colors you love, colors you hate and colors you just don’t know yet. I hope it makes you braver and bolder. And I hope you show us all.

Here is your test. You don’t need to pass it on to me. I’ll put the key in to tomorow’s post, with my Summer School gift to you. I’ve put together a free ebook from what we’ve studied here. I hope to have it posted up tomorrow.

Name: Class: Saturday, August 17, Total Possible Marks: 12 Test  

1. Color cast is
A. Made of plaster
B. Dark or light
C. whether colors lean towards the sun or the shade.

2. The color wheel is
A. a pretty chart.
B. everything we know about color.
C. a map of color relationships.
3. Differences in value
A. help us sort things visually
B. are scary
C. make things look muddy

4. We all recognize the same color names
A. True
B. False

5. Color temperature is about
A. Warm and cool colors
B. Color cast
C. Both

6. Color theory works the same for mixing colors as picking colors.
A. True
B. False

7. All blues are the same.
A. True
B. False

8. Everyone sees color the same way
A. True
B. False

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9. Differences in hues are
A. differences in intensity
B. differences in light and dark
C. differences in colors

10. Contrast
A. Should be kept to a minimum
B. Is only for hues
C. Pops out the figure from the ground

11. You should never use a color your hate.
A. True
B. False

12. Color theory is
A. A scientific fact.
B. A theory that works up to a point.
C. A Victorian concei

Your real test isn’t here. The real test is when you pick your next colors. Choose something marvelous.

Thread MagicSummer School: Color Mixing vs. Color Picking

Friday, August 16th, 2013


672 Willow lEven though we’ve been looking at dyers and painters, we’ve been exploring color combinations. We’ve learned that the most exciting combinations offer us contrasts either in hue, tone, temperature or cast. Those contrasts help define our figure and separate it from the background. That separation gives the mind and the eye a way into a composition, a way to make immediate visual sense of what is going on.

All that falls to the ground when we start mixing colors.

 dye cupswI’ve always let the dye houses mix my colors for me. They do a much better job, and I’m constitutionally the right person to do it. It would assume I could measure something. That hasn’t happened since 1969.

But once you put one dye color on top of another color, you’ve mixed them, planned or not. And that same excitement that happens with contrasts in color combinations is instantly blended into a brown of some sort.

I know a lot of unhappy dyers. Unless you really like brown, this is a downer.

 

color picking

Picking primaries

 

Mixing from Primaries

Mixing from Primaries

 

 

 

Willow is an example of a great deal of purposeful mud. I love the browns in her, and dyed them largely from complements.

 

 

759 Blossoms in Moonlight detailThread Color is about picking rather than mixing. So the color choice rules apply. Brown is enriched in this bunny with greens,burgundies, teals, oranges, purples and olive greens, all complements but separate because each is a separate thread. The eye blends them in your mind, but their separation holds the colors true and bright.

Ellen Anne Eddy's Dye Day Workbook cover front for web tnIf you want more information about color mixing you’ll find it in my book

 

 

 

Dye Day Workbook, available in print on Amazon.com or on my web site.

It’s available as an PDF on my Etsy store Raid My Fabric Stash

 

 joans refrigerator

On our Refrigerator today, we have Joan Davis, an amazing Hawaiian quilter who’s work reflects the beauty of the island. You’ll find more of her amazing work on her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/joan.davis

 

 

 

 

 

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This is our last day of Thread Magic Summer School. Tomorrow there will be a test. It is only a test.

I do think it’s fun at least to measure what you’ve gotten out of it all.

Sunday I hope to have a little gift for you for coming to summer school and making it fun.

 

 

Thread Magic Summer School: Contrasts in Color Cast

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Our Color Master today is Susan Shie

Twilight Time

Twilight Time

Color cast is one of the hardest things to talk about. We’ve defined cool and warm colors. But color cast can be warm or cool on any hue. Up until now, we have looked at the color through a hypothesis of color theory. It’s a valuable tool, but it is just a theory. At a certain point it has to bend a bit to fit reality. We are assuming a perfection that doesn’t exist except in theory.

If we mix perfect primaries, it should give us clear colors. Experience tells us something different. You can mix yellow and blue and get brown. The colors are not perfect and can lean a little either to the sun or the shade. This is not about being a cool or warm color. It’s a color cast. When you look at a color, ask yourself if it is most like the color to the right or the left of it on the color wheel. If the color is more like the one to the right it leans towards the sun. If it’s more like the one to the left, it leans towards the shade. You can mix sun colors only or shade colors and be sure of clear hues. If you mix sun and shade, then you get earth. If the color has brown already in it, it’s an earth color and anything you mix with it will create more earthy color,

But when we’re chosing color as opposed to mixing color, it gives us the same kind of contrasts in temperature cool and warm colors give us.

Susan is the master of the airbrush and the story. Most of her quilts have long and delightful stories written into the art itself. Make your’self some reading time and you’ll feel like you sat for a day in her kitchen drinking tea and hearing all about the family. 

But she’s a master colorist too. She knows how to accentuate her images against all of that swirling design and she does it with a change in color cast.

spot the station six of cupsHere’s a color breakdown of how she does that.

Here’s a chart from Big Huge Labs of her color choices.

spot the station chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve separated out her sun colors from her shade colors.The major im

spot the station barages are in sun colors. Everything else is in shade colors.

The thermal shock from thse choices make her images glow off the background. Like everything else about Susan, it’s simply brilliant and brilliantly simple.

Here’s some more of her fabulous work. See how she uses color cast to accentuate and separate her field and ground.

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Susan’s amazing work can be seen on her site at Turtle Moon Studio.

tarot deckThe images we used of hers today are from the minor arcana of her tarot deck.The Major arcana is currently  available at Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

roberta refrigeratorOn our refrigerator today we have work by Roberta Ranney. Roberta’s work. Roberta’s work echos her life in Springfield, MO with  an engaging imaginiation all her own. Look into Roberta’s engaging world at her blog site at http://robertaranney.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thread Magic Summer School: Contrasts in Temperature

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

860 fall koiChanges in color temperature make very dramatic contrasts.  We talk about warm colors and cool colors on the color wheel. Traditionally the color wheel is divided into cool colors

Cool Colors

Cool Colors

warm colors

warm colors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those colors used in an unbroken arc are analogous colors. They’re smooth, lovely and very pretty. The warm colors speak of sun and fire, and sunsets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cool colors speak of water and greenery and soft filtered light.

There’s not a lot of tension in analogous color. It’s gentle soft color.

But if we take cool colors against warm colors, we find ourself in a visual thermal shock. Cool color against warm pops images off the background every time.

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Use intense temperature differences to separate out figure/ground images. Bright or dark, they define the difference.

On the Refrigerator

We have the awesome work of Monique Kleinhans, from Kailispell, Montana. You’ll find her wide prairie visions at her web site Ladybug’s Cabin at Paint, Metal And Mud Gallery, and teaching at Glacier Quilts, in Kalispell, MT.

monique refrigerator 2r

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thread Magic Summer School: Contrasts in Tone

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

 

Cyborg Female 3- Amusing Disorder

Cyborg Female 3- Amusing Disorder

Our color master today is Kathy Weaver.

Tone is the dark side of colors. In dye and paint a color can be darkened either by browns, blacks or by the complement of the color. Tint is the lightening of colors either with white or water. 

We somehow fear the dark. We sometimes forget the  colors that dark or muddy. But diamonds show up best against a black cloth. Darks are our shadows, our depths, the underside, the forest glade and our art is sorely limited without them. 

Pastels offer us a pale world, a shadow delicate mist.  I find it hard to go there. I want all my colors bright. But bright colors gleem against a pastel background. In both cases it  is a contrast in tone that focuses us exactly onto the art and lights our excitement.

Kathy Weaver has created a quilted world of robots that have always astonished me. She’s color master, part for her choices but largely for her painted imagery that jumpstarts her work. And she knows how to work contrast to make her images shine.

I’m also going to introduce you to one of my favorite online tools. Big Huge Labs is a site that has all kinds of free and fabulous photo tools. This is their swatch generator. It’s an easier way to look at the colors in a piece.

Here is one of Kathy’s works and a swatch list of the colors she used.

Robo Sapiens, Agent 5 has a glowing yellow robot against a deeply toned set of bars.

In Robo Sapiens Agent Four, we have the contrast of this wild pink robot against a beige netral.

Robo Sapien Agent 2 glows against the darkly toned background.

When we look at the swatches we can see the contrast in tone, the light and the dark. In all cases, she chooses the difference in tone to accentuate the figure from the  ground.

The figure is our focus. But if it do the same as our background, our ground, the eye has to somehow figure out where it is. Making a visual obvious distinction between the figure and the ground pops it all into view. And making it with differences in  contrast is a clean and clear way to that.

Cyborg Female 1- Complacent Nature

Cyborg Female 1- Complacent Nature

It doesn’t matter whether we choose a lighter or darker backg round. The difference itself, either way sets the figure fore and center in our perception. Cyyborg Femail has yellow arms that echo her background. But the difference in the tone pops her out against it. She glows against the background because there’s a contrast.

Fire Slinger glows against the dark because of the differences as well, although this time she’s gone to the darker contrasts.

Fire Slinger

Fire Slinger

And Invader has both soft background and foreground, but she lets the edges darken enough to pop the contrast.

Invader

Invader

Explore more of Kathy Weaver’s fabulous world on her web site at http://www.kweaverarts.com.

Or you can learn from her at her classes coming up at Arrowmont, September 29th through october 5th. Here is the website info.  http://www.arrowmont.org/ workshops/venueevents/196-kathy-weaver

 

Make your images pop by choosing differences in tone when you pick backrounds. Go light. Go dark. Go different!

Laurens refrigerator

On our refrigerator today we have Lauren Strach from St. Joseph, MI. Lauren’s nature quilts have attracted attention (and prizes) both locally and nationally. Her work sings with color and contrast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You’ll find more of Lauren’s fabulous work on her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lauren.strach

Thread Magic Summer School: The Magic of Contrasts

Monday, August 12th, 2013

bradford fantasy 1Our color masterist today is Caryl Bryer Fallert.

What all art creates is a series of contrasts, in some form or another. Color theory is one way of describing those colors. We joke about plain white canvases being art because we know  that even as an art joke there’s no drama there. The ability of art to change how we think, how we feel, how we live is the point of it all. Good art changes the world. But to do that it has to demand our attention. It does that by emphasising contrasts.

We can build contrasts in a number of ways. Color is only one. We also have contrast in value, in saturation, in size, in color cast and temperature. All of those scales give us a way to separate the elements of our work. The most important separation is between field and ground.

color wheel  pattern 3When we look at the color wheel we have the map of how colors (Hues) relate to each other. The closer they are to each other the less tension there is between them. The further they are, the more tension and the more potential excitement a combination has.The colors farthest away from each other are called complements. They’re the electric voltage to most art, and they’re what we’ll look at today.

Perhaps the finest quilt color master of our time, Caryl Bryer Fallert is a master dyer and quilter. She has a gift for astonishing color, that usually encompasses the whole color wheel. All those complements at once are electric. The tones and the saturation on these colors are relatively even. All of the drama is in the change of the hues, the colors themselves. And she’s always dyed her own fabric.

These pieces romp through the whole color wheel. Doing that they place all the complements against each other. This is a winning combination, visually and at shows because it always grabs  attention.

Once we start picking and choosing colors off the wheel, the complements still s are the king combinations of these. If we are a little more aware, we can catch a bit of the feeling we get off them. We like them because they offer on.us strong visual stimulation.

Here’s some of Caryl’s work that encompasses complementary combinations

We can also take an arc of the color wheel and focus on that. Those are analogous colors. Here are some amazing pieces of Caryl’s focused in the blue/green arc.

Caryl’s astonishing work can be seen on her web site at http://www.bryerpatch.com, at her studio in Paducah, KY and in art collections and museums across the country. Make sure you see the amazing body of work she’s continued to graced us with.

We’re used to thinking about color strictly as hue. But tomorrow will look at differences in saturation and how they make it easier to separate field and ground, background and forground.

rebecca refrigerator 4On the refrigerator today we have Rebecca Dorian Brown, the creator of Dreaming Girl Highway. Rebecca is also a master colorist and she let me put up these lovely images. Dreaming girl is a series of 78 images out of her life and time set in a deck of Inner Vision Cards. Her media is computer driven and she is a master at generating depth and drama out of pixels and vectors.

Rebecca’s amazing cards are available on her web site at http://www.dreaminggirlhighway.com. Make them your visual snack on your way past the refrigerator.

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Would you like to be on the refrigerator too? Send me several quilts and your contact/web  information at ellenanneeddy@gmail.com

Ann Arbor and then Thread Magic Summer School

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Tomorrow I’m heading up for Ann Arbor the their Quilting Unlimited Festival, where I’ll be teaching this weekend. I’ve got my usual pile of  thread, books, kits, toys and quilts and I’m ready to go. I’ll be teaching the Stitch Mastery Book, Applique Master, Bobbin work Flowers and Button hole Binding. If you’re anywhere near, come and join us. You’ll find more information on their web site at http://www.gaaqg.com/qu2013/.

QU_2013_flyer898 Dragonfly in the Clearing

When I get back I’m going to start up Thread Magic Summer School Session. If you joined us last year, you know it’s an intense week of blog classes, this time on color theory outside the box.We’re going to talk about how and why color works the way it does. It’s kind of like class camp for grownups, where we focus on quilting, color, art, expression and fiber. The first lesson will start August 12. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s a great way to stretch your knowledge. 

Join me both places! This is going to be fun.

Ellen

School’s Out! Contest Winners!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

 

Thread Magic Summer School is out! But for those of you who missed it all, the blogs are up and you can build your knowledge. As Bing said, “You could be better than you are.” And so can we all.

I’m putting in the quiz with the answers because that’s really what a quiz is about. It’s a learning tool. Multiple guess was the bane of my childhood because I could always see at least two answers that could under odd enough circumstances work. And, of course, this is one woman’s opinion. The final authority on how thread works is how it works for you and your machine.  But that being said, here’s the answers.

Question 1. How is embroidery thread different from sewing thread?
(  ) It’s of nicer colors  
(  ) It’s rayon  
(+) It’s two ply rather than 3 ply  
(  ) It’s thick.  
Question 2. How do you use #5-8 thick threads in the machine?
(+) Through the needle  
(  )  In a regular bobbin case  
(  ) You can only couch them  
(  ) Through an adjusted bobbin case.  
Question 3.Which weight of thread is thickest?
(  ) 50 weight  
(  ) 20 weight  
(  ) 30 weight  
(+) 5 weight  
Question 4. Which kind of thread is most colorfast?
(  ) cotton  
(  ) rayon  
(+) polyester  
(  ) metallic  
Question 5. What thread would you never use through the needle?
(+) Candelight #8 weight  
(  ) Poly Neon #40 weight  
(  ) Sulky 30 weight rayon  
(  ) FS2/20 Madiera 20 weight  
Question 6.Is a cross wound spool better used horizontally or vertically?
(  ) It doesn’t matter.  
(  ) Vertically  
(+) Horizonally  
Question 7.How many times does your thread go through your needle before it lands in your fabric?
(  ) twice  
(  ) 30 times  
(+) 50 times  
(  ) 10 times  
Question 8. What is mercerized thread?
(  ) It’s specially colored.  
(  ) It’s regular sewing thread.  
(+) It’s treated with lye for extra strength.  
(  ) It’s blue.  
Question 9.What thread is strongest?
(  ) cotton  
(  ) polyester  
(  ) rayon  
(+) monofilament  
Question 10. Can thread get old?
(+) True  
(  ) False  

 On another note, anyone who knows of a good free quiz software, please let me know. I haven’t quite worked the kinks out of this and need some help on it.

Our Winners:

Our winners are, every one who read this and learned something from it! But I’m sending an ebook to everyone who commented on this. I’m closing the contest today. If you didn’t give me a preference to your book, I’m sending you the binding book because it was the most requested. Three people won printed copies.

Nancy Pieper npiepe01@gmail.com won a copy of The Dye Day Workbook

Vivian Ahern PoopayTwo@aol.com won a copy of Dragonfly Sky

Katherine McNeese kmcneese@suddenlink.net won a copy of Quick and Easy Machine Bindings.

If you’ve won a book, please send me your mailing address  so I can get it to you.

I’ll be sending other books through Dropbox.com, so if you get an email from me, that’s your ebook.

A word about Thread Magic Studio Press:

The books we’re giving away are from Thread Magic Studio Press. This is my own publishing company, setup to do small classroom project books and stories. It lets me me put together small books that are perfect class handouts as opposed to the dreaded stapled white sheets. It’s also a service I can offer you as well. Do you want to do a pattern book? A printed portfolio? A family story? A show catalog. Thread Magic Studio Press can set that up for you for one copy or thousands. For public sale, or just for private. Just the way you want it. Email me if you’d like information about that.

Would you like to do something nice  for me in return?

(none of these things will cost you anything)
If you ask…….?Here’s several things that really help.

Like my facebook page.

We all know facebook is one of those group happenings everyone uses and no one really understands. But it is a lovely connection with folk, and it builds reputation. Like the Thread Magic Studio page to get more information about where I’m going, what I’m doing, and what is on my blog.

Follow my blog:

At the bottom of the blog page there’s a line that says RSS feed. If you click that you can set up following my blog. Or you can follow it through facebook through networked blogs

Review a book of mine:

Amazon, C&T and Goodreads all have places to review my books. Saying something nice about one of my books really helps sell books.

Ask your guild or local store to have me come teach for them.

I can call, write, send pictures and packages to venues right,left and center. None of that has the impact of you asking your guild or store to have me come teach. If you have a group that is interested have them email me and I’ll get teaching information out to them.

Finally, it always helps when people buy things. I have thread, fabrics, books, and fiber art always for sale on my site.When you can. If you wish. As you can.

I love what I do, but it’s not my hobby. For thirty years, it’s been how I paid my bills. Your support helps me to continue to give to you, quilters, the best I can for the best people I know.

This was too much fun not to do again. I’m taking suggestions if you have an idea what you’d like for the fall session.

Ellen

Technologically Egged!

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

 

Have you ever had a perfect teacher? Who never made a mistake? Who was always right no matter what?

Well, that would not be me. I thought that the quizzes would indeed be postable to the facebook page. When I went to look for them, there were none there. When I went to goodreads.com I found 44 people had indeed taken the quizz but there was  no place where I could check for who they were. OOOOOOOOOOOOOPS!

Since this was a disaster from the point of people posting results, we’re going to let everyone win. I’m going to request that everyone who took the test email me with their book choice. I’ll pick three physical book winners at random and send ebooks to everyone else. With my apologies.

So, if you’ve liked summer school and taken your test email me and tell me which book you would like. Your choices are: 

Dragonfly Sky ISBN978-0-9822901-2-5 Dragonfly Sky This delightful dragonfly project  focuses on bobbin work with thick and thin threads, angelina fiber, on soft edge appliqué. It has an inspirational gallery section, a full set of instructions, patterns, sources and  tips.

Lady Bug’s Garden ISBN 97809822901-3-2Ladybug’s Garden A step by step project book that covers free motion zigzag appliqué, soft edge, hard edge, and  cut away appliqué. Pattern, tips and sources included. 

Dye Day Workbook ISB97809822901-8-7  Ellen Anne Eddy’s Dye Day Workbook: A whirlwind class in color theory, has color charts throughout for both Dharma and Pro Chem, gives Ellen’s particular recipes for her famous light source fabric and step by step instruction for both dyeing fabric and hand-dyed threads.]

Easy Machine Binding Techniques

ISBN 97809822901-1-8 Ellen Anne Eddy’s Quick and Easy Machine Binding Techniques Easy and fun binding techniques without a hand stitch in them. Cut continuous bias with a rotary cutter. Use the quick Flip and Fold bias method to whiz through applying bias. Make beautiful corded edges instantly without stitching by hand. Ellen Anne Eddy, Author of Thread Magic, offers you a collection of simple speedy skills for finishing your masterpieces.

If you just want an ebook and you didn’t take the test or read the blog, there’s not much I can do about that. It doesn’t really hurt me but it does cheat you. 

 If you’re wishing you could kick me around the room for having set up a test situation that did not work, please get in line. You’ll have to wait until I’m finished.

Seriously, I do want to know if you liked this. If you did, we’ll do it again. If you have problems with it, let me know and we’ll see how we can improve it.

Please send your email  with your comments and book choice  to me at ellenanneeddy@gmail.com

Ellen

Thread Magic Summer School: Pop Quiz and Contest

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

 

Me and my altar ego

I had a fabulous teacher in high School English named Ms. Driscoll. She was odd, brilliant and the perhaps the best teacher I ever had. She terrorized generations of students into good grammar, excellent literary criticism and strong writing. I owe her a great deal. When she gave a test, we would ask her if it was hard. She always said,” Do you know the answers? It’s not at all hard if you know the answers.” So today, when I put up this test, if you’ve been reading this blog, you already know the answers. But that’s what a good test does. It doesn’t judge you or place you. It tells you what you know. That’s always useful.

The Quiz is on Goodreads on my author page. Why bother with the quiz? It helps you refine your own knowlege.


And I’m giving away free books.

  • Take your quiz. Post your results on facebook on the Thread Magic Studio Page  Tomorrow I’ll pick three names out of the hat for your choice of these books. Choose between

Dragonfly Sky ISBN978-0-9822901-2-5 Dragonfly Sky This delightful dragonfly project  focuses on bobbin work with thick and thin threads, angelina fiber, on soft edge appliqué. It has an inspirational gallery section, a full set of instructions, patterns, sources and  tips.

 

 

Lady Bug’s Garden ISBN 97809822901-3-2Ladybug’s Garden A step by step project book that covers free motion zigzag appliqué, soft edge, hard edge, and  cut away appliqué. Pattern, tips and sources included.

 

 

Dye Day WorkbooISB97809822901-8-7  Ellen Anne Eddy’s Dye Day Workbook: A whirlwind class in color theory, has color charts throughout for both Dharma and Pro Chem, gives Ellen’s particular recipes for her famous light source fabric and step by step instruction for both dyeing fabric and hand-dyed threads.]

 

 

Easy Machine Binding Techniques

ISBN 97809822901-1-8 Ellen Anne Eddy’s Quick and Easy Machine Binding Techniques Easy and fun binding techniques without a hand stitch in them. Cut continuous bias with a rotary cutter. Use the quick Flip and Fold bias method to whiz through applying bias. Make beautiful corded edges instantly without stitching by hand. Ellen Anne Eddy, Author of Thread Magic, offers you a collection of simple speedy skills for finishing your masterpieces.

 

Originally I said we would pick the first three people who posted their correct quiz. But that’s not fair to those of us who aren’t fast. I’ll take all the correct answers and pick three names out of the hat for the book of their choice.

While you’re at Goodreads you can

How fun is that?
We’ll pick winners tomorrow
Check out my list of art source books

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: Machine Needles

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

We’ve got two more class days for summer school ad I want to oput in just a bit about needles, because they really affect how our thread works for us.

 

The hardest working part of  your sewing machine is your needle. Think about it. It’s the contact point, the point to the exercise, the.heart of the issue. So it’s worth knowing  what needle you’re using and why. Because I want to do machine free motion work with my machine, I want a needle that’s going to help me do that best.

Are needles all the same?

Yes and no.

Yes, they have a shaft and a hole for the thread to go in.

No, there are huge differences in what that shaft and hole look like, that make them act very very differently.

We are, to be clear, talking strictly about home sewing machine needles. These always have a flat side in back, and that’s one way to identify them.

Within that group there are several possibilities.

There are a bunch of specialty needles for certain things. I’m not going to touch on those, because they’re labeled for those purposes.

Needle Brands

You can get needles that have every kind of sewing machine branded on the front. Basically Schmetz makes all of those needles. They are identical. Schmetz needles are an industry standard and well worth looking for. The only difference is Singer needles. Singer has it’s own style and I recommend you use Singer needles only with Singer Machines. You can use a Schmetz needle on a Singer. But don’t use a Singer needle on any other kind of machine. It may scar the hook.

Organ needles come in huge boxes and are suggested for free motion. They work quite well and are inexpensive. I don’t think they come in topstitch, so you lose the possibility of the bigger eye.

Point Styles 

Sharp Point Needle

These needles have a sharp point.  That means they have a clean punching power and create a smooth stitch line.They’re set up for woven fabric. I always use a sharp needle for all free motion embroidery. 

Ball Point Needles

These needles have a ball point at the edge. They wiggle through the fabric. They’re set up to sew knitted goods without snagging. Because of how they’re built, they don’t really create a smooth  stitch line. Although I don’t use them with my Bernina’s and Pfaffs, they are recommended for Janome/ New Home Machines for freemotion.

The Universal Needle

If you go into a shop and ask for needles and don’t tell them what you want, this is what they’ll give you. It’ s a general multi purpose needle that does nothing really well.This is a combination of sharp and ball point needles. It’s a horse designed by a committee. It kind-of sort-of works all the time, sort-of. It has a sharp needle shape with a gently balled end. Again, it doesn’t leave a clean stitch line. I would avoid it for free motion. Better to use the right tool, than the almost right tool.

Needle Sizes

Needles are labeled with  European and American Sizes. European sizes are 60.70.80.90,100,110. The American sizes are 10.12.14.16.18. Larger numbers mean larger needles.

For most embroidery I like a #90/14. If it’s leaving too large a hole try a size smaller. If it’s breaking constantly, try a size larger.

Topstitching vs. Regular Eye

A topstitching needle has a special big eye. This is so helpful. You can see it to thread it. But it reduces thread breakage massively as well. 

There’s a brilliant little book called A Point Well Taken that goes through all the needles and what they do. It’s available at www.amazon.com

Wrapping it up

My favorite needle is a 90 Topstitching needle. I find it reduces breakage and gives me a fabulous straight line to draw with. Try it yourself. I find it makes such a difference.

For more information about needles Schmetz has a great flier you can download at their web site www.schmetz.com

Also check out this earlier post called Busted Needles and Other Disasters for more needle info.

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?

 

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Thread Magic Summer School: Hand-dyed Threads

Monday, July 16th, 2012

We’ve talked about the commercial thick metallic threads. They’re yummy.As your asking yourself, “What more could you need?”, think of this. They don’t come in very good variegations. 

Variegated thread is sort of a mixed blessing in almost all the commercial threads. There are two basic types. There are threads variagated through rainbow colors. These make great stippling threads. The color changes carry your eye across the surface and they’re very interesting for that. But they’re miserable to shade with. Who, over the age of three, wants a random rainbow colored anything? It’s a serious limit. 

They also come with small variegations, that range around one color. Again, it’s a limited effect. Finally you’ll find pearl cottons that range in value from white to the darkest tone of the color. This works for flowers, but for anything else, it looks like it fades in and out. These threads were never made to shade solid images.

#5 weight pearl cotton

This is why I dye thread. I’ve learned that the best way to color an image is to have a range of colors, light to dark and then to add a shader for weight and a shocker for interest. With thinner threads, you pick your colors one by one. But thicker threads fill up quicker and don’t have enough space to let you do that. So when I dye my own threads, I dye in that range and a shocker or shader( sometimes one color works for both purposes) so that thread will automatically shade as I stitch.

The threads I dye are #5 Pearl cottons. They’re made from mercerized cotton and dye beautifully! And they’re already washed out and needle ready( I wash out all my red threads an extra time, just to insure their color fastness). Slightly larger than the #8 metallics, they are a perfect thread for bobbin weight work.

You could dye smaller or larger threads. It’s a matter of taste. But it helps that #5 comes in a dyers hank( a loop of thread, as apposed to a wound up spool).

It sounds complicated. But the dyeing makes it a simple coloring exercise. And I never stay within the lines, so I don’t see why you should either.

Pearl cotton and metallic mixed

You put these threads in an adjusted  or bypassed bobbin and stitch from the back. The results are spectacular.  I used to believe that you shouldn’t mix pearl cotton with metallics. Boy was I wrong. It’s trickier for shading but incredibly lovely. I often add either black  or iridescent white Candlelight  for details and to outline.

If you wish to dye your own pearl cotton, it’s very easy. There’s a whole how to section in my Dye Day Workbook. You can also order pearl cotton from me. Email or call me and we’ll set up a box where you can pick what you want and send back the rest. 

We’re almost through our summer school sessions. We have two lessons left and then it’s time for the pop quiz. Bone up, review and get ready.

Thread Magic Summer School:Thick Metallic Threads

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Mooning

We’ve talked about all the needle usage threads. Thicker threads (sizes #5-8) can be run through the bobbin of your machine and are instant gratification.

The metallic thick threads are especially yummy. Because they’re thick, they build up an image very quickly. And being metallic, shiny and gorgeous doesn’t hurt either.

What’s the catch? They won’t go through a needle. So this will take a small attitude adjustment.These threads are sewed upside down. Being dyslexic actually helps here.

 There are three basic brands. Madeira Glamor, YLI Candlelight and Superior Razzle Dazzle are all identical in form and function, but the differing companies offer different colors. They work in an either adjusted or bypassed bobbing case (ask your mechanic and he’ll help set that up. And you sew upside down. Use a matching polyester #40 thread through the needle. The thicker thread will look like it’s been couched on. It’s a very pretty look.

Is that hard? Of course not. Can you look through a slide backward? I use my drawing on stabilizer in the back and fill it in with simple  straight stitch repetitive shapes. Or I’ve drawn on the quilt sandwich from the back and stitched along that.

The damsel fly  here is in a number of lovely thick metallics..

Wrapping it up

Thick metallic threads work beautifully in a bypassed or adjusted bobbin case. Stitching with a straight stitch you can make wonderful filled in images or lacy textures, at your choice.

Continue to prepare for your pop quiz on the 20th! More Thread Magic Summer School to come!

Thread Magic Summer School 3: Metallic Threads

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Metallic threads are different from all other kinds. Largely because they are hybrids. Rayons, polys and cottons are all of one piece. It makes them stronger. It makes them more integral. It’s rare to even have a rayon (the most fragile of the three) that won’t work easily and well through the needle.


Not so with metallics.Most people report they have trouble sewing with metallic thread. It’s also always harder free motion. Why?


It’s All in How It’s Made

Metallic threads are usually a combination of lurex, viscose(rayon), polyester, and whatever else was in the test tube. They’re usually wound together in the process. Of course, whatever is wound can be unwound. So it makes sense that under the stress of sewing, these threads are much more likely to break.

There are three basic forms of metallic thread

Flecked Thread

These threads are twisted with the components all together. They have an appearance of flecked sparkles.These tend to be the strongest of the metallic threads. My favorite flecked threads are the Madeira Supertwists.These threads work either in needle or bobbin, zigzag or straight.


Wound thread

This thread has a poly or rayon core with lurex or metal wrapped  around it.These threads vary a lot, depending on what the core is, and whether the wrapping is glued on or not. My favorite wound thread are  Superior Metallic, and Yenmet, which have a poly core and are glued supposedly with rice paste. These threads work either in needle or bobbin, zigzag or straight.


Flat Threads

These threads look like Christmas tinsel. They’re flat and nothing but lurex. They’re notoriously breakable.

But they are lovely. I use them in the bobbin only.


The Three Best Tricks

Here are the three best tricks for making metallic thread work better.

The Bobbin vs the Needle

Every thread that goes through your needle goes through it 50 times. That’s a lot of wear and tear. If it goes through your bobbin it gets picked up just once. So if your thread is breaking, sew with it in the bobbin with a poly or rayon thread that matches it in color on top. Much less breakage.

The Right Needle

The best needle for all free motion embroidery is usually a #90 topstitching needle. The bigger eye and shart point make a huge difference. See my entry, The Needle Knows.

Sewers Aid

This silicon thread treatment makes threads infinitely stronger. You can use it on threads that need some help. Just drool it along the spool.

And as always

Garbage in, Garbage out

Nothing fixes either cheap or old thread. If it won’t sew you can always glob with it. I’ll show you that trick another time.

Wrapping it up

Metallic threads are a beautiful addition to your thread pallet. With special care and tricks they add all the glitz a girl can use.

 

Keep reading for more Thread Magic Summer School. And remember the test an contest are on July 20th. More information

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

 



Thread Magic Summer School, Quiz and Contest.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012


Summer school is a great time to stretch what we know and to add a bit to it. So I’m going to offer you some summer school fun. We’re going to take a couple weeks and review threads. Thick, thin, composition, usage, everything.                                                                                  

I’ll repost some information that has been off the web and write some new. And as always, you need to pay attention. There will be a pop quiz. I’ll post a quiz on the Goodreads Site. The first 3 people who post  the correct answers on my facebook page(you can do this on the quiz site) on July 20th get a signed copy of either choice of Dragonfly Sky, Ladybug’s Garden, Quick and Easy Machine Binding techniques.

Thread Magic Garden

I’ll put up the quiz on Goodreads on July 20th. Be ready. Read up.  Or you can review your copy of Thread Magic and Thread Magic Garden. 

 So Start Reading Up:

Lesson 1: Basic Thread Types 

Thread information is one of the deep dark mysteries of the quilt world. It’s so common we think we should know. Like most things, thread information is more complicated than it looks. And like most things we should know, it’s really unhelpful to should on ourselves.

There are many brands and I have my favorites. I’ll talk about that another time.There are also whole lines of thicker threads, I’ll cover later. But I’d really like to lay the basis of info you need to have about basic thread for machine and free motion embroidery.

Sewing and Embroidery Threads

Sewing threads are three ply threads made for holding pieces of fabric together. They are almost always an unacceptable embroidery thread because they are not made to lie on top of each other.If you sew over them consistently, you can make a surface similar to chain mail. 

Embroidery threads are  usually a two ply thread. They’re finer and they are made to overlap and blend into each other.

Thread Sizes

Threads usually have two numbers on them. One will be a color number. The better quality threads are consistent color-wise and don’t have dye lot issues.So you can buy the same color over and over with confidence.

But the other number is the mystery. We hear about 40 weight thread. What is that?

 Thread sizes are an old measure system. It’s really the thread count per inch. If you laid your threads side by side, how many threads would make an inch?

So a 40 weight thread would be forty threads, side by side. A thirty weight 30 threads. 200 count percale is two hundred threads to the inch.( The same system applies to linens as well). For embroidery purposes, any thread between 12-40 weight can usually work through a top stitching 90 needle( see my early blog on Needle Knows).

These threads can be used either in the bobbin or the needle, zigzag or straight stitch, computerized or free motion. They are the backbone of embroidery.

What’s My Thread Made Of

Threads are made of a number of different fibers.Some are more successful than others. It’s worth knowing how these fibers react when you choose your threads.
Cotton is probably the most basic embroidery thread. It’s strong, comes in many colors and is versatile. It has one flaw that to my mind is unforgivable. It’s not shiny. Magpie that I am, I will confess, I never use it.

Rayon is the most common embroidery thread. It has a lovely sheen and a fine color range. But it’s never strong. Some brands are better than others. I use rayon that’s in my sewing box. But I’ve stopped buying it for myself or for students, unless I simply can’t get the color any other way. It’s never as strong as polyester. In fairness, I do think it blends better than polyester. But the breakage is an annoyance I’m unwilling to offer to students or put up with myself.

Polyester threads are the gold standard of the 40 weight crowd. They’re strong, and the color range is astonishing. They are my go-to, war horse 40 weight thread.

Acrylic threads truly lead me to ask the question, “Why?” These threads are so unstable I don’t even want to see them in someone’s stash. My personal experience with them has been too unpleasant for words. I can’t recommend them. They seem to be set up for computerized embroidery, and perhaps they work better for that.

Garbage in, Garbage out

There are threads I consider a bargain. But when someone tells me about this wonderful thread they found that’s so cheap, I do need to restrain my eye roll.Usually cheap thread is just that. It’s not merely inexpensive. It’s cheap. Save money on something else. You’re time is valuable, and cheap thread usually wastes mountains of time in breakage and bad behavior. Old thread is also a case in point. It will get too old to use, and at that point is no bargain.

Wrapping it up

All that said, the real test of any thread is how it works in your machine. Keep track. You may find that your machine has very different opinions, and in the end, those are the only ones that count for you.

You’ll find my my Goodreads Site here. It has a page of my books and a whole listing of books I’ve either loved reading or shared with people as great source material.

Look for more Thread Magic Summer School coming soon!

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