Archive for the ‘Practical Thread Magic’ Category

Making Dragonflies Fly/: A New Tutorial on Fusing with Sheers and Inn Fuse

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

You’ll also find this tutorial on You tube

471 Waterlily Waltz

 

infuse This week I have my first of three tutorials up for you on using Inn Fuse, Innovative Craft’s new fusible film. Iwas particularly excited to hear we have a new fusible film. I’ve been a Steam a Seam fan for some while, but since there’s been trouble getting Steam a Seam I’ve had to rethink how I workThere are several things that really mattered to me. Like release paper and the ablity to reposition my pieces. So when Inn Fuse came out, I was estatic to find a product with both those properties. I talked about this in an erlier post called A Box full of Rocks. Inn Fuse has  those  properties and some very fine virtues all it’s own. 

But whenever we have new products, they change how we work, how we think and what is possible. And there are some differences.

Inn Fuse is a lot stickier. It’s based on a nail polish remover solvent instead of  an alchohol base solvent. It can be run through an ink jet printer. And it’s amazing for all kinds of sheers as well as for cottons. Of course, it takes a little special handling.

So in the interest of not giving you a recipe for a cake that won’t rise, I’ve put three tutorials up. This one we’ll build a background on hand dyed cotton using all kinds of sheers and Inn Fuse. 

Here’s some of suggestions for using Inn Fuse:

  • Use teflon scissors:
  • Back your fabric with the release paper to make your cutting easier.
  • Use a pin to separate the glue from the paper
  • Use a discardable piece of cotton as your pressing cloth.
  • Iron thoroughly at a medium heat.
  • Don’t be afraid to be sheer! I used lace, tulle, organza, glitter organza, cheesecloth and oriental brocade. It worked on them all.

I’ll put up the next two segments over the next couple weeks. Look for them there.

You’ll find more information about Inn Fuse at Innovative Crafts.

teflon scissorsYou’ll find teflon Scissors at Havel. 

You’ll find me in studio cutting a whole bunch of dragonflies to be fused.

 

 

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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
1
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

1
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: 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

A Box of Rocks: The Kiss Principle in Practice Made Better with a New Fusible

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

634 Wind over Water 2If you do nature quilts, at some point you’ll want to do rocks.  Rocks do a lot of a quilt. They give a hard edge to a quilt. They give weight to the bottom of the piece. They make an uneven edge that makes for a more natural work. Over the years I’ve embroidered rocks, painted rocks, crumpled fabric to make rocks, used dyed cheesecloth, organza and sheers. Rocks are a case of the kiss principle. They seem to be best if you keep it simple, Sweetie.

hand dyed fabricThe best rocks I’ve ever made have been simple hand dyed fabric. The shading and variation of hand dye is perfect. And it’s the perfect task when you have the brains left of a somewhat tired out ardvark. I can cut rocks when I’ve got no brains at all left.Of course if you stitch around a rock with a solid color it looks like it came from OZ. I use a soft edge applique technique, minimal zigzag stitching around the rock with monofilament nylon, for the best effect.

But, it does help to have a good way to apply them.

Lately we’ve had some problems with available fusibles. So a new product on the market is a special rare treat. I have several things I ask of my fusibles.

 

  • They need to be paper backed. I’m not accurate enough to cut an unbacked fusible and not make an unholy mess. They gush glue out the edges when you iron them.
  • They need to tack on. I hate ironing on anything twice. 
  • They need to fuse cleanly and thoroughly. No popping up like a jack in a box.

infuse

I was over the moon to hear about Inn Fuse, the new tacking fusible from Innovative Crafts. Even more so  after I tested it out. And there’s no better test for that than cutting a box of rocks. It exceeded my expectations. I was working with the 9″ x 12″  sheets.

First off, the film has no texture of it’s own. It’s a slick simple film. That means it doesn’t show through sheers as a texture. The film sticks thoroughly to the fabric before you iron it. It fuses cleanly and quite tightly. I’m thinking I have a brand new favorite fusible. And a good size box of rocks.

fabric rocks

I’ll be very excited to work more with this and will report on it. But I’m bringing it into class next week at the Ann Arbor Quilt in, and I am confident to bring it to students.

You’ll find Inn Fuse on their web site at Innovative Crafts. They’ve got a number of other stabilizer/batt products that are just that, innovative. You’ll also find it at most Bernina stores, and wholesale at Brewer Sewing. And in my studio where I intend to make a whole lot more than rocks.

Gilding in the Lily- Embellishing Novelty Prints

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Gilding the Lily Class Sample detailMost of the time, I don’t use prints for quilting. I love them. But I don’t want to necessarily do what they want me to do. And I don’t want to fight them. This batik makes a fabulous start for embellishment. It’s a large, lovely simple print perfect for embellisment.

 

 

 

print for embellishingBut a great print can be a great springboard for embroidery, and a great way to build free motion skills. Pick an exciting oversized print with clear lines and great design and you can dress it up with your stitching like a dolly.

I took this print and some metallic threads and got stitching.

 

Embellishing

  1. stabilizer sandwich  Make a sandwich: Stabilize your fabric with a layer of felt, and pellon  sandwich underneath. This amount of stitching needs stabilization to keep your piece reasonably flat.

 

 

  1. threads   
  2. Pick some great threads. These are metallic Supertwists from Madiera. They’re 30 weight, and somewhat transparent, so they won’t completely obliterate the print when you stitch over it.

 

  1. stitching feathers2Set your machine for a straight stitch. Use a top stitching 90 needle and a polyester embroidery thread in the bobbin. Use a small darning foot, preferably for straight stitching.

 

stippling

Trace the print with your stitching. Cover as much or as little as feels good.

 

 

 

Pick a contrasting thread to stipple around the print elements. This is a metallic thread called FS 2/20 by Madeira.

thread for stipping

 

 

 

 

 

A little stitching glitter can make a delightful print simply magical. Add some stitching to wearables, to your quilting or to make a small wonderful hanging. It’s worth gilding a lily.

You’ll find great prints everywhere, but I have some for you in my Inspiration Kits at my Etsy Store, Raid My Fabric Stash. You’ll find metallic Madeira threads at  Madeirausa.com. Gilding the Lily is also a class that I offer to students for guilds, stores and groups. It’s a great way to build your stitching skills!
gilted piece

Gift and a Wish: A New Video

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

41

Did you know that there are twelve days of Christmas? Then it becomes Epiphany. the season of the wise men. So with that in mind, it’s not too late to offer a Christmas gift or to offer a New Year’s wish.

Every winter I try to learn something new. One year it was about roses, one year Elizabeth the 1st. I seem to be learning how to write a novel now. But that’s almost like hatching an egg. You can’t  open it up and check and hurry it along. It’s a slow process that jumps and starts and is currently making me crazy. I’ll tell you more when I know.

But my other thing to learn this year is videos. One of the things I often get asked is if I have a video up on Youtube on one subject or another. 

I have some.  I love them too. You can learn a lot or waste endless time depending on how you view these things. The last person who asked me for a Youtube was one on the stitch vocabulary. Rebecca Kessler, this is for you. It’s the stitch vocabulary. It’s about how you move your hands, heart and head to do free motion. Cathy Miller, The Singing Quilter, let me use her great song “You Can Quilt that Out.”

So my gift to you at the end of this year is a little bit more of information hopefully where you can find and use it. My wish for myself is to become more able with the technology, and to have more cool things to pass to you. My wish for you is that the world be full of all kinds of passions and pathways for you to travel, explore and share, for really what we do is enrich each other.

 You’ll find this and other tutorials on my site and on youtube.

I’m hoping you’ll let me know how you like these.

http://www.singingquilter.com/Cathy Miller’s delightful songs are available on her site at TheSingingQuilter.com and on Amazon.

Ellenisms: Making Technical Knowledge Stick

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

One of the really hard things about teaching is that what you’re teaching isn’t always sexy. It may be vital, needful, essential information, but those kinds of things are rarely something you wake up and smile about in the middle of the night. I teach about sewing machine needles, stabilizers and how machines work,   The thread part is endlessly fascinating and fun. The needle part, not so much. Unless you’ve figured out a way to make it either funny or sticky.

 

 

 

I first ran into the concept of “Sticky” information in a book called The Tipping Point. It was in terms of advertisement, which is the kissing cousin of education. Both are about saying things in a way that stays with people. You see it in political campaigns as well. Most people can’t give you the full details of “Remember the Alamo”,” Tippecanoe and Tyler too”. or  “We will not crucify humanity on a cross of gold.” But those phrases, whether you remember the context ,stick.  Most people with even a rudimentary education or a TV know them. The phrase needs to almost ring through you;re head. If it’s funny, well that helps too.

So here are some of the technological things I say in hopes that they will stick. In class I make students say them with me. I’m shameless.

 

  • Lefty Loosy, Righty Tighty: This is the way the screw world works most of the time except when it does. It’s vital information. Like most things the theory and practice can be different.But when you’re trying to figure out how to turn a screw, this is a really good bet.
  • New Day New Needle, New Project, New Needle: Just really good advice. Needles don’t just break. They get dull, bend, develop burrs and generally stop working. A bad needle is a really bad day. Change it out whenever you’re having trouble and get your good day back.
  • Thick Thread, Straight Stitch: You can zigzag with 8 weight thread. I could also eat chocolate and toss it down with rum and coke. Bot h of these are really bad ideas ( Trust me!)  I’ve sewn my needle plate to my piece that way more times than I care to count. Should that happen ( I know you’re listening, but just in case) don’t pull anything. Cut your bobbin loose, remove the needle plate and shave or rip the stitches out. You won’t mess up your machine’s timing that way.

You’ll find the Tipping Point on Amazon.com and probably at your local book store. It’s a fabulous book about why things become fads and why we all do them together.

I come complete to every class with as many good tips, ideas and helpful stances as I can pack in my suitcase and /or my head. And that’s what teaching is all about. Making people more able with what you know. Check my class page  for the new and classic classes I offer guilds, groups and stores.

  

 

 

Falling into Fall: In Search of Fall Color

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Last night’s  hard wind and rain brought the cool that’s been promised by the leaves’ turning.  There’s patches of color up and down the highway.  Mostly maples at this point.  The browns will come in later with the oaks, and the elms are in  between wth a fanfare of yellow. All time is spiral in nature. And it’s always announced by the colors. You know what time of year it is without a calendar. Just look up at the trees and the sky.

What makes those fall colors so fabulous? When we get them on the wheel, it’s  pretty clear. If we look at them from a distance we have a split analogous wheel We’ve got the reds and the greens complementing each other. But here nature’s blended them into different browns as well.

Whenever I teach dyeing,  I get someone who says to me “I hate brown. I don’t want to dye any browned out colors.” That’s an aesthetic and it’s a choice. It’s not even a bad choice. Most of us can easily be seduced into clear colors.  But as you dye fabrics and threads, you come to realize that different complementary pairs make different browns an that the shades between them are amazingly rich and moody. The owl was done with around 3o different hand dyed threads shaded with complementary pairs in different combinations to celebrate brown. It’s much sexier that you thought, isn’t it?

In the micro view it’s a little simpler. Were you wondering why there’s pink in that wheel? It’s there in those leaves. But the green and red sizzle against it and it slides in with that soft orange.

Fall into the colors of fall! All those colors against the browns are warmth against the coming cool.

 

 

 

More of Ellen on Quilt It!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
Photo: Hi Folk! Another edition of the taping with Jodi Davis at Quilt It. Here's the info.</p><br />
<p>Catch even a quick glimpse of one of Ellen Anne Eddy’s quilts and you will see that Ellen does in fact create a “magical world” with fabric and thread. Having seen her quilts before she joined me in Salt Lake City to tape Quilt It! The Longarm Quilting Show, I was anxious to find out how she made those fabulous creatures and fairy tale scenes come to life in her quilts.</p><br />
<p>It all starts with Ellen’s hand dyed fabrics. Not only do they provide her palette, but often the pattern within the fabric evokes an element in the quilt.</p><br />
<p>Then there’s the thread. Lots of thread! My big “aha” moment was when I saw how she made some of the frogs and butterflies separately from the quilt top and then attached them. That’s how she gets those thread-heavy creatures onto her quilts!</p><br />
<p>As wonderful as her quilts are, the same is true of Ellen herself. She could easily be a character who just stepped out of one of her magical quilts. Meet Ellen Anne Eddy this month on Quilt It! The Longarm Quilting Show and be charmed!</p><br />
<p>Happy quilting,<br /><br />
Jodie</p><br />
<p>Quilt It! The Longarm Quilting Show!<br /><br />
Quilty<br /><br />
Quilt Out Loud!<br /><br />
The Quilters Community</p><br />
<p>ADVERTISEMENT</p><br />
<p>Quilt It! The Longarm Quilting Show<br /><br />
Episode 216<br /><br />
The Magical World of Longarm Quilting Artist Ellen Anne Eddy</p><br />
<p>The longarm machine was invented for quilting quilts, or so we thought. Leave it to the imagination of gifted artists like Ellen Anne Eddy to take the longarm to places that astound us. The longarm machine and threads become her pen and ink and her hand painted fabrics are the paper as she quilts, bringing her magical world of colorful creatures to life before our eyes.</p><br />
<p>Ellen Anne Eddy works her quilt magic with hand dyed fabrics and lots and lots of thread. Many of her exquisite creatures and flora are stitched separately using bobbin work and then later attached to the quilt.</p><br />
<p>Short Takes on Longarm Quilting with Vicki Hoth<br /><br />
Vicki shows us some gadgets sit-down longarm quilters should have in their bag to simplify their quilting time.</p><br />
<p>Jodie and Ellen Anne Eddy have a blast going through a trunk show of Ellen’s quilts. She points out special techniques used on different quilts. Her hand dyed threads and fabrics and lots and lots of shiny threads are the special ingredients used to create her fantasy world.</p><br />
<p>Watch it here!
Hi Folk! There’s another edition of the taping with Jodi Davis at Quilt It. Here’s the lovely note Jodie Davis wrote about it.
“Catch even a quick glimpse of one of Ellen Anne Eddy’s quilts and you will see that Ellen does in fact create a “magical world” with fabric and thread. Having seen her quilts before she joined me in Salt Lake City to tape Quilt It! The Longarm Quilting Show, I was anxious to find out how she made those fabulous creatures and fairy tale scenes come to life in her quilts.

It all starts with Ellen’s hand dyed fabrics. Not only do they provide her palette, but often the pattern within the fabric evokes an element in the quilt.

Then there’s the thread. Lots of thread! My big “aha” moment was when I saw how she made some of the frogs and butterflies separately from the quilt top and then attached them. That’s how she gets those thread-heavy creatures onto her quilts!

As wonderful as her quilts are, the same is true of Ellen herself. She could easily be a character who just stepped out of one of her magical quilts. Meet Ellen Anne Eddy this month on Quilt It! The Longarm Quilting Show and be charmed!

Happy quilting,
Jodie”

Quilt It! The Longarm Quilting Show!
Quilty
Quilt Out Loud!
The Quilters Community

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

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?

 

.

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!

Hydrangea Happening: In Search of Color

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

When I was visiting  the Mountain Lauren Quilters down in Georgia, I saw the most amazing hydrangeas. We have hydrangeas up north. I have some annabell hydrangeas that threaten to swallow the whole side yard. But not like these.

I was in Clayton Georgia, half up the mountain, where these women take their gardening seriously. And their hydrangeas are a thing of legend. Part of it is the warmer zone allows for blue lace caps and other wonders. Part of it is just passionate gardening on steroids. Both Lynda Doll and Kathy Booker had astonishing gardens with hydrangeas to die for.

Which left me wondering….What is it about the color of hydranges that turns us all inside out?

So we’re going to put it on the color wheel and look.

 

 

First off, they’re blue and there isn’t a whole lot of real blue in a garden. Lots of purples, pinks, reds, oranges and greens. So the ones that are merely blue are a wonder just for that

 

But most of them aren’t just one color. They flirt with all the purples and pinks to either side.

And this one adds just a dab of yellow in the center. It’s as if it were buttered. Yumm!

Here it is on the wheel. We have an analogous range of purples, blues and pinks, with that yellow complement to the purple sparking across the wheel. No wonder I want to play with this combination. I think, next dye day they really will be colors to dye for.

 

 Wondering how you might do this as stitchery? This roundish form, covered with a great hydrangea range of colors in garnet stitch does the job pretty well.

Before the heat starts to simmer today, go out in your garden and see what colors catch your heart. Go feed your eye.

 

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. 

Dyeing without the Red Menace

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Piney Dragonfly

 

Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.

It used to be that I never dyed anything without certain dyes in the house. Clear yellow, turquoise, plum, blue violet, lemon yellow and fuchsia.If I was out of any of those, I ordered dye. Even if I was out of only one.

Did I ever order one color of dye? Don’t be silly. That would be horrific in shipping costs. So the need for one $4 jar of dye would really quickly turn into a $75  exploration of new colors. It was fun. The economy was stronger and I was teaching much more often.

Now that I’m home more in the studio, my dyeing has changed. I dye more just for myself and much less often. And when I found myself out of fuchsia dye last week I rolled my eyes, shook my head and dyed without it.

It’s fascinating how one color changes the whole pallet.

Piney Dragonfly is dyed using fuchsia, along with hot pink, cotton candy, yellow green, forest and dark green.

 

three point landing

Three Point Landing was dyed without fuchsia.The reds here were done with basic red, mixing red, strong orange, raspberry, amethyst and scarlet.

 

  They call fuchsia the red menace for a reason. It bleeds. Not a little. Not sometimes. Stuck pig style. In the most peculiar pink if you have a white spot in your fabric for it to land on. Some people like it. For me, it’s an almost automatic cause for an  overdye.

Leaving out the fuchsia meant that I didn’t have any bleedover. Who knew? Nothing is good or bad less thinking makes it so.

If you want more information about dyeing fabric The Dye Day Workbook will walk you through my sponge painting methods  to wild wonderful fabric, with or without fuchsia.

Technology and the Dye Cup Fairy (Pat Winter)

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

I love technology. I hate technology. I feel like the red queen and though I can’t possibly run fast enough, or at all, I must try.

Pat Winter is the Dye Cup Fairy. When I’m done dyeing fabric, I always have a bit of left over dye in the cups. Not so much that you could dye yards and yards of fabric. But ribbon? Yes! So Pat comes by and picks up the dye cups. I go for long periods of time when I don’t see the Dye Cup Fairy but you always know she’s been there. There’s a note, missing dye cups, and if you’re lucky, new plants in your garden or an Icy waiting for you. If you don’t know Pat, she’s perhaps the most inventive and amazing crazy quilter in the world.

Several years ago, I bought what I call a boob camera. Not because it’s for those of us who are a bit behind. No. It fits in my bra. Now this is important because if you don’t have a camera with you you can’t take the picture. I know you’re supposed to be able to do this with a phone. 
Please! I can only master one plastic box at a time.

 

Panasonic Lumix Boob Camera

I love my boob camera. Simple, no cap to lose. Takes a lot of pictures before it declares itself dead. Do I know what all the settings are? Don’t be silly!

 

 

 

 

So one day I walked into my studio and found the Dye Cup Fairy. And being the Fairy of Large and Incomprehensible Messes, we played together. With the boob camera and paint sticks.

Pat is much better with a camera than I. We both looked at the sport setting and said Sure! Why Not! You press the button down and it takes picture after picture after picture after picture. Well, you get the idea. She pointed and shot. I just played.

 

We got 836 pictures. What do you do with 836 pictures? Even after you take out the ones with blurry hands, more is definitively less  there really is a too much. Who’d have believed that?We’re not going to use that setting again.

 

 

 

 

Did we have fun? You betcha

I hope you have a Dye Cup Fairy who takes, gives and shares wonderful things with you!

I hope you play with your friends, even when the technology is incomprehensible!

I hope all your messes bring you wonder and joy! 

You’ll find Pat Winter’s blog at Pat Winter Gatherings. She also does a fabulous crazy quilt magazine that will launch you into a brand new crazy  quilting world.

You’ll find more about paint sticks on older posts of mine at 

The Secret Handshake: New Toys 

Paint Stick Updates

The Schamburg Expo

You’ll find my camera on Amazon.com. There are lots newer ones, but none better. And it fits just fine in a DD cup.

 


Commissions: Other People’s Dreams

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I love birthdays! Celebrating birthdays is how we say, “I’m glad you’re here! So I was particularly delighted when a friend asked me to make a special quilt for her sister on a special birthday.

Thalia Johnson had come to the studio to visit before. She called me to ask if there was a great tu’rtle quilt for her sister’s birthday. I said, “Not at this moment, but there could be.We sat down with some great reference pictures. Have you used Teamviewer before? It’s a way to share what’s on your screen with someone else. It’s definitely cool. It allows you to look at another person’s computer miles away,

 

 

Turtle in the Hostas

 

Fly Fishing

We decided on a water slider turtle, rather than a tortis or a box turtle. She loves orchids and her sister gave me pictures of her collection. It made a perfect lady’s slipper.
I went to work.
I embroidered the turtle.

Created the branch
Built in the water and sky and made lady slippers.

Here’s Paige with her quilt.

Commissions are an honor. They’re a badge of trust. They also scare me a little. I’m always terrified of letting someone down in some way. But when they  please someone this much, I feel privileged to have been asked.

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