Years ago I bought this 20U Singer industrial. It was under protest. I had burned the brushes off a very nice 930 Bernina. If you don’t know any of these numbers, take my word. 930 Berninas were war horses in armor.
So they told me that a 20 U was a tough enough machine. I had mine calabrated to work with embroidery thread, and did a number of zigzag embroidery images on it.
For a fast machine, it was still a tedious experience. This machine doesn’t really use a foot. So all the fabric needed to be hooped. And unhooped. And re-hooped. Again and again and again.
I simply stopped working with it at one point. I was considering selling it.
But people have always loved the quilts made through this technique. It allows for so much detail and coloration. 40 weight embroidery thread is ephemerally beautiful, and it shines when it’s laid in color layers.
Yesterday, I tried it with a felt stabilizer sandwich and a Halo hoop
The Halo Hoop has been around for a while. I use them for any larger bit of embroidery I’m working on. It’s a weighted metal hoop with a plastic coating that grips the fabric. Instead of clamping it, you simply slide the hoop along.
My favorite stabilizer sandwich is ( from the back tp the front) a drawing in Totally Stable, a layer of Decor Bond,a layer of polyester felt, and a layer of hand dyed fabric as my top. Anything that doesn’t iron down, I spray glue with 505 spray.
I took this frog drawing and stated to color. I worked from the back for two reasons. My drawing was there, and I could tie off the ends.
I didn’t get done, but I got far enough to know that between the stabilizer sandwich and the Halo hoop, the whole technique had been revolutionized for me.
Things I learned
My father’s old saying: if it’s too hard, too horrible or too long, you have the wrong tool.
You can use a hammer for a saw, but it’ s hard on the hammer and what you’re sawing.
Rethinking how to use your tools makes all the difference.
You can work without a foot, but you need to use your fingers and a hoop. And hopefully your brain!a
I received an interesting piece of hate mail yesterday. It’s taken me sometime to process it and I’m still working through that. But the bottom line is that I had gone to a group of creative people who were not my primary art interest (we’ll say they were weavers, because they were not), and my selfish self had shown itself. A really dear friend of mine who the letter was from, cataloged how I had offended everyone, and how I had no interest in being in a group of creative people because I was selfish and driven and rude.
I was pretty much raised in a barrel as a kid, so it’s not impossible that I was. Most of the manners I have I’ve learned from the kindesses of quilters. I do try. I have my failures.
I can’t quite dismiss what she said, although I have a problem with anyone who wants to tell me how I’ve harmed everyone else. There’s no way to fix that. Tell me how I’ve harmed you, and I will, if I can to my best to make it better. There was so much rage in this.There was no way to back up, apologise, rework it. Which makes the friendship a dead duck on the floor. At that point there’s nothing to do but sweep things up.
Then I remembered, they do for a hobby. I do this is a part of my job. I take it out in front of people, occasionally sell a piece, occasionally teach with it, and use it in a daily way. I’m really not sure most of them do, except in this small class in this group. And I am sure it puts me in a place where my needs creatively are quite different.
I’ve known so many amazing artists and quilters who were loathed in their groups or guilds. They were like an eye in a hurricane. All kinds of chaos swirled around them. And that was usually the complaint. “They’re self absorbed. They’ve very driven. They’re competitive. They believe that they are geniuses.” I suspect that I am guilty as charged. It takes an amazing amount of courage to put all this stuff in public. And a huge amount of drive. And don’t forget arrogance.
I’ve believed always that everyone is an artist. It’s part of the human condition. We breathe, we dance, we tell stories, we make art. And what that is is imposing order and beauty on the random ugliness and cruelty that often is part of living. We re order it, redefine it, rework it until we make it something we can live with. Talk about selfish. Well, yes. To do that professionally takes immense drive and compulsion and probably puts you lacking in the social skills. Because everyone will challenge what you’ve done, or what is worse, ignore it.
I’ve never much doubted my abilities, because I am so often alone with them, so often compelled by them. To doubt them would be like trying to breathe in a vacuum. You can. For a very short period only, you can.
I’m sad for this letter, this judgement, this failure of comprehension on their part and manners on mine. But I understand how threatening it can be to stand next to the eye of a hurricane. Even an older hurricane who’s weathered by time and experience. I wish everyone in this group the joy of their creation, and understand that the chaos of my own is probably not group appropriate. And that my own will have it’s own joys. That will come too. I’m an artist. It’s an isolating process. I’m prickly like that.
This porcupine is another Grandville image I’ve played with on photoshop. He’s my alter ego today. He’s blue, sc^&*^ed and tattooed, which is pretty much how I feel. Ah, the glamorous world of art!
Here’s the final installment of Making Dragonflies Fly! You’ll find it here and on youtube. I hope it sends you skittering into your sewin room wanting to stitch. It features Inn Fuse, Innovative Craft’s new Fusible film.
It’s one of my favorite techniques. But it’s certainly not the only one.
There’s a phrase I use in class that I know drives people nuts. They’ll ask me if this is how I always do something. And I’ll say”Yes, except when I don’t.” Idt sounds flip. It’s never meant that way. It is what I do except when I don’t. The world is a complicated place and my studio is too. And for reasons of effect and energy, I don’t feel tied to one way of doing anything.
What we’ve showed in these three videos is free motion applique. It’s a great way to make a bold statement with fragile fabric. It’s a way to use really beautiful textures in a piece.
Is it the only way? Why in heaven’s name should there be only one only way?
I also feel that way about people’s life decisions, child rearing, dog taming and general weight control. The world is wide. Try different things.
But most especially about art.. Art has two componenets. There’s the making of art, the skills involved. And then there’s what happens while you’re working. If you don’t develope the skills, you limit yourself. That’s ok.. Tomorrow is another day and you have days after that to stretch and grow.
If you don’t go in and just make art, you have no reason for those skills. It’s like having a very powerful engine that’s not connected to anything. Of course the point is balance. You know the edges I’m dancing on here. The person who makes the same quilt forever in the same way over and over. The person who takes class after class and everything looks like the last class. These are points in process. They’ll get there. So will you. So will I.
So I thought I’d walk you around the ways technique changes me. I have a number of dragonflies (they’re myself traveling, so I can’t help but do them) done in different technique.
Free motion applique is fused and then stitched with a free motion zigzag. It gives lots of impact, lots of presence. It’s a great way to use amazing fabric.
Dragonfly in Bloom
There’s dragonflies made strictly of thick thread in the bobbin. If they’re stitched directly into the cloth they’re more subtle and more part of their environment.
Then there are dragonflies made as separate embroidered appliques of pure stitching. They’re done with thick thread in the bobbin.These are bold and electric images.
Moonstruckectric thread compositions.
wind over Water 7
Could I choose? Would I choose? Like most things, everything has it’s season and time. And I will do them all.
What we bring as quilt teachers to you and your guilds is options. Choices. Information about what is available and how to use it. Can you gather that information on your own? Of course you can. With world enough and time.
But isn’t it nice to learn from people who can help you know?
There still are spots in my schedule for 2014. If you’d like to have me come to your guild with a suitcase full of choices and skills, check out my class catalog at Issuu, Or check out my classes page at http://www.ellenanneeddy.com/classes.php
I have very little patience with patterns, recepis, instructions and general directions. My mother had a phrase for it. She called it a being a pig on ice. What it meant was that you were being a large and confused creature who needed help and refused it in all forms. Of all people, she should have known. She had her own moments of skidding across slick surfaces.
It’s not that I can’t take direction. It’s that I want to know enough about something that the directions can be veryloose. And I want what I do to be unique.
This is why I teach patternless applique. This is why I do it. I want that freedom. I want you to have that freedom.
So for this video I show you how to form a dragonfly of sheer and brocade fabric just by cutting.
Because it’s so simple and fun that even a pig on ice such as myself can’t help but make a great dragonfly every time!
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, Susan Shie
Robo Sapien Agent 4 Kathy Weaver
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.
As 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
For 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
5. Color temperature is about A. Warm and cool colors
B. Color cast
6. Color theory works the same for mixing colors as picking colors. A. True
7. All blues are the same. A. True
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
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.
Even 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.
I’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.
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.
Thread 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.
If 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.
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
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.
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.
Robo Sapien Agent 5
Robo Sapien Agent 4
In Robo Sapiens Agent Four, we have the contrast of this wild pink robot against a beige netral.
Robo Sapien Agent 2
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
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.
And Invader has both soft background and foreground, but she lets the edges darken enough to pop the contrast.
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.
When 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.
Father Flower 1 by Caryl Bryer Fallert
Illusion 49 by Caryl Bryer Fallert
Feather Study 1 by Caryl Bryer Fallert
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
by Caryl Bryer Fallert
Feather Study 24by Caryl Bryer Fallert
Feather Study 21 by Caryl Bryer Fallert
Red orange and blue green
Feather study 14 by Caryl Bryer Fallert
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.
Feather Study 34 by Caryl Bryer Fallert
blue green analogous colors
Lepidopteran 3 by Caryl Bryer Fallert
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.
On 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.
We all live and die for thread. But sometimes thread simply isn’t enough! Thicker yarns and cords are the natural extension for a more dramatic line in quilting and surface design. We can use them in a number of ways to accent and accentuate our work.
Perhaps you’d like to decorate or cover a seam. These yarns are perfect for that.
Light Japanese Lunch
Or you might want to create a line that helps complete a visual path through your piece. The small bit of yarn carries your eye right across the surface.
Or it can function as an element within your design. Here I’m using two thick twisted yarns as branches hanging down from a tree off the edge of the quilt.
Thick threads and yarns are easy to include in your designs! But it isn’t as simple as simply sewing them through the machine. They’re too thick or uneven to put through either the top or bottom of your sewing machine. But they can be couched. The options and possibilities are too wide for simply one foot to handle all of them, but there are all kinds of feet that accommodate different yarns, ribbons and threads so you can use them all.
All yarns can be couched by hand. But some of us don’t hand sew well. These are methods I find work well with machine couching. In general, couching is usually done with feed dogs up. You can use either a zigzag stitch,a broken zigzag stitch, a straight stitch if it’s aimed carefully, or a joining stitch that catches the middle and both sides. Monofilament nylon will make the stitching invisible. But you can always use a bright colored polyester to add an extra color and texture.
Your Regular Pressure Foot
Thin and bumpy threads: Many thick and thin threads can be couched on with your regular pressure foot Your regular pressure foot for most sewing has a groove down the center that you can run light yarns through.
Couching Feet Much thicker yarns take a thread escape.
A foot with a large channel underneath lets the yarn pass through. Again any zigzag or joining stitch can be used to attach it. This couching foot with a wide thread escape that let’s you couch on all kinds of thicker threads.This foot also has a small hole through the top to guide medium yarns. Medium yarns pass through both holes easily for excellent control.For much thicker yarns, you can just run them through the bottom of the foot.
All these yarns run easily through your machine because of the large thread escape in the foot. They were stitched with a joining stitch.
The Braiding Foot
This braiding foot arranges 3 smaller cords or threads into a braid. The yummy pearl cottons I showed you last week are perfect for this. There’s another foot set to braid 5. The Braiding foot with 3 thread channels loads from the top and has a bar that closes to hold the threads in place. You can use either a zigzag or broken zigzag to stitch down the cords. The effect is a flat braid made of your threads.
Sashay yarn is a new fiber we’re seeing in the yarn shops. Its loose open weave can be stretched and shaped in all kinds of ways. Because it catches on the foot, it helps to have a cut away foot that clears the yarn as we sew it. This foot originally set up for cutaway applique with its single toe makes it easier to stitch down.
It can be sewed straight or in waves, down either one side for a more textural effect or on both sides for a more controlled look. Couching is a way to put extra fiber in your fiber! And its sew much fun!
I ‘ve always been amazed at quilters. I’ve had many people over the years who have told me that what I do is art and I should strictly teach it to artists. That’s only partially true. What I do is art. What we all do, in our own way in creating our lives and worlds is art. And quilters are the finest community of the creative world I know. They also have, over the years, created the best education system for themselves that I know of. Quilt guilds are the only group of creative people I know who have an education system where you can learn from the best experts in the field directly, in short affordable subsidized classes. Or that support the artists in their field.
Last week I went to you as quilters for help. You overwhelmed me with your kindness and your generosity. I’ve sold a number of small works and am in the process of destashing my studio to pay for my latest batch of medical bills.
It continues on. I’m still in process. There’s still mountains of fabrics in the studio. And the bills are still being figured. I’m not out of the woods yet. But I feel so much better knowing how kind and decent the people I’ve worked with are.
I’ve continued to put up more work at deeply discounted prices on the Etsy Shop. Those prices will be reflected on the web site as well.
I also have some amazing kits and scrap bags I’m putting together.
Most people know I’m a hand-dye junkie. I’ve dyed fabric for years and prefer my own because it gives me the light sources and landscapes I find vital for my work. I do dye fabric for people, when asked.
But I also have a mountain of collected sheers and prints. The prints are largely from my apron collection. I have, surprise to no one, a serious need for Kay Fasset and Alexander Henry prints. And a passion for Halloween fabric.
So all of that is reflected in the bags of scraps and kits I’m putting up on my new Etsy Shop, Raid My Fabric Stash. If you’ve ever wished you had my fabric, this is that time.
Please come visit. I’m putting up new things each day.
And thank you for the support and love you’ve always given me as a fellow quilter. You are the best people on earth.
I have just risen triumphant over my vacuum cleaner again.Those who know me know there is a ritual vacuum cleaning in my house once every seven years, if needed. It’s not quite that bad but close. I have to have a task I really don’t want to do do get around to vacuuming first. Say like cleaning out the basement cat pottie. Digging out the 85 rogue dock plants on the side yard. Finding what really is in the refrigerator.
I got all the dogs into the yard to avoid attack mode on either side. And turned it on.
The noise was astonishing. The response, not so much. The little tornado inside simply didn’t step up. So I turned it on its head and went about a game called “What’s your mechanical perversion?” Usually that’s a one to five minute round exercise.
Not this time. It didn’t take long to discover the cloth bedroom slipper stuck in the rotor. Pulled that out. Fired it up. More non-action.
So we attacked with a screw driver to find the busted belt and there is was. A trip off to the store and back, belt in my pocket. Got the belt on and still no action.
So as a final act, I took the broom handle out for a walk and jammed it up the hose. All the way.
Out popped an odd and awful thing that I think once was a chunk of wood. It’s now sucking in a much more acceptable way.
The point to all of this is that it ought to easier. Sometimes it simply isn’t. It isn’t like there’s a simple fix. There’s the round after round of hits and answers to those hits that in themselves should be small, but as a group, they’re devastating. And one fix alone won’t do it.
I’ve just had this happen in a medical way as well. Two months ago I ended up briefly in the hospital for what looked like a heart attack. It turns out I have massive high blood pressure which can easily be medically controlled. But, because of the medical systems in place, my only option to discover this was an emergency room visit and an overnight hospitalization.
I’m healing and my meds are regularized. But the financial consequences are overwhelming. I’m in the process of negotiating that, but in that economy it may still be career ending. As a working person with a small amount of money, there is no chance of medical monetary aid. As a single self employed person there is no way to purchase meaningful insurance. I am uninsured and pretty sure that the hospital will demand what I have, even if it impoverishes me and takes my studio.
So, like the vacuum cleaner, I have a few simple tools. I am still able to teach and am delighted to continue that. It’s been my life. I hope it continues to be my life. If your guild, group or store would like me to teach, that would be wonderful. You’ll a find a complete list of classes on my site and a full class catalog on on scribd.com
I have a mountain of fabric that I’ve collected over the years. I’m going to begin to destash, and I invite you to Raid My Fabric Stash, a new Etsy store started by my truly desperate self. And remind you that I have the mother of all stash of sheers, hand dyes, and other wonders. I invite you to raid my stash. We’ll have new offerings up every week. We’re starting with some fabric/fiber inspiration kits. More will be coming soon.
If you’ve ever wanted a quilt of mine, this is the time. Check the web site, see if there’s a piece you would like and contact me directly. I can offer a 30-50% discount depending on the piece. Call me and we’ll make that happen. I’ll also list some pieces on the Etsy site just to see what happens.
It really should be easier. But it’s not. I don’t like to ask for help. But I’m trying every way I can, to figure my answers out.
I’m obsessed with color studies. Of course, my favorite present, even as a child was a color chart. I still feel that way. But what I’ve found over the years is that it’s the relationships between the colors that set my heart pitter pattering.
Once you get past the physicality of how you do your art or craft, you find yourself needing to expand somehow. Usually that takes a question. What if? How? Why do we always? Most great or even mildy interesting art asks a question and works through the answers. You can see artists of all kinds ask questions. What if it were really bigger? Upside down? My dream view? My nightmare? Blue instead of yellow? All of that changes our perspective on what we’re doing. And I think, personally, that the change of perspective may be the basic reason for it all. If we see our world as different, then it is. If we can get someone else to see the world differently, then we’ve really changed them at least.
The hard and exhausting thing about this is that often it takes years of work to ask and answer those questions within your work. Sometimes that’s worth it. Sometimes it’s a way to avoid doing anything important while you play in a corner.
Peonies in my garden
Enter the computer age. Instant spelling, communication and in some ways, instant art. One of the coolest tools on the computer is the computer program Photoshop. Even in it’s lighter versions, it’s the go to program for digital Phototography. It’s a golden oldy. I don’t know anyone who knows Photoshop. But I’ve been learning what I call tricks with Photoshop. Within it is an endless set of tools to manipulate color and shape. Sound like anything we know? As I’ve worked on books for myself and others I’ve needed to know more than just how to size my pictures.
So I’ve been taking classes on Lynda.com, which is a tutorial service on the internet that offers a mind boggling range of videos on anything you might want to learn. This is what happened when they showed me the slider bar on the hue menu. I’m not going to show you how to do this, because it’s simply sliding the bar around. I want you to see what happens to colors when we change the hue, but the relationships stay the same. And it does an instant abstract just by being colors you don’t expect.
Remember that peoni?
Peonies in my garden
I could have spent the last 6 months making this peonie in these colors. It might have been worth it to me. I still may. But I got to see the changes without that time spent. I picked the colors directly from the photographs rather than matching them to the wheel. The orange and lime ones are the ones that send me moonward. But then again, I’m always ready for orange and lime. But it’s the relationships that stay pretty constant. What would happen if I did that to the same bug?
I’m not sure if I learn as much this way, but it seems that I do. I don’t think we know exactly how it works to learn something intellectually and visually, but not through the manipulation of materials. But it’s six months of experimenting in 20 minutes. That was worth it.
Howard Schatz wrote an amazing book called Botanica, which I believe are a number of photoshop like images slid through different color waves. It’s mind blowing and very good for getting you out of the notion that roses are red and violets are blue.
Lynda.com is also mind blowing. I invite you to check it out and see what neat thing you can learn today.
One of the horrors of growing up a teacher’s child is that everyone expects you to be good at things. And to be good. Good luck!
I made a best effort try over the years being a goody two shoes mixed with just a bit of a smart Alec. But I never could write or spell. At all. My spelling was practically Shakespearean ( meaning any way it could be phonetically guessed at.)
I was in grad school studying dyslexia when I realized I was one. Is it a gift? Absolutely. It’s a born way to see the world differently. If you can actually show someone else a different world, they are richer by far. If you can show the world that, you can change it. I’ve taken far more joy from my dyslexia than sorrow. You just have to make it make sense to everyone else.
This does not mean it’s not a complete humiliation when you spell the world catalog incorrectly on the cover of your new catalog.
Enter the modern world.
Spell check! Online ( and therefore instantly correctable) publishing! And hopefully a forgiving world of people who know they hired you as a teacher and artist and not a English teacher.
My mother is surely rolling in her grave. But I hope the rest of you can celebrate this moment of creative dyslexia, corrected by some much appreciated modern science.
The best thing about working in series is that it’s fertile ground for all kinds of wonderful accidents. When you’re working on one idea, other ideas pop up. And best of all, there are left overs.
Now left overs for dinner are only as good as dinner itself. If they’re good their gold. If they’re not, it’s likely you’ll find them three weeks later in your fridge covered with light green growth. But when they’re great they lead to great discoveries. And when they’re fabric, they wait patiently for their time, without going moldy.
I’ve struggled for years to abstract my work. It’s not a natural thing for me. But while I was writing Thread Magic Garden, I quilted Butterfly Garden while I was exploring what made a lollipop flower (every child’s first flower) a recognizable flower. It’s either a saucer shape, a group of shapes circling a center or a bowl shape.
Circle saucer Flower
Circle Bowl Flower
Petals in the Center
I had a left over. It reminded me of those great spring drop flowers like trout lilies and checkered fritillaria
So I put it into a green wet background with spring mist. I like this quilt but it’s not abstract. It’s fantasy.
What brought me into abstract, was breaking down into just petals. When I broke things down into their shapes, I was past just the flower. I made a pathway and put the petals on the path. Instead of making a specific flower, I’d made a shape that was past that.
So when I went to do Daylilies, I made C shapes that reminded me of dragon claws.
I put them into bunches that made my flowers and nailed the centers with an elegant spiral. Then I placed them along a pathway,
SAQA Journal just printed my story about Daylily Dance. It could never have happened if I weren’t working in a series, and following blindly where it went.
Thread Magic Garden
You’ll find all kinds of ideas for creating abstract and real fabric flowers in my book Thread Magic Garden. It’s not just my journey. It’s the beginning of yours.
You’ll find more about working in series on my blog at http://www.ellenanneeddy.com/weblog/
Watch for a special offer and a special gift this weekend!
What is it about the flutter of moth wings? I cannot resist them. The best part of summer is to open the door at night, look up through the tree to see moths flying moonward.
I am mostly a moon child. I sunstroked as a child on the lake and have never been able to take strong sun. So much of my outdoor life has been in early morning or late evening. Or, at night when the dogs take their last run. So moon creatures are my special companions, and I always look for them.
Not that I can leave butterflies alone either. One way or another, I really want to flutter over the garden.
Of course what many people miss is that you cannot have moths or butterflies without caterpillars.
So I treasure them all. The moths, the butterflies, the flutterbys and the caterpillar all part of their passion play. And the occasional cocoon that shows up hanging from the odd bit of bee balm.
I met Clairan in Hyde Park, IL many years ago. She’s one of the most focused series artists I know of. Most of us artists bounce around from subject to subject like kid in a candy store.
Series art demands a lot more control and focus. It also offers a place to explore technique and content much more thoroughly than the mad dash to the newest thing. Clairan has a quiet steady artist’s heart that drives her in one direction, until she’s displayed and discovered all that vision has to offer. It gives her work a rich consistency I envy. And she knows how to make color glow.
Here are some works from her latest series: Windows into Time, and The Darkness Surrounds Us, and what she has to say about it.
“I create fiber collages by dyeing, painting and printing fabric I then stitch together. I frequently use applique and reverse applique techniques. I have been working on a series of Windows for several years. The form some of this work currently takes is called Windows into Time. I imagine we can peer through powerful currents of energy to see into the beginning of things.
I often like to work on several series at a time. Currently I am continuing work on Windows into Time, of which Sedimentary 3 and 4 are part. Each of these 12″ x 12” pieces uses commercial and my own hand dyed and painted fabric, stitched by hand and machine, and stretched over canvas. I imagine we can look back into the depths of time and see the features of the earth at their beginnings. The Sedimentary pieces speak to my love for and fascination with rocks, and strata, and striations. You can see more of this series in the current (Winter) edition of Art Quilt Studio Magazine.
The second series I am still working on, The Darkness Surrounds Us, was inspired by a brilliant and mordantly funny poem by Robert Creeley, “I know a man.” In it, the poet asks, “. . .the darkness surrounds us. What can we do about it. . . ?” We can sing, hold hands, create art.”
More of Clairan’s fabulous windows can be viewed at her site
So many of us have astonishing stashes. My favorite stash story is about a woman who’s husband just built her a sewing room . He said” I bet you have as much as $100 worth of fabric.” God bless the ignorant. And long live her stash.
So we keep fabric we haven’t used. Sometimes for quite some while. I have a 20 year old piece of black wool myself. I just felted it. I just got a felting machine this year. And I’m delighted I still have it.
So it was with equal delight I saw that Tina Rathbone had blogged on a piece of fabric she dug out that we shopped for over 10 years ago. Tina is a California lunatic who quilts brilliantly, water colors beautifully, and bird watches obsessionally.
Her discussion of how she makes a pattern work for her in her blog Pattern Abuse is brilliant. And what she came up with for her garment is gorgeous.
It couldn’t have happened if she hadn’t aged her fabric.
I think the things we love change much more slowly than the technology and abilities that come and go through the sewing world. If you love big bugs and fish, it’s unlikely (and I know this from experience) to completely go away unless you’ve had a truly unfortunate vacation experience.
The other truth is that fabric is ephemeral. You often really only see it once. Some companies reproduce the same designs over and over. But it’s not the normal practice. Often you have just one chance to buy that silly thing. I still am grieving the robots over Manhattan fabric I gave to someone. I’ve never seen it since and it was fabulous!
Of course we all cull fabric.There’s never room enough and time. And it’s a great thing to give someone a stack of new possibilities. Although I had one dear friend who would announce the fabric she was bringing over to me with the word, “Incoming!” And it was sort of like that. Fabric Explosion!
Hand dye is especially that way. It only happens once. I tell people if they’re in love they’d best just consummate the relationship because it won’t happen twice.
So age your fabric well. If you love it, you’ll still love it. Toss what you don’t. Keep what you adore. And wait for the moment where it’s right.
You’ll find Tina’s delightful process on pattern making on her blog at Artelicious.blogspot.com
You’ll find amazing fabric everywhere. But most especially, in your stash! It’s material wealth!
One of the things about teaching quilting that is always true is that students don’t stay students. You turn around and they’re wildly accomplished quilters doing work that makes your heart flutter. Sometimes that happens right in class. Sometimes they’re already there when they arrive. Quilting isn’t exactly hierarchical. We quickly learn just how much other people know.
I met Roberta in a class in Missouri, years ago. She was a student there, but well onto the mastery of her own work.She also produces some of the loveliest images of the Missouri Ozarks in thread.
“Coon” is one of her pieces I chose for my Beautiful Beast lecture. We fight wars with raccoons where I live, and I’ve had to evict them from the studio several times. But her thread work makes this little thief appealing enough to want him in my garden.
“Return to Eden ” features lovely caladiums and hostas.
She’s also a hand dyed fabric addict.Here’s what she has to to say about “Bright Eyes” her stunning owl piece.
“After searching for a good background, I came upon my last piece of fabric that I bought from Ellen Anne Eddy six years ago. And it was perfect. Then I looked back through my gallery of quilts and realized my favorite work had been done with her fabrics as background. So I am now watching daily for a new box containing many yards of her fabric. I feel like a kid waiting for her first bicycle!”
I just sent Roberta a huge box of handdyed fabric for her collection. Who knows what she’ll make next. If we’re lucky she’ll show us. She’s a quiet lunatic on the fringe for sure.
Roberta lives in Springfield, MO. On her blog she says this about herself.
“I live in southwest Missouri, work and play with fabric and thread, read lots of books, laugh a lot, cry a little, and raise my blood pressure by reading the opinion section of the newspaper.”
Last week I taped 3 sessions with Pokey Bolton for Quilting Arts. I’ve done this before. Pokey is delightful. The makeup artist is a miracle worker. But the green room….. The greenroom is full of people who are your favorite quilters. And sometimes you even know them. If they’re not your friends before, they will be when you’ve left.
So seeing Penny McMorris, the Electric Quilt Guru, and Jeannine Delpin, the who handles the Bernina teacher’s programs among her million tasks, were both a delight. Then I got a special gift.
Luana Ruben was there. I met Luanna maybe 20 years ago in class. She was a delight then. By now she has the smartest and best online quilting store ever, Equilter. If you’ve never shopped there, it is the easiest way to put together fabric online. And the most wonderful selection I know of. I don’t often quilt with quilting fabric unless it’s a love quilt. But when I do, I get online with the person it’s for, use her brilliant swatch board so we can see how things look together, and know I’m making something someone will love.
So even better still, her daughter Sophie was there. I love quilting kids. Sophie is 10 and has been neck deep into quilting since she came home with Luana. They were both taping for quilting arts.
It is the best thing in the world to see people become who they’re meant to be. Luana has developed a store community that feeds us all as quilters. But it might be better still to see someone like Sophie with all that passion for fabric in a kid size body. She and I stitched free motion horses for fun after wards. Boy, was she good!
My one sorrow? My camera died. Everyone said they’d send me pictures.Perhaps, like me, they came home and laid down for a week.
Luana wrote about the trip in her generous blog. Visit Equilter and be amazed!
I’ll share more about this in some other posts. My segments were on corded binding, the right darning foot, and couching feet for all kinds of yarns and trims.
I’m currently on this years Quilting Arts TV series in episode 1002 and 1004. You can find more information about that on on Quilting Arts TV.
There’s two really great things about quilt classes at the National Quilt Museum. One is that it’s the National Quilt Museum and the people who come to class here are spectacular. The other is that it’s the National Quilt Museum, which is the epicenter of support, information, and exposure for quilters and especially art quilters. Don’t think you won’t see spectacular traditional quilts. You will. But the art quilts there are of a caliber that makes my heart sing. It’s a bit of quilt heaven in every way.
I taught a three day class here that made my heart sing too. Astonishing students! We worked mostly on flower studies out of my new book Thread Magic Garden. But what they came up with was their very own.
Here are some images from class. If you’d like to see more, check my facebook page at Thread Magic Studio.
What a class like this does is really build all kinds of skills. The luxury of three days in class (and a late evening session) means that people get to refine what they’re learning into what they do.
From my point of view, I’m still bending my head around the notion that these people have a quilt of mine in the museum. It’s still a moment standing in front of Dancing in the Light in a museum setting and saying, “Yep. That one’s mine. I’m still looking for the other Ellen Eddy who must have quilted it.
So support the National Quilt Museum either by visiting or by becoming a friend of the museum. Take lovely 3 day classes when you get the chance to really dive into a new technique with a teacher. And celebrate this brave new world where we have real museums that support, preserve, show and educate quilters as the artists we know that we are.
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!
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 two ply rather than 3 ply
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?
Question 4. Which kind of thread is most colorfast?
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.
Question 7.How many times does your thread go through your needle before it lands in your fabric?
Question 8. What is mercerized thread?
It’s specially colored.
It’s regular sewing thread.
It’s treated with lye for extra strength.
Question 9.What thread is strongest?
Question 10. Can thread get old?
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org won a copy of The Dye Day Workbook
Vivian Ahern PoopayTwo@aol.com won a copy of Dragonfly Sky
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.
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.
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.]
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 email@example.com
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
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.
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.
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.
Needles are labeled with European and American Sizes. European sizes are 184.108.40.206,100,110. 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.
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!