Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

Tools Change Everything: Zigzag Bobbin Work

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

20u singerI believe in tools! 

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. 

 

179 The problem with princesBut 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.815 butterfly garden detail

Yesterday, I tried it with a felt stabilizer sandwich and a Halo hoop

 

halo hoopl

 

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.

 

 

frog in process

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

frog in process  f2I 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!finger positiona

And most of all, good tools change everything!

264 As Good as it Gets

 

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

Dyeing for Threads

Monday, July 8th, 2013

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I threw 288 threads into the washer. I had to. I’d dyed them

dyed threadsI’ve never gotten over dyed threads. I started dyeing threads 15 years ago. These are #5 weight pearl Cottons. They work brilliantly in an adjusted bobbin case. And they. dyed like champs. Someone asked how I dye thread, and how it washes out, so here you are.

Of course you have to wash them out. There is no trick at all to dyeing thread. Add color. There you are.

Washing them out. Not so easy.

lumps in the washerEnter the less than lovely lump. These threads have been twisted into lumps and stuffed in black nylon stockings. Once they’re tied, they’re going no where bad. Throw them in the washer with synthropol and softener on the last wash, and you get.

Thread lumps!thread lumps

Once you cut away the stockings, it get’s much more exciting.

 

 

 

thread on shower hook wOnce the thread is out of the stocking, you control it with a shower curtain clip. These are getting hard to find, but they do show up at Lowes. Put them on a hook and hang them up to dry.

Altogether, this is what this batch looked like.

 

 

 

Most of these are for me. But I am putting a small quantity of them on sale at Etsy as kits of three threads in  dark, light and shocker/shader collections.  You’ll find them on my Etsy shop at etsy.com/ellenanneeddy/

Ellen Anne Eddy's Dye Day Workbook cover front for web tnWant more information about dyeing threads? There’s a section on thread dyeing in my book, Dye Day Workbook, available on Etsy as a pdf and available on my web site and on Amazon.com as a paper book. 

Here’s what the threads looked like.

 

 


I put them in packages of threes, perfect for embroidery, bobbin work, couching, crazy quilting and hand stitching.

They come in

  • Stone Grey
  • Growing Greens
  • Blueberry Blue
  • Aqua Waters
  • Ripe Reds
  • Tangerine Dreams
  • Glorious Mud
  • Olives
  • Sunflower Yellows

I’ve dyed for thread. Wouldn’t you?

Monique Kleinhans: Lunatic Nestled in the Kalispell Valley

Friday, October 19th, 2012

I met Monique at Glacier Quilts in Kalispell. Glacier Quilts is perhaps my most favorite store. It caters to people’s every pleasures. Huge pile of fabric, machines waiting for people to use, fabulous teachers,  babies to borrow, a place to drop off babies, and a coffee run when needed. It even has a sporting shop just outside where you can check your significant other. You can almost move in.

And it has, among the other amazing staff, Monique. 

Monique is constantly in creative motion. She studied costuming and theater at some point. But you get the feeling there are at least 6 quilts going on in her head, all at once.

Her work is as wild as where she lives. She’s in the valley nestled between the mountains and all the creatures seem to know her by name and come visit. Her work teams with them.

Monique makes bed quilts as well. But of course, I love her wild embroidery best!

Here’s what she says about herself.

 


“I was born in the Flathead Valley and raised on the farm where my grandfather grew up. Just as my father took up the plow from his father, I learned to love and work with fabric from my mother. An avid quilter and teacher, mom’s works lit my creative fire, and much of what I’ve learned has come from our playing and experimenting together.
I draw a lot of inspiration from the natural beauty around us; the constantly-changing seasons, and the majestic (and sometimes humorous) animals that wander by daily.” 
Her work includes traditional quilting techniques, appliqué, and thread painting, along with fabrics she hand-dyes  is available at Paint Metal and Mud Gallery, located in the Historic Kalispell Grand Hotel.

Monique teaches a variety of classes in textile art at Glacier Quilts.  You can also find some of her handcrafted items at her Etsy store at http://www.ladybugscabin.com/

 



Classes at the National Quilt Museum

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Source: bing.com via Ellen Anne on Pinterest

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.

 

Top it off with a lunch at Caryl Bryer Fallert’s Bryer Patch Studio.Caryl is a quilting legend whose work has revolutionized the quilt world for 30 years.  Caryl graciously had us all to lunch and showed off her latest work and her fabulous Paducah studio.

 

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.

You’ll find  information about the National Quilt Museum on their web site at http://www.quiltmuseum.org/.

You’ll find more information about Caryl Bryer Fallert on her web site at http://www.bryerpatch.com/

You’ll find the gallery pictures on my face book page at https://www.facebook.com/ellenanneeddy. If you’re from class and you want to tell more about those pictures, log in and you can!

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 />
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<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!
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Thread Magic Summer School: Novelty Yarn

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

 

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

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

 

 

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

Couching with your regular sewing foot

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

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

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

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

 

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Thread Magic Summer School: Hand-dyed Threads

Monday, July 16th, 2012

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

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

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

#5 weight pearl cotton

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

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

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

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

Pearl cotton and metallic mixed

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

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

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

Thread Magic Summer School:Thick Metallic Threads

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Mooning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrapping it up

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

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

Thread Magic Summer School, 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!

Anatomy of a Quilt: Building Elements

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Butterfly Components

I’m currently working on a commissioned quilt for a new family that’s just had a baby. The dad has asked me to do a butterfly quilt, partially for the mom but for his baby daughter as well. Commissions are a privilege. It’s an act of trust, that I am always a bit nervous about.

So I make several approaches possible and go from here. The premise was pink and purple butterflies. So I’ve started the quilt with those. I’m using an applique process where I cut my shapes out on sheer fabric backed with Steam A Seam 2, fuse them into a form, embroider them and then cut them out to use as appliques on the quilt. You’ll find full information on this in my new book Thread Magic Garden.

 

 

Fabric for butterflies

These are my butterfly fabrics. They’re great sheers and an oriental brocade. I buy these wherever I see them, because you never know if you’ll see them again.

 

 

 

butterfly bits on a pressing cloth

Here they are cut out as butterflies. Each butterfly has two teardrop wings, a body and eyes. They’re on a non-stick pressing cloth so I can arrange them.

 

 

 

 

fusing onto the sandwich.

 

Once their formed, I fuse them on to a stabilizer sandwich. This sandwich is made from hand dyed fabric, poly felt, and Decor Bond. This makes a firm embroidery surface that controls some of the distortion that happens with intense embroidery.

 

 

 

I embroider the  butterflies from inside out. First the bodies, then the veins of the wings, then the shadings and finally the outlines. They’re embroidered with a freemotion zigzag stitch and metallic Supertwist threads from Madiera. Finally I added in my bleeding heart blooms as well.

 

in place with the stem

The image at the top is what they look like cut out.
Here’s the rough placement with the stem I have planned.

Next time we’ll talk about backgrounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thread Magic Garden

You’ll find information about freemotion applique in my book Thread Magic Garden, available on my site, on Amazon, and at your local quilt store.

Busted Needles and Other Disasters

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Beetles in Blossom

I don’t ever  have a class where someone asks the question, “What happens if I break a needle?” Or the much more useful question, “Why did my needle break?” What is the trick for that?

If you ever saw this scene from Lawrence of Arabia, you know the trick already. The trick is not minding that your needle broke.

What makes your needle break is the fact that it is, by it’s nature, fragile. Metal fatigue is usually the cause. It’s the most fragile part of your machine and it has to work the hardest. That is why your needle broke. So every day, ” New Day, New Needle. New Project, New Needle.” It was never meant to last forever. And a needle about to break is a world of sewing misery. Broken thread, skipped stitches, and in my case, inevitable balding from pulling out my hair in hanks.

But there are some good sewing machine hygiene practices that make the world a better place.

  • Use the right needle for the right job. There’s a whole other post to talk about needles. I’ll do that soon, promise. What I use for almost all free motion embroidery is a 90 topstitching. That’s a sharp needle with a really big eye.
  • Make sure your thread is feeding smoothly. A cone holder can help with older machines. Most new machines can feed either vertically or horizontally. In theory you use a vertical pin for straight wound spools and a horizontal pin for cross wound spools. But if one isn’t working try the other.
  • Make sure nothing is catching the thread. I know it sounds dumb but it will break thread and needles every time. Check to see it isn’t catching on the spool or on something else on your sewing table.
  • Stop whenever you hear a bad sewing noise. Trust me on this. It won’t get better until you fix it.
  • Make sure you have your foot up to thread your machine and your foot down to sew. Putting the foot down closes the tension mechanism. If it’s down you can’t thread the machine properly. If it’s up you can’t sew without making a bird’s nest underneath. Once that  happens, again, nothing good will happen until you intervene.
  • If you break a needle, clean your sewing machine. You want to make sure there isn’t a bit of broken needle in there, scratching your hook.

Do I break needles? Bless your heart! I plan on breaking at least 5 needles on a six hour sewing day. I purchase them in that kind of quantity. Do I mind? No. That’s the trick

The Quilt and Sewing Expo

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I’ll be at the Quilters Haven/ Handi Quilters booth (Booth 722) in Schamburg, IL on Friday. at the Schamburg Quilting and Sewing Expo. I’ll be playing with the HQ Sweet Sixteen and signing copies of my new book, Thread Magic Garden.

I’ll be working with some special thick threads and showing how you can do bobbin work on long/mid arm machines.  This zentangle inspired flower is part of a sampler series I’ve been working on.

I’ll also have copies of Thread Magic Garden, Thread Magic, and other smaller Thread Magic press books available for sale. Come and play with us. I promise to let you touch the quilts.

The Expo is open from 10:00am – 6:00pm, same hours tomorrow and Saturday: 10:00am – 5:30pm. Schaumburg Convention Center1551 North Thoreau Dr., Schaumburg, IL 60173.

Roses White and Red: The Coloring of Roses

Monday, March 19th, 2012

We all grew up with this lovely bit of Alice in Wonderland! How fun! And sort of edgy. The Red queen demands her roses red. But we all know that roses come in all kinds of colors. We don’t quite have a true black or blue rose yet, unless you count the silk offerings, but the rose world is not confined.

 

Roses red and white

But even if we are talking about red and white roses, reality demands more than just red and white coloring. Why?

 

 

A rose in a blue background is full of blue reflectio

ALL COLOR IS LIGHT!

I’m sure that’s not a revelation. But it’s true. You’re white rose in moon or sunlight looks very different. Silver edges. Blue and purple shadows. Green streaks. Call the rose doctor? No. it’s the magic of shade and shadowIt’s true of red roses in the sun as well. Streaks of orange, pink, purple and green give us dimension. Without that we have a flat blob of color, not a lovey rose.

But here is the heart of the mystery. The color of everything in your quilt is shaded and formed by the color of your background. Is it blue? Then everything is in that blue light.

 

 

This rose needs its oranges, purples and greens against the copper/grey background.Is it an odd sunlit grey? Again, it’s all colored by that.

 

 

 

 

 

This is all true unless you go into something abstract, at which you get to choose your heart’s delight. But do know, when you choose wildly, that itself abstracts your rose.

 

 

What colors should you choose? Only you can tell. But here’s some tips

  • A wide range of colors gives you much more dimension. Red or white, pick colors that give you lots of darks and lights within that shade.
  • White is white, but just white is a blob again. Use pastels, and dark shaded purples and greens for drama. Or use iridescent thread or gold or silver. Strangely enough, they often register as white.
  • Thread is a tiny element. You can use a lot of very bright thread and still have a subtle effect. So go wild!
  • Almost all flowers have streaks of green. Why not? Another excuse for lime!
  • Ignore color names. You’re talking about something non-verbal. So think with your eyes only.
  • Choose your colors next to each other, and if possible in the same light they’re be seen in.
  • Use complementary colors for deep shading. Very dramatic.

Most of all, don’t permit the color police in your head. Color outside the lines and be as wild as your heart.

You’ll find a whole chapter about coloring flowers in my book Thread Magic Garden on my web page at www.ellenanneeddy.com. You’ll find   many of these rose quilts, ready to bloom on your walls, in the gallery section. I hope your garden is blooming too!

 

Iridescent who?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I don’t do white sales.  I don’t do white.  I bring in white fabric, but I promptly dye it. Usually in as bright a pallet as I can. Things don’t stay white around me very long. Even with large bottles of Clorox in the laundry room.

But  I do do moonlight. So many of my quilts are set at night. No. I’m not a vampire.The garlic, thank you, is always my friend. But I do take St. John’s Wort, and I should not be out in bright sunshine. 

So when I might want white I reach for the things that are iridescent. 

What make fabric and thread iridescent? It’s not exactly hide of the nagua, but it really is a relative to Naugahyde.It’ s a fiber called Lurex. Wikepedia defines Lurex as “the registered brand name for a type of yarn with a metallic appearance. The yarn is made from synthetic film, onto which a metallic aluminiumsilver, or gold layer has been vaporised. “Lurex” may also refer to cloth created with the yarn.”

It first showed up in the early seventies as a kind of slicker fabric. Now it’s in all kinds of threads and fibers, perfect for fiber art.

Where can you find it? All over my quilts! I love it.

Iridescent threads:

There are all kinds of lurex threads from many different companies, in many different thicknesses.

Madeira puts out several lines of iridescent threads under their #30 weight Supertwist Line. These are Astros. They have a base color mixed with rainbow blue, yellow, pink and green underneath.

 

These are a Supertwist Opalescent.They have a less obvious but still 

brilliant softer Lurex shine.

 

 

YLI does a # 8 weight metallic thread called Candelight that is a neon bulb on a quilt.

 

 

 

Razzle Dazzle, by Superior is another #8 weight metallic in a whole different line of iridescent colors. They’ve done some magnificent flecked shades.

Sulky Sliver is still the most shiny thread ever. It’s a simple Lurex flat strand.

 

 

 

Angelia and Crystalina Fibers are clouds of Lurex that you can fuse into a sheer surface.

 

 

 

And Smooch Paints are a pigment you spray on.

 

Can you use iridescent in your quilt? It washes, in case you were worrying, but it does tend to be a bit scratchy. My work is made to warm people from the wall rather than in their laps, so I never worry. And I couldn’t be without it.

You’ll find Angelina and Smooch Paints at Embellishment Village.

You’ll find Supertwist at Madiera USA.

You’ll find Candelight at YLI.

You’ll find Sliver at Sulky

You’ll find Razzle Dazzle at Superior Threads.

And you’ll find glowing lovely iridescent light all over your work when you use any of these.

 

 

Interview on Thread with Frieda Anderson!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Moonstruck

Frieda Anderson, another fabulous fiber artist haling from Illinois, has posted her interview on thread and  thread work with me on her blog at  http://www.friestyle.com/my-blog.html. Check it out!

New Reviews

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Thread Magic Garden is getting some neat new reviews!

People are starting to talk about Thread Magic Garden. Here’s what they’ve had to say.

 

 

 

Ann Fahl, Author of Coloring With Thread Says “Whether you are interested in thread work or not, this book is a visual delight. C & T ‘s book designer did a great job of including large detail shots through the book. It makes me drool!”  Check out the rest of her review at her blog at annfahl.blogspot.com

 

 

Tina Rathbone at Artelicious  said”Just when I thought I could take a break from holidays I’ve found a new cause for celebration: C&T Publishing has just published a brand-new book by Ellen Anne Eddy: Thread Magic Garden. She’s got some really kind things to say about the book and you’ll find them on her blog.

Both Tina and Ann have known me for a long time. I love both of their work and  they’ve always been supportive of mine. I don’t think they’d say anything they didn’t feel.  But when your friends tell you they like your book, it’s hard to sort out how much of that is kindness and how much of that is real.

But I don’t know Maggie Szafranski at all. Her review is at Maggiemayquilts.blogspot.com.    She said “The best thing is that she breaks down how to create different kinds of flowers, and shows not only the finished product, but also what it would look like before you add the stitching.”

This is the lovely zinnia she did working from the book! Isn’t it great?

Thanks Ann, Tina and Maggie! I’m so glad you liked the book.

So what’s your Thread Magic Garden look like? With all this snow coming in, it’s great to have a garden in the studio

How Long is your Arm?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

My studio has a new toy in it!

I’ve worked for years with home machines but this is a brand new day. Why am I working with a mid arm?

Well, it’s not like it’s easier to stuff a big quilt through a little hole, but I’m wildly excited about working with long arms and bobbin work.

Bobbin work? YES,  BOBBIN WORK!

Why? There’s a number of reasons for using a long arm/mid arm machine for bobbin work. The extra big bobbin, the speed and the straight stitch only capabilities are all in your favor.

I’m very excited about the Sweet 16 because of it’s size and its sit down capabilities. I played all yesterday, snow and all at Threadbenders in Michigan City with one and took it home.

Wow said backwards.

The home sewing industry has always made multi-purpose machines. But the sewing industry itself has always considered them silly. For good reason. Most of the time you want the machine that does something excellently. If it does one thing excellently, then that’s better than doing thirty things fairly well.

The mid arm is basically a long arm machine without the large frame. But the thing both of them offer is excellent blazingly fast straight stitching. And room to move. And much bigger needles.  Which is the beginning of all kinds of stitched line art. Can you say, Zen Tangling? Bobbin Work? Lily Guilding? I can’t wait.

Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Theater

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
 I was wandering around on the web  today and found this great segment that AQS taped for me at the Des Moines Show this Fall.




This is a very nice tutorial for making flowers out of simple shapes. They taped this the last day of the show. I ran in and babbled like a brook.


But I found it and listened to it today. I didn’t ummm. And it felt as good to listen to it as to do it.


Build some cool flowers. For heaven’s sake leave the patterns out.  Build something wild, while you’re under the gun. It is, after all, time honored.

Thread Magic Garden Is Ready for Pre-order!

Friday, December 30th, 2011
Thread Magic Garden will be arriving for shipment around January 20th. You can pre-order your copy today!
You never really know what a project will take until you see it done. Perhaps that’s good. A good dream well done should take your whole heart’s effort and give you your heart back in return.

When I started this book, I had no idea it would take 2 years to finish. Part of that is that I had to learn so much to do this book.  Part of that is the meticulous process C&T puts into every book.  I got my premier copy a week ago.I’m still scraping myself off the ceiling. It’s past my expectations. I’m hoping you’ll feel that way too.

When I started this book, I wanted to continue what I’d accomplished with Thread Magic. I wanted to show folk ways of adding wild free motion to quilts that set things hearts and imaginations on fire. I wanted to set up instructions that would take you through your own process with this. You’ll have to let me know how I’ve  done when you read the book.
But for those of you who’ve known me in class or in print, you know I don’t give recipes for cakes that don’t rise. I tell you everything I know. I also don’t do anything really hard. I just do things that are time consuming and compulsive.
So here is what we have.
  • Fifty eye popping new quilts in the gallery
  • A patternless approach to design
  • Intuitive applique that makes creating flowers  easy and fun


Tutorials in

  • Color theory for flowers
  • Corded buttonhole  binding
  • Angelina Fiber
  • 6 Free motion zigzag stitches
  • Machine Beading
  • Globbing
  • Sandwich stabilizing

I’m hoping I’ve done a good job of opening doors, traveling a new path, leaving good bread crumbs for anyone who wants to follow, and breaking the best rules I could find to break. See you on the trail.


You can  pre-order your copy of Thread Magic Garden at 
www.ellenanneeddy.com


No More Color Police:Creating Flower Colors

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

 “Roses are red. violets are blue. Angels in heaven know I love you.” Down in the valley

 What color is a flower, actually?










In spite of everything your kindergarten teacher told you, it’s not a simple answer. If she made you color all your roses red, give me her name and I’ll go have a little chat with her. Or better still, you might want to tell her that she can’t live in your head anymore without paying rent.



That’s not a white tulip. Nor is it really red or yellow. It’s a wonderful swirl of a number of great colors. Leaving any of that out is a loss. But how do you do it in fiber?

We have two great tools. Well, we probably have hundreds but these help with this.Hand dyed fabric has all those great streaks. It’s a great way to start a flower.

Machine embroidery also speeds us on our way.The wonderful thing about stitching flowers is that thread really is minutia. We can slip in that dash of green, that edge of orange or purple that flowers either do have or should.
When Mark Lipinski asked me how important color was on his show this week and why I put so much emphasis on it, I almost fell of my chair. Color IS the media. We see everything through the color and the texture. You can here that conversation on Mark’s Creative Mojo  show, December 14th.

Thread Magic Garden has a full chapter on creating colors for flowers. It’s a magical thing. And you can do it too.

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