Monday, March 25, 2019

Sewing with metallic thread

I recently overheard a person asking a shop employee if she could use metallic thread in the top and bobbin of her machine.  I couldn't help myself and jumped in to answer the question.  I wasn't sure that the shop employee had enough experience to giver a reliable answer (plus I'm a little bossy).  All right, I can hear all my close friends laughing now.  I can actually be outspoken and blurt out things from time to time.  Like, "Are those basting stitches?", or "How satisfying".  Inside jokes with some of my quilting friends (now).

Well back to my story.  I've used a lot of metallic threads over the years to both embellish and quilt.  They are finicky threads, to say the least.  You want the threads to show and they aren't suitable for seams.  I've found a couple of things that help, and I passed along some of these to the person in the store.

First, buy a good quality metallic thread.  Some of them fray quite badly, others work just fine.  My suggested thread is from Superior Threads.  It comes in several colors and comes in several sizes, including cones.  If you want use other brands, run the thread through your fingers.  If it feels gritty, it will probably shred and break.  If it feels smooth, you're in luck.

Second, use a metallica needle.  The eye is large and the groove is elongated and allows the thread to slip through without fraying.

Third, DON'T put metallic thread in both the top and the bobbin.  The two threads will act like scissors and you'll be cussing out your thread and project.  I guarantee it!  Use a lightweight thread, preferably 50 wt. that closely matches the color of the metallic thread.   Light gray for silver, light yellow for gold, for example.

Fourth, lengthen your stitch.  You can go easily to 3.0 instead of 2.4 and this will show off the thread much better.

Fifth, loosen the top tension.  Less resistance in the sewing machine guides will mean less tendency towards shredded thread.

Finally, place the spool on either an off machine stand or on an attachment to the machine.  Both of these will let the thread relax before it goes through the machine guides.  If you have a persnickety thread, you may also want to pull out a foot or so every now and then to get rid of any micro-shredding or twisting that might be happening.

The Thread Director

Some people suggest squirting the thread spool with a silicone thread conditioner, called "Sewer's Aid".  I do sometimes resort to this myself.  (Just make sure you don't reach for your fray check, which is an adhesive!  The bottles look very similar.)

I hope this helps you embellish and quilt with metallic thread.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Whisper Challenge - Part Nine

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Sharry Olmstead.  It was the 9th one in the series for Karan Brooks.  Sharry did a beautiful hand painted still life and chose the perfect fabric for the border.  My immediate thought was to do something floral.  I also know that Karan likes burgundy.  I landed on a painted burgundy rose.

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

After I painted the rose, I highlighted it with thread.  It was fused to the background, stitched down and quilted.  Here it is:

I hope she likes it.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Whisper Challenge - part Eight

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Val Pellens.  It was the 7th one in the series for Audrey Prothero.
This quilt is a beautifully painted and quilted peacock with a few beads attached.  I'm guessing that the theme could be all about feathers, since peacocks are known for the beautiful feathers.  Or it could be about eyes since they are prominent on this piece.  Or it could represent a bird theme.  Oh my gosh.  I know that Audrey likes turquoise, so perhaps it just about the color.  I know that she has a tremendous sense of humor and loves to laugh.  Her sunny disposition and giggle always make me feel good.  I had to put on my thinking cap for this one.

In the end, I decided that it HAD to be turquoise, and because I like (and collect) feathers, I decided to just give her a feathered hat.  And the humor.....well, see what you think.

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

And here is the one that I made:

I hope she likes it.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Whisper Challenge - Part Seven

This blog is part of the series about the Whisper Challenge quilts.

I got this little 12" x 12" quilt from Ada Levins.  It was the 6th one in the series for Sharry Olmstead.
This quilt was made from ombre fabric, which I love and it certainly is a depiction of the sun.  Ada did a lot of work to get all of the pieces appliqued down and still retain the ombre effect.  It reminded me of the Southwest because of the color scheme.   I don't think Sharry has an affinity to the Southwest, so I knew that I probably wouldn't try to pick up on that theme.

What I do know about Sharry is that she has been overly generous with stuff that I need to make my bird nests, and gives me yarn galore almost every time I see her.  I knew that I was going to have to make a nest for her out of some of her yarn.  I designed a little quilt with a huge sun, a bird, and of course, a nest!

Here is the one that was passed along to me:

And here is the one I made:

made by Joanne Adams Roth

I hope she likes it.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Sister's Paisley quilt - Final

I've written several blogs about the making of this paisley quilt for my sister, Colleen Adams Wilson.  It is a huge quilt (for me now), and I swear every time I make one that I will not make a big one again.  But... I did it anyway.  Because she's my sister and I had never made a quilt specifically for her.

It took almost a month of daily quilting to get it done and my shoulders and neck ached at the end of every day.  I didn't swear, well, OK, just a little, as the quilt moved a jag here and there when I didn't want it to.  Any my grand idea of quilting it with navy blue or dark blue thread didn't pan out at all.  I had to tear out some stitches and re-quilt some areas.  I know, I know, you're not supposed to point out the errors and frustrations on your quilts.    What I did like was thinking about my sister most of the time I was making her quilt.

I have a sit down Innova quilting machine, which is basically a huge sewing machine without the feed dogs.  In order to support the weight of the quilt, I put 3 tables around my quilting machine and sat kitty corner to the needle.  It worked great and I still love my long arm.   Here's a picture of the quilting in progress:

Most of the time, I plan to do continuous line quilting so that I don't have to stop, start and tie knots.  However, on this quilt, I did a lot of stopping and starting and tying knots because of the way that I designed the quilting motifs.  My trick to keep me from getting bored while I tied the knots was to sit in the room with either an audio book downloaded from the library, or to play podcasts, or to lose myself in a Pandora station that was soothing.  I loved hearing Tom Hanks read out loud his short stories, "Uncommon Type".  I also really liked the book, "Milkman", by Anna Burns.  The podcasts that I listened to were TED talks, This American Life, New York Times Book Review, Threads, and a few gardening ones. 

I washed the quilt when I was done.  This was to get rid of all of the markings, the water soluble foundation and glue used during construction.  I was just a bit nervous when I dunked the whole thing into the tub, and watched it to make sure I didn't get color running.  (Adding 2 color catchers gave me courage.)  Then it was laid flat on the carpet and blocked to finish the drying process.  It helped to turn up the heat in the house a couple of degrees.  Here's what the living and dining room looked like while it was drying. (The quilt is between 2 sheets).  I'm so glad we have a large multipurpose room so that the furniture can be moved around to suit its use.

And here is the finished quilt.

Colleen's Paisley quilt by Joanne Adams Roth 2019

close up of quilting

I hope my sister likes it!