Winning the Metallic Threads Battle

Hi everyone!  Sew I saw it again this week.  Someone who is so frustrated with the behavior of their metallic thread in their machine they vowed never to use it again.  But I think it should not have to be like that and I have some suggestions that have been successful for me with my machines.  Admittedly the machine you have may have a different outcome, and I even have some minor frustrations with metallics from time to time, but these are some things to know and try before giving up on metallics.  Afterall, they are sooo pretty when they come out right.

  1. Make sure your machine’s thread paths, both top and bobbin, are fully cleaned and oil the machine.
  2. The needle can make a big difference. Since metallics are usually 40 weight threads, but are flat metal strips wrapped around a core of either polyester, rayon, or nylon, they need a needle with a larger eye than regular 40 weight thread.  I use either Superior 90/14 top stitch titanium needles or Schmetz 90/14 metallic or topstitch needles, which all have a larger eye.
  3. Feel around the machine foot you are using just to make sure there is not burr or other rough place.
  4. I prefer either Superior Metallic Thread, which has a polyester core that doesn’t break as often, but sometimes shreds, or Wonderfil Metallic thread, which has a rayon core that sometimes breaks but doesn’t shred as much.  I have found they both work pretty well, and much better than any of the others I have tried, including YLI, which has a strong reputation but all my machines, especially my 880 plus, tend to reject it. Nevertheless, with care, I have successfully gotten through many embroidery designs with metallic threads and no breakage or shredding.
  5. Lower the top tension.  Do some testing to see if it is right.
  6. Use a lightweight polyester thread in the bobbin that is close in color to the metallic you are using in the top.  This reduces thread buildup and will help clear up a lot of headaches for you.  I even heard of someone having their plastic bobbin break when filling it with metallic thread (which actually is what prompted me to write this blog).  That is probably because it was filling at too rapid a speed,  or it was overfilled, or it was a poor quality metallic, but it works better to use a 60 weight Superior Bottom Line or 80 weight Wonderfil DecoBob threads.  Both are excellent for most of your embroidery and even regular sewing for all types of thread in the top.  You’ll be glad you got this if you do.  I like prefilled bobbins because they are so evenly wound and that is particularly helpful when sewing with a difficult thread.  Most machines will take a prewound of the right size…look in your manual.  But alas, my Bernina 880 plus is such a diva that she requires her own fancy bobbin with silver stripes that has no prewounds available. I love her anyway. Her name is Odette (after the daughter of the founder of Bernina.  She ran Bernina for many years and added many wonderful advances to the machines).

    prewounds of multiple sizes

  7. Sew slowly!  If your machine has a speed control, slow it way down for stitching and in-the-hoop embroidering with metallic threads. It takes longer, but is so rewarding.
  8. Lubricate the threads.  My Bernina 880 plus and Q20 longarm both have a thread lubricant path and a pink liquid that came with them specifically for this reason, but my little Bernina 350 does not.

    I digitized and embroidered this star as an applique. It is on one of my Christmas quilts now owned by my church.  It’s made with metallic threads.

    So I will use the lubricant path and pink liquid as described in my manuals for the two larger machines and use something like Dritz Sewers Aid for the smaller one.

    • When using the thread lubricant path, loosen the tension slightly, because I have found it adds a little tension on its own.
    • When using the lubricant for a machine that doesn’t have a prescribed path, run a line of the lubricant down the side of the thread spool on three or four sides and hand rub the spool until it is fairly well distributed.  Then thread the machine.
  9. Metallic thread is very “lively” and has a strong “memory” that makes it keep a curl when it comes off the spool.  So if you use a thread stand with a tall thread guide you can set it behind your machine and bring the thread up and over into your thread path.  This allows the thread to relax a little before it enters the thread path.  You can also take advantage of cones of thread using these too.  I do this when using it with my little B350 that I take with me to places like a class at a quilt show, but my two big machines both have tall thread guides built in.  So consider what your machine does and adjust accordingly.  Wonderfil has a gadget called a “Thread Tamer” that will do a lot of this for you.  I haven’t got that yet, though I think I probably will. It looks very helpful and interesting.
  10. Lengthen the stitch length a little.  If you are using an in-the-hoop design, your machine may have an adjustment you can make to do this for such designs or lower the density.  It not only will make the thread behave better, but will show up more metallic as it stretches further between stitches.  A lower density is very helpful in dealing with metallic threads too and, if carefully set, can look better than full density.  But not all machines will do this.  Make some simple in-the-hoop test and see what it looks like.
  11. OK, this last idea is something I haven’t tried yet but intend to.  Wonderfil just came out with a thread managing invention called The Ultimate Thread Dispenser that fits on most machines.  I think it looks very much like it will make a difference for metallics and the other painful, but totally beautiful thread worth the struggle, and that’s rayon embroidery threads.  It’s not very expensive, so you may want to order one. Here’s a link to their video talking about it, if you are interested.

Sew most of us love the look of beautiful metallic embroidery, but many of us have been totally frustrated with thread breaks, thread tangles, and so forth.  It’s worth trying things to see if you can make your machine decide to cooperate with you and use the metallic.  Perhaps if you talk to your machine nicely it will also help.  LOL

Sew happy everyone!  Keep trying new or even difficult things and have fun in your studio.

 

 

Adding Paint to Quilts

Hi everybody!  My Two Birds Project, video one and the workbook with the pattern are published! Video Two will come in February and Video Three in March.  There will likely be some additional smaller videos out in February and March also.  Please watch them, and, if you haven’t already, subscribe to my YouTube channel.  It’s free and doesn’t ask any questions or pester you after you subscribed.  Here’s the link to the video: Two Birds Video

And here’s the link to the pattern with workbook if you want to join me in making one for yourself (it is only $5):  Two Birds Pattern

Sew I had the idea that it might be a good idea to make a set of five small quiltlets of different fabric types and use commercial embroidery on them that would look nice with the addition of painting.  I plan to use several different types of paints, inks, and markers that I have hanging around my studio in order to compare the paints and the way they work with the different fabrics.  That way I can reference them when I am making a quilt to decide which paints I need to use.  That’s what I’m working on now.

Test sampler I made before starting my Mom’s memory quilt.  I Quilted it first and then painted the bird and the flowers.

Hawaiian Garden:  I quilted, then painted the borders.

I think this will be a fun project.  I will video it so you can see what I do and write a blog or two about it also.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio!

 

 

Happy 2022! Looking Forward to a Good Year

We made it through 2021!  Hooray!  Happy New Year everyone!  I am taking a positive approach for 2022…expecting it to be a good year full of light, love, peace, and productivity! So what’s first up for Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts?

I talked a little about this in my last blog post.

  • I will soon be presenting the first in a three-part series of videos coupled with the publishing of a workbook with pattern for the Two Birds Project.  The first part is completely filmed and being edited, and the workbook is fully written and being edited.  The two remaining videos are filmed all but the short openings and I need to record the voice-over scripts for them. It will be a fun set for my followers and I’m excited to get to this point.
  • I am working on putting together a wool applique by machine project. Wait until you see what can be done with these techniques and materials! It’s really going to be fun!
  • I have worked up a production plan for the first part of the year that includes show quilts (to fit within my architectural, ancient manuscript, and deep space genres), applique projects (both wool and other fabrics), and multiple shorter technique skill project videos that I think you will enjoy. There may be other things too along the way. Plus a little bit of clothes sewing.

I got a fun addition to my studio for Christmas, a Brother Scan and Cut DX.  I have been spending the last several days learning all about it and how best to use it.  It adds lots of new possibilities and a great help for the applique quilts for sure, but I can also make some quilting stencils and other things I am thinking about.  I now have both the Applique Go! with a nice collection of dies to help me cut multiple layers of fabric for snuggle/quick-to-make quilts and the Scan and Cut for cutting digitally created shapes for more complex individual applique designs among other things…how wonderful.  Truly, except for wishing I had more space and storage (doesn’t everyone?), I have a marvelous studio for designing, quilting, and stitching adventures complete with the video equipment well set up for filming them.  And yes, I also have significant help from my delightful family.  Oh, and don’t forget, I have newly improved eyesight to help with all of this!  I am totally thankful both to my kids and my Lord for all of this.

Sew I am making a kind of fresh move in my YouTube channel, pattern making, and books now at the beginning of 2022.  Last year  seems like kind of a rehearsal and learning period for me.  So I’m excited.  I hope to get a lot of new subscribers/readers and provide significant content you all will enjoy.  I love sharing my work with you.

Let me know if there is a particular subject you want me to cover either in comments here or on my videos on YouTube.  I will see what can be done.

Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio!

 

Merry Christmas and New Adventures for 2022

I digitized and embroidered this star as an applique. It is on one of my Christmas quilts now owned by my church.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you are already enjoying this wonderful season.  It is one of my very most favorite times of the year. We are having a relatively simple celebration this year, but it is still joyous. Right now I have The Piano Guys YouTube videos of Christmas music playing while I write this.  They are fun.  Have you seen the one with the Christmas scene and all the cameras riding around in the little train, on the Christmas tree, and in the drone flying in the room?  Here’s the link. It’s really fun.  Or how about the one all done in legos.  Here’s that link.  So creative and beautifully performed.

Well, I finished the Two Birds quilt along with completing the filming of the videos. The whole stack of hours and hours of videos I made while I made the quilt, along with the voice over reading, and the intro and exits parts we filmed together last weekend are now being edited by my oldest son.

I have written the pattern and workbook that goes with it, and that too is being edited by the family team.  I don’t know when we will get the first video of that project published but hopefully not long now.  It’s a big job to edit such a tangle of videos, voice overs and corrections into three publishable videos that make sense and are also interesting.  It has already taken much longer than any of us anticipated, but that was primarily due to my unrelated circumstances this year that delayed things, such as my cataract surgery among other things.  But that is all behind me now and I greatly look forward to the coming new year.

I have every expectation that we will produce much more content for my YouTube channel at a bit faster pace and with ever increasingly interesting projects and building professionalism.  I have gotten to where I don’t get bothered by the cameras, know how to set them up properly, and have lots of fun ideas for new stitching/quilting/videoing projects.  I have learned that the videography is as important as the making of the fabric art piece to make it all work and find it also very interesting.

I still have only about a third of the subscribers and a fourth of the viewership needed to monetize the YouTube channel, but it is growing and I nevertheless enjoy being able to share my projects with my viewers.  I hope you all enjoy the videos and will be happy to see them when a new one is published.  We have several projects already planned for the new year.

First of all, I want to create some new wool applique by machine projects, because I think it is possible to make some stunningly beautiful pieces in this category that has hardly been touched in the quilting/fabric art world using the machine and my initial project was only a basic introductory layout of the techniques. It’s an adventure to see how far this can go.

Then I have three new show quilts in mind for 2o22 that I think you will all love or at least enjoy watching me make them.  I hope I can succeed in getting all three made.

There will be a number of short and shorter videos showing techniques and use of tools.

And then I need to make some new clothes.  I have everything I need for them and will try to spread them across the year so I have something new and fun to wear once in a while.  I probably won’t buy any ready-made clothing this year just as a sort of challenge to myself for fun.  I haven’t decided whether or not to video these projects.  What do you think?

Sew happy everyone!  Have a wonderful holiday season and I hope you also Have Fun in Your Studios!!!

 

 

 

 

Two Birds Project

If you have been sewing or quilting any length of time I know you have occasionally had a project that seemed to fight you every step of the way.  I have been dealing with such a project for the past several months and, through persistence and a little bit of acceptance of some of the results that aren’t quite what I originally had in mind, I am very close to finishing it. It is my two birds quilt project for my YouTube channel.

The techniques are not difficult, the design is good and problems in the pattern and instructions have been eliminated.  It was an experimental quilt project in many ways.  I had several  personal problematic challenges with a few little annoyances here and there that only occasionally happen with me or my projects and a few small machine and health events.

During the course of making this project, I redesigned parts of it several times; ruined the beginning with a mistake on my part and had to reorder fabric to restart it; discovered the way I had planned to accomplish some of the parts were not the best route and I had to correct them; my quilting machine got some fluff and thread caught in the thread path that I couldn’t get out on my own and I spent several hours on the phone working with my wonderful Bernina tech Lew who helped me fix it and basically we serviced my machine as we worked through the problem; I discovered I did not like the way all the thread colors worked though I loved the threads, so had to order new threads and work around the wait; had a part of the quilting I messed up and ripped out and requilted; and finally, abnormally struggled with getting the binding on for some reason (perhaps I was out of practice).  But each problem has been overcome and the quilt is lovely.

That is now all behind me, the videos are filmed except one small finishing up, and the quilt is lovely.  I still need to do the final wash to remove all the marks and refresh the fabric, and the videos are being edited into several segments by my excellent family member editor.

In the midst of all of this I had cataract surgery in both eyes and a few other things that delayed my work on the project.  But all in all, I am delighted with the results of the eye surgery and have dealt with the other delays and bumps in the road.

Sew in a few weeks now, the two birds videos will be published along with a workbook with the pattern and instructions in case someone wants to make one themselves.  And the cool thing is that I have been through the instructions, patterns, and making of the quilt and already made all the mistakes for you, so you won’t have to make them yourself.  LOL. Therefore, I am pretty sure if you decide to join me and make the quilt you will find it really fun and free of such challenges.

I talked over new ideas with my family last weekend and am very excited about upcoming projects for 2022 and look forward to sharing them with you all. I fully believe that I will be producing more frequent videos with some really fun projects and I hope you will join me or at the very least watch the videos and continue to read my blogs. I am thinking of adding some podcast blogs once in a while (all sound, no videos).

NEWS:  I have put several of my quilts on a really good sale to help pay for some upcoming expenses.  Go take a look here: https://bjfabricartist.com/shop

Sew happy everyone and have fun in your studios!

 

Working with Heavy Threads

Hi everyone.  As those of you who have followed me over time know, I love threads and have written several blogposts on the subject.  This week I have been free motion stitching with 12 weight threads for quite a few hours. What great looks you can get from them and each type looks remarkably different from the others!

Sew am I happy with the work I did this past week?  Some of it looks fabulous, but there is one area I was not happy with.  I have found in the past, however, that if I just keep going it often improves.  I can also add some ink or paint to improve things.  The interesting thing is that this is all part of my next video project.  I think I will use this to discuss what to do when things are not just what you envisioned initially or some such.  I think I can show that the fiber content and the value contrasts make a great deal of difference in the resulting looks for these fabulous threads. By the way, I got that one area much improved and think it will do just fine.

When purchasing such specialty threads, getting excellent quality thread and the right colors are what is paramount for getting a good outcome.  Especially when using heavy threads, the stitching can gnarl up and knot or split if the threads are poor quality.  It is really important to use them with the right needles, bobbin threads, and tensions.  Some of them, especially rayons, require silicone thread treatments to make them behave, such as the pink liquid that comes with some Bernina machines or Sewer’s Aid.  Thread nets also help improve their function if you are using a cone.  Also lower the top tension and lengthen the stitches to make things go well.

For domestic machines, slow down.  I also frequently use these on my Bernina Q20 longarm sitdown.  And for those of you who have a Q, here are the settings I use:

  • BSR 1 with 200 idling speed
  • 8 spi
  • 1.75 top tension
  • 180 bobbin tension with the 60 weight Bottom line
  • Kick start function to keep from skipping stitches

For such large threads I use Superior 100/16 top stitch for the regular spots or Schmetz 100/16 nonstick needles for stitching through fused on items like appliques

I love these 12 weight threads, have used them enough to know they are good quality, and each one offers a different look for multiple purposes:

For all of these threads I use a light weight thread in the bobbin such as Superior Bottom Line (a 60 weight polyester), Wonderfil DecoBob (an 80 weight polyester) or, if you only like cotton…a 50 weight cotton.

I am also planning on using even heavier weight specialties on my current project and my next project.  These have to be either couched on or stitched on upside down with the thread in the bobbin and a lighter thread on top.  I have some beautiful 8 weights to try.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio and try some heavy weight thread sewing.  It adds so much to your projects.

 

 

 

Fall Project Timing

Hi everyone.  I can’t believe it’s already October!  I love that it is fall, because it was a hot and somewhat rough summer for me, but it occurs to me that I have several projects I have in mind for fall and for the Christmas/winter season that aren’t even started yet.  Yikes!  I better stretch my time in the studio a bit more!

 

I have been working really hard on the complex multi-video two birds project.  I am about three fourths of the way.  I want mostly to complete the whole project before publishing the first video because I need to make sure the accompanying workbook and pattern with all its techniques are good and actually work with the videos.  That will be available from my shop on my website and together with the videos presents a fairly complete class.  This class presents a lot of the techniques I have used in the past on some of my show quilts and I think quilters will enjoy making it.  Besides, it makes up into a really nice wall or lap quilt that would be a wonderful present or enjoyable quilt for yourself.

Sew, kind of as step one on this project, I uploaded a video that discusses how to turn a line drawing, like a coloring book page, into a pattern similar to my two birds to use in your own designs.  I know everyone may not have all the software or want to play with it in that way, but I know some will and may not have thought of using it for that or really know how.  If you have Bernina software v8, for instance, you have Corel Draw elements.  Anyway, take a look at the video and see what you think.

Here is a picture of some luscious Wonderfil threads (see link on the right). I love their specialty threads and am using a lot of them in my two birds project.

I have a couple of wool applique by machine decorative wall hangings–one for fall and one for Christmas–coming too, if I succeed in getting them all done in time.

In the meantime, I have my right eye cataract surgery on the 14th of this month.  I will be glad to get that taken care of.  I can see so well out of my left eye now and not well at all out of the right eye.

Then to top off everything, I have clothes I need to make.  We’ll see how much of all of this I get done.

The Simplicity pattern from my substantial pattern stash. Note the pants have a simple full elastic waist and no pockets…not what I want, but I have a better slacks pattern. The long sleeve tunic provides a suggestion for the embellishment. I would be adding something more for fun.

 

I always plan more than I can do it seems.  But it is so much to look forward to and have fun with in my studio as we drift into fall and winter.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio.

 

The Making of “Out of Mom’s Workbasket”

Hi everyone.  I am happily anticipating the fall after this tough hot summer here in northern Virginia. We had a little taste of it this past week although they are predicting the next few days will be back to hot summer weather. In spite of that I have already begun my fall and winter sewing and quilting fun here in my studio.  I have clothes, wall art quilts, a special banner, and videos on my sewing docket for this.  I think I really have to get busy!

I have a quilt that will be shown in an in-person quilt show this week at the Pennsylvania International Quilt Extravaganza in Oak, PA, that runs from 9/16 Thursday through 9/19.   It is my memory quilt for my mother Out of Mom’s Workbasket9/17/2021 UPDATE:  This quilt won third place in Traditional Quilts category!!!   Hooray!!!

Out of Mom’s Workbasket

I used five crocheted blocks that I found in her workbasket after she passed in 1998 and held on to them until I could figure out what to do with them and had time to do it.  I made this quilt last year during the lockdown and it was a wonderful activity for me during this time. Sweet memories of her floated around me as I worked on it.

I used multiple techniques for this quilt just as I have to make a lot of my wall art quilts.  Note that I am not much of a piecer, although I do piece parts of my quilts when necessary.  I do love machine applique, free motion stitching and quilting, and adding embellishments such as machine embroidery, paint, and beads or crystals to my quilts though.  This quilt has all of these techniques.

I machine embroidered this free standing lace star for the center of the quilt.

In the first place, the white fabric is crepe-back satin and the blue-gray fabrics are dupioni.  Well, yes, that’s true, but these fabrics are polyester!  They are dramatically cheaper than silk (or quilting cotton for that matter), and they wash without shrinkage or bleeding of color.  However, the dupioni, which seems lighter than silk dupioni, requires a fusible interfacing to back it.  I used Pellon SF101, a woven fusible lightweight interfacing that remains in the quilt and is very drapable even after fusing. I particularly like the way the dupioni looks and feels and I intend to use it again.  I love the way these fabrics quilt up especially.  I believe my mother, who was a fabulously talented seamstress, would love it.  I once saw her make a gorgeous prom gown for my cousin entirely out of a single color of crepe-back polyester satin with no additional embellishments.  It was styled so beautifully and I still remember it decades from then.  I know a lot of quilters think polyester is not to be used on quilts.  I have had them call such fabrics and polyester threads “plastic”, which is technically correct, but is definitely intended to be an insult to the fabric and threads. There is also a nice batting that can substitute for wool batting and can be easily washed.  I would, however, avoid using all these polyesters on a child’s quilt for a few reasons.  Cotton is necessary for kid’s quilts and nice for cuddle quilts in my personal opinion.  But this is an art piece, and I might also us it as a decorative throw from time to time.  Sew what do you think?

I added things she loved around the quilt..flowers, birds, sewing machine, Peter O’Dog (the scottie), stars, angel, pearls, and so forth.

So I finally figured out that the five 10 inch blocks could be placed in such a way that a beautiful star was formed while drawing on the geometric patterns in the crochet to make a pentagon surrounding the star with crosses pointed outward.

These are the five 10 inch squares of crocheted lace that I found in Mom’s workbasket. They inspired the quilt.

I worked for months to design the quilt from there.  Really, the hardest part when constructing it was to make the blue-gray pentagon that backs the crocheted blocks.  Getting each side and angle to match at just the right size onto a freezer paper pattern took me a full day.  I suspect if I were better at math and geometry it would not have been so difficult, but after four attempts, I finally got a pattern I could use, and then I appli-pieced it into the middle of the off white satin large block.

The central pentagon before the quilt top was constructed.

The second biggest challenge was figuring out how to mark the satin.  The satin is free motion quilted and the birds and leaves are painted in with multiple shades of Setacolor paints. But they required marking the leaves and birds and placements for the  various in-the-hoop patches and direct embroidery.  The big advantage of poly satin over silk satin is that it can be easily washed.  So markers could be washaway.  But here’s the problem…satin weave catches sharp pencil points, satin does not hold chalk marks very long, and wet markers run like crazy on the satin weave. Those facts eliminate nearly all the regular markers I use.  I wrote a blog on Markers for Satin linked here when I figured it out.

Fortunately, I discovered that Crayola had recently come out with washable gel pens.  Sew I tested them on the satin.  They marked a narrow line with a small amount of spreading, but still maintained a clear line.  The test marks of several colors washed away with a little Synthrapol with no problem except the orange, and even that washed away after a second wash.  So I made a pillow top to test all the markings,  paints, and work out some free motion quilting.

I think the most fun I had making this quilt was the machine embroidery pieces and the quilting.  I enjoyed the whole thing in its entirety and I love looking at it now. I don’t know why but it gave me a sense of making her a beautiful wedding dress.  Her wedding dress was nice, but a short pretty dress and she and Dad were married just before WWII and did not have a full wedding.  I think she would have liked this concept. I don’t have a wall big enough for it, so I drape it over the upstairs banister when it is here.  This week though, if you go to the PA Nat’l Quilt Extravaganza, you can see it in person.

Detail showing the angel with the horn. It has crystals and pearls on it.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio.

 

 

Machine Applique Can Be Beautiful and Durable

Hi everybody.  The subject recently came up about how to sew stitched raw-edge applique so it can be washed and used without a fraying edge.  I have used these appliques for years now and have found that there are ways to minimize or even eliminate fraying regardless of the stitch I use for the edge.

Canterbury silk. All the appliques in the central block are silk and stitched with narrow matching lightweight thread using a blanket stitch.

First of all, one needs to consider the fabric.  If you are using a relatively loosely woven cotton, it probably would be best to turn the edge even if you are machine stitching it or use a satin stitch with a fray edge treatment, such as fray check if you machine stitch it down.  Most current day high quality quilting cottons, however, are tightly woven enough to withstand a raw-edge applique treatment if the stitching is properly set up and the washing is done on a gentle cycle or by hand.

Night on the Bayou. The big cyprus trees are turned edge, machine stitched and the remaining appliques are fused raw edge. All the applique stitching was machine blanket stitched.

I use a light fusible web to tack down my appliques that usually washes away.  I have also used a simple wash away glue stick and it works too with the right stitch settings.  So for blanket stitch:

  • Set the stitch narrow with a short length.  I use about 1.7 width by 1.5 length on my Bernina 880 plus for most quilting cotton.
  • I move the needle as far to the right as possible.
  • I use an open toed embroidery foot 20D
  • I engage the dual feed to make it really even, but if you don’t have such, stitch at a slow even speed
  • Run the edge of the applique up close to the inside right toe of the foot so that the straight stitch runs close to the edge of the applique in the background and the swing left to right stitch goes into the applique
  • Turn the applique as it curves so the swing left-right stitch points to the center of the circle or roundish shape
  • When turning at a sharp angle, stop as close to the end as possible, preferably with the needle to the right in the background.  Then turn, and begin the stitch pattern by hitting the restart pattern button if your machine has one. This makes a pretty point and seals the sharp shape of the applique down with thread. Don’t fret if you miss it a bit, just get it as close to this ideal as you can.
  • When quilting this type of applique you may wish to use a matching light weight thread or monopoly to blend into the background, or a heavier thread in a dark gray stitched close to the edge to make a shadow-like appearance. It all depends on how you want the end result, so do a test first.

If you do all of this, the result is usually a straight stitch running close to the cut edge of the applique on the background and the left-right stitches close enough together that they help to prevent fraying.  Use this stitch with matching thread when you want your edges to blend into the applique more. If you want the blanket stitch to stand out, see if your machine has a double blanket stitch.  The double blanket stitch is beautiful and pretty completely seals the edges but stands out.

If you are using wool felt appliques, you can use wider and longer blanket stitches and possibly a 12 weight wool thread for a very hand-appliqued look.  You are likely not to wash these items, but felt does not fray in any event.

If you decide you would rather use a satin stitched edge it requires careful even stitching and points and corners require care because this stitch can look fairly amateurish with wiggles and bumpy corners and poorly stitched points. I really prefer to do this by first digitizing it in my Bernina software and then stitch in-the-hoop appliques because it gives a much more professional finish than is easy to achieve otherwise.  However, I have been successful at stitching this with first a narrower satin stitch around the applique and follow that with a slightly wider stitch over the original stitch.  This gives a nicer smoother look.  Use this stitch when you want your edges to stand out.

Detail from Summer Melody, in which all the butterflies are appliqued with narrow satin stitch.

Then there is the time you actually want a little fraying to add to the character of the applique.  For this, I just use a straight stitch close to the edge of the applique in a matching thread.

Regardless of the applique you use, when you wash these quilts use gentle cycle or wash by hand and dry flat and they will last for many years.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio and don’t fear the applique.

 

Preparing for a Fun Sewing and Quilting Season

Hi everyone.  I can see so well out of my left eye now after the cataract surgery last Monday that it is  amazing. I am probably going to go ahead and have the right eye done in a month or thereabout afterall.  Working on my fabric art this coming season is really going to be fun.  Unfortunately, I can also see that the house needs a real cleaning, which I really couldn’t see before.

Well, first things first…and that’s the preparation for the sewing, quilting, fabric painting, and both free motion and in-the-hoop embroidery.  I’ll be using all kinds of threads, because I enjoy that part of my fabric art so much.

Sew I have made a check list and am going through it and straightening my studio at the same time.  My studio is not in bad shape, because I have found the reorganization I did with my friend Anita’s help several years back has held up pretty well.  Basically, I just need to put things back where they belong and do a quick check to see what I may need to replace or give away.

Here’s my check list, making sure I have:

— A sufficient supply of sewing machine needles in the following sizes and types:

a:  Assorted Superior titanium top stitch needles
b:  Assorted  Schmetz Super Non-Stick needles
c:  A couple of packages of assorted Schmetz universal needles

— Yards of Pellon SF101 lightweight woven interfacing (I buy a bolt usually and back many of my quilting fabrics with this), and a generous supply of other weights and types of interfacing (especially since I use this for clothing too).

— Generous supply of the blackest quilting cotton, because I use a lot of black in my quilts.  I love how colors play against the black.

— A nice selection of stabilizers,  I particularly like OESD Ultra Clean and Tear

— A supply of blades for my rotary cutters

— Look critically at the rulers and cutting mats for knicks and cracks and toss and replace if needed

— How are my pins? (everyone has their own preferences here, so I am not adding a link)

— Check all the bobbins to make sure they aren’t warped or some such.  The B880 bobbins have a silver paint on them that can wear off and make the bobbin unreadable for the machine.  So I need to toss them when they get bad, but I generally do that along the way, and the more recent bobbins seem to last longer than the earlier ones.

— Test the threader on my machines to make sure they don’t need a replacement head or something, I just replaced the one on my Q20, and because this is a weak point in my Q20 I keep a spare on hand.

— Carefully clean my machines, oil if needed (don’t oil if not, because too much oil is as bad as too little).

— battings.  I like to have on hand: Thermore super thin polyester (good for quilted clothes). Hobbs 80/20 , Hobbs Tuscany wool, and Hobbs Poly down.  Since I seldom make bed-sized quilts, I buy a crib or throw size of those if available.  If I am going to make a larger quilt I will buy the batting then. This way I usually have available what I need.

I will shop my stash and buy the fabrics I need to make them work as needed, so all I do here is make sure they are in their right places and more or less folded somewhat neatly. I labeled all the drawers and shelves where I keep them.  Occasionally they sneak into the wrong drawer somehow.  I can’t figure out how.  LOL

I will do the same thing with my threads, because I have a large thread stash to go with my large fabric stash.  I love both Superior threads and Wonderfil specialty threads and I have a wide selection of colors, weights, and fiber content. So I make sure they aren’t tangled in a nest and are in the right drawers or on the right pegs behind the door (I don’t store them where they get sunlight).

And last of all I dust and wipe down the tables, cutting mats, and outer parts of the machines, and dust and vacuum the studio. I wipe down my Q20 Koala table with Sullivan’s silicone spray, being sure to cover the bobbin/bsr area with blue painters tape  (which I also may need to replace) so it doesn’t get into the works.  It is such a great thing to be able to have things all stocked and ready to go for future projects and this usually takes me only a few days.

Now!  Let the fun begin! First up is my 2 birds project, and then a couple of Holiday quilts, one will be a wool applique and embellishment by machine for Christmas and then something else for the Holiday season.

Sew happy everyone!  Get ready to have fun in your studio!