The wonderful ladies at Sew Mama Sew are at it again! This time around they are offering fantastically priced thread bundles for IBOL II: Give a Little. So, if you are inclined to support donating sewing supplies to needy sewists in Iraq but don’t have much of a stash yourself, click here to have the SMS ladies send a bundle of thread, needles, and pins for you!
I’ve had the most confounding experience (stitch-wise) the last few days.
I am planning on teaching a beginning quilting class at my local park again in August. This time, instead of a sampler quilt, we’re going to make three smaller projects. I’m making class samples now.
While in Spokane, WA for my MIL’s wedding (congratulations lovebirds!), I bought some really ugly fabric that was on sale and screamed for me to take it home and make it sing. Aqua was all it needed. Then I tried grey and white in an uncharacteristic moment of fashionable-ness. I liked both, so I sewed up two table runner tops. No problem.
But when it came time to quilt the first runner, the thread broke. This surprised me because I was using a “golden retriever” thread (a term coined by Superior Thread Bar Tender Cindy for threads that are very easy to use) and quilting in straight lines. I adjusted all my tension options to no avail. Then I changed to a fresher topstitch needle. Nope. I changed spools of thread, and it broke too (so it wasn’t a bad spool). I changed to a smaller, sharper microtex needle. Nope. Then I put in a brand spanking new topstitch (easy on the thread) needle and still the thread broke. I switched to a different type of thread and it broke too. All the while, I was noticing that the needle seemed to be struggling to get through the ugly fabric. I admitted defeat and picked out all my stitching attempts. I figured that the ugly fabric must have been on sale for more than just it’s aesthetic value and re-sandwiched my table runner top with a different backing (since I had so much ugly fabric, and I thought it was so bad it was cool, I used it front and back). I tried stitching the table runner in cross-wise straight lines, but even with the new backing, the thread broke. Then, I only stitched on the non-ugly fabric parts — and it worked! I got brave and did a little stitching on the borders (ugly fabric) where I could take it out and it would still look OK. It worked and I didn’t have t remove any stitches! One table runner done.
After sleeping on my fabric problem, I had the brilliant idea to put a new back on table runner two and stitch it from the back, hopefully avoiding, in a way, the problematic ugly fabric. I had hoped to stitch in the ditch of my wonky log cabins, extending the lines out into the border, but that wouldn’t work from the back where there’s no lines to follow. Serpentine stitch is quite popular right now, and would look good with the simple piecing, but I really wanted to do something different. Since I was working from the back and couldn’t follow what was going on on the front, I figured I could take that all the way and do something completely in contrast to the piecing. I decided that since the piecing is tweaked traditional, the quilting should be too — simple feathers in a loose arrangement. I had no problems sewing the feathers, but since I’m not a great machine quilter, and my arcs were pretty large, I just wasn’t happy with them. So, I picked them out.
Again, I admitted defeat, and opted for the serpentine stitch. I wanted to make sure it was oriented relatively straight on the table runner though. I crossed my fingers and hoped that I could stitch one line from the front and then align the rest off that from the back. Guess what? No problem! So I sewed the next line on the front. No problem. So I completed table runner number two without further incident.
In the end, I have no idea what was making my thread break. Perhaps it was that two layers of ugly fabric was too much. I considered that it was the batting, but Runner 1 used scraps from a batting I had used successfully on another quilt, and Runner 2 used a completely different batting (which I don’t like, but not for stitchability issues). Perhaps it was some magical combination of the fabric and the angle at which I was stitching it (straight was bad, serpentine or free-motion met the fabric in an acceptable way). Perhaps it was the alignment of the planets and by day two things were back to normal. I don’t know. I do know that I won’t be using the ugly fabric for my other two class samples which are next on my to-do list.
Last weekend was Quilt Hawai’i on the Big Island. Many, many, months ago I heard that the Superior Threads people would be holding their School of Threadology there and so, of course, I had to sign up. I even convinced three other friends from the quilt guild to join me. We were so happy we went.
We arrived early (really, really early) on Wednesday because Rowena had a morning class. Susan and Debby opted to help the organizers set up, and I escaped to the beach with local Flickr friend Anika! She took me to Waialea Bay (AKA Beach 69) where we chatted, snacked, and swam a bit. This being in Hawai’i stuff is rough, but someone’s gotta do it.
Thursday was all about thread. In the morning, Dr. Bob, professor of Threadology, gave a lecture on thread composition, uses of various threads, needle types, sewing machine issues, and pretty much everything you ever needed to know about using thread in a quilt but never thought to ask. Class included a huge goodie bag of Superior threads and needles, and a book with all the information covered plus handy dandy charts. Then, after lunch, it was play time with Annie.
We used this cool product called Texture Magic. Basically, you stitch your fabric to the Texture Magic sheet (and using cool threads adds to the fun) and then steam it to shrink the Texture Magic, thus crinkling your fabric. We used our crinkly fabric to make cute handbags.
After class, Susan had arranged for the four of us, plus three other Guild ladies who happened to also be there, to visit Quilt Passions, a lovely quilt shop in nearby Kona.
Karen, the owner, is doing a wonderful job with the shop. She’s got patterns from local designers and lots of classes. They specialize in batik fabric, but have a nice selection of other things to choose from as well. They’ve even got their very own fabric (which she’s cutting for Rowena here)! Not only did Quilt Passions have a booth at Quilt Hawai’i, but they offered to shuttle people down to the shop and even included a small dinner for our group. Definitely making the most of opportunities both for the shop and for us visitors. Kudos.
Friday was Open Thread Bar. We had the whole day to play with all the lines of Superior threads. This was a great opportunity to get expert help troubleshooting any issues with our machines and the tricky threads. It was also great to try in person the threads I had only seen online.
Mother Superior showed us a nice couching combination with an uneven zigzag stitch and Razzle Dazzle thread. Our Bartender Cindy was great with tips on adjusting our machines and the best uses for each thread.
I never thought I would be stitching feathers with metallic threads, but I did — and I liked it!
Thursday night was Quilt Hawai’i’s fantastic Fabric Bingo, where I won an amazing amount of swag. Friday was Superior quilt show and tell (I’m ready to make a whole cloth quilt in dupioni silk now), a project with fusible thread, and then graduation with highly coveted, much sought after, certificates. My friends and I are now a Certified Superior Threadologists!