Archive for the ‘Thread Education: Hints, Tips, Tricks, Ideas & more’ Category

Hang On…with me!

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Hang On…I’m trying to catch up with my blog posts on projects I’ve attempted, sewn or completed.

In May this year (2017), I stitched up a few “Hang Ons”.

Hang On is a new Lazy Girl Designs sewing pattern, created by Joan Hawley. Hang Ons are little pouch type hanging pockets that are great for holding all sorts of things: tools to cell phones to sweet treats.¬† They make great gifts too!¬† You can hang them on door knobs, drawer pull-knobs, hooks of all types (including Command Hooks‚ĄĘ, see pictures below) and even push pins.

Here’s my first try:¬†

I chose a couple lovely metallic Asian fabrics from my stash. I used Superior Metallic Antique Gold thread to finish the edges.  Click the image to view a larger picture with more detail.

Notice, I didn’t flip the handle (as indicated by the pattern cover samples).¬† Was it on purpose–a design decision? Or was it my mistake?¬† I’ll never tell.¬† I will say that I do love how this baby turned out.¬† What do you think?

 

Hang On #2:

This is a fraternal twin sister to my first Hang On.  I used the same fabrics, swapped right sides and insides, and on this on I did flip the handle as indicated by the pattern.  Again, I used Superior Metallic Antique Gold thread to finish the edges.

Hang On #3:

For my third Hang On, I wanted to experiment with finishing the edges with couching.¬† Again, I chose fabrics from my stash and found some fun, funky yarn to use in couching the edges. If you’ve never experimented with couching fibers by machine, this is the perfect project to give it a try.¬† Click the pic to see larger image and more detail.

To couch yarns or fibers, simply stitch them on using a machine zig zag or other decorative stitch.¬† Experiment and have fun.¬† You may choose coordinating or contrasting sewing threads to use in your machine.¬† Many machines have a “couching” foot to help control placement of the fibers. However, I didn’t use one for this project. I love the soft, slubby edges that the yarn provides.

Hang On #4:

I wanted to continue experimenting with couching, so on my fourth Hang On, I also stitched the accent folds with couched yarn (in addition to finishing all the edges with couching — click image for larger picture/more detail).

This one reminds me of those beautiful mossy hanging baskets of flowers.

She’s a working girl — holding a handful of my favorite sewing tools, keeping my sewing table clean and my tools within reach. Tools shown are:¬† Point2Point Turner, Roll & Press, Superior Snippers, Awl, and Stiletto.

Hang On is a super easy and fun to sew project. It’s a perfect project for beginners or as a first project. It’s also FUN for experienced sewists — can you say instant gratification?¬† It’s also a great way to use up small pieces of fabrics from your stash.

If you don’t have the Hang On sewing pattern yet, you can get it ON SALE NOW: click here to order yours today. Save more money — sew more smiles.

NOTE:  Stiff Stuff is currently not available from the manufacturer and all our suppliers have sold out.  It is expected to be back in stock in mid to end of October 2017. Until then, I recommend substituting Soft & Stable.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Thread Ed: What You Needles to Know

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Okay, you’ve got your top thread picked and you’ve chosen the proper bobbin thread.¬† You are ready to sew now, right?¬† Wrong.¬† You need to consider your needle selection first.

This 3rd part in the series on thread education is about needles.

First I want to share a fantastic article by Superior Threads (shared with permission) regarding Needle Facts.  Be sure to scroll all the way down, below the article I share my current needle preferences and thoughts.



Needles — Using the right needle.

© 2008 Superior Threads. All Rights Reserved. This article is being used with permission for thread education purposes.
If you wish to use this article, please contact Superior Threads directly at
info@superiorthreads.com

One of the most significant parts of today’s home machines is often the least appreciated and most obscure – the needle.

A sewing machine needle is a slender strand of metal, shaped to precision, which delivers thread to the machine to create a stitch.  We spend thousands of dollars on the most advanced machines, acquire the best digitized designs, use the most lustrous thread, and the most beautiful fabric to produce our projects. But all too often this is all for naught because we either use an old, worn, damaged needle or we use the wrong needle for the fabric. Needles can be damaged by normal use.

You don’t have to hit a pin while sewing to damage your needle. They can become dull, bent, damaged or get misshapen eyes through normal sewing. All these contribute to frustrating thread breaks and a frayed look on your finished projects. The best advice we can give is this: When you start a new project,
start with a new needle. It’s the least expensive part of a superior finished project. Overall, a clean, well functioning needle will result in sharp, well-shaped stitches. Needles are inexpensive and easy to change. Keeping a good needle in your sewing machine is one of the easiest, least expensive ways to improve your embroidery and sewing projects.

Sharp vs. Ball Point

Needles fall into three primary categories — ball point, sharp, and rounded-sharp.

It is important to use the correct needle.

Ball point needles are designed to alleviate making holes in knit or loosely woven materials. The cross fibers which constitute the knit or loosely woven materials are relatively far apart as compared to those in tightly woven materials. If a knit strand of thread is cut with a sharp needle, it produces a hole that will enlarge when the loose fibers pull back from the cut. To prevent this, the ball point needle is designed to push aside the individual strands of the knit. This assumes that the ball point needle point is in good condition. If you notice rough edges on your embroidery or other developing irregularities, it is time to change to a new needle.

Sharp needles are designed for woven fabrics. Because of the tightness of the weave, individual cut fibers will not pull away and make holes. For this exact reason it is important not to use ball point needles on wovens. The blunt force of a ball point will tear through the fibers and actually pull them in the process, resulting in uneven, irregular embroidery and damage to the fabric. Sharp needles can be used on all wovens as well as dense fabrics such as leather, vinyl, canvas, etc.

Needle Sizes

Needles range in size from very fine 60/8 to a heavy duty needle 120/19. Most needles use the two-number measuring system. The higher number relates to the metric system and defines the
needle shaft diameter in hundredths of a millimeter. The lower number relates to the system in the U.S. and is an arbitrary number also used to indicate needle shaft diameter.

Needle Parts

  • Shank – The shank is the part of the needle that is inserted into the sewing machine. The shank is the heaviest part of the needle and is designed so to minimize needle movement by attaching it firmly to the needle bar.
  • Shaft – The shaft is the narrow portion of the needle that supports the functional parts of the needle. Needle sizes refer to the diameter of the shaft.
  • Groove – The groove protects the thread by hiding it as it passes through the fabric on its way to join with the bobbin thread. Some needles have exaggerated groves to protect the thread when sewing on particularly dense fabric. A needle that is too fine for the size of thread used will result in inconsistent stitches and broken threads.
  • Eye – The eye of the needle is the hole through which the thread passes. As the size of the eye increases, the size of the shaft increases to support it.
  • Point – The point of the needle is a primary distinguishing feature in needles. Points can be sharp or ball, or a hybrid of both. The angle of the point can be slender or acute. The point can be centered or eccentric. All are designed for a specific purpose and all give the operator
    unique applications.
  • Scarf – The scarf is the cut away portion on the back of the needle just above the eye. This area accommodates the hook mechanism as it rotates past the needle to engage the thread loop formed by the lifting needle. The shape and position of the scarf increases the consistency of stitching with various threads and fabrics.

Types of Needles

  • Ballpoint – The ballpoint needle has a rounded point of varying degrees. Its primary application is to sew on knit type fabrics. The rounded tip slips between yarns rather than cutting them. This
    prevents broken fibers and the attendant unraveling.
  • Denim – The denim (jeans) needle has a very sharp, acute point with a slender eye and a strong shaft. The sharp point is necessary to penetrate heavy fabrics like denim and canvass. The slender eye holds the thread in place for proper loop formation. The strong shaft prevents
    deflection of the needle and insures accurate needle placement for stitch
    formation.
  • Embroidery – The embroidery needle has a sharp point, a large eye and a special scarf to protect specialized decorative threads in embroidery. It also has a shorter point-to-eye length to enhance embroidery applications by ensuring extra clearance between the needle point and the
    embroidered article as it moves for succeeding stitches.
  • Leather – The leather needle has a wedge shaped point which gives it the piercing strength it needs to penetrate heavy fabrics like leather and vinyl. The needle makes a very clean hole in the fabric, so mistakes are costly.
  • Metallic – The Metallic needle is specifically designed for metallic threads. It has a large, elongated Teflon coated eye, larger scarf and a larger groove to protect the more fragile metallic threads during stitch formation.
  • Quilting – The quilting needle has a tapered point for stitching through multiple layers and across seams. The shape of the point minimizes damage to the quilting fabric.
  • Microtex – This needle is sharper than the universal point with a more slender shaft. It is used primarily on fine wovens and for heirloom sewing on very fine fabrics and for synthetic suede.
  • Topstitch – The topstitch needle has an extra large eye and a much deeper groove for use with either heavier fabrics and/or heavier threads. It can even accommodate doubling of threads for more pronounced stitching.

When I choose my needle, I consider my project and what sort of stitching I am going to do (piecing, garment sewing, bag making, freemotion embroidery, or quilting, etc.), the fabrics and other materials (batting, interfacing, etc.) being used and the threads I have selected.

All these things are essential considerations in selecting the correct needle type and even more important, the correct SIZE needle, to do the job.  As a general rule, select a smaller size needle when working with fine (light weight) fabrics and threads.  The heavier the fabrics and/or the thread selected, the larger the needle required.

For many years I used an “all purpose” needle for general sewing and either quilting or embroidery needles for quilting. That worked OK but sometimes I would have problems to “adjust” for.

Now, I almost always use topstitch needles–size is selected according to the thread and the project–for everything EXCEPT for sewing on knits.¬† I still recommend a ball point for stitching knits. Why does a topstitch needle reduce the thread problems so significantly?¬† Because the larger eye and deeper groove significantly relieves the amount of friction placed upon the thread as the needle pierces the fabric and continues traveling on the stitching path.

OBSERVATION: Some people complain about needle holes left by larger size topstitch needles (especially when quilting).  In most all cases this is fixed by gently spritzing your fabric with plain water or gently rubbing over the area after stitching.

Bobbin tension and bobbin thread selection…

Friday, February 29th, 2008

SAVE on Superior Thread at SewThankful.com

Sew…you have your project.¬†

You’ve picked your “top” thread.¬†

Now you are wondering, “What do I put in the bobbin?”

Choosing a proper bobbin thread is critical to the success of your project.
Yet there is no one-size-fits-all answer to bobbin thread selection. As with selection of the “top” thread, the choice of the bobbin thread is dependent upon the needs of the project (fabric type & weight), the function of the item being sewn, etc.

Heavier fabrics generally require heavier threads.  Choosing the same thread for the bobbin is absolutely fine if you want to wind your own.  Yet, SuperBOBs have the strength needed to match most all top threads in most all sewing situation (with the exception of very thick and heavy denims, upholstery, etc.).

Thread Tension:¬† It’s a balancing act. You want a balanced stitch and that means even thread on the top and the bobbin without either poking through to the other side.¬† The following picture is the best image I have ever seen demonstrating balanced tension and solutions (scroll down for a text link to a printable version):

SuperiorThreadTensionBalance

Click here for a printable document (PDF file) for this image.

The above image provided for your education with permission provided by Superior Threads. Copyright for the above image belongs solely to Superior Threads, all rights reserved. For uses beyond personal education (of the above image), please contact Superior Threads directly–contact information is provided on the image.

YES, you can adjust your tension (both on the top and on the bobbin) if necessary.  You own your sewing machine. You have permission.

Problem: Eyelashes and Loopies with thread breakage on top.

If you are experiencing problems when using a smooth and fine bobbin thread, like The Bottom Line or SuperBOBs, it is likely that your bobbin case’s factory settings are not applying the breaks correctly when you come to a stop. The bobbin thread
causes a backlash (continuing to unwind, forming a loop) then when you start sewing again the force of motion will whip forward causing the thread to break.

Solution? Tighten your bobbin case tension just a smidge (less than 1/8th of a turn).¬† Remember the clockwise “turning” rule:¬† lefty loosey, righty tighty.

Hint: Perform the tightening or loosening adjustments to the bobbin case inside a large ziplock bag.¬† This way you can see what you are doing but in the event you accidentally turn it the wrong way or turn it too far and the little screw pops out you won’t have to search forever to find it.

Problem: The bobbin thread keeps jamming and snapping.

Solution? Using thick, heavy and/or decorative threads in the bobbin requires LOOSENING the bobbin case tension.

Problem: Have you ever experienced frustration from knowing you have the correct bobbin tension setting but the top thread still breaks?  You loosen the top thread but then you get loops?

Solution? Try just very slightly loosening BOTH the top tension and the bobbin tension.

Timesaver IDEA: If you sew with all different weights of thread in the bobbin on a regular basis, keep 2 or 3 different bobbin cases, each set for the weights of thread you use most.  Be certain to mark them so that you choose the correct one each time.

OKAY…sew, what do I use in my bobbin?

For piecing and most general quilting I personally tend to use the same thread in the top as in the bobbin.

I have used Presencia 50wt, Presencia 60wt, Masterpiece,So Fine, and The Bottom Line in the top AND bobbin for both piecing and quilting.

I have also mixed SuperBOBs (which is The Bottom Line Thread in pre-wound format) in the bobbin with all of the above threads and when quilting with King Tut.  King Tut is not recommended for piecing.

When quilting, topstitching, thread painting or embellishing with Glitter, Art Studio Colors, Living Colors, and LAVA, I like to use The Bottom Line (or SuperBOBs) in the bobbin.

When doing Razzle Dazzle bobbin work (reverse quilting with Razzle Dazzle in the bobbin), I usually use a blending Bottom Line thread on the top.

SAVE on Superior Thread at SewThankful.com

What thread should I use? How do I decide?

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

It’s all so confusing.¬† How do you decide what thread to choose?

“All Purpose Thread” implies that it’s good for ALL purposes, right?¬† Wrong.¬† There really is no one size fits all thread. All Purpose Thread may be OK for a wider range of purposes than other (specialty threads)–or maybe not.

QUALITY COUNTS!

Real quilters only use cotton thread, right? Wrong!¬† Historically…20, 30, 40+ years ago, women primarily used cotton threads for quilt making because that was the best product available at the time.¬† The very early (old) poly threads were not very good quality (same with most old polyester fabrics).¬† Those old poly threads either did not hold up over time or they were so “hard” they might damage the quilt.¬† Therefore cotton was the best (only good) choice at that time.¬† But fast forward 20 – 40 years and look at what technology has given us!¬† Just look at the gorgeous poly fabrics that are available now.¬† There are so many that are very high quality and simply gorgeous.¬† The same goes for poly threads.¬† It is perfectly fine to use poly threads as long as you choose a good quality thread that is appropriate to the task you are performing.

To determine what thread to use in your project, you need to ask yourself some questions:
  • What sort of project are you sewing?
  • Piecing a quilt top?
  • Heirloom sewing?
  • Applique?
  • Garment construction?
  • Craft or home dec projects?
  • Quilting?
  • Surface embellishment?

Quilt Top Piecing

Personally, I use and recommend a good quality 60wt or 50wt cotton thread for quilt piecing.  I like 50wt Presencia, 60wt Presencia and 50wt Masterpiece.

I prefer cotton over polyester because I don’t have to concern myself with checking my iron temperature every time I press. I like nice flat, crisp seams when I piece so use a HOT iron.¬† When the fabric content and the thread content are the same, they can withstand the same heat.

If you like using polyester for piecing (like 60wt Bottom Line or 50wt So Fine), that’s perfectly fine.¬† HOWEVER, if you choose to use polyester for piecing you MUST BE CAREFUL when applying direct heat to the seam.¬† An iron set at high heat (Cotton) can melt right through polyester.

Heirloom Sewing

I recommend 60wt Presencia.

Appliqu‚ąö¬© by Hand or Machine

I like  50wt Presencia, 60wt Presencia or 60wt Bottom Line.
For folk style applique where you hand blanket-stitch around the outside edge, I recommend taking a look at Perle Cotton. The weight of perle cotton you choose will depend upon how you want your finished project to look.¬† If you want a “heavier” thread look, choose the “lower” number weight (i.e., a size 8 perle cotton is heavier than size 16 perle cotton).

Garment, Craft & Home Dec Construction

Here, you must carefully consider the fabric content and weight and about the function/stress put on the seams of the item.

For example, if you are sewing denim or fleece that will be worn or the seams may experience stress from pulling or wear, you probably do NOT want to use a light weight cotton or poly thread.  The thicker the fabric, the heavier thread you will want to use.  For denims and fleece I like So Fine.  If you are surface embellishing denim or fleece, you can use just about any thread you choose that will provide the look you want.

For construction of garments and projects using light weight fabrics, I generally use  50wt Presencia, 60wt Presencia or 60wt Bottom Line.

Quilting and Surface Embellishment

For quilting, you may choose whatever thread you wish based upon your own personal preferences and the look you wish to achieve.

Using “invisible” threads such as Monopoly keeps the focus away from the thread and puts it strictly on the design itself.¬† Sew Art is a nylon and there are known cautions about using nylon (may yellow, become brittle, etc.) but I know many people who have used it successfully for years.¬† Monopoly is polyester and does not have these issues, but it is shiny and catches the light. So you must consider the qualities of the thread with regard to your project needs and then decide which product you prefer.

A fine (light weight) thread like 60wt Presencia or 60wt Bottom Line will tend to “blend” into the background placing the emphasis on the quilting design (rather than the thread used to create the design).

Using heavier threads such as King Tut, Art Studio Colors, Living Colors and LAVA will change the focus to the “threads” used to create the design.

Embellishment thread such as Razzle Dazzle is not meant to go through your machine needle.  Please do not attempt to use Razzle Dazzle in the top.  Razzle Dazzle is gorgeous when couched on to the surface of your project.  Or, use it in your machine bobbin.

HELPFUL HINT: BEFORE you start your project, always test your “selected” thread on a sample swatch of the same fabric you are going to use in your project.¬† This will help you identify any potential issues or special considerations before you are invested in having to make that thread work no matter what.

Sewing with Slippery Threads…tip

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

When sewing with slippery/decorative threads have you ever experienced the thread sliding off the spool and winding around your spindle?  Do you know how it feels to be stitching merrily along…everything looks great…then all of a sudden the tension seems to be going out of whack and then the next thing you know you end up breaking a needle?  “What the *@#^^ is going on!?!”, you mutter to yourself.

Threads like Glitter, metallics and many of the trilobal polyesters often present this challenge.

Here’s a tip: 
Use a mesh thread net (also known as thread sock).  If you’re using a smaller spool (rather than the large cone) and your thread net is too long, simply cut the length to fit. 

The light tension/support of the thread net will make your life a lot less stressful when using slippery, tricky threads!