Sunday, December 1, 2013

Try it, you'll like it and Love Entwined

Did your mother encourage you to try new foods with the promise "you'll like it"? Mine did and she was often right although neither my brother nor I ever took to her grated carrots in mashed potatoes! Yesterday I took an Open Thread Bar workshop with Anita Zobens of Cotton Mills Thread Works.  Anita is an educator with Superior Threads.

We were to bring quilt sandwiches that measured 8 1/2" x 11" so that they are the size of standard paper. The top half was to be a light colour and the bottom dark. We used the embroidery stitches on our machines and experimented with all sorts of different threads.

This would give us the opportunity to see the effect of different threads on different colours. This in and of itself was a great lesson because different threads look very different depending on the fabric colour. This lovely variegated thread has a very different look on the two fabrics.

I experimented with some of the embroider stitches on my machine but decided I was more interested in experimenting with the threads and free motion quilting. I changed the foot to a darning foot and dropped the feed dogs. I wanted to quilt a little feather with a purple thread but I simply couldn't control the stitches and the needle was moving all over the place. What the heck? Oops, I still had the machine set for an embroidery stitch! Once I reset the mode it was fine!

I love the look and feel of silk thread. Very rich and it has a lovely sheen.

But no matter what I did I couldn't eliminate the whiskers on the back. I had a super fine poly thread (The Bottom Line) in the bobbin. I adjusted the tension from 1 to 9 and there was minimal improvement.

I eventually moved up to a heavier bobbin thread (So Fine 50 wt) and the whiskers on the back lessened but it still wasn't perfect. I have two Janome machines and had the same problem with both. The blue bobbin case doesn't help. I also tried a 70 and 90 needle with minimal change. If anyone has any suggestions I am open to them!

So what did I try that I thought I wouldn't like? Polyester threads such as Magnifico, Fantastico and Twist. They have a gorgeous sheen and my machine seemed to L-O-V-E them! And as it turned out I love them too! They have a rich sheen, are soft, hold their colour in hot and cold washing, don't shrink, do not produce lint and they are very affordable. I wasn't alone. Many of my classmates felt the same way!

I bought a cone of a green turquoise variegated thread that I think I'll use on Piccadilly to the Nines. You can see it in the bottom centre and the upper right in the picture above.

It will look great in the hourglass border.

My machine also really loved the So Fine 50 wt. It is another polyester thread and I'll use it to quilt the light background in the border and in the centre.

So Fine 50 wt.

So it was a good day and a wonderful workshop. Anita is a great speaker and extremely helpful and attentive.

I also purchased some spools of silk thread for the applique work on Love Entwined. I've almost completed Part 3. The red and pink hearts are pinned and ready for stitching down. In the next couple of days they will be stitched and then I can move on to the first vase and bouquet of flowers in the corner.

Finally don't forget to visit Quilting Gallery's Show and Tell. This week's theme is Stars. I'm showing A Pound of Stars but for all you hexie lovers be sure to check out Sheila's Stars Over Adelaide. It is gorgeous! You can vote for your favourites here.

That's it for today. Until I post again, happy experimenting with different threads!


  1. Yowza, Karen, that Piccadilly quilt is amazing! I particularly like all the greens in the hourglass border. Gorgeous!
    Love Entwined is starting to take shape now too. It will be fun to watch it grow!

    1. Thanks Monica! I really like the hourglass border too! It reminds me of sea glass or stained glass. I'm working on a pattern so once it is finished it I'll put it up for those who are interested!

      Love Entwined is also coming along but I need more hours in the day to get everything done!

    2. Karen, I'm looking forward to your pattern for Piccadilly to the Nines! How's the quilting of it coming along?

    3. Hi Mindy - I wanted to send you an email but you are a no reply blogger! I've started the pattern but it will be a bit before I can finish it. The piecing is really simple but it is just figuring out the best way to explain the assembly because the blocks are set on point. When I made the quilt I had no idea what it would look like - I just had some blocks I had made and I worked from the center out!

  2. What a great opportunity you had to try out threads and stitches. In my experience the "whiskers: are the result of a change in speed, especially if they only appear on curves as yours appear to. If it were tension, needles, thread or anything else to do with equipment it would be all the time. We get more comfortable doing certain motions, curves to the right might come more naturally than those to the left ( or forward rather than backwards) and at this time our confidence rises and we speed up. Trouble is the machine doesn't. The trick apparently is to run the machine fast and your hands slow and steady. The analogy i have heard is like a swan , feet paddling furiously while it glides smoothly across the surface. Easier said than done, but does come. BTW thanks for the mention of my "Stars quilt" its polling fairly well, but still way behind the lead quilt.

  3. I voted for you! good luck in the contest.

    1. Thanks Barb! That was very kind of you. I voted for Sheila's Stars Over Adelaide! It is a stunner!

  4. What beautiful work you do, your piccadilly quilt is stunning as is your Love Entwined. That sounds like a really useful workshop you went on.

    1. It really was a great workshop. It was so nice to be able to try so many different threads without spending money buying them first but I think the best part was learning to experiment with your machine and threads. There are so many embroidery stitches on my machine that I never tried before so that part was really interesting. I might just use some of those stitches in a future project!