Terrific Tip Tuesday: This End Up

There’s nothing more frustrating when you’re hand stitching than thread that keeps knotting up and tangling. If you thread the end that comes off the spool first, you’ll have less issues. The thread will  travel through the fabric in the more natural direction. 

Wishing you tangle free stitching!

UPDATE: Great comment over on Instagram to help remember this!

 

xx LC

Terrific Tool Thursday: Magnetic Case

 
So you know when someone posts something cute on social media and you HAVE to check it out and then before you know it, your cart is full of awesome?! Good, it’s not just me! Well, that happened when my friend Asha posted some cute pins and I found this cute shop Snuggly Monkey on Etsy and they had these cute embroidery kits from Sublime Stitching.

 

They’re magnetic! What?! It’s the greatest thing to ever happen to my on the go sewing. I straight up had loose needles in my purse before this! It’s so handy and it’s a hard case so they don’t get bent.

xo LC 

Terrific Tool Thursday: Twist & Select

Today’s Terrific Tool is something that I never even knew I desperately needed. I got a box of cool notions from Dritz and this thing called the Twist & Select was in there. Basically, it looks like a lipstick tube and you twist down the magnet bottom and fill it up with needles.

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Then when you need needles, you twist up and they all pop out like this. You can easily see all the needles and choose the one you want. Then twist them back down and put the cap on.

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It’s pretty swank!

xo LC

Terrific Tip Tuesday: Gripper Pad

   
You know when you’re hand stitching and your needle just will not come through? I keep part of a can gripper in all my hand sewing kits. Since needles are much smaller than cans, I cut them in half or fourths. It’s just enough to get a good grip and pull the needle through. And there’s usually less stabbing of the hand. 

 
Plus, those can grippers are often free giveaways! (I scored this one from The Guru who scored it from her mechanic!) Win. Win. 

xo LC

Terrific Tip Tuesday: Burying Threads

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When you’re free motioning (or when you run out of thread in the middle of topstitching), you need to bury your threads. Often times, these are not nice long tails, they’re scraggly short pieces of thread. The best solution: self threading needles. I love these by Merchant & Mills that I picked up at Modern Textiles.

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Basically, in lieu of threading the eye, you pop the thread in through the tension points on the tip of the needle. They’ll change your life.
xo LC

Needles & Threads! Oh My! Part 4

It’s the final installment of the Needles & Threads series!

Part 1: Needles with Shirley Bailey
Part 2: Threads with Shirley Bailey
Part 3: Quilting Threads with Kelly Wood
Part 4: TODAY! (aka What I Use)

Thank you so much to Shirley & Kelly for their help!! Now, I want to highlight my favorites! I’m starting with the finest threads and going to the thickest. I’ve listed my chosen needle in (parentheses). It’s always just a starting point though. On any given day, I might find a different needle or thread that works better. Especially with quilting, I always do a test patch:)

YLI Silk 100 wt: (Appliqué Gold’n Glide 11) I LOVE this thread for hand appliqué. It glides easily and melts into the fabric. I use neutrals; I own a pale gray, a medium taupe and a charcoal. I choose the one closest in value and go with it. No matching. When you thread your needle, put your needle at the end of the thread that you pull off the spool first. You will sew with the thread in the same orientation that it comes off the spool. This will prevent kinks and tangles!

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YLI Silk 100 wt: (Appliqué Gold’n Glide 11) I also use silk to sew my binding. I double the thread for this though. Thanks to Gina for this tip; it changed my life!

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Mettler Fine Embroidery 60 wt: (Microtex Sharp 60) When I’m piecing with voile or making a voile garment, I like this combination. Even though this thread is fine, it’s still strong:) And the smaller needle prevents puckering. If I still get puckering, I lower my stitch length.

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Aurifil 50 wt: (Microtex Sharp 80) I piece my quilts with this; I mainly use cream or light grey. I should buy it by the case:) It’s 2-ply so it’s thin, but it’s also strong. It never fails me.
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Aurifil 50 wt: (Microtex Sharp 70) I also use Aurifil for foundation piecing/paper piecing! I use a finer needle because it makes finer holes in the paper and better perforation.

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Mettler Silk Finish 50 wt: (Microtex Sharp 80) When I am constructing a tote or pouch, I use Mettler 50 wt. Because it is 3-ply, it’s a little stronger than the Aurifil 50 wt which is 2-ply. Although I will admit to sometimes being lazy and using the Aurifil because it is already on my machine if I’m just making a pouch. For totes and bags, I always use Mettler 50 wt!

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Mettler Silk Finish 50 wt: (Microtex Sharp 80) I use this for quilting on voile. It gives me a lot of great color options. I tested about twenty different thread/needle combinations for quilting with voile before I got one that I loved! And it has just a hint of a sheen which looks great with the voile! I found that the Sharp Needle worked better as well. I tried Quilting, Topstitch, Jeans, Universal…

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YLI Machine Quilting 40 wt: (Quilting Needle 75) This is my go-to quilting thread! I use it for about 50% of my quilting. YLI is based in South Carolina, so I’m staying local:) There are so many things that I love about this thread. I rarely need to adjust the tension. It rarely breaks. The lint is minimal. It’s just an all around great thread!!20130515-220234.jpg

YLI Machine Quilting 40 wt: (Quilting Needle 75) I think it works well for straight line quilting too! The thread lays really well on the fabric.

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YLI Machine Quilting 40 wt: (Quilting Needle 90) I used a larger needle here since this bag had a lot of thick interfacing. I LOVE the colors that this thread comes in. This is CELERY, which is a favorite of mine!!

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YLI Machine Quilting 40 wt: (Jeans 90) Sometimes I like the YLI 40 wt to topstitch on totes and bags. It gives a great finished look!

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Mettler Machine Quilting 40 wt: (Quilting Needle 75) Sometimes YLI doesn’t have the color I want and I use Mettler. For me, I find I have more tension problems with Mettler, but it still works pretty well! It doesn’t look as thick as the YLI, but is similar.

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Sulky 30 wt: (Quilting Needle 90) Sulky is another favorite of mine. It has a more matte look than the YLI to me. I do find there is more lint, but it’s not too bad. I’m anxious to try the Sewer’s Aid on this to see if it helps the lint issue.

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Aurifil 28 wt: (Quilting 90) I really wanted to like this thread. But I don’t. I am only including it here because I know it’s quite popular. I had a terrible time getting the tension right for it. And I basically just think my machine hates it. But the result was gorgeous. I know that I’ll choose Sulky 30 wt over this 100% of the time in the future though:) Different things work for different people and quilting is about the journey, so just keep trying new things!

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Sulky 12 wt: (Jeans 110) This thread just looks so cool!! It’s great for machine appliqué. I use a jeans needle because I find that they break way less often than topstitch. Almost never! I use the blanket stitch for an old fashioned look.

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Sulky 12 wt: (Jeans 110) I often use 30 wt in the bobbin with 12 wt in the top. I find that my machine runs smoother this way. Plus, Sulky offers all the same colors in 12 wt and 30 wt, so I buy them in sets.

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Sulky 12 wt: (Jeans 110) It also works great with wool! I do take care to sew a little slower on the wool.

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Sulky 12 wt: (Jeans 110) Sulky 12 wt is also great to topstitch bags, totes and pouches!

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Sulky 12 wt: (Jeans 100) And sometimes I even use the Sulky 12 wt for simple quilting. I used longer stitches for a more old fashioned look.

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As you can see, I tend towards all Cotton. When I do embroidery, I use Isacord which is a Polyester, but I really prefer natural fibers. I hope you’ve enjoyed the Needles & Threads series and will try a bunch of new things! Let me know if there is one that you love that I didn’t mention! I’ll try it:)

xo LC

Needles & Threads! Oh My! Part 2

It’s time for Part 2 of the Needles & Threads series! I hope you found yesterday’s post about needles to be helpful. We are back with Shirley Bailey of Sew Original for today’s post on threads. This is a four part series, so check back tomorrow for Quilting Threads with Kelly Wood and Friday will be a recap and post of my personal favorites! Let’s get started!

COTTON & OTHER NATURAL FIBERS

Silk (100 wt): 100% silk (shocker!). It is one continuous piece, not woven. It is great for hand appliqué. It also is great for hand basting as it is very easy to remove; it will glide out. Do NOT construct a silk garment with silk as the thread is so strong that it will cut the silk fabric.

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Mettler Fine Embroidery (60 wt): 100% cotton. Use a 60 needle. 2-ply thread. This is great for voile, batiste, lawn and other lightweight fabrics.

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Mettler Silk Finish (50 wt): 100% cotton. Use a 70-90 needle. 3-ply thread. This thread is great for construction as well as piecing.

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Aurifil (50 wt): 100% cotton. Use a 70-80 needle. 2-ply thread. This thread is great for piecing. Because it is 2-ply, it is great for precision piecing. If you construct with it, shorten your stitch length.

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Mettler Machine Quilting (40 wt): 100% cotton. Use a 90-100 needle. 3-ply thread. This thread is great for machine quilting and top stitching. It comes in a huge variety of colors.

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YLI Machine Quilting (40 wt): 100% cotton. Use a 90-110 needle. 3-ply thread. This thread is great for machine quilting and top stitching. It comes in both solid and variegated.

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Superior Threads King Tut (40 wt): 100% cotton. Use a 90-110 needle. 3-ply thread. This thread is great for machine quilting and top stitching. It comes in only in variegated. The color changes are more frequent on the King Tut at 1″ intervals.

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Premium Sulky (30 wt): 100% cotton. Use a 90-110 needle. 3-ply thread. This thread is great for machine quilting and top stitching. It comes in both solid and variegated.

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Premium Sulky (12 wt): 100% cotton. Use a 110-120 needle. 3-ply thread. This thread is great for machine appliqué and top stitching. It comes in both solid and variegated.

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SYNTHETICS

Embroidery Threads

Use embroidery needles.

Isacord (40 wt): 100% polyester. Available in a wide variety of colors and variegated. These are colorfast and will not bleed or fade.

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YLI Variations (35 wt): 100% polyester. Available in a wide variety of ombre colors. These are colorfast and will not bleed or fade.

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Yenmet Metallic: Available in a wide variety of metallics. This is a wiry thread.

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Bottom Line by Libby Lehman (60 wt): 100% polyester. Use in the bobbin for embroidery. Available in a wide variety of colors.

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Bobbin Cones: 100% polyester. Use in the bobbin for embroidery. Available in black and white.

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Bobbin Play & Serger Threads

These threads will all be put in the bobbin if you want to use them on your domestic machine. You will sew upside down. They are too thick to feed through the top of the machine, but work great in the bobbin! You will need the tension of your bobbin to be set differently; Shirley recommends having a second bobbin case. Some can also be used in your serger.

Pearl Cotton Rayon (left): 100% rayon. Use in the bobbin for decorative stitching. Mimics the look of pearl cotton. Designer 6 Sheen (middle): 100% rayon. Use in the bobbin for decorative stitching. Shiny and thick thread. Metallic (right): Use in the bobbin for decorative stitching. Metallic finish.

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Wooly Nylon: 100% nylon. Great for edging napkins and costumes. This thread stretches out to sew as normal thread, but retracts to fill in the gaps.

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Jeans Stitch: 100% polyester. Use 110-120 jeans needle. This thread is used to hem jeans and is available in a variety of colors, including jeans gold.

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Monofilament: 100% nylon (left) & 100% polyester (right). This thread is available in clear and smoke. For machine quilting or any time you need clear thread.

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Wash Away: It does what it says! It washes away with water. A great basting thread. Make sure you keep it labeled and stored away from your other thread. Nothing worse than piecing with this!

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Fusible: This thread fuses when heat set with an iron. It’s a great temporary fix for a hem!

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This concludes Shirley’s guide to threads! Thank you so much!! All of these are available at Sew Original. Obviously, there are tons of other threads out there, but this is a pretty inclusive guide to most thread types!
xo LC

Needles & Threads! Oh My! Part 1

As long as I’ve been sewing, the guru has told me that most problems (in the sewing studio, we’re not solving world peace here!) can be fixed with this checklist:
1. Rethread the machine. Are you using the correct thread?
2. Check your bobbin. Take it out, put it in again. Are you using the correct thread?
3. Change your needle. Are you using the correct needle?
4. Clean & Oil your machine! There’s usually an errant thread causing the problem. (I clean and oil my machine EVERY TIME I run a new bobbin. And it purrs:)

Common denominator in all of these? Needles and threads! Most of my knowledge about needles and threads can be traced back to one person, Shirley Bailey, co-owner of Sew Original in Winston-Salem & Boone. She teaches a class to all her new Bernina owners about this very topic. And she’s been gracious enough to let me interview her for my blog and share with you!

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Isn’t she cute?! Shirley is a real blessing to the sewing and quilting community. Her knowledge is incredible; she knows everything about sewing. And is forever willing to share her knowledge! I’ve asked her thousands of questions in the years I’ve known her and she still takes my calls! She’s so amazing that she actually wrote the directions for the YKK zipper package. So next time you’re putting in a zipper, think of her:)
Back to the Needles & Threads! This will be a four part series FULL of information!
Part 1: Needles with Shirley Bailey
Part 2: Threads with Shirley Bailey
Part 3: Quilting Threads with Kelly Wood
Part 4: Application (aka What I Use)
Lets get started!
Choosing the right needle is critical to your project’s success! You’ll take into account what the material is (quilters’ cotton, voile, knit, leather, heirloom, etc) and what you’re doing (piecing, top stitching, quilting, decorative, embroidery, etc).
Needles also come in different sizes: the smaller the number, the thinner the needle and smaller the eye.
General Needle Size:
60: very fine batiste
70: voile
80: quilters’ cotton
90: denim and twill
100-120: canvas
Needles should be changed every 4-6 hours of sewing. Not just when they break!

Universal: These needles come in sizes 60-120. This needle is in between a ballpoint and a sharp. It’s a general purpose needle for woven and knit. Not for knits with Lycra or Spandex.

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Microtex/Sharp: These needles come in sizes 60-90. This needle has a sharp point with a thin shaft. It works well on microfiber, silk and artificial leather. Perfect for precision piecing!

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Stretch/Ballpoint: These needles come in sizes 60-100. This needle has a slightly rounded point for sewing knits. Use a 70 for lingerie, nylon, jersey. Use a 80 for t-shirt weight and 90 for sweatshirt weight.

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Quilting: These needles come in sizes 75 & 90. These needles are for machine quilting. They are designed to go though all the layers and prevent skipped stitches.

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Topstitch/Cordonnet: These needles come in sizes 70-100. This needle has a sharp point with a large eye and deeper groove to accommodate larger threads. Use with heavier fabrics. Great to top stitch on totes with lots of interfacing.

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Leather: These needles come in sizes 80-100. This needle’s point is a sharp cutting wedge. Use with leather only, not synthetic or vinyl.

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Jeans: These needles come in sizes 70-110. They penetrate extra thick woven fabrics like denim. Built for minimal needle breakage because the shaft is less prone to flex.

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Metallic: These needles come in sizes 70-100. Use for metallic and specialty threads. An elongated eye helps to prevent breakage and thread shredding.

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Double Eye: These needles come in size 80. There are two eyes on one shank. Use to blend two threads.

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Twin Needles: These needles come in sizes 1.6/70-8.0/100. This is actually two needles attached to one shank. Use for pintucks, hems and decorative work. Available in Universal, Stretch, Jeans, Metallic & Embroidery.

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Triple Needles: These needles come in sizes 2.5/80-3.0/80. This is actually three needles attached to one shank. Use to create mock smocking and decorative work. Available in Universal.

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Wing/Hemstitch: These needles come in sizes 100 & 110. This needle has a non-cutting metal wedge on each side of the shaft that creates a hole without cutting threads. Use for heirloom sewing.

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Double Hemstitch: These needles come in size 100. This is a double needle with one Wing needle and one Universal attached to one shank. Use for heirloom sewing.

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Embroidery: These needles come in size 75 & 80 and in Sharp & Ballpoint. The titanium coated version lasts five times longer. Use for machine embroidery.

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Some (Schmetz) needles have a colored stripe on the shaft for easier identification.
Stretch: Yellow
Jeans: Blue
Sharp: Purple
Quilting: Green
Embroidery: Red
I also have this handy guide from Schmetz. I keep it in my needle case and use it often. Thanks to Linderella’s, I have a few extras, so let me know if you need one:)

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I jot down notes on certain threads that work well (or don’t work well)!

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Come back tomorrow for Part 2: Threads with Shirley Bailey!
xo LC