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Monthly Archives: January 2012

  • Metallic Threads -- or -- the "Love/Hate" Thread

    January 31, 2012

    Do you have a love/hate relationship with metallic thread? Does your metallic thread break after 10 minutes of sewing? Does it cause you to scream, tear out your hair, or throw your sewing machine out the door [place check mark in front of applicable quantity   ___ one of these, ___two of these, ___ all of these]? You may be experiencing what is known as UNREASONABLE BREAKAGE!!!

    When someone mentions using metallic thread, I already know the question that will be asked, how do I keep it from breaking? Occasional breakage is to be expected, even if you hold your mouth just right.

    For years, I’ve been collecting suggestions from various workshops I’ve taken, magazine articles and websites. My thread breakage is under control now, so I’d like to share the tips that have helped me when using metallic thread for quilting.

    -- Use a vertical thread stand.

    -- When using a Darning Foot (freehand work), expect more breakage. When using a Walking Foot, the sewing machine provides more consistent tension control and less breakage.

    -- Select the correct needle, this is imperative.

    A large-eye sewing machine needle reduces the friction on metallic thread. I usually use a jeans needle, size 100/16, or a top stitch needle, size 90/14 or 100/16. However, there are needles specifically designed for metallic thread.

    Machine adjustments -- Machine speed should be REDUCED. To determine the best speed, start at the lowest speed setting your machine will allow, and slowly increase the speed until the thread starts breaking. Slow the machine back down to the point of good performance, i.e. a reasonable balance of speed versus rate of thread breakage.

    -- Use a longer stitch length. -- If unreasonable breakage continues, loosen the TOP TENSION down a half step at a time until the breakage is reduced.

    -- If you are still experiencing unreasonable breakage, apply Sewer’s Aid to your spool of thread.

    If you are still having unreasonable thread breakage, you may have a very fragile metallic thread. This does n0t mean you cannot quilt with it, you just have to put it on the bobbin.

    "Bobbin work" is sewing with the BACK side of your quilt UP. With the metallic thread on the bobbin, there is less stress on the metallic thread.

    Wind a bobbin using a slow speed, if your machine has that feature. Otherwise wind it by hand. Metallic thread is thinner than regular thread, so start by filling your bobbin only half full. If the thread breakage problem is reduced and you run out of thread too often, then try winding a bit more on the bobbin.

    I know some of you are wondering "how can you see to quilt from the back when doing bobbin work?" Here are 2 methods I have used.

    Method 1 I pick a backing fabric with a large print and sew along the outlines of the back side design. This gives a wonderful overall design on the front of the quilt in metallic thread.

    Method 2 -- Use nylon thread for both the top and bobbin threads. With the FRONT of the quilt UP, stitch over the front design with a stitch length setting of 2 (10-12 stitches per inch). Note: Use the same method to wind nylon thread on the bobbin as you did for the metallic thread. Winding nylon thread tightly on a bobbin has a tendency to destroy the bobbin!

    -- Change the bobbin to a metallic thread wound bobbin and the top thread to a regular sewing thread of your choice. With the BACK of the quilt UP, stitch over the previously sewn nylon stitching lines. The nylon will blend with the metallic thread and not show. If you missed the nylon stitching line you can pull it out. That is why we didn’t use a short stitch length.

    Here are two more things to consider if you are still having unreasonable thread breakage.

    -- Make sure your batting isn’t too think or too dense. This can cause unwanted friction and, therefore, the thread breaks.

    -- When working with metallic thread, try to use soft materials and natural fibers.

    If all this sounds like just too much work:

    -- go get your car keys

    -- drive to your nearest Moore’s store

    -- have them show you the new Pfaff Creative Sensation.

  • Wrist Strap Zipper Bag

    January 24, 2012

    Do you engage in activities where your purse is too large and/or too heavy or your pockets just won't quite hold enough?

    This bag might be just what you need. This bag is relatively small, has a zipper closure to keep things in (and maybe other things out), and has a wrist strap which makes it easy to 'fasten' to your body.

    Supplies: 2 – 7” x 9 ” fabric pieces for exterior 2 – 7” x 9” fabric pieces for lining 1 – 2” x 12 1/2” fabric piece for strap 2 – 7” x 9” pieces of fusible fleece 2 – 7” x 9” pieces of fusible interfacing 1 – 9” or longer nylon tooth zipper

    Strap Construction:

    1. Fold the 2” x 12 1/2” fabric piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press to form a crease. 2. Unfold, and fold the long edges toward the center crease. Press. 3. Refold at the center crease and press.

    4. Top stitch along the open side to close. To make the strap look more finished, top stitch along the folded edge also. 5. Set the finished strap aside.

    Fabric Preparation:

    1. Iron fusible fleece to wrong side of exterior fabric pieces. Iron fusible interfacing to lining fabric pieces.

    2. Mark a 1” square at each end of the bottom edge of the exterior and lining pieces and cut out.

    Inserting the zipper: 1. Stack the fabric and zipper in the following order:

    Lining fabric right side up. Zipper pull side up. Exterior fabric right side down

    2. Pin all three layers together. Using a zipper foot, sew the pinned layers together. 3. Press the fabric away from the zipper. 4. Repeat the process with the other lining and exterior fabric pieces. 5. IMPORTANT CHECK: with the assembly lying flat, the corresponding edges of the fabric should be in line with each other. Place a straight edge (ruler) along the edges to check this.  If the edges do not line up or if either edge forms a 'V' shape with the ruler, correct the problem before proceeding.

    6. Top stitch approximately 1/4” from the zipper teeth.

    Bag Construction:

    1. Fold the strap in half, matching the 2 raw ends and baste only to the exterior fabric about 1/2” from the top edge. 2. Open the zipper wide enough for your hand to fit through.

    3. Match up the exterior fabric pieces to each other with right sides together. Pin sides and bottom of exterior fabric.

    4. Match up the lining fabric pieces to each other with right sides together. The teeth of the zipper should be towards the lining fabric. Pin sides and bottom of lining fabric, leaving an opening at the bottom of the lining fabric large enough through which you can turn the bag right side out.

    5. Using a 1/4” seam allowance, sew along all four sides, BUT do not sew the opening for turning nor the four cut out corners. Trim off excess zipper ends.

    6. For each corner cutout - open the bottom corner and match up the bottom and side seams.

    Sew the opening closed.

    7. Pull the bag right side out through the opening in the lining.

    Machine or hand sew the opening in the lining closed. 8. Press if needed.

  • Corners and Borders

    January 17, 2012

    If you enjoyed doing the Napkin Corners embroidery collection by Anita Goodesign, you most likely will love their new collection called Corners and Borders.

    The collection contains 15 different themes that can be used as 'corners only' for napkins or 'corners combined with side borders' for table runners and table cloths. The most exciting feature of these designs is how easy it is to get perfect placement. The Anita Goodesign tutorial takes you step-by-step through the process to do this easy technique.

    Extract of Directions from Anita Goodesign Tutorial: 1. Hoop a piece of medium weight stabilizer.

    2. Stitch the first step of the corner design. This is the placement line for the corner of your fabric.

    3. Place the corner of your table cloth or napkin so that it is along the placement line. 4. Tape the fabric in place. I used blue painter's masking tape.

    5. The next step will secure the fabric to the stabilizer. 6. The following steps will vary depending on the design you are doing and the number of thread color changes.

    7. When the corner design is finished, remove the tape. 8. Remove as much stabilizer as possible without disturbing the basting stitch. 9. If you are doing a napkin corner, then you are finished and you can remove the basting stitch and all the stabilizer. If you doing a tablecloth corner you are ready to add a border. 10. Hoop a piece of medium weight stabilizer.

    11. The placement line will be L shaped.

    12. Line up the extension line sewn on the corner of the fabric with the upright line in the placement stitch on the stabilizer and the edge of the tablecloth with the long placement line on the stabilizer. 13. Tape the fabric to hold it in place.

    14. The next stitching step will secure the fabric to the stabilizer. The basting lines should line up with each other as close as possible. If they don't, remove the basting stitch and reposition the fabric. (If your embroidery machine has a scan feature, it is even easier to get perfect placement.) 15. The following thread color changes will vary depending on the design you are stitching.

    16. Remove as much stabilizer as possible without disturbing the basting stitch. 17. Repeat this process again for the border design on the other side of the corner. 18. Remove basting stitches and stabilizer. Repeat the same technique for the other corners of the tablecloth.

  • Ten Minute Table Runner

    January 10, 2012

    Need a quick and easy project to add some color to your table? This table runner is just the project for you.

    This project is based on the Ten Minute Table Runner originally designed by LaRae Bunnell Clark from Utah State University.

    Fabric Requirements: 12 inches of  ‘theme’ print (center panel) by width of fabric 18 inches of a coordinating print by width of fabric


    1. With right-sides together, stitch the long sides with a 1/2 inch seam allowance to form a tube.

    2. Press the seam allowance away from center fabric. 3. Turn the tube right-side out.

    4. Position the theme print so the backing fabric creates equal width borders on each side of the theme print and then press.

    5. Trim short ends inside the shortest selvage edge. 6. Fold long edge creases of the tube together with the theme print out. Stitch 1/2 inch seam on both short ends.

    7. Press seams open.

    8. Turn seams inside to form a point. You may want to use a point turner to get a nice point, press.

    9. Edge stitch.

  • Neck Wrap

    January 3, 2012

    This is the time of the year many of us work on our New Year’s resolution list. I finally narrowed mine down to just one item, ‘Sew Moore’. The first item on that list, is a  microwaveable neck wrap.

    Fabric: ¼ yard 100 percent cotton fabric for inner bag ¼ yard fleece, flannel, or any soft fabric for outer bag

    Filler: 3 cups uncooked rice Note: You can use other fillers i.e. feed corn, beans, cherry pits, barley, etc.

    Optional: You can add one of the following for a soothing fragrant heating pad: Lavender, rosemary, peppermint oil or your favorite scent of essential oil

    Mix scented oil with rice, and let sit in a sealed container for a few days stirring occasionally. This helps distribute and set the fragrance.

    These measurements will produce a 6” x 18” finished neck warmer. You can adjust the measurements to make it whatever size you want. The outer bag (pillow case) is cut 1” wider and 2” longer than the inner bag.

    Inner Bag - this will hold the filler Cut two 7” x 19” rectangles from cotton fabric, I use muslin

    Outer Bag - pillow case Cut two 8” x 21” rectangles from fleece, cotton or flannel. The softer and fluffier the better. This outer bag does not go into the microwave, ONLY cotton fabrics are microwave safe.

    Directions: Use 1/2” seam allowance unless otherwise noted.

    Inner Bag:

    With right sides together, sew all the way around leaving a 3” opening on one end for turning and adding filler. Turn right side out and press.

    Find the center of the rectangle and mark with a pin. From the center measure 4 1/2” on either side and mark both of these points with a pin. These are the marks for the four filler compartments. Add 3/4 cup filler to the first compartment

    Sew a vertical line at the first compartment mark. Repeat for the next three compartments. When the last compartment is filled, top stitch close to the folded edge. Outer Bag: With right sides together sew or serge along both long sides and across the bottom. On the top end, fold under 1/2” and press. Fold under again 1” to make a hem.

    Edge stitch. If you are using Minky or fleece type fabric, do not press just pin.

    Place the inner bag in microwave and heat for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your microwave.

    Slip into the outer case.

    Use CAUTION these bags can get very hot. Shake the bag and feel around to make sure it’s not too hot.

    Note: Before heating your neck wrap for the first time, check your microwave oven instructions for any restrictions or suggestions about heating low moisture content items. Also try to find the power rating (watts) of the unit - low power ovens (500 watt) will require longer heating time then high power (1100 watt) ovens. Some microwave ovens have power level controls. Some instruction manuals suggest putting a cup of water in the oven when heating low moisture content items. Err on the safe side the first time and start with a short time period and low power to determine how hot your neck warmer gets under these conditions.

    Note: I always include a set of instructions when I give these as gifts.

    Hot & Cold Neck Wrap Bag Instructions

    For heat therapy, microwave one to three minutes. For cold therapy store in freezer, and use as needed. Wrap in towel to protect skin from extreme cold.

    Do not use on infants or patients who cannot move the neck wrap off themselves, or who can’t move away from neck wrap. Do not use on areas of the body where heat can’t be felt or where sensation is reduced. Do not use heat with medicated creams, lotions, or ointments. Do not use heat on areas of bruising or swelling that have occurred within the previous 48 hours. Do not use heat on open wounds or damaged skin.

    Outer cover is machine washable. Filling is 100% uncooked rice (or whatever filling you use). The inner bag may be spot cleaned. Be careful to keep inner contents dry to prevent spoiling. Wet contents may cook in microwave. If it gets wet, line dry and then dry in a clothes dryer before using.

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