Friday, February 22, 2013

Other Than Quilting!

Hey all!  I'm still quilting away over here!  I had a momentary distraction there for a few days painting and redecorating my oldest daughter's bedroom.  Before you gag - I did NOT choose this color!!!

There is still quite a bit of work to be done but I have some quilts here I'm working on so it'll have to wait.  I'm going to paint the dresser and desk white and the girls are getting a bunk bed to free up some bedroom space in there.  

I was really proud of my thrifty nature in making these curtains!  The zebra print was actually a bed sheet that I cut down to a curtain.  It wouldn't have been long enough had I left it, so we stopped at a thrift shop and I found the hot pink sheet!  It wouldn't fit any of the beds we have here or are coming, so I cut it to accent the zebra.  There is quite a bit of pink left and a bit of zebra so I'm going to try and make matching pillows or pillow cases for the new bed coming.  Not exactly sure what I'll do, but the kids are so excited and so is Mommy!

Next post will be some quilts...then I'll be redecorating the littlest girl's ladybugs!  :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How to Choose The Right Quilting Thread

In this world of a bazillion thread choices, how do you choose the right one for your quilting project?

Well, I am by no means an expert.  But I have spent hours upon hours researching thread and trying thread...and I am STILL trying thread out!  For whatever that is worth, here is my advice on choosing a thread for your quilt project.

#1.  Determine the Use

Are you making a utility quilt?  A baby quilt?  A bed quilt?  Are you putting your quilt in a show?  Is it going to be a wall hanging?  The first step before choosing a thread for me, is determining the use.  For example, if I'm making a quilt for my daughter that is going to be washed a hundred times and receive a lot of abuse...I'm not going to use the same thread or other materials that I would a show quilt.  I'm going to want my thread to be strong and in most cases I'm going to use cotton, cotton wrapped poly, or a polyester that has been treated to look like cotton.  For cotton quilts, any three of these threads will provide enough strength to hold up to the quilts intended purpose and age nicely and evenly.  For a show quilt, I might use a less sturdy 2 ply polyester piecing thread because it is strong and thin and will help me achieve excellent accuracy.  A quilt like  this would be a cherished heirloom in my home that would be on display but receive little use and few if any washing.   So for me, it is important to determine the use before choosing the thread.

#2.  Determine the Desired Effect

For a bang around quilt it may not matter to you the thickness of the piecing thread.  So piece away with whatever is handy.  I prefer all cotton for bang around quilts...and I like to quilt those with cotton thread too. The reason is these quilts get better with age.  I love the look of a nice old aged quilt.  But if you  plan to chuck that quit in the trash when it is worn, well use whatever you like.  Be aware that in general, polyester threads are more colorfast than cotton, so your quilt fabric is going to age a bit faster than that polyester.  Choosing a matte or cotton covered polyesters are a great way to take advantage of the strength of polyester yet counter that uneven aging.  If that doesn't matter to you, then quilt away with the poly of your choice!  If you want it all to age together, you may choose to stick to all cotton quilts.

#3.  Determine Your Budget and What's Available to You

So, you love pricey high end threads but you can't afford to quilt with them all the time.  Remember that high end threads are often very similar if not exactly the same as threads that are readily available to you by other names.  Often high end thread brands create these threads with quilters in mind, but truly are just perfecting thread that is already in existence and marketing it to quilters.  Many threads whose original purpose was something other than quilting have been used with great success in quilts.  The big name thread companies have caught on to this and capitalized on it too!  There's nothing wrong with that either, but don't get too caught up in using the "right" thread.  Instead focus on the right thread for YOUR purpose, and your budget.  There are a few threads that common sense will tell you to avoid, like upholstery thread or hand quilting thread because it doesn't usually run through your sewing machine well - but most quilts hold up for many many years even if the "proper" thread wasn't used.

Note:  My blogging pal Michelle asked me what my preferred thread is.  To be honest that is a REALLY  hard question to answer.  I haven't tried all the threads on the market, but I have had many many threads that fit the bill for a particular project.  I have a few go to threads...right now they are Isacord and Coats and Clark polyester embroidery threads.  Both are affordable, come in colors I like, and sew up in a way that I really like.  For piecing I generally use Essential Threads Cotton because of the color selection and affordability.  For my most special projects I use several of Superior's threads.  They are pricey, but they have a variety and color selection that is unmatched by their competitors   But that doesn't mean it's what I will ALWAYS use.  As I try out more thread, and I fully intend to because I just LOVE thread, these favorites may change!  The best way to determine what's right for you, is to try it!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Creating Curved Crosshatch Quilting on a Domestic Sewing Machine

I know I promised how to do feathers, but I just wasn't set up to do that today!  Here's a really quick and unprofessional video on how I created the curved cross hatch diamond in this little quilted project.  YOU CAN DO IT on your HOME SEWING MACHINE!  :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thread and Uses in Your Quilts

Hey guys!  I'm back with another thread post!  It almost seems just easier making videos these days than writing!!!  If you like the videos please speak up so I know if I should continue making I would love to hear from you guys!

I've been working on those feathers on the long arm!!  You know how I love my feathers.  This is just a practice piece.  I am having SO much fun.  I'm waiting for my next quilt due to arrive in the mail any day now  and I think later this evening I'm going to try a whole cloth mini of feathers.  The only downside to having a long arm and finishing up all those quilts that have been laying I have TONS of bindings to put on!

Here's the 3-part video on thread - let me know your thoughts!  My next video I will demonstrate how I make feathers on the domestic machine.  :)

Edited to add:  Threads covered in these videos include Coats and Clark Polyester Embroidery Thread, Isacord, Coats and Clark Cotton Quilting Thread, Coats and Clark Bobbin Thread, Superior Threads So Fine!, Connecting Threads Embroidery Threads, Sulky Embroidery Threads.  More to come!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Prim and Feathered

Those feathers are getting better!  If I keep up this pace I'll be quilting as well on my long arm as I can on my domestic.  I am really feeling connected to the machine now - the moons aligned and brought the right one to me!  ;)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Using Rayon Thread in Quilts

Ever go to the fabric store to look at thread, stand in front of the mouth watering displays packed to the hilt with every gorgeous color imaginable...only to discover that most of it is rayon?  Traditionally we are taught to use 100% cotton thread with 100% cotton fabric.  These days, with the popularity of free motion and long or mid arm quilting polyester has begun to push forward as the front runner in quilting threads.  But what about rayon?  Here's my take on the use of rayon in quilts and how it effects your project in the long run.

I have been trying to stock up on long arm quilting threads, and while scouring the internet for good deals on quality thread, I found this bargain lot of Sulky rayon thread.  Being new to my long arm I haven't tried rayon in it yet.  But I do use rayon quite frequently in my domestic machine, and in my quilts.

Here's what you want to know about rayon...

It's technically considered a synthetic fiber.  Because polyester is so strong, it's easy to equate strength with synthetic, but in the case of rayon, that's not so true.  Rayon is a very weak thread.  It's GORGEOUS!  Shiny, pretty, comes in lots and lots of mouth watering colors...variegated''s lovely thread.  But in my opinion, I would not use rayon thread as the sole component to hold your quilt sandwich together - for quilts that will get a lot of use and abuse.

If you are an embroiderer or former embroiderer who has a stock pile of rayon thread laying around and are itching to use it in your quilt - by all means - do!!  I would just recommend saving the rayon for decorative uses.

Another thing to note - rayon thread isn't colorfast.  In the sewing world, the definition of colorfast is a little more conservative - it means that the color doesn't hold up to bleach or the chemicals used in washing.  So if you toss a little bleach into your wash when washing your could very well lose color, have color bleeding, or lose strength.

To me, colorfastness in those terms is not super important because I don't regularly bleach my finished quilts.  But what is important to me is that the quilt can stand being washed many times - so for quilts that will be used, quilts that will be washed, beat up, banged around and abused, I  make sure the main thread holding my quilt sandwich together is something strong and durable.  But for wall hangings, table runners, and other "fun quilts" that aren't going to get washed or terribly worn, I use rayon thread all the time!

Above is a photo of Superior's So Fine #50 in an off white compared to Sulky Rayon in a teal shade...they are both thin, but you can see that rayon is a bit of a slippery thread.  Sometimes it can help to use cotton or a cottonized/cotton wrapped polyester in the bobbin to help "grab" the top rayon thread and give it something to grip and lock into.  Rayon in both the top and bobbin can be tricky and it takes some fiddling to prevent looping on the top, which happens sometimes when the thread is very slippery.

Free motion quilting with rayon is LOVELY!!!  If you are playing around and practicing your free motion quilting by all means, bust out that rayon.  It's a nice thin thread and in areas where thread tends to build up it really looks beautiful.  Below is a little table topper I made and sold on Etsy and the entire project was quilted with rayon thread.

So hey, I'm still obsessing about thread over here!  It's my new nail polish...  :)  Here's a little video you might enjoy talking a little more about rayon thread.  I will show you a bit of the new thread I just bought and do a thread break test so you can decide for yourself how you'd like to use rayon in your quilts...or not at all!

Oh - and don't forget to grab the pretty thread button below for your blog!!!  :)  Link it back here and we can talk about GREAT thread together!  ;)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Let's Talk About Batting!

I'm still here!  You got used to me blogging near daily didn't you?  Lol*

I have been busy...quilting!  I wanted to take a quick break though to talk about batting.

Today I was working on a customer quilt and really took note how the batting choice effects the quilting.  It's only been the past year or so that I've really paid much attention to batting.  When I first started quilting I was turned on to the current trend for FLAT quilts.  If you're really in love with antique or civil war style quilts...a flat batting is great, it really gives that antique look!  Cotton low loft battings also crinkle up, so along with staying flat, once washed a few times they give a really charming aged look.

I LOVE that, but sometimes I want some poof.  For the LONGEST time I avoided medium or high loft battings, ESPECIALLY ones with polyester!  I immediately thought of the quilts from when I was young - super poofy with little blue geese on them.  Well guess what?  I love polyester batting these days!!!!!!!!!  Not because I want my quilts to look dated, but because higher loft battings really show off quilting detail.  The only problem I have with 100% polyester batting is their tendency to beard.  But, to combat that, I like something like Hobbs 80/20 - it's a flatter, not so 1984 looking batt, but that teeny bit of polyester allows for some quilting definition, and it's bonded so no bearding.

If you really like the poof - or are doing some really intricate quilting and want major definition, wool is the way to go.  It's washable and bonded so there's no bearding, and gives you that lovely loft that shows off the quilting in a quilt.

It's kind of fun once you begin to understand what a difference batting can make, to then play and experiment.

What batting do you love?

My camera battery died on me at the end of this video!  So, no pictures for the blog today, but here's a short video showing you a few different loft battings and how they look once quilted.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Ok the title of my post sort of sums up the ABSOLUTE thrill that I have right now!!!!!!!  I finally figured out the trick to my lil' long arm...and it can only get better from here!!!!  Yay!!!

WORLD - meet my very first peacock feather!!!  :)  ON MY LONG ARM!!!  :)

Oh yeah, and enjoy the Super Bowl and all that...hahaha!!  I totally forgot it was Super Bowl Sunday until my Husband reminded me he was going to his Uncle's to watch the game!!  :)  I'm not gonna lie...I hope he comes home with some leftover wings.  Nom nom...  ;)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Playing With Custom Quilting Designs

This is what I've been working on the last day or so...passively...

Playing with some quilting designs that would fall under the category of "light custom".  I ditched this free hand and then added some stippling and flourishes.  I used white Isacord thread - I think it look spretty good!!!

When I say "custom", all that really means is different designs throughout the quilt rather than just one all over design.  Generally custom quilting is going to involve some stitch in the ditch in addition to the quilting, part of the reason it's a bit pricier.  More work involved, and possibly turning the quilt to quilt the borders.  

If you're interested in custom quilting pop me over an email at pumpkin patch quilter all one word at yahoo dot com.

Today is a cleaning day...the house falls apart SO quickly!!!  Friday the kids were off school for a snow day...a whole day of mess making possibilities!  LOL*  It was nice I have to say to have the kids around.  I've been focusing on launching my little quilting business so I think they needed some undivided Mommy time.  :)

I'm still accepting a few more quilts for all over edge to edge at $.01 per square inch (plus $5 for thread).  See my last post for details.  I would love to quilt for you!  :)