August 04, 2014

Untangle Your Thread!

One of the most common complaints I hear from hand quilters has to do with thread knotting up as you are sewing.  Thread needs to be able to hold a knot, but it should hold a knot that YOU put there, not one that it creates all on its own.

So why DOES thread knot? There are several  reasons.

·         Static – remember static cling – walking around in the winter with a sock stuck to the back of your sweater?  Or, like my high school English teacher back in the day who was caught walking down the hall in January with her skirt hiked up in the back, exposing… things that shouldn’t be seen?  If the air is dry where you are sewing, the motion in and out of the fabric can cause thread to cling to itself, thus creating knots.  Try some beeswax or Thread Heaven on your thread and see if that helps.  It will provide added strength and conditioning that can help.

·         Dryness – same as above

·         Twisting – When thread is wound onto a spool by a machine at the manufacturer, it causes the thread to twist.  Some thread will twist more than others.  I have found that If I thread several needles at a time (perhaps a dozen) and stick the needles into a pincushion and let the thread tails relax, my thread will produce fewer knots.  Try it!

·         Age – The age of your thread DOES make a difference!  It can become brittle, rotted, and will easily knot, twist and bunch up.  It can also snap if you are sewing and give it a little tug, so be cautious using older thread!  Get yourself some new, high-quality thread.  See if that doesn't make a difference for you!

·         User error – I worked for a while as a technology director for a local school district, and “user error” was the most common problem that we saw.  That is, the problem is not caused by anything technical.  Rather, it is a problem created by the user him/herself.  User error is found in sewing as well.  As you are sewing by hand, the way that you stitch and pull, stitch and pull actually TWISTS the thread and eventually will create a knot.  The best way to prevent this is to 1) use beeswax or Thread Heaven on your thread to coat it, AND every 6 to 10 stitches, stop for a second, let your thread and needle dangle, and then start stitching.  As your thread dangles, it will unwind and reduce your chances for tangles.

Here are a few more tips found in an article from Thursday, 31 May 2012 at:

1.       Always thread the end you've actually cut from the spool into the eye of the needle. 
2.       As you hand sew, pull the thread in the direction you are sewing. 
3.       Hand quilters will roll the needle between their fingers as they stitch in the opposite direction of the twist of the thread.
4.       Cut you thread into lengths no longer than about 18" to 20".


Published by Caron Mosey of 2014.
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July 31, 2014

Social Media for Quilters: Facebook

I read a decent article today called “Essential Facebook Etiquette: 10 Do's And Don’ts by Michael Poh .  It is well worth a read, and it got me to thinking about how far we have come with technology.  When you think about quilters in history, don’t you picture ladies sitting around a quilting frame stitching?  What do you suppose they are talking about?  Probably a lot of gossip flying around the frame: he did this, she did that, did you see their house kinds of things.  Oh yes, comparing of recipes, who has a better quilting stitch, which shop has the newest fabric on hand, and what the next quilt will look like when you get around to it. 

Times have sure changed!  Not that many quilters sit around a frame together to stitch.  Our lives are so busy with family, work outside the home,  cleaning and laundry inside the home, and sitting in front of a computer or with a phone or tablet on our lap.  And quilters aren’t just women, either! Lots of men quilt!

Today’s crazy world now includes television, computers, tablets, cell phones with texting, Facetime, instant messaging, and group chat.  Facebook and Pinterest have taken over many hours of the day for lots of quilters, and they came about so fast that we really haven’t stopped to think about what it means, or how to react.  Do we NEED etiquette in Facebook?  Are there rules?  Guidelines?

I try to use my gut instincts to help me know how to react.  I’ve learned to think them through, however, because sometimes it’s all too easy to just act quickly and really make a mess of things.  Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about.  True story…  An acquaintance in my town invited me to “friend”  her on Facebook, so I did.  She started selling chocolate candy through a company as a home-based business, and every single day of the week I got Facebook post after post about how yummy the chocolate was, and how much I really needed to buy some from her.  I sent her private message after private message asking her to please cease and desist.  I begged her to not use her Facebook friends as her target for chocolate sales.  I told her that I had bariatric surgery, can’t eat sugar, and chocolate use to be my addiction and I was trying to stay on the straight and narrow path.  It didn't matter.  I eventually got smart and decided that nothing was going to change her, but I didn't need to have those posts in front of me every day.  I decided to end our Facebook relationship and pulled the plug.

Notice I didn't say that I sent her a nasty note.  I didn't talk about her to all her friends online.  When I decided to pull the plug, I just did it quietly and without fanfare. 

One thing about Facebook that we need to be cautious of is that we are quick to react and unfortunately, nobody sees our facial expression or tone of voice when we “speak” online.  Without hearing a sound, we read someone’s words in our head in the tone of voice that we expect they would be using if they were in the same room an arm’s length away.  And that can get us into trouble.

There are a plethora of quilt groups on Facebook, and it can be a lot of fun to be a part of one… or two… or three.  Find a group that you think might be a good fit for you, and click to join the group.  Spend some time reading through the posts before you do anything.  Get a feel for the group.  What are they like?  What are they posting?  Read the group’s guidelines not just once, but several times.  If you agree with what you read and what you see, then introduce yourself to the group; just don’t come on too strong!

Every Facebook group has a feeling to it.  Some are chatty, some share a lot of news, tips and suggestions.  Some groups want to see every quilt you have ever made, and others are more finely tuned to a particular style.  Some groups feature a BOM (Block of the Month), and some do swaps.  But be careful!  You are likely to be carefully monitored if you agree to participate in a swap, and if you don’t follow through, it might just make it hard – if not impossible – for you to ever join a group or swap again! 

Think before you post.  Don’t react too quickly.  Don’t insult anyone, be kind, be a good listener, and always ask yourself these questions:

If it isn't, then proceed to the next step:

Enough said.

Published by Caron Mosey at Michigan Quilts! 2014.

July 25, 2014


Dream, dream, dream, dream
Dream, dream, dream, dream
When I want you in my arms
When I want you and all your charms
Whenever I want you
All I have to do is dream
Dream, dream, dream

Ahhh, yes… The Everly Brothers’ song about quilt fabric, thread, patterns, notions…

          Say WHAT? It’s not a song about quilting supplies? I was SURE that it was!


flimseyIn the United States, July is usually full of hot weather, and many quilters don’t do much quilting except for perhaps bits of hand sewing here and there, or sitting in their air conditioned sewing area with their favorite sewing machine. I don’t have a problem with hand quilting in the summer, as my house usually has the air conditioning running, and it’s fairly cool. But this IS the time of year when I plan ahead for fall and winter sewing. There is nothing I like better in the cool months of the year than sitting in my leather chair by the window with my feet propped up and my quilt hoop on my lap. My project this fall is to get back to working on my Feathered Star quilt. There is still much to do on the quilting, and I’d like it finished before Spring quilt show time.DSC02807

Another quilt I’d like to get back to is my baskets quilt… I have many more blocks to make, and it is fun to put all the different fabrics together so that each block is unique.

I would also love to start a scrappy Churn Dash with lots of grey tones in it, but I think I had better finish some other quilts before I start a new one. At least, that is the plan. We’ll see if I stick to it or not!  You see, I LOVE Churn dash quilts!  I even have a whole Pinterest Board for them!

I like to plan ahead for my fall/winter sewing and make sure I have all the tools I need. There is nothing worse than jumping into a project and finding out you need this… and that… and of course more of that other thing. I HATE when that happens, don’t you?

I’m a list-maker, and my list has been started. I need more quilting thread for my Feathered Star quilt. I need thread for sewing my basket blocks together. I prefer to piece with 100 percent cotton threads in neutral colors like tan, cream and grey. I will need more of those colors, so I think I’ll order them soon. The basket handles on my baskets quilt are appliqued to the background, and I need another pack of straw needles.

Before my list is complete, I want to carefully visualize what I want the quilting to look like on the baskets quilt. I think I will sketch out some designs for the area between the basket and handle, and also determine whether I want the blocks set with alternating plain blocks, or have each block be a basket. Still not sure. More dreaming to do!

Have you started your fall dreaming yet? Is your list on your table or saved in your phone or iPad? If not, what are you waiting for? Let’s get crackin’!

Caron at Hand Quilting Supplies

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