Thread; Thick or Thin – Which Do I Use?

thread-clip-artI just did a class where I must have had 10 different questions about thread.  So, I thought I would update and re-run this blog with the hopes that it may answer any questions you may have.

When I teach a free motion quilting class  and I try to explain the difference between the thread sizes, I get lots of question. For some people, thread thickness can be very confusing. It’s hard to compute in our brains why the higher the number, the thinner the thread and the lower the number the thicker the thread. I am going to try to simplify  which is which.

Normal sewing thread is usually 50 weight thick. This is the standard in the industry.  This is the normal thread you buy at Joann’s or wherever you buy your everyday sewing or quilt piecing thread.

To sandwich my quilts together I like to use a 30 weight quilting thread  Iuse a 90-14 needle or higher.  It’s a little thicker and shows up nicely when you are machine quilting. There are many good brands of thread but my personal preference is Sulky quilting thread solid or variegated, or King Tut solid or variegated. King Tut has nice large spools. Great if you are quilting a large quilt that will use a lot of thread.

There is one more thread for quilting. It’s a 12 weight that is much thicker and nice for hand quilting. It gives a nice texture to the finished quilt. If you use in a machine I would use a top stitch needle like a 90-14 or 100-16

Embroidery thread is 40 weight. This  is the standard for anyone using embroidery thread for their machine embroidery designs. This thread is a little thicker than your normal sewing thread to give you more depth in your design. It can also be used for quilting your quilt sandwich when used on a machine. It has more sheen and can look very nice on the more modern style of quilts. For quilting you would want to use the same weight thread in needle and bobbin.

60 weight thread is what you use in the bobbin of your machine when doing machine embroidery. It comes in several colors ie; white, tan, cream, grey and black. You can buy it in pre-wound packets or your can buy  Finishing Touch bobbin thread in spools that you can wind on your own machine if that’s what you prefer. Also, some machines don’t like pre-wound bobbins. My Brother Quattro and Dream machines love both pre-wounds as well as bobbins I wind myself. There is also a 60 weight cotton thread you can buy to use in your bobbin if you want the back and front of your project to look the same such as in lettering. 60 weight cotton thread is also nice to use when sewing applique’s on the machine or by hand. If you are machine embroidering small lettering, like on a recipe dish towel. then you may want to look into using a 60 weight embroidery thread. It has a nice sheen and softer hand for small fonts. You can use the same thread top and bottom if you like. That’s what I do. It gives me a nice finish.

The last one I want to talk about is a beautiful thread you can use for heirloom sewing and for tacking down appliques. It’s 100 weight thread. It’s the finest thread on the market.  It can be purchased in cotton and silk. Very delicate and lovely when sewn.

I hope this helps any one who may have been confused about thread weight and  the use of each type of thread. Except for embroidery I always use the same weight thread in my needle and bobbin. My favorite threads for sewing and piecing are Aurifill, Mettler, Superior, Sulky and Gutterman. For embroidery threads I like Floriani, Isacord, Brother Madeira, Robinson Antone and Sulky. All are excellent brands.

If any one has any questions please email me through my contact page. I will try to answer questions as best I can and if you have any suggestions for future blogs, I would love to hear them. I would also like it if you click the follow button (google likes it if we have followers)  and check out the creative links of businesses I buy from.

Until next time….. happy sewing!

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Pillows Galore

molly-brown-jacobean-pillow-1Throw pillows on a couch, a bed or chair are an inexpensive way to add color and decorate a room. The pillows you buy can be quite pricey costing upwards of $40 to $80 or more, depending on what you get. If you want something nice that will last, you will spend a lot of money for them. By making your own, you can also customize your pillow with embroidered words and sayings that mean something to you or the person you are giving it to. Maybe do a small wedding pillow, a friendship, daughter, Mother, Father, or Grandparent design. They will cherish them forever.

I’ve been making pillows for my military friends and they are loving them. I found some army-pillow-2panels with the different branches of the service and I make and quilt the pillow for my friends and their particular branch. Military guys and gals are very proud of their service  and this is a way you can honor them. Want to just make a decorative pillow? That’s OK. I’m going to give you a formula that will serve you well for any design.

First; make your pillow top.  This can be as simple as a piece of fabric you like, a panel, or a pieced quilt block. You can also do a beautiful embroidery design on a  piece of fabric and then turn it into a pillow with the following steps.

Second; Cut your top to the size pillow you want to make. Pillow forms come in all shapes and sizes. You can get them at any craft or fabric store, like Joann’s. I get mine there when they have a pillow sale, or save with my 40% off coupon. The sizes I like best are 12″, 14″ and 16″ square. If you want a bolster size, then 12″ x 16″ is a nice size. Whatever size you decide to use, I cut my top to the same size or 1/4″ bigger all around. It depends on the weight of fabric and if batting is used.

Third; “Sandwiching” your pillow top. I like to make a pillow top in layers. I start with muslin for the lining, then batting for body and last I put the finished decorative outside of the pillow on top. Then I quilt the three layers with a simple free motion meander pattern or a quilters “cross hatch” pattern. “Cross hatching” is the simplest way to finish off the top. It only involves straight stitching and it can be done on any size machine.  All you need is an erasable marking pen and a straight stitch foot or a walking foot.

Fourth; Planning the back of the pillow. There are a few ways you can finish the back.  1. is a simple way of just cutting the back fabric the same size as the front and with right sides together, sew all around pillow leaving about 3 or 4 inches open at the bottom. I suggest sewing a straight stitch first, then go around again with a zig zag stitch to finish off the edges. (you can use a serged edge if you have a serger.) I do this, then I do the back with the same three layers and cross hatch that also to give the pillow cover body. Once it is all stitched, turn right side out, stuff your pillow form inside and hand stitch the opening to finish off.envelope pillow back 3

2. is the “envelope” style back where you use 2 pieces of fabric wrong sides together with your folds  overlapping about 2 inches in the center. Then you attach the the back to front (again right sides facing each other), and you can stitch all the way around four sides. Once done, you turn it right side out using your fold over and again, stuff your pillow form inside and you are done. This makes it easy to remove pillow case to wash when needed. zipper pillow back 3

3. is  to put a zipper near the bottom to make installing pillow form and removal easy. This is the most secure way to have a removable cover, but you need to be pretty comfortable with installing a zipper.

The envelope style is the most popular finish and to make your cover a little more snug, you can put decorative buttons to hold the folds together or put hidden Velcro on the folds to keep the backing snug.

You options are endless, and you can have or give a pillow that has meaning and is different from “off the rack” ones you can buy in a store.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me. Use your imagination and create something really nice and fun.

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Happy Sewing!

Embroidery Designs Galore

It’s been a busy “Snowbird” season and I have been busy teaching. It’s slowing down now and I plan to get back to finishing several blogs I stared last summer and fall.

Because I teach machine embroidery, I get a lot of questions about where to get good embroidery designs. There are A LOT of great places to buy embroidery designs, but the links I have on the blog are people I have done business with. I know they are reputable and the quality of designs is excellent. Most, also give free designs each month. Like EmbLibrary.com. They give you 2 free designs in all formats and sizes every month. They also have an amazing website with lots of tutorials, idea books, and THOUSANDS of beautiful designs that stitch out well.

molly-zipper-bag-2

Something else neat, most companies  have a place to look up past orders so that when the dreaded hard drive dies and you lose all the designs you downloaded, you can go back in and download all your orders again. It’s like having a back up to all your designs. Continue reading “Embroidery Designs Galore”

New! Needle in A Haystack (sewing basket)

Sorry I haven’t posted a new blog lately, but I’ve been sooo busy.  I also went away for the holidays to Pennsylvania during the time that they had 1 degree temps and -10 wind chill. Brrrr!!!

Back to sunny Florida.  I taught a class this week that my students asked  “why so many different needles”? So, I decided to re run my needle blog as a refresher of, why so many different needles.

I have several new blogs in the works and will get them ready for you as soon as I can. Now, read on and thank you for your support and good comments.

No, we are not going to look for needles in a haystack, but we do need to dig out all those schmetz-machine-needlesneedles in our sewing box and organize them. I teach an  Embroidery 101 workshop, which covers the use of stabilizer, threads and needles. It still surprises me when my students ask me the difference in needles. I’m going to try to simplify this mystery and give you a place to go back to when you need to choose a needle for a certain sewing, quilting or embroidery project.I have worked with most of these needle types and when you use the correct needle, your project will always look the best.

You want to choose needle size according to thickness of your thread and needle type according to your fabric application. Continue reading “New! Needle in A Haystack (sewing basket)”

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year.

My wish for all of you is a joyous, healthy, happy holiday season and a wonderful  2018.

This has been a hectic year for me, but hopefully next year will afford me more time to blog for you.

Thank you for following my blog. Please pass my link on to your sewing, quilting and embroidery friends. Sewers are the nicest people on earth. They are generous of heart and true artists.

God bless, everyone.

Molly

Tips & Tricks #1

This blog is going to be a mix of tips from various sources and things I’ve discovered in my years of sewing. I will be doing this periodically  so as not to overwhelm you with too much information.

The one thing I found to be true is, work with the best tools you can if you want a quality product in the end. Your project will only be as good as your weakest product in your project.

One stabilizer does not fit all situations!!! Check out my blog on how to use stabilizers for the best outcome of machine embroidery.

The old adage … Measure twice (or 3 times to be sure) and cut once. It also helps to read the instructions over before your start your project. (:-)

If you want to make a quilt that will be an heirloom to hand down, be sure to use good quality cotton fabric from a quilt store locally or online. Don’t go for cheap fabric, as it won’t last. Use cheaper fabric for projects that will be considered “disposable” in time.

Check your tension and make sure that your threads are sewing evenly through your fabric. Especially when quilting through two layers of fabric and batting. You may need to loosen the tension or tighten it depending on your machine and thread. Make a sample sandwich and test on that before starting on the real quilt.

Always use good quality threads for any sewing project but particularly for quilting and embroidery.  Again, you are only as good as your weakest link. Don’t let that weak link be thread that shreds or breaks all the time. I personally like Aurafil for sewing and piecing and King Tut by Superior threads, or Sulky 30w for  machine quilting.

Don’t forget to start with a new Quilting needle, preferably 90/14, when you start machine quilting a new quilt. The same goes for embroidery, a new embroidery needle will make the project go smoother.

If your thread keeps shredding or breaking, try this; Change your needle, re-thread the top thread and reset your bobbin. Most times this will take care of the problem. If it doesn’t, clean out your machine. Another thing you can do is take a cotton ball and rub it against the bobbin case, throat plate or even the needle to see if there is a burr that could cause breakage or shredding.

I am constantly saying to my students, they spend thousands of dollars on these beautiful new sewing/embroidery machines that do everything imaginable, then scrimp on supplies. Good machines need good thread, needles and fabric to run efficiently.

Periodically, I’ll be giving you more blogs with tips. If you have a neat tip I can pass on, I’m sure my readers would enjoy hearing it. One reader commented on the blog about metallic thread. She said she uses Floriani metallic and has no trouble with breakage. Nice tip!

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Be sure to check out past blogs to see some interesting articles about sewing, embroidery and quilting.

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