Jody Alexander is Influenced by Fiber Art

I Attended a wonderful and stimulating lecture about repair techniques as working wearable useful art across cultures. The lecturer, Jody Alexander, was amazing. The strong emotion I have came from her media. She tore fabric out of antique and delisted library books, from the covers and linings. I rever books. Fahrenheit 451 was one of the most terrifying horror books I’ve ever read. Book burning is one of the most disgusting, horrifying, heinous rape of the mind acts in the world. The destruction of knowledge and ideas has been used since the beginning of history to destroy cultures and civilizations. Book burning far out weighs anything Stephen King or Dean Koontz have ever written. And her art is based upon the destruction of books. It hit me viscerally. When it came to her own work I found myself both in awe and horrified. Her work was amazing. And humorous as she makes art “books” from her books. Her media hit me in the gut. Sick fascination and great work.

Not all thread is equal

I have NOT written about thread as in brands, twists and weight and how it affects seam allowance in piecing. It does, so I’m writing about it now.

I have to write about this.. I really do! I’ve written previously about how you choose your needle based upon the fabric and then you choose your thread. I’ve written about thread weight and how it looks and how it affects tension in the longarm (and the regular sewing machine. I have NOT written about thread as in brands, twists and weight and how it affects seam allowance in piecing.

THREAD MATTERS AND AFFECTS piecing big time!

Also some thread is linty and some wears your needle out faster.

So far, I have found using the three biggies (as in popular brands) in the quilting world the following.

Some thread is lintier.

Lintier, I’m not sure lintier is even a word. But there it is, I don’t like to clean out my bobbin area every time I switch out a bobbin especially when I”m in a quilt piecing frenzy. I’ve found from the cleanest (top of the list) to the lintiest (bottom of the list):

  • Cleanest
  • Superior Masterpiece 100% cotton 50/3
  • Aurifil MAKO NE 50/2
  • Mettler 100% cotton 50/3
  • Coats and Clark
  • Lintiest

Thread isn’t the same thickness

Thread affects my quarter inch seams. I sew almost always with Superior Masterpiece 100% cotton 50/3, so my eyeball is trained to “see” the amount of fabric to the right of the needle to give me a quarter inch seam. When I use a different thread.. it always affects my seam. I am pretty sure it is because the thread takes up some space. So thicker thread needs to be sewn with a “scant-ier” quarter inch seam than my normal seam. Mettler, even though it is 50/3 (like Masterpiece), is a bit thicker than the Superior Masterpiece 50/3. I’ve learned that to get the same finished size of a block with Mettler I have to sew a scant quarter inch and with Superior a real quarter inch. Aurifil acts more like Superior thread than Mettler, yet it still in between the two other brands. No one sees your seam allowances so if you switch thread (or machines) sew a quick test to make sure your finished blocks are the same.

Thread takes up space on the bobbin

Yes, it should be obvious. But somehow I just didn’t think about it much. You can’t wind as long an amount of thick thread as you can thin thread. I’ve taken to using Superior Bottom Line in my bobbin for just this reason. It’s super strong and it’s THIN! Yipee, I don’t have to change bobbins as often. I don’t get caught in the middle of a long seam because I didn’t think to check if my bobbin is going to run out. Talking about the threads I’ve mentioned above, here is a list about how long my bobbin lasts when wound with each one.

  • Lasts longest
  • Superior Bottomline 100% polyester  60/2
  • Superior Masterpiece 100% cotton 50/3
  • Aurifil MAKO NE 50/2
  • Mettler 100% cotton 50/3
  • Lasts not very long (have to wind bobbin more often)

*I quit using Coats and Clark because it’s just too darn linty. So I don’t remember how it is in the bobbin, thus it isn’t on the list about bobbin changing frequency.

As to why each thread is a different thickness, I’ve posted about thread weight 50 vs 60 etc. Thread weight isn’t very accurate when comparing different brands of thread because there really isn’t a standard system. So in my examples above, at first glance, it doesn’t make sense that the Aurifil Mako NE 50/2 is thicker than the Superior Masterpiece 50/3. However the differences I’ve experienced seem to be the truth of it.

Superior has a great article about thread weight here. UNDERSTANDING THREAD WEIGHT

So why would I use the lintier thicker threads? I want the effect they create sometimes. Sometimes I need a specific color and the nearest shop doesn’t have the brand I want. Sometimes I just got a sample, or a free spool. Sometimes, I just try something new. I do a lot of couching on the surface and I buy a lot of different threads for that purpose and I might need a specific color that I don’t have in my preferred piecing brand.

 

What is a guild Bee Keeper and Queen Bee

In the Texas Tea Stitchers I was nominated to be the Bee Keeper. Well, actually I was asked to be the Bee Coordinator but I thought that name was kinda boring, thus I became the Bee Keeper. My role is to keep track of our guild’s bees not to run them. As a Bee Keeper I am a kind of central repository or resource to find out about current bees. I will try to keep up with the folks who are in the guild bees. I hope they notify me when they start or end a bee. That sure would help.

As Bee Keeper I’m to keep track of the Queen or King Bees. Basically the ‘host’ of a bee. Some guilds call these people Momma or Poppa Bees. Generally, the Queen or Kins is the person generally in charge of the bee. Typically their responsibilities include:

  1. compiling all participants and making a list of email addresses, blogs, flickr names & mailing addresses
  2. setting up the schedule of months
  3. deciding on the “rules” of the bee
  4. facilitating communication between members (sending out emails, facebook posts, twitter tweets, phone calls, etc.)
  5. answering any questions from bee members
  6. organizing meet ups online or in person.

And if it is a monthly block echange type of bee or a round robin duties can also include:

  1. helping keep track of who’s month it is, and if fabrics have been sent out, and recieved.
  2. keeping track of blocks made/returned
  3. deciding how to address conflicts within the bee (fabrics or blocks lost in the mail, members dropping out, tardy blocks)

Sharper is always better!

Sometimes I forget my own rules. Usually it’s intentional when I am in an improvisational mood. Sometimes, I am lazy and just don’t want to go find something or go to the store. Sometimes I’m just not thinking. Brains are in our heads for a reason! We should always use them.

Last night as I was cutting just two layers of fabric and my rotary blade was requiring a lot of pressure and making a loud noise as I was cutting. It was taking forever to cut the fabric. I was only about 10% of the way through all I needed to cut. Hubby came in the room and blurted out, “wow, that’s loud! How tough is that fabric?”

I set the cutter down and slapped my forehead. DUH!

Usually I have to change the rotary blades because I nick them and they don’t cleanly cut. Apparently this blade was immune to my propensity to leave needles in fabric and escaped the usual nicks. It was cutting cleanly so it didn’t occur to me that the blade was dull.

Changed the blade and was able to stack my fabric in five layers and cut the last 90% in half the time it took to do the first bit. And, it cut like butter.

The really interesting part was… after cutting I looked at my cutting mat. The dull blade made deeper wider grooves than the sharp blade. Good cutting mats are expensive.

Moral relearned: sharper cutting blades (scissors, knives, blades) are better! Safer! More accurate! And save money!

Perfect Mitered Binding

Mitered corner sewn on the machine.

I have long admired the teaching skills of Ricky Tim’s. His way of explaining this makes it easy for me. Though he uses a very special and useful tool, I find myself using any square ruler with a corner to corner line in it. Here is a video someone posted that shows the technique.

Ricky Tim’s Quilt Show Mitered Binding

On originality vs doing someone else’s pattern.

Catbird has a point of view that I ascribe to. Telling it in story form is excellent. Here it is:

Long ago in the time of gods and goddesses, there was a mountain nymph named Echo. She lived on Mount Cithaeron with other nymphs. One of their frequent visitors was Zeus, who … ahem … enjoyed the company of the beautiful sprites. Zeus’s wife, Hera, was a jealous type, and she followed Zeus to the […]

via The Curse of Echo — Catbird Quilt Studio

Improv wristlets

My niece and I decided to do a project. She wanted to make a Wallet that would hold her phone. So we decided to just wing it. We needed pockets on the inside to hold money and IDs. And we wanted it large enough to hold her smart phone.
This is what we came up with pockets on the inside…

Swiveling wrist straps…

And our finished product…

Creativity and Mess, Each has a Purpose

I am often very messy in my creative process. Overtime, I found I am most creative when I just go with the flow. I can’t create or get new ideas without some mess and clutter. But there comes a time in each project when my mess is too much and I am not able to proceed. This always happens when it is time to do what I call the finishing processes, the freemotion quilting, the binding, the mounting or putting on of a hanging sleeve. When I get “stuck”  I have to pick up my work area. 

A scientist just “figured me out ” ! Her paper explains both of my behaviors. She established that “disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” and that explains the first half when I am being creative. 

Her second conclusion that “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe, ” makes sense too. When I get to the conventional part of my process, making it actually into a quilt, I need some order in my environment. 

So I celebrate my mess! It is what makes my work mine. And I celebrate my order, It is what helps others to understand my work.

Read about Kathleen Vohs’ Study here