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

Most Unlikely of all Sewing Aids is Sex Lube

I like a challenge. One of my friends told me that I spend too much money on “Sewing Stuff”. So I set out to find alternatives to things I can buy in a quilt shop. This is the first in a series I plan to write about those alternatives. I decided to start with something that would make her eyes pop.

I like to free motion quilt with metallic thread. My machine handles it really well if I use the correct needle, turn the tension down a bit, and lubricate the thread.

Bernina’s Thread Lubricator Guide is fantastic. The guide comes with a tiny vial of silicone lubricant. You put a single drop of silicone lube on the felt pad, stick your thread in the groove and thread your machine like normal. The wee itty bitty bit of lube really makes a huge difference. However… the Bernina and thus its included guide fall into the spending money category. I had to find an el cheapo alternative for ‘any’ machine. Someone suggested mineral oil.. but hey that stuff smells, I’m not sure I want that around my fabric.

Before I got the fancy schmancy thread guide for my Bernina, I would buy Sewer’s Aid thread lubricant and put a thin stripe on my spool of metallic thread. This stuff is between 6-9 bucks for a little half ounce bottle. And, it’s made of liquid silicone. I also know for a fact that the Bernina lube is silicone. So here is where does the “sex” comes in.

Well… I couldn’t find that little bottle of Sewer’s Aid and it was 8 bucks so I really didn’t want to buy more of it being that I was on the “Cheap Challenge”. What did I have around that was silicone and liquid and cheap?

Image of a sample size of ID Millennium Lube
This sample size hold .1 ounces of lube. Perfectly safe for no leak carrying and ready when you are (for lubricating your thread that is).
A funny elf put a cute little sample size of ID Millennium lube in my Christmas stocking. Millennium supposed is incredibly good for doing the deed in a hot tub because it is liquid silicone and doesn’t dilute or wash off in the water. I was really hoping I was getting a hot tub for Christmas. But, alas, that was not to be. Hoping to have a hot tub tryst at some point in the future, I kept that little packet in a drawer. Knowing it was liquid silicone, now was the time to pull it out. Honestly if I’m not going hot tubbing with the hubby, a little late night experimental quilt action fulfills some of my needs pretty well.

A teensy dab of ID Millennium lube on my spool of thread and wa-la! It works!

I also found out a couple of drops of ID Millennium silicone lube is a great substitute for a Supreme Slider. Two drops of sex lube on a piece of batting, rub it around on my sewing surface and wow… It lasted a long time too. It isn’t icky, slimy, smelly, or any of those things. I priced a 12 ml tube (just under half ounce) and it’s about two bucks. At the one or two drop at a time rate I’ll use it, it will last practically forever.

Now about that tryst… I’m still holding out for a hot tub.

Thread Weights and Needle Sizes for Free Motion

You may hear a lot of things about what is the best or the only weight thread to use for free motion or longarm quilting. Personally I don’t think there are any rules. As long as you choose your thread, evaluate your fabric and then choose the appropriate needle for thread-fabric combo AND are willing to tweak your tension settings, you can free motion with almost any thread. Your machine just has to accept it. Some machines can be finicky about weights of threads or even material the thread is made of. Often you can tweak or adjust your method to help use it.

Quick Guide to Thread/Needle Size
Thread Wt Needle
40 wt 90/14
50 wt 80/12
60 wt 70/10
100 wt 70/10
12-30wt 100/16
MonoPoly
(Invisible monofilament)
70/10

Normally I go to a 50 weight cotton or polyester trilobal thread. I really like threads by Superior Threads, though I am not married to their products. Using a 80/12 Topstitch needle works great with their King Tut, Manifico and Fantastico lines. I have found that as long as I use the same thread in top and bobbin of my machine, I do not have to adjust tension at all.

Note: Superior Threads note on their spools and cones which tell you which size needle is recommended for that particular thread.

If I want a thicker line of thread to show, I will use a 40 weight thread. There are free motion people out there who do not like this thread. But I believe that if the look you want requires a 40 weight go ahead and use it. A 90/14 needle works great.

Thick threads have smaller weight numbers, while bigger needles have bigger numbers. Thread and needle sizes run in opposite directions.

You can even free motion with a 30 weight thread if you want, however, put it in your bobbin of your machine. Thick threads do not work in the top of a domestic sewing machine and will shred or mess up your top tension discs. So in the bobbin it must go. This is often called “bobbin work”. The process is the same, you will just have to work from the back side of your quilt so the heavy thread in the bobbin shows up on the front. If you think your machine could handle a 30 weight thread,  you would probably use a 100/16 needle.

Thinner threads than 50 can look really neat. Using silk 100 weight thread for example can have a really nice look. Some of the top free motion people who win shows use silk almost exclusively. I would try a 70/10 needle for this.

Monofilament is also an interesting choice. Typically it is almost colorless. It will really “disappear” into the quilt so the texture is really evident and the thread is almost unnoticeable. There are two types, nylon and polyester. In years past, monofilament, which was made from nylon, got a bad rap because in the early days when it was invented it was very stretchy. So it was difficult to use. You would have to go very slow and have very low tension settings. Nylon also melts at lower temperatures than other fibers. Lower temperatures mean more stringent rules for care of the quilt, you can’t iron it, must wash on low, etc. Newer polyester fiber is in several brands of monofilament. My experience has been with Superior’s Monopoly. It requires a couple more ‘numbers’ lower on the top tension and I do tend to go slower with it. But it really has a nice look, washes on medium heat, and can be ironed. It’s great for trapunto too. Monopoly is slightly matte and that helps it disappear too. It comes in a light/clear and smokey clear for using on darker fabrics. I don’t hesitate to use the light monopoly on dark fabrics if I do not have the smoke available. It really is fun to use.

Almost a one month romance w my Innova

It’s been about a month since the Innova long arm came to live with me. It’s been a romance of the worst sort. Wonderful from day one yet full of learning. Some of it frustrating. I’m sure a long armer with experience would know the things I have put upon myself by just jumping in and seeing what happens. I’ll have to take some pics of some awfulness that I self created.

The short list also known as the “slap myself in the head DUH!” List

Don’t move the sew head w the needle down.

It’s easiest to set tension if you have the same kind of thread in the top and in the bobbin.

Thin bobbin thread and thick top thread is very hard for a beginner to set the tension for.

Cheapi fabric is cheapi fabric. You get what you pay for.

It takes LOTS longer to quilt blocks than an all over edge to edge.

I hate ripping out stitches!

Husband likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner!

You can’t practice destroying quilts if you are out of town.

The Learning List a.k.a. Stuff I Figured out but could probably have learned by reading a manual or paying better attention in class

When quilting crosshatching with the autopilot don’t do the whole outlined hollow diamond shape, do half of it at a time. If you do it all at once you will get a royal mess and dense run stitching that isn’t very pretty. It ends up stiff thick and butt ugly!

Change your needle when things look crappy. For example, if the tension is right, and everything is right but for some reason it just all looks lackluster as if the stitches have wilted. CHANGE the needle.

Did I say BASTE?

The crosshatching tool in ABM Autopilot is really neat. But it doesn’t do a good job on areas that are shaped kinda like a C. It makes insane amounts of run stitching around the edges. I ended up with 1/4 inch wide dense stitching around a shape. The shape was three side of a four sided diamond that was hollow in the middle.

I’ll add more as I think of things.