Author Archives: Heather

Tuesday Tip: Bohin Machine Needle Threader

91356 Bohin needle threader

As we age, many of us find it more difficult to see the eye on the needles we are trying to thread. Have you ever been ready to work on a project only to try repeatedly to thread the eye of that needle in your sewing machine? Well there’s a little gadget called a “machine needle threader” from the folks at Bohin. For more than 184 years the Bohin company in France has strived to produce
quality products for artistic creations. We think they got it right on this particular gadget!

To order this item, click here  but check out this short video to see how it works:

Tuesday Tip….”That Purple Thang”!

purple thang

For years now, “That Purple Thang” has been a secret weapon that quilters and crafters alike love to use. Some of our instructors require this notion for their classes because it’s just so useful! I like to keep one beside my machine at all times. Such a great little “thang” to have close at hand.

Click here to purchase one of these hand gadgets. Here are just a few of the many things it’s good for:

1. Curved end to serve as a sewing stiletto.

2. Has 1/4″ square at the end. Good for checking that 1/4″ seam that quilter’s live by!

3. Has a slot for feeding up to 1/2″ elastic or ribbon through casings, etc.

4. Try it as you sew ruffles in lieu of a ruffling foot on your machine.

5. Point turner.

6. Finger press.

7 Smooths and aids stuffing dolls, pincushions, etc.that-purple-thang1

Check out the video below as Sue demonstrates all of these uses. Perhaps you have another purpose for this tool, please let us know.

Aurifil Cotton Mako 12/2 Thread

Aurifil 12:2         Aurifil varigated 12:2

A while back, we received a bunch of Aurifil thread, including many assorted boxes of cotton Mako 12/2 thread and a Aurifil’s 12 weight wool thread, here at the store. We all looked it and wondered how we could use this beautiful looking thread and have since discovered some interesting uses for it.

So what are all the different numbers of thread used for? Aurifil’s 12 weight thread is best for decorative quilting, 28wt is best for hand quilting, 40wt is best for machine quilting and 50wt is best for detailed quilting. We even have a few variegated 12 weight spools of thread in our vault at the moment.

After purchasing some of this thread for my stash, I decided to try it out by quilting some pillow tops and have been thrilled with the results with machine quilting using a walking foot. The wool thread works much the same, however, you get a fuzzier look with it. The pictures below show a pillow stitched decoratively with “Aurifil’s Cotton Mako 12/2″ thread. I set my stitch length longer to in order for the stitches to mimic hand stitches and was amazed at how this thread performed.Heathers Scrappy Pillows 6Heathers Scrappy Pillows 2

This 12/2 weight thread is heavier than you would want for machine piecing blocks and general sewing but as it turns out, according to Aurifil, it can be used in the following ways in either hand work or machine stitching:

Hand Appliqué
Use 12wt for hand appliqué, Buttonhole stitch for a primitive look and for Blanket Stitch appliqué.

Hand Embroidery
Used as a replacement for stranded & pearl embroidery threads for the stitchery blocks.

Hand quilting
Achieve beautiful results using the ‘Big Stitch’ or ‘Utility Stitch’ with a larger eyelet needle and for Sashiko type work

Cross Stitch
12wt is suitable for Backstitching or Cross-stitching in 1 strand, giving more definition to your work.

Use 12wt to add embroidery stitches as embellishment on a quilt surface.

Great for use on Bobbin Lace Gimp

Machine Appliqué
Use 12wt for a heavy Blanket Stitch or for a primitive look use a Buttonhole Stitch. (Use 50wt in the bobbin)

Machine embroidery
12wt is beautiful for designs that use a longer stitch length. Use a Top Stitch 100/16 needle.

Machine Quilting
Superb for art quilting when heavier thread effects are desired . Beautiful on linen and denim fabric . Use a 90/14 topstitch needle.

Machine Sashiko
Achieve great results using 12wt for Machine Sashiko

12wt is perfect for Red-work and Stitchery

Lower Looper

Longarm Quilting
Beautiful effect, quilt slowly, large needle (4.5), adjust thread path for less resistance, use silicone when necessary, pair with 28wt bobbin thread. Good for art quilting when heavier thread effects are desired.

Although this is a specialty type of thread, we encourage you to pick up a spool or two and try it out on a project and see what results you get. It’s a very silky-feeling thread and if you use it with a large eye heavier needle, you will be amazed with this product!Heathers Scrappy Pillows 5


Tuesday Tip….What is a Selvage?


A “selvage” is the long, finished edge of the fabric. It spans the length of the fabric. Most fabric companies will use the selvage to print the name and designer of the fabric and you might also have a series of coloured dots showing on the selvage. These are the colours found in the fabric’s print and this can be very helpful for matching fabrics.

selvage spots

Try to keep the info from the selvage until your project is completed. If you run out of fabric in the middle of a project, this information can help you track down some additional fabric.

Most quilting cotton fabrics are milled on looms that create fabric that is 45 inches wide including the selvage. To accommodate variances and shrinkage, assume a 40-inch fabric width.

Lately, it’s quite trendy to save and collect selvages from various fabrics to create projects. Fabric designers are including more and more decorative elements such as images, script and colour dots on selvages. I bet that even if you aren’t into collecting these narrow strips of fabric, there is probably someone in you sewing group who would love to be gifted with your selvage pieces. It’s amazing what can be created with them!

selvage dress

Selecting a Quilt Binding

selecting a binding

There is no set rule about the colour of your binding, but you want to select a colour that will blend with the top of the quilt. The binding is a finishing touch for your quilt and, in most cases, it should not take away from the quilt’s design. It can even match the outermost border and become a part of the border instead of a separate element.

Of course, if you decide that you want your binding to stand out as a design element for your quilt, there’s nothing wrong with that. It can be very effective and attractive alternative to the binding that fades into the background.

For instance, consider piecing different strips of fabrics together for the binding. This can be done in random lengths to create a scrappy look. I like to use up all of the fabrics used in the quilt top to create a binding. A scrappy binding, using the same fabrics already incorporated in the quilt top, blends right in because the colours are all in the quilt already. For a more graphic, contemporary look, piece regular lengths of alternating colours, (black and white maybe). This will serve as a snazzy frame for your quilt.

red pepper black white binding

Here at Hamels, we love the look of Moda’s Grunge fabrics when used as binding fabrics or Moda’s Bella Solids. Enjoy the process of selecting a binding for your quilt top and give your quilts the perfect finishing touch they deserve. Happy stitching!

grunge spots