Author Archives: Heather

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.

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

Lace
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

Redwork
12wt is perfect for Red-work and Stitchery

Serging
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?


selvages

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

bella_solids1_hamels

Ironing and Pressing Patchwork


An iron can be your best tool whilst sewing your quilt blocks. The difference between a quilter whose work looks fabulous and one whose work is so-so often comes down to the ironing and pressing during the quilt’s construction. Your iron can smooth out problem corners, make your quilt lie flat, ease in a piece that’s just a shade too small, create crisp points and so much more. It’s very important to take some time with your iron to press your blocks and quilt tops properly. If you are considering a new iron, the Oliso iron is really neat in that it lifts itself automatically with just a touch.

Oliso-Pro-Smart-Iron-TG1600

We are also loving the new Steamfast travel steam iron. Currently these little hand-held pressing irons are very popular for quilters. They are easy to grasp with your hand and are great for maneuvering over your fabrics as you piece blocks together. They are portable, great to take to classes and retreats as well as to use right in your home studio. Our customers, who have recently purchased this iron, are raving about how much they love this small iron that gives some mighty good results!

SF-717-A_z

There is “ironing” and then there’s “pressing”. Ironing is the act of moving the iron back and forth overt the fabric. Pressing is a simple up and down movement of the iron. Quilters “press” with their irons in a simple up and down movement to avoid overstretching the seams. Just make sure you are using enough pressure to enable the heat to “set” the fabric.

Pressing1

We like using Best Press for this part of the quilt-making process. This spray produces flat, crisp quilt blocks and quilt tops that are nice and flat for laying over your batting and backing.BestPressSpray

There’s some debate in quilting regarding the use of steam. I, personally, like to use steam with my iron as I press quilt blocks. Hot water offers an added force to the iron’s heat to set seams. The use of steam will smooth out most creases and wrinkles from your fabrics. However, if you are working with paper patterns for paper foundation piecing, cut off the steam.

Use a cotton (high) setting on your iron when quilting with cotton fabrics. Remember that Fireside, Minky or other synthetic fabrics, need to be kept away from hot irons to avoid melting!

Fusible products also need to be ironed with caution. A fusible is a glue or glue-like bonding agent applied to interfacings and other materials that when melted with an iron, bond with fabric. Fusible are used to stabilize fabrics, to join fabrics together (as in fusible appliqué) and for other purposes. Each fusible product has a special personality and you must follow the directions that come on the package. Some fusible will quickly melt and destroy your iron with “goo” if you don’t use a pressing sheet. Others might require steam. Some won’t work with steam. The appliqué pressing sheet is great because you can see through this translucent product and keep an eye on your pressing.BTD206_z

We hope you can enjoy the ironing and pressing process as you create your quilt tops and let us know if we can help you with your pressing questions!

Tuesday Tip….What is a Walking Foot and How is it Used?


The Walking foot, (also referred to as an Even Feed, or Duel Feed Foot) is a presser foot that helps prevent multiple layers of fabric slipping when they are sewn together. As we prepare to get into 2018 quilting projects, perhaps you would like to finish some quilts by machine quilting them yourself.  In our Basic Machine Quilting class, students learn about using a “walking foot”. If you are unable to take our class, there are plenty of tutorials and videos online to assist you in machine quilting.

We stock a common “generic” low-shank walking foot at the store and if your machine manual says “low shank” we can often fit this generic foot to your machine. However, if you have a special machine or a high shank requirement, we might have to refer you to a sewing machine dealer to find the correct walking foot to attach to your machine. Please feel free to call us or come into the store to see if we can assist you with a walking foot.

Walking_Foot_Pic_2_Medium

The walking foot works by having it’s own set of feed dogs. As your machine needle moves up & down, a lever which clips to the needle bar lets the walking foot’s feed dogs move/walk along the fabric, hence the name walking foot. The fabric is therefore evenly fed through your machine.

The walking foot can be used for any project where fabrics are likely to slip, and is most commonly used for:

  • Lighter weight knit fabrics, to prevent stretching
  • Perfect pattern matching e.g. on plaid fabrics
  • Quilting where it helps to ensure that the layers of a quilt do not shift when they are quilted together.


Using the Walking foot for quilting

The most commonly used methods for quilting with a walking foot are;

1.  “In the Ditch” in the seam

stitch in ditch

2.    Grid lines

grid walking foot

3.    Echo quilting around your blocks, as done around the friendship star block below;

echo walking foot
The walking foot also often has a guide bar to help you to keep an even distance between quilt lines.

 

There are lots of creative ways you can use your walking foot for quilting using your machine’s practical and decorative stitches.  For example;

Running Stitch / Serpentine Stitch

Walking_Foot_Pic_7_Medium

 

With a walking foot and your quilt sandwich (three layers assembled: top, batting and backing) you can complete most quilts. This will save you a tremendous amount by not having to pay a professional to quilt your projects for you. Many antique quilts were originally quilted by hand following straight lines marked across a quilt top. You can re-create this traditional method yourself with a walking foot and some patience. If you look at how the modern quilters are quilting their quilt tops, they mostly do straight line quilting. So give your walking foot some exercise and try machine quilting your next project yourself by sewing in the ditch or quilting diagonal lines across your quilt.

straight line quilting