Category Archives: Tuesday’s Tip

Variegated Cotton Thread

Have you ever wondered just what colour thread to machine quilt with? If your quilt has a few colours in it then perhaps you want to audition a cotton variegated thread to bring your project to the finale. Check out the option of using variegated cotton thread when fabrics are different ranges of the same colour, or when there are so many colours in your quilt top that your’e not sure what color thread to use.

signature green variegated

  • Choose either a variegated thread that will contrast with most of the top’s color(s) or will blend with all of them.
  • Choose quilting designs with as little backtracking as possible
  • Look for subtle tone on tone threads for a unifying effect.
  • Use a bobbin thread that matches the dominant colors of the thread, or the dominant color of the top’s fabric(s).
  • Install a “metallic” needle in your machine when using variegated thread as it will feed better.


Signature thread has several nice colours of variegated cotton thread available through our store. Signature 40wt Variegated Cotton Thread is a 3 ply 40wt 100% cotton thread with excellent sewability at high-speeds. Signature 40wt Cotton Thread performs well on both long arm and home quilting machines. Ideal for providing dimension, texture and visual interest. We also carry Mettler and YLI variegated threads to choose from for machine quilting.  Happy quilting!



machine quilt variegated

Foam Soft and Stable or In-r-Form

soft and stable project pack pic

A couple of years ago, we began stocking this great product called Soft and Stable in packages here at Hamel’s. Soft and Stable is made by Annie’s. There is also an identical product from Bosal  called In-r-form. We can’t get enough of these two products! They work virtually the same way as you sew them into bags, placemats and table runners, etc. It gives really nice stability to your bag.

Here’s a video from Annie, herself, the creator of this wonderful product:

Use Soft and Stable or In-r-Form in place of batting in your project. You can quilt right through this stuff or just sew around the edges. There is so much flexibility with these foam products that you will be creating fabulous creations quickly and with ease. This firm resilient foam might seem like sewing through a yoga mat, when you first begin your project, but with a fresh quilting needle in your machine you can sail right through it!

Right now we have a kit called the “Denny Bag” which includes Soft and Stable. This kit is a great way to get you started with using this foam. This kit is comprised of warm fall colours from Kansas Troubles’ “Sweet Pea” collection.5304QK_z

These foam products don’t mind a gentle wash in cool, but we suggest hanging to dry. Go ahead and press after washing if you want to smooth your project out a bit.

If you prefer a larger piece off the bolt, we have Bosal In-R-Form in 58″ width in either black or white.


Happy stitching!


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