A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Threads and Needles and Stabilizers, Oh My

First, let's get the business out of the way.  I can tell you what I use, but I heartily encourage everyone to chime in with what works for them.

I like thin thread.  My favorite is Aurifil 50 weight.  I like it because it's thin, strong, and comes in any color I can dream.  My only problem with it is that it is in short supply in my small town and I have to acquire it at quilt shows or drive an hour or so to obtain it.  And I have done that drive.  More than once...  but I digress. I do use other manufacturers and weights but I like the thin thread because it's forgiving.  If I scribble-sew all over, mistakes aren't obvious.  With a thicker thread, it would be.  But thick thread has its place.  I like to cover things with thread because I think it gives an organic look.  My favorite subjects have hair or feathers.  But thick thread is really great for trees.  And for less organic things.

With my thin thread, I use small needles.  I like 75/11 or 80/12 sizes.  I usually use Schmetz jeans/denim or Microtex.  The shop where I purchased my machine suggested a new brand, Inspira.  I have been using their denim and Microtex and sometimes their titanium-coated needles and they seem to work pretty well- they're cheaper too.  I change my needles a lot.  When they make that popping noise, it's time for a change.  Sometimes I will notice nests or loops on the back -- time for a new or different needle.  I don't change my machine tension a lot after I make my sample.  Just the needle.  When using thicker thread, a larger needle is in order -- without a lot of blather about technical stuff, I suggest 90/14 Topstitch needles.

As for fabric, I use anything I can lay my hands on.  My favorite stuff to use is hand-dyed cotton, but I'm not proud.  I'll use anything that suits the project.

Which brings me to stabilizers.  I have been using Decor-Bond for a while now -- it's fairly lightweight and doesn't feel too crinkly inside of a quilted project.  A friend recommended Sulky Totally Stable recently, so I'm going to be experimenting with that this month.  I have a project that I abandoned because I didn't use any stabilizer before I started covering it with thread and it puckered.  I'm going to see if I can reclaim it with stabilizer.  Sometimes I use batting and sometimes I don't.  I like thin batts when I do use them.

And don't forget feet:  I use my freemotion foot with the feed dogs down.  Sometimes I forget and leave them up -- I usually don't notice until I remove the piece.  So I'm not sure it's all that important.

Next: thread-sketching and the value of making samples


  1. Here's another suggestion for a stabilizer. I use Sew Lazy brand Stiff Stuff, developed by Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl designs. NO affiliation, but I've been using it for my quilted/beaded projects and just love it.Hasn't been on the market all that long, but depending on your artwork you may want to try it out. Here's Joan's blog announcement about it. http://www.lazygirldesigns.com/blog/sew-lazy-interfacing/meet-stiff-stuff-firm-sew-in-interfacing

  2. I have to say that I have used all of the products you have shown but have recently been using Florian 'Wet N Gone' water soluble stabilizer ... love it !
    It is very strong, takes a lot of pulling, doesn't break like the 'plastic' ones and take a lot of thread build-up. And it rinses away beautifully.

  3. Just bought some titanium needles from Superior (on sale this month) in anticipation of making a thread painted piece.

  4. If you're in the US, check out the quilted bear online quilt shop for aurifill. She ships free to US and prices are good. I love my aurifill as well.

  5. The only Aurifil 50 weight near me is about 25 miles away, and they only have white, black & beige. I order from Fabric.com when I'm getting fabric, too (free shipping) and also from Red Rock threads. I love my aurifil, too!

  6. I'm with you on the Aurifil and on thread. Once in a while I'll find a beautiful variegated #40 but I am really a thin thread girl. I don't use stabilizers.

  7. If all I learn from this month is some clarity regarding the confusing world of stabilizers...it will be time well spent. I usually just guess. It has not always turned out well...

  8. Thanks a lot for sharing your favourites on this subject. I did some threadsketching but didn't think of the difference it makes, using thick of thin thread... will learn a lot this month!


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