Quilting

Best Thread for Piecing Quilt Tops

One of the most frequent question I get asked is: “What thread do you use for piecing your quilts?”

 
Carola's thread shop booth 2018 - 1.jpg
 

Some quilters want to know if they have to match their thread colour to their fabric. Others want to know what weight of thread is best for piecing a quilt. There are certainly lots of choices available and it can be confusing to pick the “right” thread for this job.

 Here are the answers to all of these questions:

1.     Do I have to match my thread colour to my fabric colour?

No! You should be able to use two colours of piecing thread: a cream or neutral colour and a light grey. I use the cream thread for light fabrics and the grey for darker ones. I don’t switch between the light and dark threads in a project: I decide if the quilt top is predominantly composed of light fabrics or dark ones and then choose my thread colour accordingly. As you won’t be seeing your thread (hopefully!), you don’t need to worry about matching it to your fabric.

2.     What thread fibre and weight do you use to piece your quilt top?

I like to use a lighter weight cotton thread – either a 50 or 60 weight – as thread does add some bulk to your project, even though it is quite thin. Choose a 50 or 60 weight cotton thread to keep the thread bulk to a minimum.

3.     What thread brand do you like to use?

 
Photo courtesy of www.aurifil.com

Photo courtesy of www.aurifil.com

 

I like to use either an Aurifil Mako 50/2 or Mettler silk-finish cotton. I use cones for my piecing thread as I go through it quite quickly and it is more economical to buy it this way. Whatever thread you use for piecing be sure that it is a quality thread. You wouldn’t put cheap fabrics in your quilt, so don’t cheap out on your piecing thread!

For more information on thread choices for piecing, click on the image below.

What is your preferred thread to use in your quilt tops? Leave me a comment below to let me know.

Creatively,

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P.S. Are you serious about improving your quilting? Do you want to connect with other committed quilters in a supportive, safe environment?  If you answered “yes” to these questions, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!

DIY Studio Storage Ideas

There are lots of “made for quilting” storage items, but you don’t need to spend money for specialty storage solutions for your quilt studio. Look for alternative storage solutions that you may already have in your home to use in your quilt studio.

 
Studio storage overview.jpg
 

If you’re like me you probably have a few UFO’s (WIP’s as I optimistically like to call them) in your studio and you need a way to keep all the fabrics and notions together until you are ready to work on that particular project. Pizza boxes or similar flat boxes work well for storing WIP’s.

In my studio, I use clock boxes that I brought home from the school I work at. These were going to be recycled, but I recognized their potential and rescued them. They fit perfectly in the Billy bookcases that I use to store my fabric. I use a Frixion pen to write the project name and information on the box so I can erase this and reuse the box for another WIP.

 
 

Keeping my WIP’s in boxes like these allows me to stack them on a shelf and they are then organized. This allows me to pull out a box when I want to work on that project.

 
Storage boxes in bookcase 1.jpg
 

As I do hand embroidery, I like to have my needles, threads, thimbles, and other hand sewing items in a small container. I’ve found the perfect box for this purpose: a Purdy’s chocolate tin! Not only do I get to enjoy the delicious chocolates, but the tin is the perfect size to hold all my stitching items. A double win!

 
 

If you don’t have a Purdy’s near you (they are a Canadian company), you might be able to recycle other similar tins or boxes. Another example is the peanut brittle box that I saved. It’s larger and has a magnetic closure that I really like. This works well for small project pieces, such as half-square triangles or EPP (English Paper Piecing). Makes you look at food containers in a whole new light!

Consider other furniture pieces that you might have in your home for storage or cutting or pressing stations. In my studio, my cutting table is actually old kitchen cabinets that we repurposed into a cutting table and storage area. My pressing station is an Ikea table top with storage cubbies underneath and the pressing mat itself was custom made to the size I needed.

If you’d like to make your own pressing mat, click here for a step-by-step tutorial.

For more information on storage containers that I use in my quilt studio, click on the image below.

The money you save by recycling alternative items to use in your studio can be used to buy fabric, notions or those specialty items that you actually need - and that’s a win too!

Creatively,

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P.S. Are you serious about improving your quilting? Do you want to connect with other committed quilters in a supportive, safe environment?  If you answered “yes” to these questions, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!

Note: I am an Amazon affiliate and, if you purchase items by clicking through the links in this post ,I will receive a small amount of commission. You won’t pay any more $$ for these items, but it will help me to continue creating free content for you. Thanks!

Best Ideas for Bonus Half-Square Triangles

I love using “bonus” half-square triangles (HST’s) in projects. If you don’t know what a “bonus” HST is, let me explain.

 
HST Trapezoid.jpg
 

When making stitch and flip projects (click here for a playlist that includes several block variations using this technique), you can create bonus HST’s when you clip off the excess fabric at the corners. I take these bonus HST’s and keep then in a bin so they are ready when I want to use them in a completely new project.

I found some interesting ideas for projects in the books I have in my quilting library. Simply Charmed, a table runner design by Sherri McConnell, in Lucky Charm Quilts by Moda All-Stars would be a perfect project for my bonus HST’s. 

Photo courtesy of Martingale Publishing

Photo courtesy of Martingale Publishing

Another idea is Boden, a wall hanging in Teach Me to Sew Triangles by Pat Sloan uses all HST’s and can be stitched up as a single block or combined together in multiples to make a larger project.

 
Photo courtesy of Martingale Publishing

Photo courtesy of Martingale Publishing

 

 The nice thing about using HST’s is that you can use them in a project even if the pattern instructions call for a different size of HST’s. The arrangement of the HST’s will be the same, the project just might finish at a smaller or larger size. Note: This assumes that the pattern calls for HST’s of all the same size, not a combination of various different sizes of HST’s.

It’s easy to create your own HST designs. Click on the image below to see some of the various blocks that you can create with HST’s.

 What do you do with your bonus HST’s? Leave me a comment below to let me know.

Creatively,

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Note: I am an Amazon affiliate and, if you purchase items by clicking through the links in this post ,I will receive a small amount of commission. You won’t pay any more $$ for these items, but it will help me to continue creating free content for you. Thanks!

P.S. Are you serious about improving your quilting? Do you want to connect with other quilters in a supportive, safe environment?  If you answered “yes” to these questions, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!

Easy Valentine's Day Heart Ornament

Valentine’s Day may still be a month away, but it’s never too early to start making heart-felt ornaments to decorate your quilt studio.

 
Heart Ornament.jpg
 

This is a project that only uses a bit of fabric, batting, and ribbon or trim for the hanging loop. Once you have these materials assembled, it’s time to go to your sewing machine to stitch it up.

I used the monogram feature and decorative stitches on the Janome MC9400 to embellish a sweet heart ornament. It’s easy to do and so fun to personalize by creating the phrases that are most “Valentine-y” to you. To learn more about using these features on the Janome MC9400, click here.

I recommend that you create and stitch out your phrases on a trial piece of quilt sandwich so you’ll be sure that they are exactly the way you want them to be before stitching them on your “real” ornament. I created “XOXO” (hugs and kisses), “Kisses” and “Sweetheart” with the monogram feature on the Janome MC9400 to use on my ornament. I stitched these out in various fonts until I found the ones that I liked the best. I was then all ready to add them to my heart ornament.

 
Valentine's XOXOXO.jpg
 

With several hundred decorative stitches available to use on the Janome MC9400, it was tough to determine which ones I wanted to use, so I kept it simple: I used some hearts (D13) and then chose one of the stitches in the Decorative category (D21) for the edge stitching. While it’s easy to get carried away with the decorative stitches, try not to do this or you’ll lose the effect of them on this size of ornament. For this project, simple is the best way to go.

 
Valentine - Edge Stitch.jpg
 

For all the details on how to create your own heart ornament in time for Valentine’s Day, click on the image below for the video tutorial.

 What words or phrases would you use on your Valentine’s Day ornament? Let me know in the comments below.

Creatively,

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P.S. Do you want to enhance your quilting and connect with other quilters from around the world?  If you answered “yes” to this question, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!

How to Bury Your Quilting Threads

Want to learn an invisible way to end your quilting stitches? I have a secret weapon: the self-threading needle.

If you haven’t heard of a self-threading needle, it doesn’t really thread itself, but it’s the next best thing! A self-threading needle has an open part at the top which allows you to snap the thread into it so you don’t have to struggle with getting your thread through a tiny eye. This notion comes in so handy when you want to have an invisible end to a line of quilting.

Now, in all honesty, I have to say that I don’t always bury my threads. If I’m able to start and stop my quilting stitches off of the quilt top - in the batting and backing - I’ll do this and there’s no need to lock my stitches, but, if it is a special project or show quilt, burying your threads is a must and this is where the self-threading needle comes in.

In order to have an invisible end to your quilting stitches, you need to leave additional top and bobbin thread to work with. You’ll take these threads and know them about 1/8” above the quilt top. Next you’ll take the thread tails and snap them into the top of the self-threading needle. Once they’re in, you will slide your needle back into the quilt sandwich, trying to go back in at or near the last stitch. Don’t take your needle all the way through the quilt - you just want to go into the batting. Slide your needle along inside the quilt sandwich and pop out about 2” away from where you entered it. Give a quick little pull on the thread and you should hear it “pop” into the quilt sandwich. You can now cut off your thread ends close to the quilt top.

See, I told you it was easy! For more information, click on the image below to see a video of how I bury my quilting threads.

This leaves such a nice finish to your quilting stitches, but it does take a bit of extra time. If you haven’t tried burying your quilt stitches, why not get a self-threading needle and give it a try?

Creatively,

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Note: I am an Amazon affiliate and, if you purchase items by clicking through the links in this post, I will receive a small amount of commission. You won’t pay any more $$ for these items, but it will help me to continue creating free content for you. Thanks!

P.S. Do you want to join a supportive group of quilters who are all working to improve their quilting? If you answered “yes” to this question, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!