BEGIN WITH THREAD
“If you begin with thread, you’re halfway home.” ~Sheila Hicks
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This inspirational video covers an amazing thread art installation
from beginning to end by Sheila Hicks.
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A sewing lesson from The Spiders ~
How long does it take a spider to become really good at webs?
I was chatting with a friend at the weekend. She’s probably a couple of years into her sewing career and we discussed some of the challenges. ‘Part of it,’ I said, ‘is that you just need to get a lot of sewing hours under your belt.’
There’s a popular conceit that it takes 10,000 hours to become really good at something. Is this true? After five years of sewing, I’m nowhere near that! But I do think that better sewing is about more sewing.
I realised it might help to touch on some of the frustrations my friend has felt as she’s patiently taught herself how to sew.
I Sew Clothes That I Don’t Wear
This is really common. You toil for hours to complete an item … and then it languishes in a drawer. Why? There are two main answers: you’re…
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HOW TO IRON EMBROIDERY
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Video “How to Iron Embroidery”
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THREADS 101 – Part 2
Weight, ply and needles.
By Jenn Long
WEIGHT AND MEASURES
Thread weights are pretty confusing. There are many different ways manufacturers determine the weights and measurements of threads.
Most thread in U.S. stores print the thread weight on the spool. Some sources state that this system is actually a length system, i.e. how many meters equal one gram. However, all one needs to remember is the smaller the number the THICKER the thread. Commonly used are 12wt, 30wt, 40wt, 50wt, and 60wt. This system is not entirely dependable because one brand will have 50wt which could actually be different from another brand. We will go into greater details about these weights in the next section.
Denier relates to weight in grams of 9000m of thread. A larger number indicates a heavier thread. This is usually applied to the fineness of silk, rayon, or nylon yarns.
Thread Tex relates to weight in grams of 1000m of thread. Larger Tex numbers are heavier threads. This method is becoming more and more the new standard. Wiki Article
When comparing threads, make sure you use a consistent standard of measurement.
Generally, 40 wt =240 denier=Tex 25.
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There is no reason to talk about thread without considering needles. Generally, you match the type of needle to the fabric. Jeans needles for denim, etc. But the size of needle should correlate with your thread.
Schmetz, a leader in the sewing needle industry states that 40wt/240 denier/Tex 25 all work in a size 75/11 needle. Schmetz also advises that the diameter of the eye of the needle should be 40% larger than the diameter of the thread. A bit confusing? Yes. So in plain-talk, consider a larger needle when using threads heavier than 40wt/240denier/tex25. Consider using a smaller needle when using finer threads.
Yep you have seen it but what in the world does it mean!? We are not talking about toilet paper, but thread ply. When thread is made, the ply refers to how many strands are twisted around to make the thread. A 3-ply will be stronger then a 2-ply. You may see on a spool 50/2 or a 50/3. This means it is 50wt thread but one is 2 ply and the other is 3. This is why measuring by weight (although it is really length) is not accurate. A 50/2 will be lighter thread then a 50/3.
Stay tuned for Threads 101 – Part 3
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Sewing Threads by the Number
101- Part 1
By Jenn Long
Threads, threads, and more threads! Why are there so many different kinds and types of thread?! Not all thread is created equal. There are more factors into selecting thread then just matching the thread color. Trying to sort out what is what can be overwhelming for anyone. Picking the right thread can make or break your project as well as your sanity.
So let us start with the basics. When it comes to thread there are a few rules to help guide you. However, as with all rules, they seem to be made just to be then broken! These rules are very general and there is always someone out there that does it differently.
MATCH YOUR THREAD TO YOUR FABRIC SHADE
In an act of breaking the first rule…I actually go one to two shades darker. It tends to blend in much more once it is sewn up. Something to remember is that colors will vary between brands. “Canary” color in one brand will not be the same in another brand or even a different dye lot of the same brand. When buying thread, buy enough to complete your project. Taking the chance of running out of thread and getting a different dye lot may ruin your project. This is especially true with machine embroidery. Not to mention that if you are like me and sew at 1:00 am while the kids are in bed is not convenient to run out of the thread at that time!
MATCH YOUR THREAD TO YOUR MATERIAL
Next is to match your thread with your material and use. For example, silk thread for silk fabric and cotton for quilting cotton woven, etc. This is where it can get murky. It is hard to know what your material consists of in this day of up-cycling.
If you are unsure, sticking with all-purpose polyester such as Mettler Metrosene Plus is probably your best bet. Generally, garment sewers like to also use all-purpose polyester like Metrosene Plus.
DO NOT USE CHEAP OR OLD THREAD
This next rule I never break. Don’t use cheap or old thread. As cute as it is to have grandmothers wooden spool of thread on your machine, it will break repeatedly, leave a ton of lint inside your machine which leads to more repairs. The money you save buying cheap thread will be sucked up in your purchase of Advil in order to be able to deal with all the thread dilemmas you have granted yourself. This I have learned from experience!
THREAD STORAGE AND ORGANIZATION MATTERS
I love the online images of highly organized sewing and craft rooms. In reality, sewing rooms rarely look like that. We try to but it just doesn’t happen! It reminds me of when you see pictures of a beautiful newborn baby and there is mom…hair done, make-up flawless, no bags under the eyes, fully dressed and not in P.J.s. Yeah right! In real life, our sewing rooms are a mess and we invest just as much time trying to keep it organized (or at least entertaining the thought) then we do actually using the room. It is very pretty to see an entire wall decorated with a rainbow of threads. Pinterest is absolutely covered with awesome craft rooms like that.
DUST FREE THREAD AND FABRIC ARE A MUST
However pretty and convenient, sewing rooms are hard to keep clean and nothing will age your thread faster than dust! Dust on threads will be carried into your tension disks of your machine and lead to repairs. Although it is easy to see all your threads on the wall, keeping them in some kind of container dust free is best. Sulky as well as other thread manufactures make boxes to keep the threads organized, labeled, and dust free such as Sulky Slimline box.
Stay tuned for Thread 101 (Part 2) by Jenn Long