Tag Archives: tip

Anatomy of a Strand of Thread: Tips and Tutorials Tuesday

Welcome to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday! I’m hosting today while my dear friend Stephanie over at Late Night Quilter is traveling with her family.

One of the perks of quilting retreats and other social sewing is that little tips are tossed around. Today I’m going to share a very simple yet important tip about using the thread you cut from a spool during hand stitching. As a self-taught sewist, these are the bits of knowledge that I miss, since rarely are there blog posts about the bare basics of sewing. While basting our needle-turn applique projects around the table at the Slow Stitching Retreat, I caught this important tip:

anatomy of a spool of threadUse the thread in the same direction it comes off the spool. The tail end that you pull to unravel your length of thread should be the side you thread through your needle. The end that you cut should be the knot end. This way, you are pulling the thread through the fabric in the intended direction, which works with the ply of the thread instead of against. Using the thread in the proper direction significantly decreases tangles and twists while stitching. Simple, right?!

I never knew that it mattered which end was which, so I didn’t pay attention while cutting my thread lengths. Now, when I’m pre-threading a bunch of needles for a good binding or hand stitching session, I thread each needle as the thread is cut instead of accumulating a nice pile of threads and then grabbing any which end to thread through the needle.

Stephanie’s Tips and Tutorials link ups from previous weeks are filled to the brim with great time savers, tricks, and how-to’s. I’d definitely recommend browsing them with your Pinning finger ready. how to make your own sewing tags vini vidi vickyOne of my favorites from last week was this tutorial by Veni Vidi Vicky on how to make your own sewing tags (which could easily be adapted to making your own quilt labels!). She gives great step by step instructions on how to use Spoonflower, which is something I’ve been tempted to do but have yet to try.

Now it’s your turn! Do you have any little tips or great tutorials to share this week?  If you do, please link up below!

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Hand Stitching Preparedness {Tip}

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of hand stitching, between finishing the piecing of my English Paper Pieced table runner, and stitching the pieced Lucy Boston blocks down to the border fabric to complete my table runner quilt top. During the past weeks, I learned two tricks that have helped streamline the process, and I’d like to share them with you today. I’ll call it “hand stitching preparedness” since it seems pretty logical, even if both tips were revelations to me.

hand stitching preparednessThe first tip came in the form of an Instagram post by Carole Lyles Shaw (@carole_lylesshaw), a simple photo of a few pre-threaded and knotted needles stuck into the arm of the couch to help streamline her binding while watching a game on TV.  I saw this and a lightbulb went off in my brain: duh!!

Before sitting down with your hand stitching, whether it be EPP, hand applique, or quilt binding, pre-thread and knot a few needles and have them ready and waiting within reach.

You can keep them in a pincushion nearby (photo above)…

pre threaded and knotted needles on a needle minder
The adorable needle minder was made by @whatthebobbin on Instagram.

or you can keep them on a needle minder on your actual work…

pre threaded and knotted needles in the couch armor you can just stick them into the arm of the couch right next to you.

hand stitching with napping baby in lapThis tip came in particularly handy since I was doing my hand stitching with my sleeping baby in my lap and my scissors, thread, and other sewing tools way up high on top of the bookcase, out of reach of my curious and busy 3 year old. Talk about a game changer! I was able to finish stitching down the blocks without waking my babe or having to juggle a sleeping baby, scissors, and sewing needles to cut new threads as I progressed.

cutting threads in advance
Stunning needlebook made by @mara_makes… isn’t that thread holder awesome!?

One additional bit of advice I’ll add to this tip is to lay your threads out neatly and separately when cutting them to pre-thread your needles. If you cut them and lay them on top of each other, they *may* make a tangled mess before you can thread the needles successfully.

tangled mess of threadsAsk me how I know this 😉

And finally, learning how to tie a quilter’s knot has saved me a lot of time with my recent hand stitching. That’s one of the downfalls of being a primarily self-taught sewist: you miss the simple basic tricks that well versed quilters take for granted. My friend Stephanie at Late Night Quilter posted this video tutorial a couple weeks ago, and I’ve made dozens of quilter’s knots since.

Happy stitching!

I’m linking up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday over at Late Night Quilter.

Tutorial: Embroidery Floss Organization Made Easy

In the weeks leading up to QuiltCon (yes, I’m still talking about it), the Instagram hashtag #quiltconprep made it easy to see what others were doing to get ready for the big event. During those mad dash prep days, one of my IG friends posted a picture of a whole bunch of 2.5″ fabric squares of Carolyn Friedlander fabrics that she had cut in preparation for Carolyn’s Aerial Grove class. She noted that all she needed was a few squares of the architextures crosshatch and she’d have enough for a fully-Carolyn Friedlander aerial grove. What does this have to do with embroidery floss? I’m getting there! Long story short, I offered to give some squares to her at QuiltCon, and when she asked what she could give me in return, I said “knowledge.” I asked her to share a tip or trick that she found particularly helpful. It’s such a useful tip that I decided to share it here, with her permission, of course! Today’s tip was taught to me by Rebecca Cleaver (@cleaverr on Instagram), who learned it from Maura Ambrose (@folkfibers).

tutorial embroidery floss organization made easy

How to Organize and Store Embroidery Floss
So that it’s super quick and easy to use!

I’ve seen cringe-worthy photos of tangled piles of embroidery floss, and I admit that I am not that person. Even before learning this tip, I stored my floss on a wooden dowel, hanging in its original skein. This looked pretty, but when it was time to actually use a strand, that’s when it became tricky. I’d have to take all of the skeins off the dowel and gently and painstakingly remove a thread a tiny tug at a time (yes, I’m nutty).

embroidery floss organization tip

Here’s a much better way.

Step 1:

Embroidery floss tutorial Step 1- Remove papers and unwind skeinCarefully remove the paper holding the skein together and untwist the skein.

Step 2:

Step 2- Extend flossExtend the floss, holding the fully extended loop in your hands.

Step 3:

Step 3- Cut one endCut one end, cutting through all of the embroidery floss strands.

It should now look like this:

IMG_9732

 Step 4:

Step 4- Divide into 3 equal sectionsDivide the floss into three approximately equal sections. This doesn’t have to be perfect; I didn’t sit and count out the strands to make it perfect. If that’s your thing, then feel free to do so, but just eyeing it will be sufficient.

Step 5:

Step 5- Loosely braid (1)Loosely braid the three sections together.  If you have a willing and capable helper, you could ask them to hold the looped end while you braid. My 2 1/2 year old was not willing today, so I used an “S” hook to hold the looped end while I braided. You can hook the “S” hook on just about anything, but I used the cuff of my jeans. Here’s a behind the scenes peek:

hook to cuff of pants to braid

Step 6:

Step 7-Using a separate, short length of floss, tie a knot around the end of your braid to hold it in place.

Now you have your floss,  ready to hang in an aesthetically awesome, organized way, AND ready to go whenever you need a strand.

Here comes the really awesome part!

How To Remove a Strand of Floss from your Braid

Holding the top of your braid, gently pull one strand away from the rest of the loop.

removing strand of floss from braidThen, get a bit better grasp on the rest of the braid–no need for a vice grip, just hold it steady as you pull out the single strand–and pull the strand out completely.

Pull strand of embroidery floss out of braidThe braid will bunch up when you pull, so don’t be alarmed. Once the single strand is out, just smooth out your braid again and you’re ready to go. Your floss is the perfect length for some hand quilting or embroidery, and the rest of your floss is sitting pretty in its braid.

Single thread removed from embroidery floss braid

Go ahead and braid all of your other skeins of floss, and you will never have a tangled pile of embroidery floss again!Rainbow embroidery floss braids

I think this method is genius, since now not only is my floss gorgeously organized and displayed, but I can get a single strand without even taking the braid off the wooden dowel!

rainbow floss braids on wooden dowelI just hold the braid right below the dowel, separate a single strand, pull, and viola! No muss, no fuss.

Many thanks to Rebecca for sharing this tip, and I hope you find it helpful, too. I’m linking up with Stephanie & Michelle’s Tips & Tutorials Tuesday.

Did you know about this tip? How do you store and organize your embroidery floss?