February 2, 2014

Managing Monofilament

I'm not a great lover of monofilament thread, but it seemed perfect for a project I wanted to quilt. As the fabrics I was using were dark, I purchased a brand new spool of good quality smoke thread.

I've used monofilament a few times before, so I had picked up a few tips along the way - use polyester thread in the bobbin and lower the needle tension by at least two.  I did a few sample test runs to get the tension just right and it all looked good.  HOWEVER, every time I started stitching on my quilt, the thread broke!  I tried four or five times. Each time I would think, this time we are OK, but after 4 or 5 inches, snap again. In the end, I put the thread away deciding it must have been in the shop for a long time and had become brittle. It was our Church banner I was working on, and I ended up quilting it with black cotton thread:

Last week, I was ready to quilt a wall-hanging with lots of ditch stitching and thought about that smoke monofilament again. It really was just the right thread for this project. Same process - a sample to get the tension correct. Same result - broken thread after just a few inches. Then I had an AHA moment!

I recently enrolled in one of the Craftsy free online classes called Piece, Patch, Quilt.  It is a really basic course but I thought that there is always something new one can learn. And I did!  I wasn't aware that thread is wound onto spools in different ways. Did you know that?  Threads are either cross-wound or stacked. Cross-wound thread, forming an X on the spool, winds off from the centre and is best if the spool lies horizontally, which is the way I always place my thread on my Bernina 440. However, stacked thread, running parallel around the spool, comes off the top and therefore the spool should sit vertically. 

I had a good look at that monofilament again. Sure enough, it is a stacked thread. Maybe that is why it didn't cope with being laid horizontally on the machine. It was worth a try changing it to an upright position ... hey presto! ... would you believe, I quilted the whole wall quilt with no breaking thread problems whatever!  (I forgot to take a photo, so here's something else pretty to look at:)

There are a couple of other things you can try with monofilament also. Sometimes a metallic needle works better than a standard one and if you are having a problem with the bobbin thread showing on the right side, and you have a front loader bobbin, you can try threading the cotton through the hole in the end of the bobbin case which gives it just a little added tension. I hope some of those hints help in your managing of monofilament.

I love summer, not only for the lovely warm temperatures, but for the wonderful variety of fruit that is available - stone fruit, melons, grapes, mangoes etc. I always wish the season would last the whole year. Well it sort of does in our household. I have been preserving for 40 odd years on and off, so have been at it again over the last month.  We now have enough fruit for our morning cereal to last the whole year - about 50 bottles!

One of the side effects of summer is that the grass grows extra quickly! Our back yard was looking as if it needed quite a bit of attention, so my husband mowed yesterday while I took care of the edges. One lone little green ant did not like the fact that I invaded his territory so now I have a huge, hot, itchy, bite on my knee. I seem to be allergic to their stings and have tried all sorts of 'cures' over the years. The Vick's Vaporub doesn't seem to have worked this time, though I guess I should be thankful it has kept the swelling to about 2 inches. It's also ignoring the 'Stop Itch' cream, so I guess it's time to try something else!

Some more of my silk ribbon embroidery has appeared in Stunning Country Craft Vol 25 No 1:

The Wishing Well drawer sachet uses lovely Kacoonda hand-dyed silk ribbon and silk threads. I love working with such beautiful products:

Just looking at those flowers makes me want to get going on another silk ribbon project! I have one ready to go so hopefully it will happen this week.

Happy stitching.


Véronique Rose said...

votre bannière est vraiment magnifique, mignons les champignons.
les fruits stérilisés une bonne idée, je vais aussi le faire cet été.
douce journée

Farm Gate Creations Incorporating Hummingbird Quilting said...

Great tips with the monofilament Val.

Susan said...

That is one of those useful tips you just have to store away somewhere - and hope you can recall it when you need to - thanks,Val.

barcord said...

Thanks for your tips on using monofilament Val. I love your church banner. As one who is involved in making banners for our church buildings, I am interested in the dimensions of it. We have a tall space, and a max length of 80inches to work with. It is good to see the work of other church families.xx

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips on the thread.

I use Rescue Remedy by Bach for bites and itchy things and things that hurt. If you can get it you should try it on the bites.

Frances Leate said...

I am not a great lover of monofilament either but when I do use it I find it works best on my machine if I place the reel on a spool holder to the right of the machine so the thread has further to travel. This seems to help my tension. Lovely projects.

Shari said...

Great work...such lovely projects. Thanks for the tip on thread. My older babylock only worked with spool vertical, but my new Husqvarna Viking can work both vertically and horizontally. Grateful for this tip prior to having problems! Will look into that course on Craftsy. And surely you have tried many products, but I swear by Benadryl...I often use the cream on my hands for ecxema attacks or if I got egg on me when cooking for family (I am very allergic to them).

Cheryll said...

Oh WOW... I love your cushion...so pretty and delicate! :)

Susan In Texas said...

Your Wishing Well is simply gorgeous! I love silk ribbon embroidery, though I haven't done any in years.

Take care,
Susan in Texas

Anonymous said...

The wishing well is beautiful, as are the jars of fruit. I always love how they look lined up on the shelf. Veggies, too, though meat is not nearly as attractive. =) I knew about the thread, but never thought to look at monofilament. I'm not fond of it and almost never use it, but maybe the newer ones are better. It's been a long time since I tried some. Thanks for the reminder about that.

Arya Forel said...

It was magnific. Great job.

Angie in SoCal said...

Great post, Val. Good tips and lovely embroidery. What could be better. Thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

Your church banner is beautiful! Do you plan to offer the pattern?
Thank you,

Susie said...

very interesting about the thread. Thank you. I love the ribbon embroidery too.

Lline said...

You always do such beautiful work. I'm with you. The monofilament is a pain, but sometimes it's just the right thing to use. I'm a little worried about that bite. If each time you're bit it's worse than the last you might be working up to a big episode and need an Epi-pen handy. Only a doctor can tell you.