Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hand Quilting with Embroidery Floss

I'm hand quilting this green and blue Buckeye Beauty with embroidery floss -- a scrappy combination of greens and blues, just like the fabric in the quilt.  My floss box is overflowing with skeins bought through the years and left unused.  Why not put some of it into a quilt!

I've spent several years hand quilting with thread, decreasing my needle length over the years, practicing for small, regular stitches.  (With limited and slow success, I might add.)


But now with a longer needle and bigger thread it seems just as impossible to make long, even stitches.


I'm outlining the triangles a quarter inch (more or less) from their edges and stitching diagonally across the small squares.

About quilting with embroidery floss:  a needle with three strands does not pull through as easily as I thought it would.  And it tends to tangle toward the end.  I'm not ready to judge against it yet, though.  Maybe I need to knot the other end....  I thought about waxing it but then wondered about getting beeswax on the fabric and whether that would spread and/or stain.  I also thought about using two strands instead of three but since I've been using three, I'll continue with three for this quilt.  I'll write more about hand quilting with floss when I've had more experience with it.

I finished cutting triangles and squares for 32 more red Buckeye Beauty blocks.


I've sewn the first seam in the squares and triangles on about half the blocks.  Sew, press, pin, stitch, press again and they'll all get done.  I'm looking forward to laying them out to see what a red/pink/coral/burgundy/rose quilt will look like.

I'm linking this post to
> Let's Bee Social #164 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> WOW at Esther's Blog
> Midweek Makers #59 at Quilt Fabrication
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
.

20 comments:

  1. Great idea for using up all of that floss we have amassed!! Let us know how it turns out! What size/type needle are you using? Maybe try some Thread Heaven? Happy quilting!

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    1. I'm hoping the variety of greens in the floss will work out okay with the greens and blues in the quilt blocks, Jennie. I suppose (hope!), by the time it's washed and dried, the floss colors won't stand out too much.
         I don't know what kind of needle I'm using, but it's 1 1/2" long and has a slightly larger eye than a quilting needle. Once needles come out of the package I can't tell them apart, except by length and size of hole. I know the little 10 quilting needle will feel very small when I use it again.
         I remember you've mentioned Thread Heaven before but I haven't gotten around to buying any. One of these days I will. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  2. I think your big stitching looks great--much better than my attempts ever have!
    Your next Buckeye quilt color scheme sounds yummy, even though I really do like the one you are currently quilting.

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    1. Thanks, Janet. My stitches are so irregular. I keep trying to go back to tiny quilting stitches and then remember I should be making them larger. No matter how I think about this quilt, it will definitely be scrappy, in many ways!

      I'm going to lay out those red-range blocks tomorrow and see what I think. I'm thinking a smaller quilt than the green/blue one but if I love how it looks, I may make more blocks to make it larger.

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  3. You're hand quilting looks great on this - love that it shows up! Thank you for sharing on Midweek Makers

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    1. Thanks, Susan. I just hope those big stitches do not detract from the overall look of the quilt. It's risky to use a high-contrast thread when the quilting is so uneven. Thanks for hosting Midweek Makers.

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  4. A great way to use up floss colours! I usually use 2 strands as I find 3 strands get tangled easier.

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    1. Hi, Kathy. I deliberated about how many strands to use. In a pinch I used embroidery floss to sew on a button once because I didn't have a matching color of thread but I found that the floss wasn't strong enough to hold through more than two washings. So I thought the three strands would be better -- and another quilter who'd used floss before recommended it. I'm also trying to decide if the tangles come because I twist the needle slightly, my thread is too long, or I've knotted the wrong end. So I'm playing around. And I may try two strands for a block or two and see how it works. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  5. I have a hard time getting my long stitches to look even too. I'm interested in your progress and hearing your thoughts on using embroidery floss. The quilt is looking great BTW. I think three strands is just right for this quilt. I like the way the floss stitches contrast with the fabric they are being stitched upon. I bet you're having fun.

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    1. Thanks, Robin. I think I mentioned to someone else that uneven stitches with high contrast thread may not be the best choice, but I tell myself the stitches will be less obvious after washing and drying. I hope I'm right! I am having fun with this, especially because it seems to be going more quickly than regular quilting. Not like I'll finish it in two weeks, but I don't think it will take months to finish the quilting.

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  6. Love your big stitch quilting! I do tend to cut a short thread now, if it's too long it tangles. And lately I've been visualising a 'grain of rice' to get my stitch lengths a bit more even.. sometimes it works, sometimes not!

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    1. Thank you, Linda. What a great idea to think of a grain of rice for the stitch length. I thought (wrongly) that a longer needle would prevent small stitches but it hasn't, and I keep having to remind myself that I'm going for longer stitches. Maybe by the time I'm finished with this quilt muscle memory will have taken over and my stitches will be more even.

      I've been thinking about the tangled thread and have several ideas why it's happening. When I began knotting the other end of the floss the tangles lessened, but I also think I unconsciously turn the needle in my fingers, when in turn twists the thread just a little. I have nearly a whole quilt to figure it out!

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing....I've been trying hand quilting for the first time. I have been using embroidery floss as well. I'm interested in continuing to read your thoughts on this process.

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    1. Are you enjoying hand quilting, Mia? I found it hard when I first started but it's gotten easier as I've kept at it. I like using the embroidery floss but have to keep reminding myself that I'm trying for longer than usual stitches. I'll post more about quilting with floss in the future.

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  8. Your big stitch quilting looks yummy, hope you persevere and carry on.

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    1. Thank you, Louisa. I hope my big stitches improve with practice and become more even. I will definitely finish this quilt with the floss but I'm not yet committing to another quilt with floss and/or big stitches. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  9. LOVE that you are experimenting with your old floss! Looking forward to seeing your final review about the technique.

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    1. Hi, Joyful. I will write a post about using floss after I've experimented and learned a little more about how best to use it, what makes it easier, etc.

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  10. Interesting. My mother always tied with 6-strands of floss, but I don't know that I've known anyone who quilted with it. It sounds like a great way to use up those odds and ends, and this is the perfect quilt for it. I think the quilting looks fine. This isn't heirloom feathers on a white background, and both the floss and the size seem really appropriate for the quilt. Have you tried a needle with a bigger eye? It seems to me it's easier to pull perle threads with needles that have larger eyes - they make a little bigger hole to pull through. I would imagine the 3 strands of floss might behave the same way.

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    1. Hi, Susan. How right you are about this quilt not being heirloom feathers! It's scrappy all the way, a quilt to be used and worn out with use.

      I'm using a needle that's 1 1/2" long and has an eye that's probably large enough for 6 strands of floss. As it is, it's sometimes hard to pull through, especially near the seams where there's an extra layer of fabric. So I don't know if a needle with a larger eye would be better or not. Maybe I'll give it a try, and also a needle with a smaller eye (maybe). This is all a first for me so I'm trying to see what works and what doesn't and what's best. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and suggestions.

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I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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