Saturday, October 26, 2013


Not More Shoes – More Feet!

This month the fabulous Thrilling Threads Ladies helped me work through a class on how to use sewing machine feet. We made a wall hanging which exhibited many of our machines’ utility stitches as well as decorative stitches quilters seldom use. The goal of having a “Foot” class for quilters was twofold: (1) it demonstrated many of the clever feet that could be used for various quilting needs; and (2) many of the stitches which have wonderful and exciting effects for quilts, we never consider using. When these two elements were brought together with many FABULOUS SUPERIOR THREADS, the effects added to quilts and other sewing projects were endless! The ladies left thinking about how they would use all the various feet, stitches and THREAD for their next project.

Sew, what were the winners after two full classes on feet? I am going to list all the feet used on a special page entitled FANCY FEET. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • ·        The humble Standard Foot (especially if it has that little black button) is actually an amazing “go-to” foot for quilters. It has a wide footprint which helps hold a wide area of fabric down against the feed dogs. The button (if you are lucky enough to have one), can hold the foot ridged and flat for use going over fat, raised seams. It also has a fairly deep tunnel to allow a fat seam to travel easily beneath the foot. The Standard Foot (A-Foot for many), is one of the best feet to use for many decorative stitches because we now have such versatility using needle positions. Our quilters discovered that re-visiting this often-neglected standard foot offered some great uses for quilters. One other added benefit to the standard foot would be to check and see if it or the ankle has that little hole in the back allowing one of those quilting bars often coming with walking feet to be attached. This expands the use of the standard foot to allow for even placement of decorative or regular stitches in quilting.

  • ·         In comparison, using the Open Toe Foot (which is a foot commonly used for decorative stitches) is NOT THE BEST selection for decorative stitches. While the open toe foot provides great visibility, it actually does not press down on the feed dogs as firmly as the standard foot. This information means consideration for the type of stitch to be used on specific fabric thicknesses combined with the type or weight of thread used. There will be occasions to go to the open toe foot on a thick quilt, but not necessarily on a single, or thin piece of applique. While the “tunnel” beneath the foot is decent, the foot itself may not provide enough pressure against feed dogs to allow control of movement. What is a great foot to go to for applique? Find out if your machine company makes a specialty “Applique” foot. That foot has a deep tunnel to allow thick thread to travel easily beneath it, is clear plastic for easy visibility, and is incredibly “stubby.” Yes, stubby is great! This allows the foot to negotiate curves and corners much easier than the typical open toe foot we all thought was an applique foot!
  • ·         THREAD. The right thread for the right stitches makes all the difference. Most quilters are so set in their ways, they just pick up the thread they are using at the time to use specialty or decorative stitches. Often the stitch may look skimpy, not filled in correctly, or over-filled. Thread makes the difference and sewers need To remember when selecting thread that it is ALL ABOUT THE PROJECT, or “stitch” in this instance. Specifically, if using a beautiful, artsy stitch with a lot of flowers or detail, don’t use a thick thread. A thick thread won’t make all the delicate turns as sharp as the sewer would like. On the other hand, if sewing a simpler design perhaps with filled-in effects, using a thicker thread will ensure filled-in elements are in fact, filled-in completely.
  •  Using the right thread was also most apparent when using the “Hand-Look” stitches. These stitches are the triple-stitch, saddle stitch, and perhaps more, depending on the machine. These stitches work well when tension is tightened and a fat, thick thread is used in the bobbin (such as So Fine #40ä, or another SUPERIOR #40 thread). Using a strong polyester monofilament like MonoPolyä through the needle to “draw-up” the bobbin thread to the top of the project completes a perfect hand-look effect.  Also remember to think about what effect shiny or matte thread would play on the project.
    Just think about it. For years quilters and sewers just picked up the thread they were using last, or the most convenient spool or color of thread without giving a bit of notice to the type or weight of thread. STOP DOING THAT

    Think about the project, which foot would be the best (or which foot could do it better?) and which thread is going to provide the best effect. With all the threads rolling around in most quilters’ drawers, settling for skinny, dull, unappealing stitches is no longer necessary. 
  •  STABILIZER. The very last thing we all discovered was using stabilizer for quilting projects. No one gives a thought to "stabilizer," because many believe stabilizer is for garments and embroidery. There are so many times that using a sheer, all-purpose PELLON® will change irregular stitches, eyelets, satin stitches, and decorative stitches into perfect works of art! Quilters have forgotten that mystery element we all used when we learned to sew. It doesn't take much, just the right kind of stabilizer placed in the right spot to support those beautiful thread works of art. ALWAYS keep plain old PELLON in your stash for emergencies when no matter what you do; the right foot, the right thread, and the stitch is still miserable, a little PELLON®  goes a long way to fix lumpy, bumpy stitches! Personally, I make sure I always have Pellon® 910 Sew-in Featherweight or 911FF Fusible. I pick it up at least 5 yards when it goes on sale. Watch for more about stabilizers in my upcoming blogs. I will set up a special page when our class does the "stabilizer" class.

    THINK about the project, THEN reach into the thread drawer and select the right thread, the right needle, and the foot that works best for the project.

Sew, I leave you with this today . . . THINK
about the project, THEN reach into the thread drawer and select the right thread, the right needle, and the foot that works best for the project. Who knows? You may find out a dab of stabilizer helps too!