Spiderman and Invisibility (or how to quilt with invisible thread)

The thing about having a wee boy is that despite having all the loveliest fabrics imaginable and an itch to try out some really complex and beautiful quilting designs (Kaleidoscope quilt anyone?), your child will look at you, big brown eyes shining and say “Will you make me a Spiderman quilt, Mummy?” And then will proceed to pick out two almost identical, but crucially apparently NOT THE SAME, equally busy and very Spidermanny fabrics for front and back respectively. It’s done, he loves it and his mummy, I kept the fabric whole and added a border – it’s not in itself worth a blog post… except perhaps for the quilting.

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This is the “back” of the quilt where you can see the quilting. I chose to do loop and star quilting as Kiddo loves it, having seen it on a quilt I made for another wee boy; I can attest that it is much easier the second time round – once you get your head round it it seems it’s a piece of cake! I showed how to do loop and star quilting (on paper) here if you needed any pointers:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2014/10/24/bartholomeows-reef-bermuda-baby-boy-quilt/

But on the front of the quilt I used invisible thread:

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Looking at the other side (which is not invisible) now, I am not sure I needed to bother. But I was concerned about the busyness of the print clashing with the quilting thread and it all looking like a giant mess. Especially as one side was very dark (the other had more white/light blue and grey in it). But for whatever reason, I chose invisible thread, and it certainly looks cleaner, but with subtle texture and pattern.

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That’s the side quilted with invisible thread and the next is the side quilted in a pale blue:

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The difference is more noticeable in real life! (isn’t it always?)

Anyway, this is the second time I used invisible thread, the first being on a project for Kiddo’s school last year when I made a quilt from the children’s drawings (but camera failure deleted the photos – arrrrggggh), and for which invisible thread was pretty important. At that time, I trawled through blogs and websites to try and get some understanding on how to use it, and made notes. Notes which I followed again with success again, so if only for myself I thought I would write them here too!

NB. *Apologies for not being able to credit the sources, but it was last year and I read quite a lot of articles about it… A google search will bring up all my sources! I do remember a newsletter from Barnyarns being really helpful – they are so knowledgeable about threads and notions! And it is where I got my thread. *

http://www.barnyarns.co.uk

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How to Quilt with Invisible Thread

  1. Invisible thread is either nylon (A.K.A. polyamide) or polyester. Polyester sews more like very fine thread and won’t melt as easily with an iron, so I decided to use it. I have some nylon invisible thread and it feels stiff, a bit more like wire but some folk prefer it apparently. The thread I used is called Superior MonoPoly clear very fine polyester, from Barnyarns. I used this as my top thread. It’s superfine but my Janome handled it easily.
  2. You CANNOT use invisible thread in your bobbin. It will stretch, break and tangle inside your machine. The tension would be all over the place even as you wind it. You need a very fine but strong polyester. I used The Bottom Line by Libby Lehrman for Superior Threads in my bobbin (I think Barnyarns recommended it as I got it from there too!) and it worked really well. It’s very fine (a 60 weight), but strong and I had no problems. You could try a 50 weight too but probably nothing thicker (the bigger the number, the finer the thread).
  3. Because invisible thread is a monofilament (one strand, not 2 or 3 ply), it is extremely fine (and stretchy). This means you need a very fine, very sharp needle. the thread will not expand to fill the hole made by a needle, unlike normal quilting thread, so you need a really fine needle like a size 70/10. If that’s not small enough try a size 60 (the smaller the number the finer the needle!). For sharpness use a microtex or a topstitch needle. I tried both and both worked well. I might say to go with a topstitch needle if you pushed me, but I doubt there’s a big difference. A 70/10 topstich needle was fine for me.
  4. I only free-motion quilted but I assume this next info is true for straight line quilting too. Turn the tension on your machine right down. because of the stretch, a normal tension will stretch and snap the thread. If your stitches are looking very very shiny and thin you will need to lower the tension even more. Experiment. On my Janome I had to reduce the tension to a 2.

and hopefully that’s it! Otherwise it was just like quilting with normal thread, and it feels like normal thread now it’s quilted.

I actually really like the thinness of the 60 wt bobbin thread too even though I usually only use 50 wt cotton – you can see the quilting but not too prominently (below). I need to do more experimenting!

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Phew! Hope that helps if you want to have a go with invisible thread, obviously there are loads of other options, I’m just saying what worked for me as I didn’t have any problems, but feel free to comment if you have any thoughts or experience with using invisible thread!

Happy sewing/crafting/drawing/art-making/life-making all.

Until the next time, Poppy xx

 

 

 

Tilda and Wedding Quilt Prettiness

OOOH, Tilda. Tilda to the UK born child of Indian parents means watching strange, brightly-coloured movies in an unknown language on grainy VHS with a beautiful Sari-ed lady in the advert in a rice field and the song “Tiii-lda Basmati” (the best rice, which I still buy now). And possibly the only understandable bit in the movie for my brother and me. But now it means this: 

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Soft, vintagey, floral, prettiness with both a modern freshness of colour and an authenticity you don’t often find in modern fabric lines which are so often “trying” to have a vintage feel but don’t quite make the grade.

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I admit the colours are not showing up well in our first-week-of-spring-cold-but -bright Scottish sunlight; you might have to trust me about the gentle romance of these fabrics. I used fat eighths of the Apple Bloom and Spring Lakes collections, but then took out the teal colours from Spring Lake and added Taupey-greys and Cadet blues from other Tilda collections.

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It is a commission quilt; my friend commissioned it as a wedding gift for a lovely girl whom I did actually meet once and I thought was fabulous. I had a telephone consultation with her, and they live in a whitewashed Scottish cottage with pale, duck-egg blues and ivory/ white colours. I just knew Tilda would be the right fit. Not the rice obviously.

The big squares were cut to 8.5″ and the smaller ones making up the 4-patches were 4.5″, and I just alternated them. You would need 13 fat quarters or 26 fat eighths or equivalent to make this quilt which finishes at 61″ square with a 3″(ish) border. It’s a great throw size – big enough for 2 on a sofa or someone to nap under.

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This is the back – Pernille in Cadet blue, pieced with some charms from the Tilda collection “Happiness is Homemade”.

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I really love the back! Almost more than the front, always disappointing when it takes a fifth of the time… The couple’s bedroom is duck-egg blue, so I am hoping that this will make up for the pinks and greens on the front of the quilt; a certain degree of reversibility. I hoped that the other colours would make this quilt fit into their home even if they re-decorated. They’re going to need to keep loving shabby-chic pastels though!

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I quilted it in a loop + swirl pattern, and if you look very carefully you can maybe see a “L + M” quilted in the middle (the couple’s initials). It’s not showing up very well here, but that is kind of the point… Batting is Quilter’s Dream Orient, a natural batting made of cotton, silk, bamboo and Tencel (eucalyptus), which gives it a wonderful drape and softness, without a lot of weight. It is definitely my favourite batting for special quilts, although it is expensive.

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That bright, bright sunlight to which we have become unaccustomed over the winter certainly shows off the texture that free-motion quilting gives a quilt. I love that all those curves soften the geometry of squares, but so subtly.

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I feel pretty sure she’ll like it, if only because I had the opportunity to talk to her about her tastes. What I am less sure about is how I will feel about letting it go! Do I always say that? This time I decided to buy a few Tilda charm packs for a summer quilt for us, just to make the hand-over easier!

After all, with fabrics this beautiful and timeless, it’s worth allowing the name to share brain space with some slightly trippy childhood culturally-significant memories, huh?

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Hello long-suffering, quilt-holding husband!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx