Monday, October 26, 2015

Needle Snobbery Part 2

Hi everyone,

I was cleaning house today (not my favorite thing to do). To make my duties seem lighter, I began to think of my favorite things to do. Sitting on a beach is high on my list - but alas, no beaches in Kansas - at least not any that have warm salt water.
However, sewing is one of my favorite things to do and I don't have to go anywhere to do it. I just have to hurry up and finish the housework.

One of my favorite forms of sewing is embroidery - and one of my favorite forms of embroidery is twilling.  I cannot resist the neat little rows of beautiful knots. It is a very special look.
Of course, you need the perfect needle to do some twilling!  Today, we will learn about chenille needles.

Chenille needles are are a large eye needle similar to tapestry needles or a cross stitch needles in length and diameter. However, chenille needles have a sharp point and not a round or blunt point (retrieved from: This makes a big difference if you poke your finger as these are big needles! Chenille needles are commonly used for crewel embroidery, ribbon embroidery, and of course, twilling.

The sizes range from 18-24. Remember our lesson from last week?  The higher the number (size), the shorter and thinner the  needle will be. In this example, a size 18 chenille needle will be the larger needle, and a size 24 chenille needle will be the smaller version.

For twilling, a size 22 or 24 chenille needle is most commonly used. The size can be a bit of a personal preference depending on your project and the size you would like the knots. In the photo example, I used a size 24 chenille needle because the design was smaller and more detailed.  I also use size 24 chenille needles because they are my favorites! I am pretty picky about my needles.

All this leads me back to the housework. A clean house deserves a reward! I think I will sit down and enjoy some twilling.Who needs dinner anyway?

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Needle Snobbery

Hi everyone,
I hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall weather! The last few days have been spectacular. Even more spectacular than the weather are the wins my favorite baseball team manages to post. What is the best way to deal with the anxiety of your favorite team not scoring until the 7th inning? Why, it is having some handwork to keep your hands busy! Also, it keeps me from looking at the television during the stressful parts.

I am enjoying one of our great Block of the Month programs called Stonefield's. I wish I could say I had this many done, but alas - the credit for these beauties goes to our BOM leader, Christina. I have learned much about English paper piecing and other hand piecing techniques as we go along.
And what do we all need whether we are hand sewing, hand piecing, English paper piecing, or doing applique?  We need the perfect needle! My friends all tease me about my love for needles. I have come to be known as the "Needle Snob" around the shop. I find that the right needle gives me just the look I want when I am doing handwork. Over the next few weeks, I will post some information about different types of hand sewing needles and how they are used.

Today, I will start with the basic three: sharps, milliner/straw, and betweens. 
Hand sewing needles come in a variety of types and sizes. As the size of the needle goes up (the higher the number), the length and thickness of the needle decreases. So a needle labeled as "size 1" is longer and thicker than a needle labeled "size 8".

How do you choose needles for your project? 
As a rule of thumb, the finer your fabric, the finer the needle you should use. The needles should pass through the fabric without making a larger hole than is needed for the thread to pull through.

Sharps are great for many hand sewing projects. They are my favorite for hand sewing bindings to the quilt. Sharps have a medium length and a round eye that works with most fabrics. They are sturdy and versatile.

Milliners (or straw needles) are longer than sharps and have round eyes. These needles are commonly used for millinery work (hat making) but work well for basting and applique due to their longer lengths. Milliners are more flexible than sharps. 

Betweens are short, skinny, stout needles that are used for fine, short stitches. They are most           often used for hand quilting. 
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Stay tuned for more needle snobbery next week!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Octoberfest and a Bus Trip

(Photo courtesy of Bill DeArmond)

What a festive air in Eudora yesterday! We enjoyed working and laughing together, the sights and smells of Octoberfest on Main Street, and our many visitors from the fall bus trip. We even had a visitor from as far away as California!

However, our most special visitor arrived in an original 1960 Corvette and spent quite some time in front of the shop. We had a hard time getting him interested in a quilt project, but he finally did agree to some photos.  Christina, Kaye, Mindy and I could not resist - who could turn down a picture with Elvis?

And before I forget, check your calendars ahead for a special class opportunity! Karen Styles will be visiting Quilting Bits and Pieces October 19 and 20. Classes will be listed on the website and a sit and sew is planned Monday evening on the 19th. More details are available at the shop!

Hope to see you soon,

Time to reflect

It's such a busy world out there, isn't it? I was fortunate to have a few days off last week and enjoyed a beautiful lake surrounded by flowers and trees just beginning to show signs of their fall colors.
While I enjoyed the outdoors, I also took my sewing basket. Handwork is  an important way I spend time in reflection.

One of my very favorite things to do when I need time to think and plan is to crochet! My fingers know what to do and my mind can be free to wander. My favorite crochet project is hemstitching baby blankets, burp cloths and bibs. Hemstitching is an old technique where a special machine is used to punch holes at certain intervals at the edges of a piece and then overlock the edges for a finish to prevent raveling. Crochet edgings are then added for some bling.
Remember the old style pillow cases and table cloths with crochet edges? That is hemstitching!  Here is an example of a pre-prepared baby blanket and bib from Ammee and Co. that are hemstitched with crochet cotton. So fun to do. There are great crochet tutorials on YouTube and we also have examples at the shop. Now, you can even hemstitch with a regular sewing machine. There are large needles available specifically for punching the holes and the overlock is done with a combo zig-zag/overlock stitch. I haven't tried it yet, but it's on my sewing "bucket list".

Hope to see you soon,