Practical Thread Magic

When I come to teach to a group, there's always a frantic rush of questions and concerns. I don't play with the same toys other quilters do. Though I talk about that at length in class, I thought it would be helpful to have that information available in a blog. So here we're going to discuss the nuts and bolts of the kind of thread work I love and teach. We'll discuss products, choices, threads, fabrics, tools, stabilizers and all the things that make my work work for me, and will help your work work for you.

If you have an upcoming class with me, you should know I bring almost all of the things I use for your needs. If you want to try something you've got, absolutely bring it. But if you're having trouble finding it, please don't stress. I'll have it there for you.

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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Would You Like To Have A Class With Ellen?

Ellen would be delighted to have a class with you or your group! You can check out her classes at She also offers independent studio time in her studio in Indiana. Talk to Ellen about classes at 219-921-0885, or contact her scheduler Melida at 405-735-3703 .to set a date
Friday, March 5, 2010

Working with the Weird: Can I Put that on My Quilt?

Fall Fanfair was part of my Dancing Tree series. I had intended to needle punch wool yarn into cotton. Well, you never know until you try. I really never let anyone else tell me something is impossible, unless it's also unappealing.

 Of course it didn't work.After I'd proved that with about 10 hours of ineffective needle punching, I layered it with Aqua-Film over the yarn and stitched it all down with mono-filament nylon. I was declared stubborn as a child, but our childhood faults are often our adult virtues. Now they say I'm determined. 

I fused on Silk Leaves (I'm not sure but they were probably from Joann's, Walmart of Big Lots) with Bo Nash Bonding Powder. I love this piece. But it was a case of using some things you don't always find on a quilt.

After years of doing all kinds of things to materials most folk don't try to quilt with, it seems a worthy question. How do you know if you can put it on your quilt?

If we're talking fabric, it's a shorter list of potential woes and issues. For starters, it's probably flat. The big questions are:

  • Will it melt?
  • Is it too thick to stitch through? If you can't stitch it, how will you put it on?
  • Is it knitted?(Knitted things are harder to fuse and much harder to stitch)
  • Is it rayon?( if it is it's probably not light fast.)
Lace, brocade, organza, sheers, fused Angelina and Crystalina, and all kinds of fabrics work excellently with Steam-A-Seam 2 or other fusibles. Velvet is a special problem because the nap hides stitches and fuses poorly.

Natural objects have one basic problem. Will they break? Feathers, leaves, sticks, whatever, it will dry out and then they're likely to break. Particularly if you're sending it out and showing it.

Unnatural Objects. This sounds much worse than it is. But things like plastic toys, odd bits, old jewelry are all possibilities if they get through this list of issues.

  • Is it sticky?
  • Will it break?
  • Will it melt?
  • Will it bend permanently if I fold it?
  • Can I fuse it?
  • Can I stitch through it?
  • Will the objects rip the quilt surface?
The real issue with all of these things is, what you need this quilt to do. Where will you show this quilt?

Is it going straight on your wall, never to move? You can feather it,bead it, attach sticks and stones, put plastic cruddies on it and not even blink.

Is it aimed for national shows? You need to think about how you're going to send it. And how they will send it back to you ( Not always the same thing).

If you're selling it, you need to at least let the buyer know what's possible. If things will either melt, bend or break, let them know.

Think about where your quilt will be while you choose its odd embellishments.

Wrapping it up:
The world is full of wonderful weird fabrics and things that probably should end up on a quilt somewhere. Just make sure they'll go along with your plans for that quilt. 
And remember that our stubborn streaks as a child make us fully determined and able (and probably dangerous) as  adults. You're the only one who ever gets to tell you, "no".

You'll find Bo-Nash Powder at if you're local store doesn't carry it. But always try your local store first. They deserve you're support and make your quilt community. Help them be there for you.


Laura Krasinski said...

I love your New blog... it is so easy to read.. even without my glasses... Neat stuff... See you in Rosemont..?

Ellen Anne Eddy said...



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