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
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bobbin Work: On the Loose-Dealing with Distortion

If you've been following this thread,  we've covered almost all the information about doing bobbin work.

As you've seen, the possibilities are endless entertainment. Bobbin work is easy, fast and fun.

I hope you got out your machine, played around, looked through your thread box and started to explore this great new world.

But there is a dark side. Any time you've put that much thread through a fabric surface you can be  looking at some serious distortion.  It depends largely on how much you fill in. If you're just outlining things or stippling, it's probably not a problem. If, like myself, you got a bit crazed and did a four foot cricket, it's probably ruffling up like a child's party dress.

I don't believe in giving recipes for cakes that don't rise. I might forget to tell someone an important ingredient but I'd never deliberately leave it out. I hate games where you can't win, and I won't ever do it to a student, a friend, a stranger or stone cold adversary.

So here's the extra ingredient. If we're working on a dense piece of embroidery, we can always cure it by cutting. 

Any larger image (over 3 square inches) I'll do on a separate sandwich of felt, fabric, and stabilizer and treat it like an appliqué. When I'm done, I cut right on the edge ( don't cut through the stitching) and zigzag free motion around the edges with black thread to make it all pop. We cut of the distortion and life is so much better. What problem?

You'll find the information for preparing your felt and fabric sandwich on a previous blog Fabulous Felt: Unthinking Interfacing

Your  sandwich, top to bottom is
          Surface fabric
          Steam-A-Seam 2
          Polyester felt
          Totally Stable

Steam iron it well so that your Steam-A-Seam 2 is melted, sticking things in place and won't gum your needle.

My hoop is Sharon Shamber's Halo Hoop.You'll find more information on it in a previous post Hoop-Dee Do.

Wrapping it up:
Really dense bobbin work may ruffle and distort your surface. Do it on a separate stabilizer sandwich and cut the appliqué out. Use the free motion zigzag stitch to apply  it to your quilt.


SCquiltaddict said...

awesome...i had forgotten you can do that and oh did i say i have some distortion in a piece that i was thread painting...thanks!!

Peggi Yac said...

Thanks for this comprehensive summary of bobbin work. It's very helpful. I took a free motion embroidery class from you years ago, before I was ready to use what I learned. Now, I've needed this kind of recap.

Gloria said...

Thank you very much for this awesome tutorial. I've learned a lot and this last tip was one I can use for either top or bobbin threadpainting.
I've been able to spray water and dry iron (repeating several times) to get my post card projects to lay flat. I was not using the thicker thread and I had a very thick, stiff stabilizer on back of my fabric. I have a feeling the wetting and ironing may not work so well with thick thread and lighter stabilizer. I do want to make projects other than postcards so I would be using a lighter, thinner stabilizer.
I will now buy some felt and do it your way, saving myself a lot of frustration in the future. Thank you!!

Robbie said...

always enjoy and learn from your posts. I just downloaded nathan album! He's really good!!! I'm a country fan and an 'Eddy' fan!!! Thanks again!!

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