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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Of needles, thread and hexagon finishes

I spent a several days away in Melbourne last week. My hexagons were a convenient travel project and I got most of the last two rows of hexagons for my quilt finished.

I stitched them on to the quilt when I got home.

I am now in the process of appliqueing the border to the hexagon panel.

I have been using a pack of Roxanne applique needles for most of the non-embroidery stitching on this project. I really like this natty little container of needles.

The needles, however, bent so quickly I began to think they were designed to bend and this was meant to make applique easier. I continued to use each needle with the curve until it became unwieldy.

I also suspect that some of the problems I had with thread breaking was caused, or exaccerbated, by roughness on the inside of the needle eye wearing away at the thread. I tried a number of threads in the course of stitching the hexagons. My least favourite was Mettler cotton thread, which tended to shred and break. I had better luck with Aurofil Cotton Mako, which didn't shred and only broke a few times in a 100 metre reel. I had similar success with Gutterman cotton, but resorted in the end to Gutterman polyester which didn't break or shred and only rarely developed knots.

Obviously, I used more black thread than any other colour. After the first few rows, for the most part, I used either black or white thread. The white thread I used was a reel I inherited from my grandmother when she died in 1980. It is Coats Trident mercerised No.40 cotton - quite thick but smooth. It never broke, rarely knotted and never shredded.  I am very pleased to have used half the reel so my grandmother, too, can be part of this project.


Monica said...

Very interesting post, Jillian! I think the needles must be the main source of the problem. I have been using some Mettler cotton on the white parts of Texas Star, and I like it quite well. I use it with a Clover embroidery needle, which is easy to thread and very sharp. When I use the 100wt silk thread, I switch to a #9 Clover applique needle and the desk threader.

But it is lovely that you are able to use your grandmother's thread! Another benefit of cotton! We have a box of old thread from my grandmother, but it is mostly polyester/blends, so I can only use it for basting.

You are making great strides! I am not really "back" yet, but your post caught my eye. :D

Jillian said...

Thanks Monica. I may also have used a longer thread than was wise at times, adding to the wear. Glad you popped by. I have been thinking your well being into my stitching meditations.

margaret said...

To be honest I did not know there were applique needles but from what you have said they were not the success you hoped for. So this amazing quilt is nearly complete you have done so well it seems to have grown at quite a pace.
Trust you enjoyed your time in Melbourne, I lived there for a short time in the early 70`s

Jillian said...

Thanks Margaret. I'm pleased to be moving on to the next stage of the quilt. I really enjoyed Melbourne- went for a friend's 80th birthday. Did a bit of shopping and went to Art Gallery. It's a great city to visit.

katherine said...

I have found I have not liked mettler thread much either. You are going to be under this quilt before too much longer.

Jillian said...

You bet, Katherine! Looking forward to a bit of knitting, too.