Archive | tips and techniques

Thread Tips and Tricks.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

With the launch of my recent collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss, I thought it might be handy to throw some thread tips into a blog post. There are some super easy things that can make a huge difference.

  1. Work the thread in the proper direction, which is the direction that it is spun. Doing so will result in fewer knots. This might sound tricky and overly technical, BUT it’s super easy in practice and can just be a matter of creating a new habit. Here’s what you need to do; if you’re right-handed, knot the end of thread that you cut, and if you’re left-handed, knot the first end off the spool (or NOT the end that you cut). Keep in mind that this trick works with factory-wound spools and not any bobbins that you have wound yourself (because they’ve been re-wound in the opposite direction).
  2. How’s that thread length? If you’re having problems with knots, and you’ve already adjusted your knotting routine (see #1), then you might consider cutting a shorter length of thread. A shorter length might also be needed if your threads are starting to shred or thin out in the middle while you work. There’s always a balance between getting the maximum length of thread so that you’re not stopping and starting unnecessarily, BUT not too long that it’s wearing out the thread or getting knotty from all of the wear and excess length. Handwork is easily adaptable thanks to our ability to adjust the many variables in the process. Length is an easy adjustment to tinker with until you find what works best for you, the project and the materials. In general, I shoot for a thread length of 18″-24″.
  3. Work that thread conditioner! Yep, it makes a difference. I used to go back and forth on the subject–mostly because it was easy to get lazy over an extra step, but after so much handwork, I’m firmly on the side of using thread conditioner. While it is an extra step, doing it pays off in ease of use which in the end makes me feel like I’ve saved time and loads of frustration. My thread conditioner preference is the beeswax-based Sew Fine Thread Gloss, and I have some special collaborative scents available in the shop that you can find here.
  4. Tools and materials matter, especially when it comes to handwork. Always use the best tools and materials that you can. The reason I decided to stock some of my favorite scissors, thread and thread conditioner is because I believe in them, and I know how much they’ve helped me.

aurifil 80wt appliqué thread set . carolyn friedlander

Oh, and I just created a couple of quick thread knotting videos if you’re interested. First up is a Garment Knot, which I like using after conditioning my thread and before starting my appliqué.

And if you’re up for another good knot, here’s how you make a Quilter’s Knot.

Do you have any favorite thread tips? Feel free to share!

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Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss.

I have some fun news–I’m very happy to announce a collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss!

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

To start, I never imagined how exciting thread conditioner could be. For the last several years, I’ve used Thread Heaven–a silicone based thread conditioner, which–for the record–is very nice. If you’re using Thread Heaven and you’re happy with it, that’s totally great.

But as many of you might know, the owners of Thread Heaven have retired, and they decided not to sell their special recipe. A pot of Thread Heaven is one of those supplies that I feel like takes decades to run out of, and so I wasn’t initially concerned about running out. But as an increasing number of students began to express panic over the situation and then ask me about alternatives, it seemed reasonable to keep my eyes open for other options.

It was somewhat serendipitous when Jenn of Sew Fine Thread Gloss reached out to me about her Thread Conditioner. In general I’m very hesitant to take samples of products that I haven’t tried before. There’s nothing worse than having to judge a product when there’s even a speck of obligation, and that was definitely not going to be the case here.

Harriot Hand Sewing . Carolyn Friedlander

With Jenn’s product, I was really curious to try it. She sent me a few of her scents, and at first, I wasn’t sure why I’d want my project to have a smell to it (which by the way, they don’t)…but, I’ve since changed my mind on that, which I’ll get back to in a minute.

To be very honest, the first time using it felt a little weird. After using a silicone-based conditioner for so long, the beeswax felt clunky and full of drag. It even made a different sound going through the fabric. (I know, I’m a total nerd and do too much handwork that I’m breaking down the sound of it.) Determined to give it a fair shake, I kept going and it quickly started to change my mind. I was doing this super-lame thing of alternating Thread Heaven and Sew Fine each time I changed thread, and before too long I realized that I was preferring the Sew Fine.

There’s a heartiness to it that seems to result in fewer knots than with the Thread Heaven. While I was starting to prefer that, I was also learning to adjust my preferences a bit. When using Thread Heaven, I would usually thread my needle first and then use a Quilter’s Knot before applying the conditioner. With Sew Fine, I switch it up. I wax my thread first, then thread my needle before making a knot by way of a Garment Knot instead. Of course, this is what I find to work well for me, but feel free to try different things to get the mix that works best for you!

Harriot Hand Sewing . Carolyn Friedlander

As for the scents, I quickly started to love them. Jenn formulates everything to a respectable strength that is gentle, fun and not overpowering. I’m pretty sensitive to smell, and so I appreciate her formulation.

Harriot Hand Sewing . Carolyn Friedlander

In addition to the smell being quite pleasant, I discovered that there was something motivating about changing the scent as you move along with your project. I’ve done a lot of handwork projects over the last 10 months, and it has totally amazed me how refreshing it can be to swap out the scent on a project as you go. Like when I was working on Hunt, appliquéing through the various colors kept it visually engaging, but the scent changes that I made along the way added a whole new sensory to the experience. Even now, I have a real debate with myself everytime I pull out some handwork, because I need to decide what scent mood I want to be in while working on the project.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

All of this is very nerdy, but if you’re like me, it’s these little details that make sewing such a captivating experience.

In addition to all of that, Sew Fine Thread Gloss is made with locally sourced beeswax that has NOT been chemically processed. It is handmade in small batches just outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The light amber color is attributed to this wax being very natural and only one step away from the hive, with absolutely no bleaching or other additives. The beeswax is filtered just once to separate it from the honey and from any leftover hive particles–which I just love.

Plus, the woman behind Sew Fine, Jenn McMillan cares deeply about her product and has been a total delight to work with.

On the collaboration! Together, Jenn and I came up with 3 new scents–each of which is a little different, but all of which are clean smelling and enjoyable to use.

First up is Sencha.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

To say that I’m a green tea fan is kind of an understatement. (I’m drinking green tea as I write this!) My strong love for it made scents related to it top of my mind.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

The Sencha blend has a green tea focus, but it also has hints (to me) of gardenia or even orange blossoms. (This is probably why I’m so drawn to it!) The result is super fresh and very verdant.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

I should add that it’s quite hard to describe a scent. After having friends and family smell many samples over the last few months, I know that we each seem to connect with smell in our own ways. It’s very interesting.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

The labels were also really fun. Jenn had the idea of throwing some of my fabric designs on there, which I just love. Plus, it was fun to think about which prints might go well with which scents.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

Next up is Citrus & Sage. It’s pretty dreamy and very bright smelling.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

I’d say that the citrus-ness comes forward first, but then there’s a very mild herbaceous-ness that grounds it a bit. This one might be the one that seems to have piqued the interests most of my friends and family who have been sniffing all of my samples.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

The third scent in our collaboration is Tea Flower, which I know…another tea-related scent, but I couldn’t help myself. It’s so good and quite different from Sencha.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

This guy is a crisp and complex blend featuring a fresh aroma of green tea with long-lasting sweet and citrusy middle notes. In comparing Tea Flower and Sencha, Tea Flower (to me) has more of a sweet, floral quality, whereas Sencha is more verdant and almost grassy.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

I’d say that all of the scents have a nice cleanness feel to them. Jenn does such a good job formulating the scents so they do not overpower. I find the level of scent to be just right.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

While all 3 of these new, collaborative scents are in the shop (individually and as a set), I also thought it would be nice to offer up Jenn’s Natural gloss. I have grown to love using scented thread conditioner, but I also completely understand that that may not be the case for everyone or for every project. Natural has no additional fragrances added, and the familiar scent of beeswax and honey is delicate and modest.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

SO, you can nab some of this in my shop too!

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

Yay, yay!

On a shipping note, if you buy 3 or more tins (or the set) I’m offering a little bonus of free domestic shipping and discounted international shipping.

It was so much fun working with Jenn on this project. It’s honestly my favorite conditioner to use, and I find that it makes such a big difference. My hope is that you will enjoy using it too.

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

Oh, and while putting together this post, I realized how much I like nerding out over thread. (Ok, maybe not new news…) And so I’ve created a follow-up post for tomorrow with some thread tips and tricks for you. Stay tuned!

Collaboration with Sew Fine Thread Gloss . Carolyn Friedlander

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Bartow Quilt Finally Finished.

This quilt top has been sitting around in the studio since 2014. But good news, this Bartow quilt is finally finished!

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

Back in 2014 Robert Kaufman released a new batch of Kona solids, and my Bartow design became a pattern that I created for that release. (Free pattern here, and notes on the first version here.) I’m pretty sure that this version was my first version, or at least it was where I got inspiration for the design.

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

At a Quilt Market around that time I saw a charm pack featuring a custom palette of Konas by Elizabeth Hartman. Elizabeth does a great job putting together colors, and I really liked this set and how they were arranged.

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

I wanted to have little slivers of all of the great colors transitioning in the same way that her charm pack was arranged across the quilt. Maybe it looks tricky, but it was pretty simple. I kept her colors in order and sewed them up by following the Bartow pattern. On my other Bartow quilt I kept the borders the same color as the background, but here I opted for colorful ones with a little bit of print mixed in. I think the borders here are mostly Flame Kona.

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

The top has been finished since 2014 and was sitting on a shelf in the studio. I dug it out and sent it off to Gina Pina to quilt. She quilted it up with a 1″ grid, and I just LOVE it.

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

As for the binding, I had it in my mind to use a piece from Friedlander Lawn, but as I was sewing it together I realized I had a scrap of Polk binding that would be perfect to mix in as well.

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

On the back is one of my Friedlander Wide prints. This colorway has been one of my favorites from that collection. It adds just the right pop to the back.

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

Feels good to have it finished!

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

Pattern: Bartow (free pattern from me via Robert Kaufman)

Bartow Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

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