Thursday, August 5, 2010

Are You A Bender Or A Breaker?

Baseball Quilt from Everyday Folk Art by Minick and Simpson

Let's see, what do we have left in our discussion regarding hand quilting? Needles? Well, myself and just about all hand quilters will advise you to use quilting needles or "betweens". There are lots out there and they are pretty much the same with one exception. Some quilting needles bend, and some will break. Either - or. I am in the "break" category. I like a strong needle that will take a bit of abuse, never bend, but at some point it will break. I don't like to use needles that are bent. Some quilters do. I think it's just one of those things - like Robin Williams said in one of my favorite movies, Dead Again: "You are either a smoker or a non-smoker. Decide which one you are and BE it."

So, try a few needles and decide to either be a bender or a breaker. Yes, your needle will bend or break. Now you know why I use a thimble. It doesn't happen a lot... I mean, one package of needles will certainly be more than enough for one quilt. Betweens come in sizes 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12. 12 is the smallest and 8 the largest. I would suggest to start with a 9 or 10. I use size 12's mostly and they are teeny. They are hard to get used to - so go for a bigger size at first. I use size 10's occasionally and that size is the easiest to find.
The long held theory is/was that the smaller the needle, the smaller the stitches. I think if you are quilting in a floor frame that is probably true (very little slack in a floor frame and the smaller the needle the easier it was to put several stitches on a needle). If you quilt in a hoop and have slack in your hoop like we discussed in the previous post - I don't think it's necessarily true. So, use whatever size needle you are comfortable with. The 12 will be a bit thinner than the bigger needles and that will help to make small stitches, but small stitches can certainly be obtained with a longer needle as long as the quilt is slack. What you really want to be concerned with at first is making even stitches, not necessarily small stitches. They will come as you practice. Work for evenly spaced. Even very large stitches will look wonderful if they are even.

Thread? There are several good quilting threads out there. What you want is a 100% cotton quilting thread. I will concur with the woman in the video previously. I love YLI quilting thread.
It comes in many colors, it is glazed, and it is kind of wiry which makes it very easy to thread through the smallest needles. It has another attraction - it doesn't tangle. Some of you who do hand work know that if a thread tangles - cut off a length from the spool and thread into your needle in the opposite direction. Thread has a nap and if it tangles going in one direction - try the other way. Well, with YLI thread - you never have to pay attention to that detail. It just doesn't tangle no matter what direction you thread it. Seriously, I don't even want to think about how much time I spent untangling thread before I discovered YLI.
I think I will stop here today. What still needs discussing is basting, marking, and batting and those will all get a bit wordy :)

Oh, and Donna..... email me here so I can send you your Moda Lunch Box Sewing Kit. If I don't hear from you by Sunday August 8th at midnight, I will draw a new winner.



Nancy said...

I am a Bender (hehe I married one)... but with needles I am a bender. I use Roxanne needles and they tend to bend over time. I love them.

Hand quilting thread??? I love YLI also... great colors and great thread.

Anonymous said...

I am a Bender in more ways then one, I live in Queensland/Australia and because we grow Bananas in Queensland we are called Banana Benders by the other states.
Anyway back to needle yes I bend them, used to use Piecemakers and now use Clover as I find them stronger with a sharper point.
Have a great day.


Spice said...


Thanks for all the great posts about hand quilting. As a beginning I find the information helpful. A-Rod 600... I should be pleased but I have a feeling some "medicine" helped with the first 100 or so.

kshackabq said...

Laurie - Thank you so much for these posts on hand quilting. I had no idea thread had a nap, and get frustrated with tangles just doing bindings, let alone hand quilting. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on marking and basting.

Anonymous said...

What a pitty Brenda doesn't react, hope she keeps it that way gifs me a new chance.
Happy stitching, Marjan

WoolenSails said...

I am too uncoordinated for a thimble, lol.
I do big stitch and prim when I work by hand, so they don't have to be perfect.


Mary Lou Casada said...

I am a breaker! :-) Bent needles produce bent stitching lines for me, so I use a size 10, strong needle -- either Roxanne or Jeana Kimball's Foxglove Cottage brands. I'm also a "thumb" quilter; all that extra strength in the thumb tends to snap the needle if I push too hard, especially through seam lines. (Love Roxanne brand thimbles, too! Have a size 7 for my middle finger and a size 10 (!) for my thumb!)

Lisa said...

I am a bender and really enjoying your tips on handwork.

Sandra Henderson said...

I'm a breaker! Glad I wear glasses actually! lol I'll have to come back and reread these tutorials! Might just print them out... Yes, that's what I'll do. Great stuff! thanks!

Vicky said...

I bend applique needles, but I'm just a wannabe quilter, so no experience with needles there. I am really enjoying your tutorials on hand quilting. Ordered the hoop, and I'm almost ready to go! Thanks, Laurie!

Nancy said...

I bend and break.I was wondering if the needles get thin when we use then for a long period of time.I keep about 12 needles in a bar of Ivory soap (my pin cushion). I love the YLI quilting thread. I use my thimble on my 'fore finger'...more control but I use a cheap leather thimble on my thumb when quilting away from me. Someone told me a long time ago to insert a 'dime' in my leather thimble for more miles and it works. I only read 3 blogs on a weekly basis and your blog in in this group. Thanks for all the tips and hints and chuckles said...

I also bend and break:)Your works are so neat, you have got "golden" hands; thanks a lot or sharing. But I'm still waiting for a video or even two. Thanks! Kindest regards, term paper writing services

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