Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fusible Review

A little late, but now that we are back on a straight road, even though we still have some bumps and curves ahead, I did get into the Creative Space to play with a new product.

 I have been playing with a new product. Not just new to me, but really new to the sewing/quilting world. I haven't heard much chatter about it... and thought I would give it a try because sometimes you just need a paper backing!!!! A really lightwieght paperbacked fusible.

New Product Review:  Barely There lightweight fusible from the Swirly Girls
(from the web page)
This new, ultra-sheer, iron-on adhesive comes in pre-cut 8.5" x 11" sheets to print or copy on your inkjet printer. Features quick, easy release paper liner - no more picking at the edges of your applique! Barely There is permanent, machine washable and acid free. Perfect for layered applique!

I use lots and lots of fusible, in the last 10 years or so... some where in the neighborhood of 70 yards. I have used Wonder Under (Pellon), Steam a Seam Lite 2 (Warm Company), Misty Fuse (attached inc), Soft Fuse (Shades Textiles) and many others that didn't make the grade to use again.  I saw this product and while I like Misty Fuse, it can be problematic when you want to make precise pieces or do not want to pre-fuse lots of fabrics for a project. Fusibles can cause some real stitching issues when you start stacking many layers, so I am always on the lookout for a fusible that is lightweight and does not stiffen after fusing leaving the quilt flexible and soft.

Free Spirit project
I have 3 projects currently under way with this product. The first one 'Birdies' are two that were not working for the 'Free Spirit' project was waiting for the right inspiration or idea to finish it off. I'm not sure it is ready for fusing yet.... still seems a bit dull. And I have a block to make for a friend, and thought I would try it for that as well. So the projects.

The Free Spirit project... not much more than the motifs cut from the Barely There fusible and I am not sure if I need to tweak the colors a bit more or not.... Not In Love with it as it is....


Gecko
The Gecko, is a block for a friend. I used the donut method, where you cut the center of  the larger parts of the motif out of the center of the fusible, so I could compare how it felt... in the fused and not fused areas.  I could detect the fusible, but barely. I had a bit of difficulty with the eyes and toes, and resorted to an old standby for fusing those. Not sure if the difficulty was me or not , but I was out of time and needed to get this completed. The block is a little over sized at 11", but I wanted to leave a bit extra for trimming.

The last project is one just for trying out the Barely There fusible. Birdies, or the formal title.... "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" was fun and planned on the go... as in we started with birds and designed on the fly. It will get picture heavy... but I know you want to see. (You can click on any picture to see it bigger!)
The birds fused, the yellow one is stitched.

A detail of the notes, these are about a half inch tall, and you can see how well the fusible keeps the fabric edges sharp.
And finished.

I like Barely There product.... however, I used too hot of an iron on one item and... I learned too much heat will fry the glue. It left the fusible glue (diamonds) pattern visible on the front. So, MEDIUM heat is the setting for fusing!!! Once I reviewed the instructions, iIt worked a charm. I have now fused both plain quilting cottons and Batiks, and none were prewashed and got a good tight fuse in most cases, Gecko eyes and toes the the one issue.

The fusible claims to be lightweight, not as thick or heavy as some of the more well known brands, and I found that to be mostly true after fusing the 2 layers together. Not sure I would say it is lighter than Misty Fuse, but pretty close!


Another Feature and as far as I am concerned the most beneficial was the ability to send it through an INKJET printer, (not advisable for laser printers due to the heat require for lasers to print. I drew up a pattern for the Birdies and sent one sheet through the printer on a copy and print and I also sent a print job from the computer on a mirror to get the reverse... for the birds. All printouts came through perfectly! If what you are making requires you to make many bits, this is the way to go, no wasted time tracing or copying to the paper side the same shapes over and over and over... The folded corner is to show the fusible on the back side of the paper. You can see the little diamonds I referenced above.

So yes it is great fusible for projects and I will be adding to my arsenal of fusibles. I have also added it to store, www.ihaveanotion.com!!!

Do you have a favorite fusible? Tell me what and why in the comments. We all like to learn...

More Later! Beth

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sometimes... life makes a LEFT turn

I started to write this post on Tuesday morning, but my heart was just too broken. Every line made me want to start crying all over again. So I erased what I had written leaving just the title.

I am back, not to normal quite yet, but there is a little brighter future and more work, but it will be joyful.

The Heartbreak: We had to give Bandit back to the breeder over the weekend. It was a very difficult decision for us. It was a first for me to abandon a pet. But it is what needed to be done. We had been working with the breeder to bring some of his escalating behaviours under control since late summer. While some things were getting better, the one thing that caused us the most difficulty was not. He wanted to be the dominate figure in the house and was starting to use his size (90 pounds at 10 months) and teeth to push back, we had been trying to work through this. The last straw was when he nearly got me in the face, (his teeth grazed the flesh and left welts) and he did get my hand, I have a few healing holes. 

Monday and Tuesday were difficult and after crying and agonizing I sent the breeder a note, asking how Bandit was doing. If he was adjusting (to living outdoors in a kennel after being a house dog and the new rules). We missed his presence (chaos and all) just like a year or so ago when we had to say goodbye to Axel his predecessor. We do have Lini, and she tries, but her temperament is very laid back and pretty easy going, (unless you are a rabbit or a squirrel in the yard). The breeder called last night to reassure me  us, that Bandit is adjusting, although in some cases not willingly, but he will continue to work with him. 
Bandit with Jeff, the breeder, you can see how big Bandit is!

The joyful part? He offered us another puppy. I don't think that would have been the case if we had not worked so hard to try and bring Bandit around. We drove 5-6 hours round trip to spend an hour or two each week with the breeder and we did all the homework and training he suggested and Bandit was happy to comply -but the Dominant Aggression just would not stop. So we go this weekend to view them and make a selection. I don't know if it will be released or if they plan to keep them a little longer, but I am making preparations! I know a new puppy will not be the same, but it will be close and that will have to be good enough. 

There will still be sadness, as we adjust. Bandit did have a sweet side that he showed us most of the time, but the times he wanted to be boss were scarey and becoming more frequent, not less. We knew he needed more that we could physically give him in terms of control and that was the best thing FOR him.

Stay tuned! Lots more later- Beth






Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday Tool

Before I get into the next tool, I want to say that I am pretty straight forward and of course my opinions are my own. I am not paid or endorsed by any company (and if I was it would start with that information right up front). So, when I share, I am sharing from my perspective... and what I found to be true or not. I also think that you do not need the latest and greatest of everything to be creative or create. We do need to eat, right? But sometimes we need to consider changing our tools especially if it makes creating and playing easier or more comfortable or in some cases, even possible! So with that said, on with the show.

I have recently discovered (for myself) some new scissors!!! I have been a dyed in the wool Ginger and Fiskars user. Why? Well I have several pairs of Ginger scissors in 3 different sizes that I bought way back when, (in the latter half of the 80's) and I rarely every use them. I have a pair of 8 inch dressmaking shears, a pair of 5 inch scissors and a pair of embroidery scissors.  I let a local sharpener sharpen them. Big MISTAKE!!! They are sharp, but the points are now too pointy so they catch on everything. I haven’t really missed any them... except on the 2 or 3 occasions I needed to actually cut out a pattern.

I also have a bevy of Fiskars and Fiskar-like (colored handle) scissors. Many I inherited and several I purchased. I use them about as often as I use the Gingers these days. I have discovered some new ones.

In April while at the Spring Paducah Show I picked up 2 new, to me, scissors.

The first one is for cutting batting. I find them very useful when cutting batting from a roll at the longarm. But don't let that fool you, they are great for cutting batting to size for smaller projects as well as regular fabric cutting scissors. So what is the advantage of these over say a pair of Fiskars (what I was using before). The Batting scissor has a blunted end so it does not grab or catch the batting as you advance you scissors to the next cut. And the blades are much longer so you are not advancing as often and that helps create a much smoother cut.

The other pair I picked up are for hand cutting. I often find myself cutting many motifs and bits from fabric for applique and most times I find the traditional shaped scissors bother my hands when I am making lots of careful repetitious cuts. In many of my older model scissors the small openings for my fingers and/or thumb tend to cause discomfort and depressions in the skin from holding and cutting carefully. I found these large handle scissors that are not particular about which side is fingers or thumb and are very comfortable to use for hours at a time. The serrated blade really helps hold and cut at the fabric at the same time is a great help. I think it is a huge asset to be comfortable while creating!!!

I was talked into one other cutting implement. A scalpel for the longarm. Long thin tool at the top in the next photograph. WOW! It really makes unstitching a breeze. Of course it is very sharp... and could cause some additional problems if you are not paying close attention. The longarm I have allows me to lift the roller the top is attached to, to get under the top above the batting. So I can do what is being called "skin the quilt", by breaking the stitches between the batting and the top. Goes really fast!

At the 'new' Fall Paducah Show in September, I decided to check out one more cutting item. I have seen them used by many Machine Embroiderers and since I do so much thread... stuff I thought they might be handy for me too. And guess what, they are! Prior to these I was using a very sharp pointed pair of small Fiskars, (bottom left in the photograph above) and once or twice cut something unintentionally (not a good thing!). With these very sharp, but curved blades and again no holes to stick my fingers in, snipping my project free of the machine is a quick snip away. I also found them very useful at the longarm, when snipping threads, again the curved blade helps to keep from cutting the fabric, when snipping the threads. In addition they are extremely lightweight.


So WHAT are these great scissors? Famore Brand- said Fa-mor-ray. You can find them at Famore.com. I Have A Notion™ Shop has one or two pair and I hope someday to carry the 4 pieces I have mentioned above, especially if there is interest. But if you think you might prefer ... another brand, say for instance Karen K Buckley... I have a couple of those in the shop too. I haven’t used them myself so I can’t tell you which is better.

I hope you day is full of treats, no tricks...and as always More Later! Beth


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Its a Thread Thing

I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but Thread is my thing!!! It is how I learned so much about needles and the best one for the job. Well that is not exactly true, it was Free Motion Quilting that led me down that path, but much of what is true for the Quilting part is also true for the Free Motion 'Threadplay' part.

So I thought that my next logical step would be to do some show and tell .... about the "Threadplay".

Let me start with one of the most difficult Free Motion Threadplay options. Metallic thread. These are postcards, and came about so I could compare the difference/sameness of the Fil-Tec Glide to the Floriani Thread. I had never used the Floriani and if I have to sell it, then I guess I should know something about it. I have used the Glide in the longarm and recently used it for another project in the Janome domestic machine, which is where I did the postcards.

I stitched these Free Motions with just the spine drawn. The feathers on the left are Floriani thread and the feathers on the right are Glide thread. The threads appear to be very much alike and the only real difference is the slight variation in color, I picked Floriani threads that were a close match to the Glide threads, and chose red and green. There wasn't a problem with either thread and to further test things I also tested the Signature Metallic thread. Wow!!! You don't really see it in the pictures, but I went over some areas with the metallic. I stitched pretty quickly and the Signature Metallic stitched like a cotton, no breaks, no shredding and no kinking. Of course a large eye helped the thread move without breaking.

The second is a detail photo, and it also is a little light on the metallic sparkle visibility. These were great fun to make, if you haven't ever made any postcards now is the time to try. Send one as a surprise to a friend or far away family member. I keep a stack on hand to mail... as needed. People just love to get them in the mail!

So to sum it up Floriani thread seems to stitch up the same as any other Polyester thread that I have used. Next up is to test the Floriani for use on the Longarm.

Have you ever received a textile postcard in the mail? Leave a comment. You might be the lucky one to receive a feather in the mail!

More Later- Beth








Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On another Note....

I am still trying to figure things out over here at I Have a Notion.... mostly a schedule... or at least a general idea of a plan... but since my life has never really had a schedule, with the exception of when I worked I had to at least show up on time and stay until quitting time! Beyond that I fit housekeeping, cooking, laundry, and/or computer issues in as needed or required. I still do that now and I try to remain flexible. About the only "regular" schedule I have these days is sleep and feeding the dogs on a fairly regular basis. After that all bets are off...

I also seem to have many once in awhile obligations that make me shift back and forth.... almost weekly. This week is no different. There is a mini retreat later this week (basically a one day sewing event) where you are fed. I am the organizer, so I have to come up with the plan and the food for the day. I plan to cook for the ladies... (the last 2 times we had a delicious sandwich and salad bar) so something different will be required this time!!! I was hoping the weather would cooperate so I could make soup and have it simmer on the stove all morning, but we are not yet that cool in Kentucky, so plan B will be implemented. Homemade Pizza.

As you see by the last post... I was thinking about talking about some of the tools of the trade, (I don't have the regular Chrome needles yet, but I will, Please please please be patient... with me), especially some of the newer innovations that make our time spent creating so much more effective...  Speaking of creating, I finally got back into my creative space.... the last couple of days. Usually when I have had to change gears.... and step away from the daily opportunity to make a mess, I mean create, I start by doing a bit of cleaning or reorganizing and then dive in. I cleared off the table of things I didn't need or generally has its own place in the Creative Space, and then I got busy. I had 2 baby quilt to get done. ONE is late!!! and the other still has a few months before it will be needed.

I got out the box of Baby Quilt Fabrics, it sounds like so much more, but it is just a plastic shoe box and only contains a few bright tone on tone prints and some scraps of black and white fabrics. I try to keep all the black, white and bright stuff together and in the box I also found some quarter blocks I started in Virginia (before spring of 2015!) and a stack of leftover Disappearing 9 -Patch blocks. Now fair warning these may make your eyes hurt... I generally make black and white quilts for babies these days, because their brains are still forming and connections are still being made.... and this colorway is very stimulating. So without further warning... bright is next.

Baby Quilt for Baby D!



and

Baby Quilt for Baby N!


I plan to quilt them on the Longarm with a flannel back for warmth and softness, and that will be next week?????

What are you creating.... this week.

More Later- Beth

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuesday Tool- Machine Needles

I think we should talk about tools. Not the workbench kind, but the type that help us ‘craft’ better. I have often taken something I heard to heart and continue along my merry way, only to discover that it is or was an old wives tale, the information was based on a completely false interpretation of information or that technology has improved so much the past information or beliefs have been made obsolete.

Let’s take needles for instance, technology has made so many changes and advancements that they are almost new again.

There was a time…. When Singer was the ‘standard to meet or beat’ when it came to sewing machines, and then in the 70’s Bernina came to the fore… and depending on your favorite machine, may still be for you. But it doesn’t matter which machine you choose to use, if you are not using a -pick one- “good”  “correct” “right” “sharp” needle for your project; your machine stitches will not be great!

Depending on what you are sewing you may need a specialty needle and there are plenty of those out there, but I think we need to start at the beginning with what I call my “daily driver”… the needle most often found in my machine. But before we get specific, maybe a little needle anatomy should come first.
Needle Anatomy courtesy of Sew Essentials.co.uk

There are 4 major parts to a needle… that we as stitchers need to consider. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Shank –the part that fits up into your machine, if you are using a domestic sewing machine it will have a flat side, that most often placed in the machine with the flat side at the back to make fitting and centering the needle fool-proof. If you are using a longarm or industrial sewing machine the shank is round and you have to center the eye of the needle visually. In all machines the needle should be inserted all the way in/up and well tightened, (but not ‘man’ tight).

The Shaft of the needle, which is between the Shank and ‘eye’ and has the Groove, that runs up and down on the front of the needle. The groove helps guide the thread from the machine to the eye of the needle to make a stitch. Sometimes specialty threads need a larger groove to flow freely and without difficulty. This is also the area that determines the size of the hole the needle leaves behind. The size of a needle is also important, as it makes the hole and carries the thread through the fabric. A rule of thumb for needle size, the bigger the number the bigger the needle 100/16 is a big needle and will make a big hole, the 70/10 is much finer. A note about the numbers the smaller number is the US needle size and the larger number is the European size, which number is listed first is not important.

The next part is the ‘Eye’ of the needle and as you may have guessed by now if
Picture courtesy Schmetz Needle
I am pointing it out, also plays a huge role in thread progression from spool to stitch. Too small and it will shred or break the thread, causing headaches and frustration especially with some of the specialty threads. There are several needles that are the same circumference as any other, but the “eye” is where the difference is.  The Topstitch needle eye is larger to accommodate larger threads, an Embroidery needle has an extra-large eye to help keep thread from shredding and a Metallic needle often has a Teflon coating to help the metallic threads move through the eye. Basically if the eye is too small the thread will have a difficult time moving through the eye smoothly, causing all kinds of problems.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
Lastly the point of the needle, it is the part that pierces the fabric and carries the needle all the way through so that the needle can make a stitch. Too big and it may leave a large hole, too flat as in a ballpoint it may pull threads in the fabric… or a dull needle can also cause very similar difficulties. For a long while the Universal Needle was recommended, since the point was sharp for woven fabrics but not too pointy for knits or stretchy type fabrics and is generally a considered an all-purpose needle. These days for most of the thread use in the quilt making process a Sharp is most often recommended, it pierces the fabric layers easily and carries the thread through a well-made hole.

Another aspect that has changed the needle is technology. We used to only be able to get a hardened steel needle coated in chrome. When they come out of the package they are bright shiny and sharp, but after about 8 hours of stitching the point starts to dull and is recommended to be changed. But now we have Titanium coated needles, (which does make them a bit stronger), but more importantly it helps protect the point and does a much better job of dissipating the heat we may generate when stitching fast.  The strength it gives the point allows you to sew with the same needle up to t3 to 5 times longer than a chrome plated needle, it is smoother and is cooler to the touch after sewing. Which when you compare the cost is a much better value!

So what needle can you find in my machine most days? The Titanium Topstitch 80/12 or 90/14 for general sewing. I have found that the longer life of Titanium needle make them my go to needle for all sewing, whether Free Motion Quilting, Free Motion Embroidery, Decorative Stitches or general piecing or seaming, especially when combined with many of the newer specialty threads.
The correct needle, with the right point and eye will help your machine make the most beautiful stitches and the best needle will carry your threads with ease. For convenience, Titanium Needles in a 10 needle pack can now be found at IHAN and if you really prefer the ‘chrome plated steel’ needles you can find those as well at IHAN, also in a 10 needle pack. (EDIT- Chrome needles are in stock as of 10/20/17!!!edit.... chrome is not yet available, but will be soon!)

What is your favorite needle and why?

As Always More Later!  Beth



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