When Disaster Strikes: Repairing A Thread Break

We’ve all been through it: You have a favorite quilt, it’s been with you through thick and thin, more like a cozy confidante than a mere blanket. But suddenly, disaster strikes! A quilting line breaks, literally threatening the very fabric of your cozy companion. Now, you could take it to a professional, but is that really necessary? It’s like sending your best friend to therapy when all they need is a one-on-one chat over coffee. Hand sewing quilt repairs is like giving your quilt a little spa day—it’s personal, it’s intimate, and let’s face it, you get to bond with your quilt on a whole new level, whispering sweet nothings to it as you stitch, ensuring that it’ll keep you warm and cozy for many more slumber sessions and rainy afternoons to come. So, grab a needle and thread, and let the healing stitches begin!

Quilting lines break… regardless of what thread you use or the tension you stitch with, sometimes it just happens. And when it does happen, it’s a simple process to repair that line and keep the damage to a minimum. We re-check our quilts for thread breaks before cleaning or before putting them up for the season and make quick mends before they become bigger problems.

For this video, we were repairing a random quilting thread break from one of the quilts from our new book Scrappy Wonky Quilt Block Extravaganza before it shipped out for a trunk show.

How To Repair A Thread Break

Our Video Tutorial can be found here.

Tools Needed:

  1. Thread pick or tweezers (for taking control of those unruly threads)
  2. Sewing machine (for the fast and furious fix)
  3. Matching colored thread (of course we’ll keep it stylish)
  4. Needle threader (for those tiny eye-of-the-needle challenges)
  5. Good hand sewing needles (because not all needles are created equal, dah-lings!)
    – We use the John James Signature Collection Between, size 11. If you like Sharps better they will work great here too.

For quilts where one line of stitching has broken (i.e. the bobbin thread broke on the back as shown in our video) the steps are simple and straightforward as long as you take it one step at a time. First things first, let’s tie off the existing ends of the thread.

Now, onto the grand performance of quilt surgery!

1.Untangle Any Mess: On the backside of your quilt, delicately unpick the rebellious thread in both directions. We need enough thread to secure the line, tie a knot, and tuck it away discreetly—about 4–5 inches should do the trick.

2. Making the Cut: Cut the remaining thread on the top side of your fabric, again you need at least 4–5 inches, more if you can manage it… pull this through to the back. Thread both the top and bottom threads through your needle (needle threader to the rescue here) and finish the stitch on the backside, stitching through the back fabric alone.

3. The Disappearing Trick: Tie a knot roughly 1/4” from that last stitch. Then, like a skilled magician, make that knot disappear by inserting your needle into the fabric coming out an inch or two away from the insertion point and gently tug the end until the until the knot vanishes into the fabric. Snip off any excess thread and repeat the process for the other side. TA-DAA!

4. Time for Round Two: Now, let’s sew that quilting line back! Using a thread that matches the existing one, re-sew the quilt line, making sure to start and stop about 1 stitch length away from the original start/stop points. Leave plenty of thread for finishing touches and tying off—doing this last stitch by hand means your quilt fix will be invisible… even to your MIL or that one member of your guild who loves to point out everyone’s mistakes.

Bonus Tip: We always keep track of the fabric type and brand, the batting type and brand, and the thread brand, type, and color number. This allows us to make fixes later if necessary. It is not a bad idea to add a label to your quilts with this information on it… because who can remember where they put that notebook anyway? Which Dropbox folder was it in?

Label your quilts folx!

5. The Finishing Flourish: Finish the last stitch on the top by hand, then pull through to the back ensuring it cozies up next to the bobbin thread. Thread both top and bobbin threads through the needle, then tie them off with a knot or make a series of small backstitches next to the existing quilt line (it’s in the video), whichever tickles your quilting fancy.

6. The Grand Finale: Bury those thread tails like buried treasure, with or without a knot, and repeat the process for the other side. And just like that, your quilt is ready to snuggle into its rightful place—be it on your bed, on your favorite reading chair, or safely tucked away until its next grand adventure!

While you have that John James Signature Collection needle out, now would be a good time to add that quilt label we mentioned… just saying…

And there you have it, folx! Quilt repair made easy-peasy. Give this a shot with your next thread break and you’ll feel like a thread whisperer extraordinaire!

Shannon & Jason

You can visit our YouTube channel here. Don’t forget to subscribe so you’re up-to-date on all our latest reviews and tutorials!

A Sticky Subject: Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray

Greetings makers, crafters, and creators! Today, we’re diving into our Colonial Needle Company products to cover a sticky subject: Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray (see what we did there?), and why it is a must have for your projects.

Who are we?

Who are we you ask? We are Shannon and Jason… the DIY Duo behind shannonandjason.com.

Shannon is the creative driver behind our colorful escapades. Picture a project enthusiast and savvy artist with a penchant for pushing boundaries and a love for all things fiber. Shannon’s imagination knows no bounds, and her ability to blend history and art into fun and inspiring teaching moments will leave you wondering if she’s secretly a sorceress in disguise. (Spoiler: she is.)

And then there’s Jason, the yin to Shannon’s yang, the peanut butter to her jelly (or should we say, the pixels to her crochet hook?). Jason’s the backbone behind our chaotic adventures; a photographer/designer with a knack for turning ideas into reality. From photographing projects for our books and patterns, to machine sewing quilts, to sashiko embroidering garments, there’s never a dull moment as he dreams up the next beautiful thing to create.

We recently joined up with Colonial Needle Company to inspire you to delve into more creative endeavors with their FAB products. You’ll see a lot from us over the next year as we endeavor to educate, motivate, and inspire you to embrace your own creative chaos.

That’s us… now let’s talk about Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray.
Ah, Roxanne’s Temporary Spray Adhesive—AKA the secret sauce of the quilting world! Let’s dive into what makes this stuff so special, shall we?

What makes Roxanne’s Adhesive’s so special?

Let’s face it—for quilters, pinning layer upon layer of fabric while making a quilt sandwich is like playing a game of “Don’t Poke Your Fingers” on expert mode. And surface design projects can be fussy and a sticky mess with other types of glue…don’t get us started on having to pin some of those details into place. Enter Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray, the new superstar of your maker toolkit! No more wrestling with prickly pins or risking a gloopy glue mess. Just a spritz here and a spray there, and voila! Your quilt layers and applique are bonded like lifelong friends at a quilting bee.

What are the benefits of Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray?

  1. Temporary Hold: Imagine having the power to hold fabric together like a boss, but with the freedom to change your mind if the creative mood strikes you… as we are all prone to do. Roxanne Temporary Spray Adhesive gives you just that—temporary bonding for your fabric layers and threads so you can adjust, readjust, and re-re-re-adjust to your heart’s content.
  2. Low Odor: Ah, the sweet smell of success—minus the overpowering chemical stench. This is a big one on our list! Our spaces are small and, although we have plenty of windows, we don’t dare use some of these glues indoors and NEVER use the old style aerosols in the house. Fortunately, we don’t have to run out back to the garden for smaller projects or even larger wall hangings that we are assembling on the dining room… umm… studio floor. Roxanne’s low odor formula allows us to work without feeling like we are going to pass out from fumes that come with other spray adhesives. Disclaimer from the product packaging: this is still an aerosolized glue, so we always wear a mask when using it.
  3. Non-Staining Formula: We’ve all experienced those nightmare moments when a little adhesive turns into a big ol’ nasty stain on our quilt, silk applique, or antique lace. But fear not, intrepid makers! Roxanne won’t leave a mark on your delicate creations. The non-staining formula means you can spray with confidence knowing your fabrics and materials will stay pristine and stain-free. We always tell folx to test your fabrics first to make sure any adhesive isn’t going to stain and we personally did the over-use test on different fabrics for an applique project and it did not leave a single blotch. One less thing to stress about so we can concentrate on the creativity part.
  4. Versatility: From quilting and sewing to embroidery, applique, and surface design (and probably a few we haven’t even thought of yet… give us time), Roxanne is your go-to product for all things fabric-related. Need to baste a quilt? Roxanne’s got you covered. Want to tackle a craft project? Roxanne’s ready to roll. We have started using it for some of our boro and sashiko projects and love how quickly the glue sets (and the fact that we don’t have to go outside to use the spray). There are a LOT of options in the Roxanne line of glues and we will get to those in time so be sure to check them out. Really… there is something for every project. The particular basting spray has been a life saver for us for garments, quilts, and surface design work.
  5. Easy Application: Say goodbye to fumbling with pins and hello to a much easier way to work with this aerosol spray! Roxanne’s easy application means you can baste your quilt (and other projects) with precision and speed, leaving you more time to focus on the fun stuff—like picking out your next fabric obsession… just us? We thought not! We throw down an old sheet to protect our work surface (like we did in the video) and we’re off and running. Even in the case of a little overspray, a damp sponge was all it took to clean off our surfaces including a wood floor and our cutting table. Easy application, easy clean up… because the creative process isn’t always so neat and tidy.

What’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is: we are grateful there is this option for a temporary spray adhesive that doesn’t gas us out of our house and has such a beautifully fine spray that we can decide exactly how much to apply for different styles of projects. Our recommendation is to keep a few around for different projects. We used about one can for an oversized king-sized quilt and can do quite a few wall hangings and garment projects with a single can. We have four cans on the shelf right now because no way, no how, do we want to be struck by inspiration and not have this gem on hand.

That’s all for now but be sure to check back for more about our fav products from Colonial Needle Company as well as some projects and tutorials that reflect how we use this all-encompassing line of products in our studio. Keep up with it all on the Colonial Needle Company social media channels and YouTube. You can find us at shannonandjason.com and on our Instagram and Facebook pages we are @embracethecreativechaos. Which products do YOU have questions about? Let us know and we might just feature your question in a future video or post. Until then…

Shannon & Jason

You can find Shannon and Jason’s tutorial on how to use Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray to make a quilt sandwich on our YouTube channel here. Don’t forget to subscribe so you’re up-to-date on all our latest reviews and tutorials!


By Judy Moore Pullen

I am so eager to share with you one of my favorite NEW tools: Roxanne Temporary Adhesive Spray from Colonial Needle Company. It can be found on their website here, at major suppliers, and hopefully, quick as a bunny at your favorite quilt and fabric shops. There are so many wonderful uses and applications for this fabulous adhesive spray…so where to begin?!

What is Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray?

Roxanne is a well-known brand of quilting products, including glues, needles, and notions. The qualities of their Temporary Adhesive Spray are many. This spray adhesive is acid free, odorless and colorless meaning it will not stain fabric or fibers. For those of you with pricey or precious vintage sewing machines, it will not clog your machine or needles. As a tool, Roxanne’s spray assists in positioning and holding fabrics for quilting, sewing, and other fiber-related activities, yet it is temporary and disappears when washed. It is almost like another pair of hands assisting you to smoothly position and hold layers in place for the next step.

Roxanne Temporary Adhesive Spray will be loved and adored by quilters who are layering, seamstresses, home décor sewists, embroidery enthusiasts, applique and piecing passionists (that’s a word, right?), craft designers and artists, pattern piecing persons, and so many more! If you enjoy working and playing with fabric, fibers, threads, roving, yarn, etc., you will find that Roxanne’s newest product will fill your needs for fun and ease of use. The time saved with its use will allow you to spend more time playing and creating. As a firm believer in the importance of process, the doing part of a project for me is such an important part of the joy of creating; almost as important as showing off my finished product!

How do you use Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray?

For years, I have been safety pin-basting backing, batting, and tops together for hand or machine quilting. I do not have time on my hands, but my hands have many years of time on them, and basting a quilt this way is not one of my favorite things to do. My hands and fingers become sore. However, what a joy to layer a quilt now with Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray!

  1. Prepare by rolling the batting loosely from one end toward the other.
  2. Repeat with the quilt top, and lay both aside nearby.
  3. Secure the quilt backing layer to a clean flat surface, wrong side up, with masking tape.
  4. Lightly spray with Roxanne Spray.
  5. Position the batting at one end of the backing, and unroll the rest of the batting toward the other end, smoothing lightly with your hands as you unroll. Spray backing with Roxanne then unroll and layer batting
  6. Next, lightly spray the batting, then lay the quilt top at one end of the batting.
  7. Unroll the quilt top toward the bottom edge of the batting, smoothing and pressing lightly, flat as a tortilla, and smooth as an ice-skating rink!! Spray batting and unroll and smooth appliquéd top.
  8. Quickly and beautifully flat for hand or machine quilting!

All odor-free, easy-peasy and no sore fingers or hands!! After a few minutes to dry, I am confident that neither my machine nor hand quilting needle will get tacky while stitching.

If you are generous with the spray and it winds up on your table or a surface, not to fret! A light spray with water and swipe with a clean dry cloth will remove the light tackiness.

What are some other benefits of using RX Adhesive Spray?

When machine or hand quilting, I sometimes get those undesired little pleats or tucks on the back side of my quilt whenever I approach a previous line of stitching. At times I need to manipulate the layers, or needle-down in my machine, lift presser foot, and give little tugs back and forth to remove bubbles on top, and hopefully prevent gathers on the backing. However, with Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray, I happily keep stitching when approaching quilting stitches, no bubbles on top and no ruffles on the back! My machine quilting has improved so much and in such a short period of time. Time saved basting layers together and quilting add up to the probability of getting more projects finished and more begun. Win~Win! More play time and improved finished product, means I am one happy quilter and excited about sharing what I have learned and experienced with this wonderful product from a name we know and trust to do what we love to do.

What else can you do with Roxanne’s Temporary Adhesive Spray?

Here’s how Roxanne’ Spray helped me easily add borders to an old incomplete project:

A wool applique enthusiast, I also discovered Roxanne’s Spray works beautifully to layer wool to batting for quilting.

Wool background layered with Roxanne Spray on batting

Another of my older needle turn applique projects needs help, so I plan to unstitch some of the applique on Sunbonnet Sue, spray lightly, reposition Sue’s dress and sunbonnet, and needle turn applique back in place.

In an upcoming blog, I want to share ways I have used Roxanne glues, needles, and notions. I guess you could say I am a fan of Roxanne products. Oh, wait, I happen to know where some vintage fan blocks are, and can hardly wait to applique them to backgrounds with Roxanne’s Spray. Then, I’ll turn them into a quilt, and move on to another fun project! Yes, I am very excited about this new product.

Go ahead, thank Roxanne for adding more playtime, fun, and pleasure to your fabric and fiber projects. You can thank me later.

Happily sew on and sew on…

Judy Moore Pullen

Awesome Applique

By Judy Moore Pullen

What is applique?

Let’s start by answering this simple question:

To applique is to apply a piece of fabric on top of another piece of fabric background or on top of a pieced background. This can be done by hand and/or machine, using a variety of methods and techniques. An applique (n.) is the fabric stitched on top of a background, either by hand stitching or using a sewing machine. 

What I love about applique:

I love applique for so many reasons! My passion for it is in both the process and the product. I find it awesome, while some find it awful to do. At one time, I belonged to a group of like-minded hand applique stitchers. We could multi-task: sit and stitch and enjoy each other’s company at the same time. I hope to sway some readers to try applique, so this subject probably will probably require more blog posts.

The Economics of applique:

There is actually a little economics history related to applique. Years ago, those who made quilts for function only were probably the first scrap quilt makers. If you had to raise the cotton or sheep, harvest the product, spin the fiber, weave the cloth, make the garment, all while struggling to put food on the table and survive, the most efficient and economical way to make quilts for your family was to join scraps of fabric side by side of whatever was left over from worn out clothing. Over time, when funds were more available, and a quiltmaker desired to make a quilt pretty, she could arrange bits and pieces of fabric together to perhaps design flowers for embellishment and applique them on top of the scrappy pieces. Quiltmakers with even more money and time on their hands added hand applique to their quilt tops. Think crazy quilts, broderie perse.

My journey with applique:

As I enjoy the process – the doing of something (except for dusting and vacuuming), hand applique is a joy for me to do! There are so many ways to hand applique, and my favorite way is needle turn. I remember the moment I saw someone demonstrating it at a local quilt show years ago. She looked so relaxed, so confident, and her work was beautiful. I picked her brain and observed for a while, then decided to try my hand at needle turn applique at home.

In the beginning, I was somewhat self-taught, ironing a freezer paper template on the right side of my applique fabric, tracing around the cut edge with a pencil, then cutting the fabric with a scant 1/4” seam allowance. I left the freezer paper in place as I hand stitched, using thread color that matched the background and tried to conceal my stitches. I quickly learned that matching the color of the thread to the color of the applique fabric was much better. While working and playing in a quilt shop at the time, I offered to teach a hand applique class. When a student asked what kind of needle I used, I promptly replied: “Whatever I can see to thread.” Let’s fast forward from that time, since I have learned so much more about tools and techniques, often times by trial and several errors.

There are a few things that make my needle turn applique look so much better, and much more relaxing and enjoyable to do:

  • Thread size
  • Thread kind
  • Thread Color
  • Choice of Needle
  • Needle Grip-Its from Colonial Needle Co.
  • Roxanne thimbles
  • The invisible stitch
  • A lighted magnifier
  • A pillow on my lap
  • Cookies and coffee…

Let’s break those down:

1. Thread

Presencia 60 weight thread is my thread of choice for needle turn applique. It is made from the finest quality long staple Egyptian cotton, is 3-ply for strength, and virtually lint free. The bigger the number, the finer the thread, which helps make my stitches virtually invisible. I want my hand stitching to last, so 3-ply (three strands of fiber wrapped together) makes this very fine thread so strong. Whenever possible, I unwind a strand of thread and lay it across my applique fabric to check for the best color. Sometimes I audition several colors. My first glance is my best clue to the color that will become one with my applique.

2. Choosing your needle

John James’ Signature Collection Needles are my needles of choice. They are made of the very finest precision engineered steel, making them so strong. With their proprietary finish, these needles glide easily through fabric rather than prodding it out of place. They are available in 4 different kinds: Embroidery – sizes 7, 8, 9; Milliners – sizes 9, 10, 11; Quilting – sizes 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; and Sharps – sizes 7, 8, 9, 10. As with thread sizes, the bigger the number, the finer the hand sewing needle. Machine sewing needles are the opposite.

My needle of choice with my knobby fingers, is a Milliners size 10. It is longer and allows me to sweep the seam allowance under as I go, concealing the drawn line of my applique. I now remove the freezer paper prior to stitching.

*TIP: in tight places like an acute “innie” point, I have a Quilting needle size 7 already threaded. I park my Milliners needle in the background, and make tiny stab stitches with my threaded Quilting needle to invisibly secure those tricky little “innie” points.

You may prefer to begin with a different John James Signature Collection needle or one of the many others offered by Colonial Needle Company. Just as some shoes are comfier than others, see what is the best fit for you and your hands.

3. Needle Grip-Its

Prior to stitching, I secure two little adhesive clear circles of Needle Grip-Its to my needle-holding hand on my forefinger and thumb where I will be gripping the needle. Faithfully using these little magic circles, I have no pain in my hands, and can stitch to my heart’s delight! These tiny adhesive circles stay securely in place during the repetitive motion of gripping and pulling a needle.

4. Roxanne Thimbles

I was happily gifted with a Roxanne Thimble several years ago, and it is the gift that keeps on giving, helping me to painlessly push the needle through fabric, regardless of what kind of hand stitching I am doing. The sideways motion of using Roxanne’s Thimble is better for one’s hands. Getting a correct fit is also important, and quilt shops who carry them are so helpful. Colonial Needle also has a handy info sheet on their website which can be found here.

*TIP: add a Roxanne's Thimble to your gift list, as well as matching Roxanne's Thimble earrings! They are so cute and readily identify you as a hand stitcher.

5. Lighted Magnifier

The lighted magnifier allows me to place light right over my work and more easily see where I am stitching, especially the tip of my needle as I insert it into the background fabric then upward through the underside of the fold.

6. Lap Pillow

The pillow on my lap helps bring my work to a more comfortable position so I can rest my arms and be at ease.

7. And last but not least…

The cookies and coffee, inspire me to take breaks to get up and stretch, walk into the kitchen, and let my little dogs out for a break for them, too.

In Conclusion:

Each of these tools will help your hand applique stitch become nearly invisible, strong, and secure. I think of the fold of the seam allowance of an applique as a cliff, and I am standing on the edge of the cliff. I bring my needle up from the inside of the applique to the back side of the fold, then “jump off the cliff” straight down with my needle into the background. Then travel with the point of my needle under the background a very few threads and come up with the needle just under the fold, the edge of the cliff. If you jump off the cliff/fold to the left or the right with your needle, your thread will show.

*TIP: Instead of scrunching the excess background fabric in my left hand while stitching with my right hand, I roll the excess fabric so that it fits neatly into the palm of my left hand. This keeps my fabric smoother, reduces stress on my hand, and helps prevent me from stitching my background to the wrong places as in my pillow or my clothing. I have learned a lot from my many mistakes.

Oh, the joy of needle turn applique! I feel like an artist, a sculptor, and I can “make the applique my own” by changing a shape as I go. Hand applique helps slow me down, listen to music or a recorded book, watch TV, talk with friends, or just sit quietly, breathe, and put a little love into every stitch. I can take a project with me on a walk along the river, sit down on a bench and stitch whenever and wherever I choose. I enjoy sitting outside in the cool mornings with my little girls, being serenaded by the birds’ songs and stitching by hand.

Applique Flowers on Quilt

There are several ways to applique, and I look forward to sharing them with you as well. There is beauty in hand work, a human quality that is beneficial for the hand stitcher as well as for the person who admires or receives the work of one’s hands and heart. Be kind to yourself and savor every stitch. Just as my dad had a box full of hand tools that helped him with his work and play, there are tools that are helpful to those who enjoy hand applique and think of it as Awesome. There is joy and grace in simple things.

Happy stitching,


Needle Turn Applique “Seams” Fun to Me

by Judy Moore Pullen

There are so many ways to applique, both by hand and by machine. For many stitchers, the word “applique” is not pleasant. I avoided it when I first began making quilt tops, even though I do love to work with my hands. And…I am somewhat less annoying when I am hand stitching. I well remember the first time I saw a young woman doing needle turn applique at a quilt show several years ago. I was amazed at how easily she shaped the heart applique and made nearly invisible stitches. The appliqued heart appeared to float on the background fabric. I knew that was something I wanted to learn to do. Now, however, there are several things that I especially enjoy about needle turn applique.

Thing 1: For needle turn applique, I spend very little time on preparation for stitching, as opposed to prepared applique techniques. I can more leisurely spend time stitching, and less time turning the seam allowance and securing it with glue, starch and a hot iron or basting thread, etc. Not to be negative about prepared applique, however, there certainly are advantages, about which I will write in blogs to come.

Thing 2: I love using these Milliners Needles from John James in a size 10 for hand applique. The Signature Collection needles are manufactured of the finest steel, polished so they smoothly glide through fabric. The points of these needles are so sharp that they pierce rather than push the fabric, which is so helpful for accuracy, and allows me to continue stitching for a longer period of time. The longer length of Milliners needles allows me to smoothly sweep under the seam allowance. To be more specific, I sweep the seam allowance under the extended thumbnail of my fabric-holding left hand. That thumbnail is a great tool, and I suggest it on my workshop supply lists. A claw-length thumbnail is not necessary, but long enough to secure the seam allowance in place as you use your Milliners needle and 60 weight thread.

Thing 3: There are several things about thread that also help to make your hand applique stitches nearly, if not completely, invisible. Remember: The bigger the number, the finer the thread, and hand sewing needles. Just like us: the more candles on our birthday cakes, the finer we are!! (Machine sewing needles are just the opposite.) My thread of choice for hand applique is Presencia Finca 50-weight or 60-weight, preferably 60-weight if I can get a good color match with the applique fabric. Another memory: when I began hand applique, I used a thread color that matched the background, and no matter how hard I tried, my stitches showed. Then my internal light bulb came on and I tried a thread color to match the applique fabric. BINGO! What a winner of an idea!!

Now here’s another tip about thread color: unwind a length of thread, about 10 inches from the spool and puddle it on the applique fabric, rather than just laying the spool of thread on top of the applique, like we learned in high school Home Economics when making garments. If your applique fabric is multi-colored, make sure that the puddle of thread touches all of the colors. When in doubt, audition/puddle another color of thread, step back, look away, then look again. Make your choice.

One more thing! If your applique fabric has many strong colors, try auditioning Presencia 60-weight thread, color #352. It is a great gray neutral, and just might work well. It is also my thread color of choice for more most of my machine piecing, and 60-weight thread is so fine that it helps with machine piecing accuracy.

Thing 4: The needle threading and weight are the next important things that help your applique appear to float on top of the background. I thread my Milliners Needle from the spool of Presencia 60-weight thread and leave about a 4” thread tail at the eye end of the needle. Pinching the thread at the eye of the needle, I unwind the spool to about the middle of my upper arm (former muscle) and cut the thread straight across with sharp scissors. This end is where I make a tiny quilter’s knot that becomes buried beneath the background or between the background and applique. The eye of these Signature Collection needles is so smooth that your thread will not shred. And, Presencia thread is 100% long staple Egyptian cotton, which is smooth and so strong because it is 3-ply, another huge advantage of using these needles and threads. Especially important as you are also using your time, energy and creative efforts to make something beautiful and lasting.

One more thing before your stitch: adhere an adhesive Needle Grip-It circle to your forefinger and one to the thumb of your needle stitchin’ and pullin’ hand. This is so helpful in relieving stress from the repetitive motion of hand sewing, allowing you to sit and stitch with ease. You won’t even notice the Grip-Its are there!

Thing 5: Now for the nearly invisible stitch. Prepare to stitch by making a “puppet” of your background by folding the outer edge, opposite of where you will be stitching, then gently roll the fold until your thumbnail is on top of the seam allowance of the applique. The neat roll of fabric will be nestled in the palm of your hand rather than all scrunched up. This helps prevent unnecessary wrinkles in your fabrics and helps to make your stitches more precise. It also helps relieve stress on your hand. If possible, begin where there is a straight or nearly straight side on your applique, and with your needle, sweep the seam allowance under your less dominant hand thumbnail, making sure that the marking of the seam allowance is just folded under. About 1/4” away from the folded edge of the applique, beneath the background fabric, or between applique fabric and background, come up just on the tiny edge of the fold of the applique, actually more to the back of the fold if possible, and pierce a couple threads of the applique fold with your needle. Slowly, to avoid knotting your thread, pull the thread through the edge of the folded seam allowance, keeping your thumbnail on top of the fold. Give a little tug on the thread near the end, then insert your needle into the background just beneath the fold where your thread came through the applique. Note: if you insert your needle to the left or the right or away from the fold, it WILL show, I promise.

Thing 6: Now, begin the next stitch by gently moving your thumbnail slightly away from the first stitch, and sweep the seam allowance under your thumbnail with the side of your needle. This is where the length of a Milliners Needle is so helpful. Depending on the weave of your fabric, you may need to use the point of the needle to position the seam allowance so that the mark of the seamline does not show. Then, sliding your needle about 1/16” or less beneath the background, come up on the back edge of the folded seam allowance, pierce the back edge of the fold, catching a couple of threads of the applique and slowly pull the thread upward. Tip: if your thread color so closely matches the applique, to find where to piece the background, gently pull the thread away from the applique, extending over the background, making a right angle with the thread to the edge of the fold. Now, tuck the point of your needle just under the fold, slide beneath and come up slightly away from your last stitch. Be patient with yourself if you are a beginning beginner or even an advanced beginner. This is the work of your hands, not computer-generated, which in my opinion, is of great value. Learning, doing, and practicing are so valuable.

Thing 7: Keep going, but take some breaks. I also highly recommend using a lighted magnifier directly over your work and your hands as you stitch. Using a lighted magnifier right over my sewing hands allows me to continue what I love to do, sculpting fabric and making pretty things. My eyes are rested, my hands are not sore, and I am relaxed with the process of hand applique, especially if I rest my work and my hands on a pillow on my lap as I stitch. A pillow for your lap is also on my workshop supply lists. It can be used for a nap as needed…

I have read that we can learn from our mistakes, therefore I have certainly learned a lot. Be kind to yourself, and others. Take someone under your wings and share what you have learned and what works well for you. Thank you for taking your time to read and try these tips, tricks, and techniques. I hope they are helpful.

Happy sewing,

Judy Moore Pullen

Peace ~ Piece by Piece

By Judy Moore Pullen

I love the peace and serenity of our back yard; serenaded by birds and the rustle of leaves in the trees, early in the morning before lawn mowers get cranked up. Even on gray rainy days, the sound of raindrops on the roof provides a sense of peace and tranquility while I sip morning coffee and stay snug and dry under the extended roof over the back porch. I look up from my hand stitching when Sable and Sadie race and chase after squirrels that they will never catch, as those annoying little fluffy- tailed critters leap from tree to tree, taunting our furry little girls.

Making quilts for children also provides a wonderful sense of peace and fulfillment for me. A dear friend and I love to make charity children’s quilts. There are children in need, and we want to help provide the comfort of a quilt for as many children as we can. Debbie has a very large sewing room at her house, so she cuts the tops and backings, layers with batting, pin-bastes the layers together, and marks a diagonal grid with Roxanne’s marking pencils for machine quilting. She passes the quilts to me and I machine quilt and stitch the binding to the top. Debbie and I hand stitch the folded edge of the French fold bindings while binge-watching streamed TV in the evenings.

I love the process of doing something (except for the process of vacuuming and dusting.) I need a bumper sticker that tells the person behind me that “I would rather be sewing,” or “I would rather be shopping for fabric.” What would you rather be doing? What would your bumper sticker say about you?

Back to enjoying process…

I find that machine quilting the grid on these children’s quilts is so peaceful. Most of the tops are whole cloth, 36” x width of fabric, although some are lap size larger. Debbie creatively and artistically extends panels and darling children’s prints for tops by piecing, adding borders, turning plain-Jane fabrics into something fun for a child. Debbie is also a master at piecing scraps and strips together to make the bindings. Piece by piece, we hope to provide comfort and peace for children. This process provides a sense of peace for us as well. As I machine quilt the layers, I sometimes listen to audio books borrowed from our local library. At other times, I listen to music on my laptop. And sometimes, I simply savor the peace and quiet of the hum of my machine.

The peace acquired by hand stitching bindings is enhanced by the newest John James Signature Collection Needles from Colonial Needle Company. I had an opportunity to try the John James Signature Collection Milliners, size 10, for needle turn applique, one of my passions. What a joy! This needle is so sharp and glides so smoothly—easily piercing the turned edge of fabric rather than pushing or distorting it, which provides more accuracy and much greater ease of stitching. These needles are so user friendly that some of my “I don’t do hand applique” friends may even take up the art, joy, and passion of hand applique.

Threading the new John James Signature Collection Milliners, size 10, with Presencia 60-weight thread was also easy. Presencia 60 weight thread is 3-ply, long staple, so very strong while also very fine, perfect for hand applique and hiding those stitches. The length of this John James Signature Collection Milliners also made it perfect for swooping under and turning the seam allowance. One more thing I highly recommend is using two Needle Grip-Its to more easily grip the needle. Adhere one to your forefinger and one to your thumb tip on the hand with which you grip the needle. The repeated motion of gripping and pulling a needle can result in pain in hands and fingers over time. These great grips enable me to stitch for hours pain-free, also adding to my peace of mind whether I am doing hand applique or hand stitching a binding on a quilt.

One more thing…

I also tried stitching bindings with the newest John James Signature Collection Sharps, size 10. What a joy to easily pierce the backing, glide through the batting, and pierce upward to catch the fold of the binding. These needles are also strong, sharp, glide easily, and enhance my time of peace and quiet while listening to the sounds of chirping birds or a best seller book, peaceful music or the sound of silence. I’m eager to try these new John James Signature Collection Needles on hand piecing, too.

The process of sewing and creating is both peaceful and exciting for me. I enjoy the doing part of a project, not just the finished product. Using the best tools enhances both the process and the product. I highly recommend these new John James Signature Collection Needles. Just when you thought needles could not get any better ~ they did, they do, and they are!!

Peace be, piece by piece.

Happy Stitching!

Judy Moore Pullen