Recipes for Perfect Embroidery

By Lee Fletcher, Sulky Freelance National Educator

Embroidery, whether it is Free Motion or Digitized Embroidery, is a great way to make the ordinary outfit, quilt or fashion accessory extraordinary. Like cooking in the kitchen, there are basic recipes with all sorts of variations. We are going to pass along a few hints for you to use as basics as you expand your cookbook of possibilities.

Let us look at the basic ingredients for your embroidery project:

♦ Threads of various densities. 40 wt. & 30 wt. polyester and rayon are common for embroidery, however, 12wt & 30wt. Cotton Blendables® and Solid Colors are beautiful options along with Sulky’s brand new 60wt. PolyLite™ thread for fine embroidery and lettering and in the bobbin.

♦ A garment, quilt, accessory or whatever you want embroidery onto with a unique thread count.

♦ An embroidery design with varying stitch density.

♦ Stabilizers

♦ Placement

♦ Hooping

Think about the fact that your fabric has a thread count, your embroidery has a density of stitches and the thread has its own thickness. You are going to add more thread to a fabric that already has thread in it. The thread going into the fabric needs to have a foundation to keep the fabric from puckering. Your stabilizer is meant to do just that, stabilize the fabric and absorb all of the extra stress of adding the embroidery thread to it.

Now, stabilizers seem to be very confusing to many people. Let’s break them down to their basic ingredients. There are only 4 categories for stabilizers:

  • 1. Cut Away (Purple Labeled) stabilizers are designed to be trimmed away after the stitching is done. They protect the outer stitches and are permanent. They are meant for unstable fabrics like knits or soft woven fabrics. Within this category there are several choices to make from very soft to very stiff.

a. Soft ’n Sheer™ is a soft and light stabilizer. It is now available in an iron-on called Soft ’n Sheer Extra.

b. Cut Away Plus™ is a bit sturdier for projects with high density embroidery. It can be used for templates and the insides of handbags and wall hangings.

c. Fuse ’n Stitch™ is a very stiff iron-on that can handle the densest of embroidery. It can also be used inside of purses, purse straps and wall hangings that need to be sturdy.

d. Tender Touch™ is an iron-on, tricot-like fabric and is predominantly used for covering a finished embroidery on the inside of a garment. It is a wonderful interfacing for delicate fabrics like silk, satin, and lightweight cottons and knits. It does not change the hand of the fabric and stretches with the garment.

  • 2. Tear Away (Green Labeled) stabilizers do just what the name implies. The stitches perforate the stabilizer and can be torn away when the embroidery is complete. This is not a permanent stabilizer. It is for use with sturdier fabrics like heavier cottons and as an add-on underneath cut-away stabilizers. Following are the Tear Away choices:

a. Tear Easy™ is a soft, lightweight temporary stabilizer. It is easy to tear away when the embroidery is complete. The beauty of Tear Easy is that it is so versatile. It can be combined with other stabilizers and you can use as many layers as needed. Tear each layer away one at a time when the embroidery is complete.

b. Stiffy™ is a crisp and firm medium–weight temporary stabilizer that is used for denser embroideries.

c. Sticky+™ is a non-woven, self-adhesive temporary stabilizer for items that cannot be hooped. Hoop the Sticky+. Score the release sheet and removed and the item is then adhered to the Sticky+ can be used as a backing when painting T-Shirts as it will keep the paint from bleeding through the layers and keeps the knit grain stable while painting.

d. Totally Stable™ is an iron-on that tears away easily. It is also great for making re-useable templates that are repositionable for appliqué and quilt pieces.

  • 3. Water Soluble Stabilizers are very versatile. They can be used on the “top” of the embroidery fabric to keep the stitches from sinking down into the fabric. Some people use them just for napped fabrics or knits. I use them 100% of the time. They make the embroidery crisper. Water Soluble stabilizers are temporary and wash away easily. They can also be used for free-motion work or freestanding lace projects. Trace the design onto the stabilizer with a permanent marker, complete your work and the markings wash away with the stabilizer.

a. Solvy® (Blue Labeled) is a light weight soluble which can be used in layers if necessary to achieve the desired results.

b. Super Solvy™ is twice as thick as Solvy for heavier needs. It is great for making thread scarves and bowls. Solvy and Super Solvy can be fused together by layering them and applying a warm iron or misting one layer with water and smoothing another layer over it.

c. Ultra Solvy™ is four times thicker than Solvy.

d. Fabri-Solvy™ is unique in that it has the feel of a soft fabric and is great for cut-work, lace making and appliqué. It washes away very easily (don’t sneeze on it!).

e. PRINTABLE Sticky Fabri-Solvy™ is a self-adhesive with a release sheet that makes it printable. Copy your design onto the PRINTABLE Sticky Fabri-Solvy, stick it onto fabric that will be hand embroidered or sewn with free-motion or other techniques. PRINTABLE Sticky Fabri-Solvy can also be hooped with the release sheet up. Score the release sheet and then stick your fabric or towel to the stabilizer.

f. Paper Solvy™ can be used in an ink jet or bubble jet printer. It is great for copying paper pieced designs onto and stitching them out. By using a short stitch, the “paper is perforated” and tears away easily.

  • 4. Heat Away™ (Red Labeled) is a fabulous new stabilizer that just goes away when ironed. There is little or no residue and there is no need to use a pressing sheet to protect the iron. I love it as a topper on towels and fabrics that I don’t want to wet down.

Stabilizers should be stored in air tight containers to keep them fresh, especially the Water Soluble category. Sulky’s clam shell packaging keeps everything sealed and fresh with the directions handy. Sulky labels their Cut Away stabilizers in Purple; Tear Away in Green; Wash Away in Blue and Heat Away in red.

Now you have the ingredients for your embroidery whether it is digitized, free motion or appliqué. These same ingredients are used over and over again. You only need to know the basic guidelines for creating your recipe.

1. Analyze your design.

a. High Density design? Almost always use a Cut Away. The thickness or layers depend on the thread count of the fabric and the density of the stitches. Test the design first on the actual fabric or one with the same fiber content and feel. You can increase or decrease the layers of stabilizer as needed to prevent puckering.

b. Lower Density design? If the fabric is stable and of a high thread count, a Tear Away may be used. Test it first. If the fabric is a knit or unstable woven, it will almost always need a Cut Away. If it needs more than one layer of stabilizer, it may be okay to use a Tear away, but most often there needs to be a Cut Away next to the fabric.

2. Analyze your fabric.

a. Knits almost always require a Cut Away. In addition, it helps to iron on a layer of Tender Touch to the knit and then use the Cut Away. The thickness of the Cut Away will depend upon the density of the design. Test the design first on a like fabric or if you have scraps, use them.

b. Stable woven fabrics may be able to use a Tear Away if the design is not too dense. Test the embroidery first on a like fabric or if you have scraps, use them.

c. Towels are happy with a Tear Away on the wrong side and a water soluble or heat away topper on the top. Some towels do not hoop well. Use Sulky KK 2000™ Temporary Spray Adhesive to adhere it to the hooped stabilizer. Take care to position the towel so that the design is where you want it. Many machines have the ability to adjust the position of the design inside of the hoop, so know your machine. For a perfect, reversible towel, use the same colors in the bobbin as on top and use Sulky Fabri-Solvy as the stabilizer on the bottom. The stabilizer disappears and no stabilizer is showing.

d. Normally hooping fabrics Velvet or Corduroy will leave a mark (hoop burn) that can be difficult to remove. Use Sulky KK2000 to adhere the fabric the chosen stabilizer. Water Soluble stabilizer can be also be used for the stabilizer, but, again, test first.

e. For small objects, Sulky Sticky+™ is great. Never use Sticky on fleece or the right side of napped fabrics.

f. For a name on fleece, a Tear Away is fine. Some stabilizer might remain on the wrong side so for a perfectly clean back side, use Sulky PRINTABLE Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Solvy on the top of the work will keep the stitches from shrinking into the nap of the fleece. Test first.

For design placement, print the design from your computer and position it where it looks best on your garment. If you are working on a collar make sure to consider the fold. If working on a towel, print out the design on paper, fold it like it will be on the towel rack and find the right placement. Mark the fabric where the design will be placed with a disappearing marker or chalk lines.

The consistent ingredient to all of the above is to test first. It saves time and tears, especially if you are working on a purchased garment. If you are testing the design for color and density, it can be stitched out on Sulky Soft ‘n Sheer. When done, trim away the excess stabilizer. From the wrong side, burn the excess stabilizer away using a wood-burning tool or heat-stencil-cutter to eliminate the excess stabilizer. The test design can then be used as an appliqué by sewing it on with Sulky Invisible Thread or fusing with double sided fusible web. It is best, however, to do the test stitch-out on the actual or similar fabric.

Most of all; have fun. What you have here are guidelines. Everyone has their own experience and own opinions about what works best. Testing is the key. Keep a notebook with the ingredients you used in your stitch-outs. In no time, you will have a good idea of the exact mixture of ingredients for success every time. The Sulky books offer more information on embroidery and are full of great instructions for specific projects and fabrics.

Sulky Books for more embroidery information:
Sew, Craft, Quilt and Embroider Confidently™ 900B-19
An Updated Supplement to Sulky’s® Secrets to Successful Stabilizing™ 900B-17
Sulky® Secrets to Successful Embroidery™900-B15

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Summertime with Aunt Em

School got out this week and Memorial Day was last weekend.  Its official, summer is here!  YEAH!  Time for picnic’s and gardens. Aunt Em’s Beeline quilt is perfect for both.

Bee Line Quilt Pattern

Beeline Quilt Pattern

And heaven knows when that garden gets going you’re going to have produce to share with your neighbors. There will also be block parties and BBQ’s. So here we have Suburbia.

Suburbia Quilt Pattern

Finally while the adults enjoy a little down time the kids will be busy creating their own space. A Club House of course.

Club House Quilt Pattern

So let summer begin. We are ready at Aunt Em’s.   And if you’d like to join me on the porch one of these lazy summer days, so to speak I’m always available at Em’s Scrap Bag and I’d love to have you come and visit.

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Successful Sewing with Specialty Threads

By Lee Fletcher,
Sulky National Freelance Educator
Designer of Pat-e-Patterns
Inventor of TheThread Director

It has been my privilege and pleasure to teach how to sew with the beautiful decorative threads that are available today from Sulky of America.  When I started sewing, there were only basic 50 wt. threads available.  There has been an explosion of beautiful threads introduced for home sewing enthusiasts since then.  Sulky has led the way by introducing specialty quilting, embroidery and metallic threads for home sewing.

In order to enjoy the full benefits of these threads, we need to understand some thread basics.  Our normal sewing thread is considered 50 wt.  This is determined by how much thread length it takes to reach a standardized weight.  So, if your thread is thicker, it doesn’t take quite so much thread to reach that standard weight.  The process for determining this number is complicated, but at the end of the day, we just have to remember that the higher the designated number, the finer the thread.  It does seem backwards, but it is what it is.  So, 12 wt. threads are much heavier than 50 wt. thread.  60 wt. threads are much finer than 50 wt. thread.

There are so many of us who can remember that when we purchased our sewing machines years ago, we were told not to touch the tension!  Well, at that time, we only had 50 wt. standard sewing threads to work with.  Now we have everything from stunning 12 weight cottons, to the fantastic 60 wt. embroidery and sewing threads.  We also have shiny arrays of metallic threads that can be a flat polyester core infused with aluminum, or a single filament core with small strands of aluminum wrapped around the core.  So what happens to this thread when we run it through our machines?

In order to be successful with these great threads, we need to understand the tension system in our machines.  The tension is the part of the machine that the thread passes through to make the perfect stitch.  Most machines are preset from the factory for 50 wt. threads used for  garment construction or piecing.  Most machines have two tension discs for the thread to pass through which are positioned perfectly to make that stitch. Consult your machine manual to see if your machine is set differently.  So what happens if you want to put a heavier thread through your machine?  If you try to put a 40 wt. thread through a tension that is set for 50 wt. thread, the thread may shred and break.  The industry standard for the digitized machine embroidery thread is 40 wt.  When you put your embroidery unit onto your machine and you hear the whirring and buzzing and clicking, it is re-setting the machine for the machine embroidery unit and it is lowering the tension to accept the heavier 40 wt. thread.

So now this question always comes up.  “How much do I lower my tension?”  Well, I can’t answer that!  A lot depends upon the moisture in the air, whether you are running heat or air conditioning, etc.  You have to test before beginning to sew.  In general, you will want the top thread to slightly show on the bottom of your work.  Just test a few times until you are satisfied.  Keep in mind that you will need to test first every time you start working.  I have a good friend, Suzy Seed, Sulky National Educator, who says “There are those who test . . . and those who wish they had!”   Another extremely important component of successful thread work is the needle.  In general, the eye of the needle needs to be large enough for the standard 50 wt. thread to pass through without stress.  Topstitch needles are designed for specialty threads.

  • The eye is elongated and wider.
  • The scarf, or the indentation on the back of the needle, is designed for the specialty threads. I encourage you to visit to learn more about needles. There is a series of 6 videos by Rhonda Pearce that will help you understand the difference.

Positioning the thread correctly on the machine is extremely important.  If you position the thread on the horizontal spool pin, the thread will twist as it comes off of the end of the spool.  This rarely bothers spun cotton or rayon threads, except on some of the newer high-end machines with very long thread paths, but can be a problem with metallic or the heavier 12 wt. threads.

If you position the thread on the vertical spool pin, it does roll into the machine flat, which works great as long as you sew slowly and evenly.  There is a tendency for the polyester core of the thread to stretch as it pulls the thread off of the spool.  When you stop sewing, the thread retracts to its original size and then pools around the base of the spool pin.  When you start sewing again, the thread can snap.  Also, you need to remember that on a vertical spool pin, the weight of the spool being pulled is adding tension.

Sigh, you say!   But the thread is so beautiful and I want to create this unique project.  What am I going to do?

Here is your answer.  The Thread Director™, a horizontal spool pin adapter, will reposition the thread so that it spans horizontally across the top of your machine, allowing the metallic and specialty threads to feed flat into the sewing machine.  There is no stress on the thread, which eliminates the breakage, stretching and puckering.  Even the 12 wt. cottons will not twist on themselves and break when positioned on The Thread Director.

The Thread Director will fit on a vertical spool pin or bobbin winder.  It can be used on 10 needle embroidery machines, long arms, and sergers.  You can visit for photos and videos showing how to position The Thread Director on most machines along with some fun project ideas.

Now that you have all the information you need to create spectacular projects, go forth and have fun!  We hope that you will share your projects with us and keep the conversation going.

Posted in Helpful Tips, Notions, Techniques | 2 Comments

Great New Northcott Pattern

A great new pattern from the girls at Upper Canada Quiltworks Publishing.

Modern Vibe

Nellie Holmes and Christine Baker are the co-owners and designers at Upper Canada Quiltworks Publishing. They have been designing quilt patterns and writing books for over 15 years and between them have a HUGE number of designs. Many of the designs they publish are collaborations with Northcott Fabrics including their four new patterns.

Christine and Nellie love working with Northcott and love the challenge of designing with fabrics that are a bit out of their comfort zone. Their new pattern “Modern Vibe” uses Northcott’s ColorWorks Concepts fabric line which is certainly different than what they usually gravitate to. But the quilt is amazing and they found it so much fun to make. Christine quilted the sample on her Gammill with lime green thread and showed her quilting designs on her own blog.

Here is the link to their Modern Vibe pattern on our website:

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Interview with Diane Phalen, Quilt Painter

Nancy: We first met at a quilt show many years ago where you were representing your line of fabric. I was completely drawn to the beauty of your prints and immediately knew I had met someone I would like to call a friend. I have wanted to collaborate on a project with you ever since and finally I am delighted that you have agreed to let me help you create this wonderful coloring book.


Nancy: Would that first meeting have been at Quilt Market? How many fabric lines have you designed, for what companies, and in what years?

Diane: I remember meeting you and liking you instantly!  I believe our first time we met was at Quilt Market in Houston. We then met again at the Quilt Show in Rochester, New York.  I was surprised to see you again.  We were exhibiting at the same show! My first fabric line was with Erlanger Blumgart in 1995.  At that time my designs were simplified and repainted by hand and done by hand in repeat.  The next company I designed fabric for was P & B Textiles in Burlingame, California.  I hand-painted all the designs, even doing a design right in their studio when they needed one more!  I did fabric for E. E. Schenck of Portland Oregon next. We took designs from my Spring and Summer paintings.  We focused on my Spring Garden painting and recreated the flowers and trees in repeat patterns.  I did several fabric lines for Elizabeth Studios in Milltown, New Jersey. They did a wonderful Spring collection followed by a Winter and Autumn collection. I loved designing fabric and am now looking for a fabric company to work with to do more fabric lines. My collectors of my art ask me all the time for more fabric!

Nancy: I read in one of your two quilt pattern books (still available on that you have never made a quilt. Is that still true? So someone else wrote those patterns on your behalf? Where do you get the designs for the quilts you use in your paintings?

Diane: No, I have never made a quilt!  I always loved quilts and was fascinated by the colors and the patterns. I worked with several quilters in writing the patterns.  Some of the patterns are from my Grandmother’s quilts and traditional patterns. Some patterns I designed on my own.  When I first started drawing I would doodle and fill in colors of patterns.

Fabric 2310-B
One of Diane’s former fabric lines – now sold out.

Nancy: Did you attend college and if so where and what degree(s) did you earn? When you finished school, what did you envision yourself doing for a living?

Diane: I did attend college!  I moved to California when I was 26 to go to College.  It was free to attend the Community colleges there.  I attended Diablo Valley College in Concord, California.  I wanted to take art but was encouraged to take engineering classes.  I took drafting and mechanical design.  I worked full time attending classes in the afternoon and evenings.  I worked drafting for Mare Island Shipyard. I did drawings of the Navy ships and submarines. I decided to go to San Jose State College.  I moved to San Jose, California and worked full-time for FMC Corporation doing welding drafting on the Military tanks!  I loved my time in California.  I never got my full degree.  I was in an auto accident and took time to recuperate.  I also married my husband, Mike.  He encouraged me to do my art full-time.  I worked at Amdahl Corporation before making the transition.  At Amdahl I was introduced to the beginning of CAD (computer aided design). After I married Mike we moved to Oregon. We wanted a house and some land. We lived on 17 beautiful wooded acres surrounded by woods. My studio was in the woods. I loved it!  We eventually opened a Diane Phalen Watercolors storefront in downtown Banks, Oregon. Sadly, my marriage to Mike ended after 22 years. I moved back to Pennsylvania to be closer to my parents and sisters.

Nancy: So you grew up in Amish country in PA? Was that part of the inspiration for your career goal?

Diane: I did grow up in Pennsylvania and love being close to Amish Country and seeing the dramatic seasons once again. I do some painting of my memories of California. I still paint Oregon too, especially the snow-capped mountains. I do miss the West!

Nancy: Thank you Diane for all the inspiration!

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Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings
Today I’m going to take you on a little journey behind the scenes. Let’s go all the way back to a quilt’s very humble beginnings, the cotton plant.
clip_image002Cotton plant

Now this is what I call a blank canvas. What do you see: quilts, a summer dress, soft towels, or hard working jeans?

clip_image004Cotton field in Suffolk, Virginia
Two innovations that helped create the growth of the cotton industry in the United States were the cotton gin and mechanical spinners. Once cotton was easy to clean and spin, it didn’t take long for it to become an affordable and universally worn fabric.
clip_image006Picked cotton waiting to be processed

This is where the magic really begins. The cotton gin separates the plant into two products, the seed and the fiber.

Cotton seed is high in protein and oil. It’s sent off to become a variety of products from mayonnaise to rubber. Did you know cottonseed oil is on the American Heart Association list of “good foods”?
clip_image008A cotton gin, Virginia
The fiber, now called lint, is bundled into large bales. One bale could make 1200 pillowcases!
clip_image010Cotton bale

Next it’s off to the textile mill where it’s pulled, combed, twisted, and eventually woven into fabric. You may have heard the term greige goods, pronounced like the color grey. That’s the plain cloth from the loom.

How It’s Made Fabrics by Ian Collier on Youtube
Finally, our favorite fabric companies dye and print lovely yards of fabric for us to pet, purchase, and turn into quilts.
That’s a lot of people involved in the making of your quilt!
Printed Fabric Production by Avlyn Fabrics on Youtube
Grab a trip souvenir while you’re here. carries a variety of fun kits!
19” Vintage Patchwork Snowman Kit DML-201 $15.50
This pattern and kit includes an antique beehive bobbin, complete instructions for making fringed snowman, mini quilt with template, fringed trees and fringed snowman pincushion.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
DML – Down Memory Lane – Nancy Hughes
Vintage Spool Pincushion Kit DML-177 $11.00
Kit includes quilted time worn fabric, 4″ tall x 3″ diameter genuine antique yarn wrapped silk spool with wood core, one jumbo button for top of pincushion and complete easy instructions.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
DML – Down Memory Lane – Nancy Hughes
Star Spin Kit ROG-1014K $26.99
Kit includes all fabrics (100% cotton) for quilt top, back, and binding. Also included are batting, quilting designs, precise patterns and complete illustrated instructions.
Finished Size: 22″ x 22″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
ROG – Rachel’s of Greenfield
Midnight Snowman Kit ROG-9205K $15.99
Kit includes foundation fabric, iron-on transfer pattern, ALL floss to complete the project (DMC cottons), and illustrated instructions.

Finished Size: 3″ x 4″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
ROG – Rachel’s of Greenfield

Always sew for fun!
Carol Steely, FunThreads Designs
Posted in Fabric, Helpful Tips, patterns, Trends, Video | 2 Comments

On Pins and Needles Part 2

On Pins and Needles Part 2


Choosing the right hand sewing needle can be overwhelming. Their odd names often don’t help point you in the right direction either. Ultimately, you want a needle
that feels comfortable in your hand, glides easily through your fabric, and has
an eye you can thread. Purchasing a variety pack is a good way to give several
different types and sizes a test run to see what best suits your needs.
Needle Sizes
Hand sewing needles get smaller as their size gets larger. This is opposite from
machine needles which get bigger as their size gets larger.  As you can see in this multi sized package of Sharps, size # 1 is the largest needle and size # 5 is the smallest.


Keeping a Eye on Things
Do you cringe at the thought of threading that teeny tiny eye? Well, have no fear.
I’m going to start with some of the needles that I seem to be needing lately…easy
Split Eye/Calyx Eye – A general purpose needle with a split on the outer edge of the eye for easy threading. In my experience, when this needle is pulled through multiple layers, the thread can pull out of the eye.
SENCH™ – These needles easily load from the side so you don’t have to worry about your thread slipping out of the eye. They come in three sizes for general sewing.

Photo used with permission from Pam Turner

Spiral Eye® – These needles also load from the side and come in a variety of sizes for all types of sewing. They are made from surgical stainless steel.


Photo used with permission from Pam Turner

Here’s a little break down of some of the more commonly used needles.
Ball Point/Jersey – Has a rounded point that slips between the threads on knits and stretchy fabrics.
Sharps  – An all purpose needle with a round eye. Great for appliqué.
Betweens – Same width as a Sharps but approximately ¼” shorter. Has a small round eye that easily moves through multiple layers of fabric. Usually the choice for hand quilting.
Embroidery/Crewel Same sizing as a Sharps but they have a larger eye to accommodate multiple strands of thread.
Needles Need a Nesting Place
Gah! Needles DON’T belong in your pincushion. They will sink into the center and get
lost. Needles are best kept in lovely little needle cases. You can find a
variety of cute patterns here on to make one for yourself or as
a quick gift for a friend.

Becky’s Needle Case with Pocket Pattern TKY-311 $4.00
Designed by: TKY – Turkey Track Designs – Kim Kamlet

Love to Stitch Collection Pattern IJ-949 $9.99
Finished Sizes:
Heart-Shaped Needle Case: 4 1/2″
Rectangular Needle Case: 4 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Large Scissor Keeper: 9″
Small Scissor Keeper: 5 1/4″
Heart-Shaped Scissor Fob: 2″
Skill Level: Beginner
Pattern designed by Amy Barickman – Indygo Junction.
This delicate vintage inspired sewing collection would please any sewing enthusiast. Each pattern is quick & easy to sew for yourself or as gifts for your sewing friends. Personalize with a machine or hand embroidered initial and then mix & match fabrics in your favorite colors and patterns.

Heart Etui Needle case Pattern PCG-2102 $5.00

Finished Size: 5″ wide
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:PCG-Prairie Cottage Corner-Kathie Donahue
Etui or needle holder pattern teaches freezer paper applqiue, quilting, layering and light embroidery. 

Mini Scissors and Needle Case Pattern RR-162 $9.00

Finished size: 8” x 4”
Designed by: RR-Reet’s Rags to Stitches – Rita Carl
Always sew for fun!
Carol Steely, FunThreads Designs



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Trucks, Trains and Rocket Ships – Quilts for Little Boys

Is there a special little boy in your life that needs a quilt?  In a family full of boys I am always looking for appropriate patterns for both big and little boys.  This week I found a few that will make cute quilts for the little boys in your life.  (Don’t worry, I am planning a post for little girls next month!)

My little guys love trucks and trains and tractors and bulldozers and pretty much anything that makes “big noise” as my grandson tells me.  Here are a few that you won’t be able to resist.

Just Trucks Quilt Pattern – SCN-2065


A colorful quilt for anyone that just loves trucks!
Features 12 trucks in all shapes and sizes. Purchase the border and background fabrics; use scraps from your stash for the trucks. Personalize with fun business names and slogans on the signs.
Use as a wall quilt as shown in the photo or stitch wider and/or additional borders for a larger finished size. Appliqued trucks on a pieced background. Suitable for hand, machine or fusible applique. Hand or machine quilt pattern.
Finished Size: 30″ x 34″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: SCN – Spring Creek NeedleArt – Nancy Richoux.

I Love Semi Trucks Quilt Pattern   PAD-133


Does a child in your family like semi trucks? These big, bright trucks should put a smile on the face of any semi-lover. This fun quilt pattern is easy to sew and quick to finish.
Finished Size: 48″ x 55 1/2″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Pattern designed by Claudia Lash for Presto Avenue Designs.

Dump Truck Quilt Pattern     CQ-065


This bright and cheerful dump truck quilt pattern is for all those little ones who love to play in the dirt.
Finished Sizes:
Wall Hanging: 24″ x 28″
Crib: 36″ x 42″
Lap and Throw: 48″ x 56″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Pattern designed by Lisa Muilenburg – Counted Quilts.

Billsville Express Quilt Pattern     BAD-202


Hop on the Billsville Express and let your imagination take you anywhere! Here comes Overall Bill on the Billsville Express. All Aboard! This is an adorable applique quilt wall hanging pattern from Betty Alderman Designs. The perfect quilted wall hanging for the little train enthusiast. A super quilt pattern for a little boy or little girl.
Complete pattern directions and a stitch guide are included.
Finished Size: 32.5″ X 40″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Pattern designed by Betty Alderman Designs.

Train Quilt Pattern     CQ-068


Choo Choo, All aboard for dream land! Wrap your little one is this bright and friendly little Train quilt pattern as they travel to the land of dreams.
Finished Sizes:
Wall Hanging: 24″ x 28″
Crib: 36″ x 42″
Lap and Throw: 48″ x 56″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Pattern designed by Lisa Muilenburg – Counted Quilts

I love Trains Quilt Pattern     AV-132


This quilt pattern is for the train lover, young or old. The I Love Trains pattern gives you the opportunity to use up a lot of your colorful scraps.
This quilt pattern is compatible with the AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter and contains optional instructions for its use.  Don’t have a GO!? Templates are included with the pattern.
Finished Size: 48″ x 59″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Pattern designed by Alison Vandertang

Rocketman Quilt Pattern     BHQ-104


Space-themed growth chart. Quilt pattern contains templates reversed for fusible applique.
Finished Size: Approximately 18″ x 36″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: BHQ – Bear Hug Quiltworks – Lisa Alley.

Outer Space Adventure Quilt Pattern     LYTM-101


A rocket blasts off and makes its way through deep blue space, past stars and colorful planets. Applique astronauts and aliens alternate with patchwork “star” blocks to create a whimsical border. This quilt pattern is perfect for any little astronaut!
Finished Size: 44″ x 55″
Skill Level: Intermediate
Designed by: LYTM – LYTM Designs – Janice Holden.

Rocket Man Quilt Pattern     FCP-019


Send your little astronaut’s imagination off into space! This quilt pattern is designed with fusible machine applique in mind. Full sized templates are included.
Finished Size: 60″ x 60″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Assumes the quilter already has a good working knowledge of quilting and applique skills.

Pattern designed by Sindy Rodenmayer – FatCat Patterns.

Next time you need to find just the right pattern for your little man, perhaps one of these great designs will work.  All — and many more — are available on

Happy Quilting

Reeze L. Hanson, Morning Glory Designs

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On Pins and Needles Part 1

On Pins and Needles Part 1

Are you “on pins and needles” when it comes to, well, pins and needles? Do you give them any thought at all? They’re our smallest tool but have the most important
job. Without pins holding our fabrics in place, we’d have a terrible time creating our lovely projects.

left to right: metal, pearl, glow in the dark,
plastic ball, no-melt flat, glass, quilting
When we head to the store to purchase pins the first thing we’re often drawn to is
the wonderful colors and fun shapes. But to find the correct pin for the task, you’ll
need to consider the pin’s anatomy and the project you’re working on.
Anatomy of the pin

Head should be picked based on the sewing task.

  • Metal Flat Head: Small solid metal pin. Great
    for handwork and pinning appliqué pieces.
  • Plastic Ball: Colored ball, pearl, and glow
    in the dark. Sized for many different purposes. Plastic ball may melt if
    pressed with high heat.
  • No-Melt Plastic Flat Head: Extra long, fine
    pin with a flat head for eyelet, lace, lofty and loose woven fabrics.
  • Glass Ball: Thinner, sharper pin with a glass
    head that won’t melt.
  • Quilting: Longer pin for holding thick layers.

Shaft diameter should not leave large holes in your fabrics.

  • .5mm – fine to lightweight fabrics
  • .6mm – medium-weight fabrics
  • .7mm to .8mm – medium to heavy fabrics
Shaft length should provide ease of handing for your project.
            Short: 1/2” – 7/8” for detailed handwork and close pinning on appliqué and trims
            Medium: 1 1/16” – 1 5/16” for multipurpose work
            Long: 1 1/2” – 2” for quilting and thick layers
Point should glide easily through the fabric without snagging the threads.
            Sharp for most woven fabrics.
            Ball Point is slightly rounded for knits.
Proper Way to Pin
Oops, I could have “heard a pin drop” after that headline. How to pin will often
trigger a debate much like “to wash or not to wash” fabric.
In class, I teach pinning parallel in the seam allowance when cutting a pattern.
Pins will be close to the cutting line, but you won’t accidentally hit them and
ruin your expensive scissors.


Pinning perpendicular for machine sewing works best. The fabric lays nicer, the pin can
be placed right where it’s needed, you can sew right up to the pin before removing it, pins are easy to see and pull out, and if you accidentally miss a pin chances are it will clear the machine needle.
If you were to pin parallel for machine sewing you wouldn’t be able to sew close
enough to the pinned seams before removing the pin. This would leave too much
of a chance that the seams will shift before being sewn.
Pinning perpendicular for hand sewing allows the fabric to gather nicely in your hand.
The pins fall gently into the folds of the fabric with less chance of stabbing you.


“To the Point”
  • Always toss out dull or bent pins.
  • Never sew over pins.
  • Don’t leave a pin in the fabric for long periods of time. This will create permanent holes.
Pin Worthy Fun

Until we meet again, I’ll leave you with a bit of fun. I think you’ll be amazed at how graphic designer Christophe Thockler used his pins and thread for this VIDEO!

Favorite Place by Black Books

  Always sew for fun!
Carol Steely, FunThreads Designs
Posted in Helpful Tips, Helpful Tools, Notions, Techniques | 5 Comments

Baby Quilts

Love is a newborn baby!

It’s no surprise that quilters love to make baby quilts. More and more of us are or are becoming grandmothers! And once the grands all have their first quilt the older kids are demanding a new one. I think that is why the median age for quilters is 64! We are in the business of making quilts for our children, grandchildren, and often the children of friends, neighbors. . . . well you get the picture.

It might be a hard task but there are just so many cute patterns that are hard to resist that some quilters make them to have on hand “just in case” a baby comes along in need of a quilt.

Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about baby quilts.  Applique, cute, traditional, modern, artsy — there is something to thrill any new mother here.

Turtle Tots Quilt – SWD508


The Turtle Tots quilt pattern features 10.5″ turtle blocks, which are used to make a cute children’s or baby quilt.
Finished Sizes:
Turtle Tots: 40.5″ x 50.5″
Art Quilt Scape: 19″ x 47″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: SWD – Southwind Designs – Annette Ornelas.

And what could be cuter than this spring themed bunny quilt with the pinwheel border?  This would be a perfect way to welcome a springtime arrival.

Spring Baby Quilt – QA 115


Fat quarter friendly, fusible web applique and lots of fun to make, this little quilt pattern is suited to a nursery wall hanging or crib quilt. The fabric used in the cover photo is “Bunny Tales”, a Feedbag reproduction line by Darlene Zimmerman, along with pastel Kona solids. Both lines are by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
Finished Size: 50″ x 58″
Skill Level: Intermediate
Designed by: QA – Quilting Affection – Tina & Diana Dillard.

Shelby’s Woobie Quilt Pattern – BHQ107


Fat-quarter friendly baby quilt pattern. Full-sized alphabet, numbers and other characters are included in the quilt pattern, reversed for fusible applique.
Finished Size: Approximately 36″ x 42″
Skill Level: Just Learning
Designed by: BHQ – Bear Hug Quiltworks – Lisa Alley.

Animal Crackers Quilt Pattern  – BHQ117


Easy piecing and applique for a baby quilt, perfect for a gift. Quilt pattern includes full-sized applique templates including alphabet, numbers and other characters that are reversed for fusible applique.
Finished Size: Approximately 40″ x 40″
Skill Level: Just Learning
Designed by: BHQ – Bear Hug Quiltworks – Lisa Alley.

Abby’s Elephant Party – RCQ588


Come join the party with Abby and her elephants. Momma elephant quilt pattern measures 77″ x 90″. Baby elephant quilt pattern finishes 48″ x 56″. Each quilt pattern uses fusible web applique for the elephant images. There are two sizes of templates, momma and baby. Both are actual size. This quilt pattern is named after a brave little girl named Abby (7 years old) who has had heart problems since birth. Her favorite animal is an elephant.
Finished Sizes:
Baby Throw: 48″ x 56″
Twin: 77″ x 90″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: RCQ – Ribbon Candy Quilt Company – Margie Ullery.

Hopscotch Maze Quilt Pattern SEQ-103


This is a quick and easy “no fail” quilt pattern for a beginner, that is the perfect size for a baby quilt or a play mat. A charm pack and solid yardage is all you need.
Finished Size: 39″ x 39″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: SEQ – Jackie Berdych – Sew Excited Quilts.

Sweet Dreams Quilt Pattern – CTG-029


Easy quilt pattern for the beginner. Easy four patch blocks and star & moon blocks to delight any baby and mother.
Finished Size: 48″ x 60″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Desgined by: CTG – Cottage Quilt Designs – Rochelle Martin.

For dozens of other great pattern ideas check out “Baby Quilts“.  I know I will be shopping — and sewing — for babies this spring, with a new grandbaby girl on the way this March!!

Reeze L. Hanson,  Morning Glory Designs

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