Stitching into cloth paper

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Top 10 Contributor
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on 10 May 2009 7:58 AM

I have had great success making Beryl Taylor's gorgeous cloth paper and fell in love with the technique the first time I tried it, but I've had very bad luck with machine stitching into it. I end up snarling the bobbin thread at the back, shredding top threads, and even breaking a couple of needles. I can think of no better place to come for advice! :D

So here we go: what size and type of needle do you folks use when you stitch through cloth paper? What weight thread do you use? Poly? Silk? Cotton? Rayon? Do you use the same thread for the bobbin or do you use a different bobbin thread and then adjust your tension manually? Also, because of the humidity here, using white glue, even thinned to the consistancy of milk, can later cause my machine needle to gum up while stitching through it, so I've been using matte liquid medium thinned with a little water... could that be part of the difficulty I'm having?

Thanks in advance!! <3

- Judi

My Blog   My Art

 

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Posts 43
on 10 May 2009 8:34 AM

Hi, I've not had any troubles like you are having when I make paper quilts with fabric paper.  I usually use a basic universal needle and have used many different threads.  I do loosen my top tension a bit.

Are you stitching just into the paper itself?  When I'm using this type of paper, I am making paper quilts and I like to fuse my fabric paper to heavy interfacing such as Timtex or Peltex.  I find that for my paper quilts this is the perfect "batting" as it gives great support.  Maybe you should try backing the fabric paper with a stabilizer?

Terri Stegmiller, Mandan, ND
www.terristegmiller.com

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on 10 May 2009 9:05 AM

The Timetex might be exactly what's needed. I've always used lightweight stabalizers or no stabalizer at all and I bet that's the probelm. I have some cloth-paper scraps that I'm going to experiment with today, thanks, Terry!

- Judi

My Blog   My Art

 

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on 10 May 2009 6:53 PM

Well, I had mixed results with my cloth paper/stitching experiments.

The decorative straight-line stitching went really well and there were no ugly bobbin snarls or fraying of top threads at all. The machine stitched cleanly and beautifully through cloth paper backed with heavy Timtex. LOVED it!

However, once I switched to free-motion stitching, I only got about three shaky loop-d-loops out before the top thread frayed and broke. Is this just a matter of needing more practice, maybe?

- Judi

My Blog   My Art

 

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Posts 43
on 11 May 2009 4:08 AM

what kind of thread were you using?  And have you changed your needle lately?  Also, what type of needle do you use?  I will sometimes switch to a topstitching needle when working this way.

Terri Stegmiller, Mandan, ND
www.terristegmiller.com

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 469
on 11 May 2009 7:49 AM

I was using a size 50 100% cotton thread and a size 80 Microtex needle (I was out of Universals).

The thread could be the culprit, I suppose- if it isn't an actual antique (and it could be), it's at the very least, vintage- it came out of my mother's sewing box and has lived in there, she says, "for decades". It's on a lovely wooden spool and the price stamped on it says 5 cents. I LOVE this thread, and it looks strong and unmarred- it worked wonderfully for the decorative stitches- but it's possible that's its simply been weakened by age with no visible sign.

I'm also a newborn infant when it comes to free-motion stitching. I have a LOT to learn in that arena, so that could also be the issue (PEBMC- "problem exists between machine and chair" lol).

Terry, you rock for taking time to help me figure this out, thank you! Just getting past the point of shredding everything in sight on a straight-line decorative stitch is a huge breakthrough for me. I can't tell you how many beautiful papers I've destroyed trying to stitch into them.

I LOVE THESE FORUMS! :D

- Judi

My Blog   My Art

 

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Posts 238
Jody Johnson wrote
on 11 May 2009 10:26 AM

I think that your continued problems are likely a combination of the thread and needle together. A good site for information on both thread and needles is Superior Threads. They have an education centre that is very helpful regarding both. While they of course promote their product, they do have some good general tips and advice.

When I free-motion stitch I tend to use either an embroidery needle (my favourite) or a stretch needle. Embroidery needles from what I understand are heat hardened to make them more stress resistant and reduce breakage. The stretch needle is something new and unconventional that I have been trying and was on the advice of one of our local shop owners who does both traditional garment sewing and art quilting. The shank of the stretch needle is shorter and seems to minimize skipping. The first time I tried this needle I thought I got a bad batch as it kept making a popping sound which normally is an indication that it is time to replace your needle. I think though it is just a characteristic of this needle or a combination of my needle and the batiks I typically use (I need to do more experimenting to determine this). Although I have not used these 2 needles on papaer, they might be worth trying. I have stitched through not only fabric but a number of mixed-media with these needles and have had very few problems.

Hope this helps.

Jody

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Posts 469
on 11 May 2009 12:54 PM

Jody, thank you so much for the advice and for a heads-up on that amazing site. I can see I'll be spending a lot of time there, learning. :D I will try an embroidery needle and the next time I head into my local quilt shop (my second favorite place in the world), I will check for the stretch needle you speak of. Thanks again! :D

- Judi

My Blog   My Art

 

Top 50 Contributor
Posts 133
on 12 May 2009 3:16 AM

Hi  - I stitch a lot onto paper - you need a backing for it of some kind of 'fabric' as the thread needs somethign to grip to.  Its not so much the size of the needle which matters as changing them frequently, as paper blunts needles, much like scissors blunt with frequent paper use.

Have you cleaned the face of your machine where the thread runs?   Don't squirt anythig direct onto it - you can buy sewing machine cleaners, but a furniture polish with silicone in it will do.  Squirt it onto a cloth and then rub all around, also on the bed of the machine.  I also use baby wipes or a  really wrung out soapy cloth. 

When you're free-machining, do you bring up the bobbin thread to the top before you start, so that both threads are on the top?  Do that and hold them in your fingers for the first few stitches, to stop them getting dragged back underneath.  Its often if the bobbin thread is left n the underside that it can jam up.

Sometimes threads can seem too tightly wound on the spools, I've had them where they seem not to flow so well, or suddenly a mass drops off the spool and tangles on the spindle.  So I wind them off onto a bobbin and use that on the top.

Hope that helps

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 469
on 12 May 2009 10:35 AM

FibreReaction:
Have you cleaned the face of your machine where the thread runs?   Don't squirt anythig direct onto it - you can buy sewing machine cleaners, but a furniture polish with silicone in it will do.  Squirt it onto a cloth and then rub all around, also on the bed of the machine.  I also use baby wipes or a  really wrung out soapy cloth.

It's only a few months old but I've had it apart a few times to clean the dust and debris out of it.

FibreReaction:
When you're free-machining, do you bring up the bobbin thread to the top before you start, so that both threads are on the top? 

I always used to do that with my old machine but I'm finding it difficult to nearly impossible to do it with this top load bobbin. I'm not sure what the difficulty is with that, still exploring it.

FibreReaction:
Sometimes threads can seem too tightly wound on the spools, I've had them where they seem not to flow so well, or suddenly a mass drops off the spool and tangles on the spindle.  So I wind them off onto a bobbin and use that on the top.

Which brings me to another question (there are always 1000 for every 10 I get answers to LOL)... when you wind your bobbins, do you like to run the machine faster? Slower?

Thanks so much for taking the time to write your post. :D

- Judi

My Blog   My Art

 

Top 50 Contributor
Posts 133
on 13 May 2009 5:50 AM

Approachable Art:

Which brings me to another question (there are always 1000 for every 10 I get answers to LOL)... when you wind your bobbins, do you like to run the machine faster? Slower?

 

Actually, I don't pay that much attention to speed of winding.   ggg  All I do look at is to see that its winds evenly.  I'd only wind slowly if using a mnofilament thread, as that can stretch.  I do use the recommended bobbins for the machine.  I have a Bernina which uses metal bobbins, and whilst you can buuy plastic ones which appear to fit, I think the actual weight of them is important for the machine to operate properly.  I have actually wound a plastic bobbin and had it explode, it was like a streamer this cascade of thread spewed out!!!

Not sure how you lift the bobbin thread with your machine.. but mine its a quick tap on the foot pedal whilst holding the top thread... however, 9/10 I do it manually, and turn the flywheel, by hand.

Cleaning the machine, I was meaning about the fascia where the thread runs - but a quilting friend told me you should clean the machine for every 2 hours of stitching!!!  I'm not that good, but paper dust will build up quickly - and let me tell you, a black blob of lint will always firmly weld itself to your work, especially when the background is white!!!

Oh and I was told not to move the machine around the house, apparently they like to settle in to a room and its temperature, and don't take kindly to moving - which is why if you take them out on a workshop they can suddenly misbehave.  I also switch my machine on a soon as I know I'm going to sew that day - even its not til an hour later, and I leave it on until I'm finished for the day.  I don't know if it actually needs this, but its harmless, and seems to be happy to go when I am

 

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 469
on 13 May 2009 7:29 AM

FibreReaction:

I do use the recommended bobbins for the machine.

I learned the hard way with my old machine that not using the proper bobbin is deadly to the thread/needs/fabric/paper you're using. I went through horrible angst and frustration using an old Singer bobbin that LOOKED just like every other bobbin in my kit. I can't tell you how many materials I demolished in the process. Finally, the repair man at the shop told me what the problem was. I changed bobbins and poof, no more problems!

 

- Judi

My Blog   My Art

 

Top 25 Contributor
Posts 274
Dale Kathryn wrote
on 13 May 2009 2:19 PM

When I am artsy-quilty sewing I start out with an embroidery needle and change to metallic or topstitch if I'm not getting the results I expect.  I also usually use Invisafil 100wt bobbin thread and the embroidery bobbin case for my machine and loosen the top tension a bit.

Approachable - for every problem, there's a solution. For every solution, there's a problem! :D 

TADA / BC

"To create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage." - Georgia O'Keeffe

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 469
on 13 May 2009 5:24 PM

Dale, thank you for the advice! I've been using a topstitch lately and am liking the results. I've been either using 60wt bobbin thread or the same thread as in the needle... is there a reason you like the 100wt best? I've not heard of an embroidery bobbin case for my machine, not sure there is one, but I'll ask at the quilt store the next time I'm in there, thank you! :D

- Judi

My Blog   My Art

 

Top 25 Contributor
Posts 238
Jody Johnson wrote
on 14 May 2009 9:07 AM

I didn't even think of talking about what I use in the bobbin before. I love love love using invisafil by Wonderfil too or The Bottom Line by Libby Lehman - Superior Threads. Both of these are very fine and reduce bulky build-up underneath with heavy quilting/embroidery/thread painting. I rarely, if ever now, match my top thread to my bobbin thread when doing these techniques and use these threads in the bobbin no matter what I am using in the top (poly, rayon, cotton). I tend to pick a colour that closely matches the thread I am using for the top to minimize its visibility.

When mixing thread weights in the bobbin and top I will test, test, test using the fabric and batting in my project until I get the top tension right. I re-test when I change thread colours (top) even if I am using the same brand just to make sure.

Another benefit is that you can wind a pile of thread on a bobbin and it seems like you can quilt forever without having to change your bobbin out. I HATE changing my bobbin!!!!!! As well, I now keep a stock of wound bobbins with several basic colours (white, cream, sage, tan, blue, brown, black) so I don't need to worry about winding a bobbin mid-way through a project or even at the beginning.

Hope this helps. I am curious to hear if Dale's reason for using the invisifil in the same as mine.

Jody

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