Friday, March 2, 2012

I first meet Ellen many moons ago. We were both members of PAQA. When I saw her quilts I was just blown away. The thread play Ellen was doing was just wonderful and she has always been an inspiration to me.
Here is my interview with Ellen Ann Eddy.
Ellen you have machine quilted and done such exciting thread play on all of your wonderful quilts. 
What threads have you used that you really like to work with?
There are three basic considerations with thread. The colors have to be beautiful. There's no sense in working with bland or tired color.  I also really like thread to have a shine. The quality of the thread needs to be good. That translates largely as the strength of the thread. Finally price matters, because you can only buy so much. But thread that isn't beautiful and strong isn't worthy.
There are several threads I adore for different categories of the kinds of work I do. I do not work with utility threads at all. These are all made strictly for embroidery
# 8 weight metallics: These are the thick threads you use in the bobbin. Madeira, YLI and Superior put out Glamor, Candlelight and Razzle Dazzle respectively. They are all excellent and interchangeable. Together they give a very satisfactory color range.
#40 Threads:These are thin embroidery threads. There are poly, cotton and rayon versions. I've never liked cotton. It has no shine. I have used rayon but it simply isn't as strong. Some rayon color fades as well.  Mostly I use polyester. The shine is lovely.  It's machine strong and good for almost all machines. I'm particularly fond of Madeira's Poly Neon. It's very strong and has a fabulous color range. Superior's Polyester embroidery thread is very good as well. Don't confuse it with Bottom Line. Bottom line is a great quilting thread, but too thin for good embroidery.
I do love the tinsel threads like Sulky Sliver. They make a fabulous eye on a creature. The sheen is great. I also like to stipple with them. I always use them in the bobbin because they are quite fragile.
Finally I dye my own pearl cottons. I want threads that will shade across a surface, not in rainbow colors. My pearls are usually mixed with complements to darken and with full color ranges to fill in space. I don't know of a commercial line of threads that does that.
And why?
What kind of problems have you encountered with all this thread play on your quilts? Do you use stabilizers and what kind?
Thread breaks, just by it's nature. Good thread breaks less. The right needle and stabilization help. I like using a Halo, a red weighed hoop that keeps the surface tight. All of that helps. And you need to watch how your thread feeds.

Moonstruck by Ellen Anne Eddy
Everything puckers. It's the nature of too much thread. Lately, I make my most heavily embroidered pieces separately and stitch them on as an applique. I make a stabilizer sandwich of stiff non woven interfacing, felt and hand dyed fabric  (Put together either with Steam A Seam II or with 505 spray) and stitch on that. If it's bobbin work I have a pattern drawn from Totally Stable underneath. If it's fused fabric or sheers from the top, I have that glued on with Steam A Seam II. Either way, I do all my stitching, and cut all the ruffled edges away before I stitch it down to my top. I usually stabilize the top as well with a layer of felt as my bat and an interfacing underneath. I know what I'm making will not be someone's blanket. It's made to be wall art and I want it to have substance and a solid edge.

Daily Lily Dance by Ellen Anne Eddy
What is your favorite type of needle to use with these threads and why?
A  #90 topstitching needle is my needle of choice. It has a great sharp point, lots of punch power and a a smooth larger eye that breaks thread less.
You create your own quilt and quilting designs where do you get your inspiration from?
I draw largely from the natural world. I am endlessly fascinated with things in my garden, both plants and animals.

Dragonfly in Bloom by Ellen Anne Eddy
I tend to see people as animals and I tend to quilt them as such. But I don't know who it is while I'm in process. That's not important. I see an image or get a notion in my head. I just go with it. We sort out who it is and why when I'm done. It makes for odd family reunions hunched over quilts. But they all tolerate that by now.
Lately I've been working at an intuitive method for flower applique, documented in my new book, Thread Magic Garden. Day Lily Dance is an example from the book. It's very simple shapes cut and embroidered to make fabulous flowers.

What else would you like to talk about related to thread?
The invisible factor to thread breakage is how the thread feeds. If any thing catches on it's way to the needle, your thread, or your needle will break. So check that. Use a cone holder. Make sure you use the right thread cap with your machine. Thread feeding makes a huge difference with breakage.
Thanks so much, Frieda. This was fun. If anyone has questions they can visit me at my blog or website.
Thank you Ellen as always you inspire all of us with your fun, fanciful and whimsical designs and work.

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