Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Thread Hits the Fan. . . and the fabric

All the greenery is now on the house block. Whoopee! You wouldn't believe how long the happy dance lasted when that happened. Or maybe you would. Anyway, I secured tear away interfacing to the entire house block, which by the way, measures 41" x 36" untrimmed and without borders.

Interfacing can perform a variety of functions. It can help a garment retain shape, say for a shirt collar staying firm. It can be used to secure one piece of fabric on top of another. It can also be used to temporarily keep the fabric stiff so that when sewing through the fabric, the fabric doesn't get pushed down into the throat plate of the sewing machine. That's what I'm using it for right now because this step of construction involves making sure every piece of each block is secured with thread. If this were a paper collage, it'd be the sealant part. When I've finished stitching around the fabric, then I will tear off the interfacing from the back side. Technically I could leave it on but it wouldn't make for a very soft quilt if I did.

The original plan was to secure the pieces with monofilament thread. At some point in the past, there was a genius yet sadomasochistic quilter. Maybe it wasn't a quilter, maybe it was a tailor, but the genius and sadomasochist part still hold true. Monofilament is nearly invisible thread. If you thought "Isn't that just fishing line?" then you're right. How appropriate for a quilt with two very large fish on it. Anyway, having a thread that can secure things and be invisible is a great idea. In reality, this stuff is awful to work with. My machine decided to throw a hissy and refused to work with it. It created huge snarls of thread under the test fabric and thank all the higher powers of creation that I did work with test fabric instead of the blocks! It broke titanium coated needles. I fiddled with top thread tension and bobbin tension over and over and after two hours of frustration I decided that monofilament was no longer an option and the creator of said technique had a wonderful idea but to actually follow through with it on his or her own work and then tell others they should use it too was extremely cruel.

At that point I knew instead of thread painting throughout the blocks as an embellishment was going to have to be ramped up. The whole thing was going to have to be thread painted. I ran off to the fabric shop to get even more coordinating threads. By the way, in case you are ever doing this, the trick on picking thread is to pick things that are darker than the fabric you want it to go with. The darker colors tend to be skipped over a bit more by the eye so it's not as obvious that it's thread and not fabric. If you are not closely looking at the block, it blends beautifully. If you're closely looking at the block, "Gee, look at that, there's darker thread around everything."

This doesn't really add more time to the construction process because I was going to be going over everything anyway. It does make it more nerve wracking because now if I am not in precise control of the fabric moving under the needle at all times, I will have to do some dreaded "frogging." Rip it, rip it, rip it.

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