Monday, October 12, 2015

Machine Needles for Quiltmaking

Hello all.
How are all of you doing? It's October and Christmas decoration are in stores. No. Stop the madness. It's too soon. :)

Quilt Market is coming up in 2 weekend. I have one more weekend to pull all my stuff together. As I bring my ideas to paper, I have phases. Phase 1 is like, "this is an amazing idea, can't wait to visualize it." Phase 2 is "why can't this go any faster, my family needs me." Phase 3 is "no one is going to get it, maybe I should start over." Phase 4 is "yay, I'm glad I pushed through and this is exciting, can't wait to show it." I'm happy to say, I'm in phase 4. I just need a little more time for fine tuning. 

Though none of my work is every "perfect." Yes, I'm able to get to a point of happiness, but to say it's absolutely perfect, well, I haven't achieved it. I don't think I ever will, nor do I try. I feel if you're striving for perfection, either one you'll never get it and then be discouraged, or two, do get there and lose motivation to continue to create. I do try to improve, learn, continue to be inspired, and grow. To evolve as an artist is all I ask for.


Today, let's talk about machine needles for quiltmaking. What do you use? Short and simple, I use an Universal 80 needle for both quilting and piecing. Sometimes, I use an Universal 70 when piecing  with Art Gallery Fabric or other similar weight fabrics. But most of the time, the safe bet is always 80. My thread of choose is the Aurifil 100% Cotton 50 weight thread. I use it for piecing and quilting.

It can be quite overwhelming to browse the machine needle options when selecting the needle package for your project. When reviewing a package of machine needles, you’ll observe two numbers separated by a slash. The number on the left of the slash is the Eurpenze size that ranges from 60 to 120 at increments of 10. The number on the right is the American size that range from 8 to 21 at increments of 2. Common used sizes for quilting are 70/10, 80/12, and 90/14. The bigger the number, the larger the eye of the needle. Now that’s the size of the needle, but there’s also the type of needle.

It is important to choose the correct needle size to match your fabric type and weight. As the needle size grows larger, the size of the needle is bigger. Most of my piecing and quilting is sewn with an 80/12 Universal needle. It is important not to select a needle too big, as a big needle can create holes to your quilt as the quilt ages. Let light shine through your stitches and do you see little holes, perhaps a smaller needle is best. For piecing, I could use as small as a 70 needle, but for quilting, I rarely go bigger than 90. Really, my happy place is 80.
The types of needle consists of differences in the shaft, eye, and points of the needle. An Universal 80 needle works well for me, but that's because I'm using quality quilting fabric and thread. Say, I wanted to use metallic or variegated threads, you'll have to play around with other types and sizes. I have quilted with both metallic and variegate threads, successfully. At those times, I use a Topstitch 90 needle. The reason, the eye is more rounded, rather than squared (with sharp corners). I find that running these threads through a Universal, Sharp, and yes the Metallic needles can fray the thread because it gets caught in the corners of the needle hole. If you are experimenting with a new thread, then ask around to see what other have used, browse the internet, and experiment on scraps to achieve the perfect tension on the right needle.

Market in 2 weeks. Wish me well.

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