Thread Essentials

Have you adjusted yet to the new fabric prices?
Some things that may surprise you.....
     At Alma Sue's, we did not go back and re-price existing inventory to reflect the higher price of new goods.  What does that mean?  You will find our existing prices are less expensive than prices from elsewhere that are on sale!  The newly arriving goods is priced a bit higher to reflect increased costs.  We absorbed some of the increased cost of new goods and made that trade-off by discontinuing routine club discounts.  We will still give discounts for your club or group on retreat or traveling together in a shop hop.
     Don't be fooled when seeing a catalog price and think it is a bargain for one yard...some catalogs are pricing fabric by the HALF yard.  Double that price, add shipping, and you may find it really is an expensive bargain! 

     New and Recent Arrivals

     At your request, Monk's cloth is here for Swedish Embroidery.  Red and Green colors for Christmas, Black, Yellow, Turquoise, White and Cream.  Use to make tea towels, afghans, shawls, table runners, placemats....
     Huck toweling is back in stock.
     Locker hook kits, hooks, twine, and mesh are here; great way to use up those fabric scraps and make a rug.
     Solids are solids, until you see the new batch of Kaffe's shot cottons.  One color is used in the warp and a different color in the weft during weaving, which makes a wonderful irridescent color.  Make your quilt glow by using one of our new sateen solids.  Or try a Bali batik solid - all colors are back in stock.
     Kaffe paperweight print is refilled, all colors are back in stock.
     From Blank, fat quarter bundles of new Inspiration with proceeds going to fight Ovarian Cancer.  Also bundles of rock candy, landscape basics, stones, birch trees, wood shingles, etc.
     New purse kits - each kit includes pre-cut fabric, the pattern, and all hardware (zippers, handles, snaps) to complete the purse.  The only thing you need to add is your choice of fusible or or sew-in stabilizer.
     Books, panels, fabric, shades of red perle cotton for those of you doing redwork.
     Bundles of red, white, and blue patriotic prints for Memorial Day and July 4th holidays.

             A heartfelt thank you to all our customers for a good winter season. 
The summer is busy with sewing custom orders.  DEADLINE for Christmas orders is June 1.  If you are thinking of a t-shirt quilt or memory quilt as a gift, get your orders in ASAP.  The work schedule is already piling up with orders, so do not delay.    

Thread Essentials

Polyester Thread was introduced in the 1960's.  Improvements have steadily been made over the decades.  At the shop we most often sew seams with poly thread (50 weight), especially for baby quilts, t-shirt quilts, and memory quilts made from clothing, and here is why.  
1.  The thread is flexible, strong, and has just enough stretch so it will not break.  And no, it will not tear out your cotton fabric.  T-shirts are serged with poly thread in the seams.  What seams are more durable than those t-shirts?  Baby quilts have to survive frequent washing without the seams and quilting stitches snapping in the washer. 
2.  The thread doesn't produce as much lint as cotton thread. 
3.  Great variety of color, solid and variegated, colorfast (no bleeding), and variety of finishes that mimic natural fibers.  The poly thread with a matte finish gives a look of fine cotton.  The shiny finish is a good replacement for rayon embroidery thread.
4.  The thread is less expensive than fine silk or cotton.
5.  A 50 weight poly thread doesn't bulk up the seam, so it lays flat after pressing.  I have tried fine 50 and 60 weight cotton threads and they break too easily on my machine (personal preference).
6.  Poly thread is resistant to UV rays, rot, mildew, and chemicals.

Cotton thread has improved over the years.  The long staple cottons have less lint and are stonger than those available in the 1960's.  Use a topstitch needle with a larger eye to help prevent breakage as the thread feeds through the needle.  Egyptian cotton fibers are about 1 1/4 inches long.  American pima cotton fibers are about 1 1/2 inches long.  
     Cotton thread has no stretch, limited strength and produces a lot of lint in your machine.  It deteriorates in light (UV rays) and is subject to rot and mildew.

Cotton-wrapped polyester thread is made by wrapping a continuous poly filiment around a cotton core.  It incorporates the strength of polyester and the look of cotton and this should be a good choice for general sewing and quilting.  However, some companies have outsourced their production to China.  We have had problems with this thread because the filiments separate and strip, similar to the separation of those steel-belted radial tires from recent years.        

Invisible thread has improved so it no longer resembles fishing line.  This thread is soft and also will not tear your cotton quilt fabric.  It is strong, won't melt when ironed, and doesn't get brittle over time.  Loosen the tension in your machine to avoid the thread stretching.  Check your tension this way:  thread the machine, then pull the tail threaded through the needle.  If your tension is too tight, the thread will curl into a corkscrew and snap back.  Keep loosening the top tension until it no longer stretches and corkscrews.  You might have to loosen the tension of the bobbin (that little screw on the bobbin case).  It is suggested that you invest in and keep several bobbin cases handy and label them for use with invisible thread, poly thread, etc.  That way you won't have to keep adjusting the tension on the same bobbin case.  This works well for longarm bobbin cases.  

If you can't match a thread to your fabric, the traditional mantra is to choose a shade darker.  This works unless you are sewing on a light or pastel fabric, then try a thread that is a shade LIGHTER - it will blend in and disappear better than a darker shade.

Rayon Thread is made from a continuous fiber, has no stretch, little strength, the color bleeds, is less durable than silk or polyester.  Advantages are it is soft and beautiful and withstands high temperatures.  It is not recommended for constructing seams.

Silk Thread is made from a continuous fiber.  It is strong, smooth with a sheen, useful for hand-sewing, tailoring, sewing fragile fabrics. 

What about all those crazy numbers on the thread described as weight, ply, denier, texture?  Stay tuned for the next edition of "thread essentials."

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Ella M. Toy at Alma Sue's Quilts, Telephone 941-330-0993