Classes and Needles

Upcoming Classes

Stars and Stripes Runner - $25
Tuesday June 26: 1-4 pm
suitable for beginners!
fee includes precut fabric kit to make one table runner
learn how to make a star with 2.5 inch fabric strips and with NO set-in corners or triangles!  Make lots of runners for everyone, or make placemats, or sew more strips and make a quilt!  TWO SPACES LEFT.  Call 941-330-0993 for a seat!

Machine Maintenance and Cleaning - $25
Friday July 6:  10:30-12n
Stop paying $75 or more for machine service.  You can do this!  Eliminate skipped stitches and bobbin jams.  Bring machine, foot pedal, and machine manual.  Fee includes cleaning kit with chenille stems, machine oil, brush, and small screwdriver.

One Block Wonder - $45
New sessions added Tuesday July 31, August 7, 14:  1-4 pm
Fabric required:  Big print with at least a 6 inch repeat.  Stop in ahead of class and Faye will help you select a print.  Learn how to use those 60 degree markings on your ruler or mat, or bring a 60 degree triangle ruler if you have one.

Fractured Panel - $35
Wednesday June 13 and 20:  1-4 pm
Fee includes panel and supplies needed to finish project.

Needle turn Applique Table Runner - $38
Friday July 14 and 20:  1-4 pm
Learn how to needle turn applique and make a table runner on toweling (black or white) for an upscale farmhouse look, or on jute for a beachy look.  No quilting is required for this project, once the project is stitched you are done!  
Class fee include pattern, instruction, fabric kit and toweling or jute.  Duke is an Ellie Sienkiewicz trained appliquer.  You will love making stems with her simple method.  No need to buy that expensive "stem turner" gadget! 

Private Classes - $15/hour
Let us help you begin to sew again, learn how to use your machine, make a quilt, get started on a memory quilt project.  Stuck on one of your unfinished projects and don't know how to finish it?  Maybe all you need is a little help to get past that road block.  Call 941-330-0993.

Private Class/Rental on the sit down Quilting Machine - $20/hour
Learn how to finish your own quilts instead of sending them out!  Make a date with Teresa on Monday or Faye on Friday.  Fee includes thread and needles.  Pre-requisite:  must have done free motion quilting on your own sewing machine.  This is not a free-motion quilting class for beginners.

We are busy this summer doing several large projects.  Angie is in the process of getting all inventory uploaded with UPC barcodes.  There is no guarantee that increased technology will speed up checkout, but hopefully what it will do is avoid the same item being sold on the floor and online - oops, who gets it?  Possession is 9/10 of the law so the person who bought it in the store gets it and the person online is unhappy.  Keeping a virtual inventory will help but won't guarantee success on a day like today when the phone lines and internet are down, or when there is a power outage.  We have had outages 3 days in a row due to FPL "equipment failure."  One always has to plan for a backup, and when power is out we still have one hard wired telephone line to answer calls and run cards.  When both power and telephone lines are out, we have a credit card reader that works on satellite cell phone technology.

The quilt shop business has changed dramatically since we started 16 years ago, I imagine that is true of most shops.  Those who can't adapt fall by the wayside.  We need to adapt once more, with all the first-time visitors to Sarasota coming over from the hotel.  These people are not quilters, and not sewers, so they are not here to buy fabric.  Some seek out the shop after buying products from our online store.  Others want to see quilts, and particularly a quilt in the hand frame.  They tell us nostalgic stories of the quilt frames at their grandmothers house - I think every home in the 20s, 30s, 40s probably had a quilt frame where someone was making a comforter or quilt out of necessity because they needed blankets.  We find the men in particular often are overwhelmed to see hand stitching around a quilt frame - one wonders what beautiful memories this evokes that brings some to tears.  Last week a man looked over every inch of the quilt sticks and decided he would go home and make a quilt frame.  Now I don't think his wife was a quilter, or even someone who sewed.  But what she wanted to buy was a quilt for the bed.  
We had guessed that perhaps these new tourists would come in to the shop, wanting to buy a smaller gift item as a memento, but what is happening, they want to buy a big quilt, for their couch or for their bed.  So now we need to hustle and increase our quilt inventory.  We have a fair number of tops, just need to get them quilted and out for sale.  
So what I am leading up to is - we plan to have a massive inventory clearance sale in mid July (date not yet decided) to clear out all those smaller gift items we thought tourists want to buy.  Good time to start your Christmas shopping!  Watch the newsletter or facebook for a date and lists of things to be gone!  If it isn't a quilt or related to Florida or to quilting, out it goes!

I was asked to write about sewing machine needles again.  When do you change the needle on your sewing machine?  Mom used to change it when the needle broke.  In between time she had a small sandstone on which she would "sharpen" the needle.  Now I know that back in her day items were not so plentiful, and perhaps the metal used to make needles was much better and stood up to sharpening.  I don't even know what needle size she used or if different sizes were available.  We are frequently told to "put in a new needle with every new project."  Seems a bit frivolous to me, or maybe something a needle vendor would promote.  Then you wind up with a pile of "used" sewing machine needles and what do you do with them?  I save them because mom did.  I understand they are good to pound into the wall to hang pictures because they leave a tiny hole in the drywall.  Haven't really found a good use for these needles.  Any of you have ideas? 
So when do you change the needle?  I can usually tell from the sound of sewing through fabric, its that "clunk, clunk" sound - a dull needle.  Or when you get a lot of skipped stitches or if there seems to be a "burr" on the needle.  And then, what needle do you use?  There are way too many choices.  So let's make it easy.  
There are two kinds of tips on a needle - one is a blunt or "ball point" tip and one is a sharp tip.  The blunt tips are found on "universal" or "ball point" needles, used for sewing knit fabric.  The "universal" needle is just what it means, it should work ok for any type of fabric you plan to stitch - it will work ok but just not the best.  If you sew  apparel and lots of knits the universal is fine, or even the more blunt "ball point" needle works well.  So if you are making t-shirt quilts (most t shirts are knits), go ahead and use your universal or ball point needles.

Most of the time we are sewing with quilting fabrics, so we want to use a needle with a sharp tip, such as a "microtex" or a "quilting" or a "topstitch" needle.  Now I will tell you what Bob from Superior threads revealed.  He says there is one manufacturing line of sharp tip needles, then the line splits into three.  One of the three lines is packaged and labeled "microtex"  another of the lines is packaged and labeled "quilting" and the third line is packaged and labeled "topstitch."  What does this mean?  You don't need to carry all three types of needles in your notions bin.  So what's the difference between the universal and the topstitch needle?  Above the needle tip is the hole to thread the needle - the groove above the threading hole is called the "scarf."  On a universal needle the scarf is fairly small and not so deep.  On the topstitch (and quilting and microtex) needle, this groove is much larger and deeper, therefore this prevents your thread from rubbing against the metal and fraying and breaking.  So if you are experiencing a lot of fraying and breaking, it might not be your thread but the needle - switch to a topstitch needle.  Since quilters use differing thread sizes depending on whether they are piecing or binding or quilting, it is best to use a needle with a deep scarf to accommodate thicker threads.
That covers the type of tip and scarf.  Blunt or sharp tip.  Shallow or deep scarf.  So what about the needle size?  Most needles use dual size numbers:  European and USA sizing.  The size numbers 70, 80, 90, etc are European and 12, 14, 16 are USA sizing and refer to how thick or thin the needle is.  So you will see 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, etc on every package.  When compared to a size 10, the scarf on a size 12 needle is a bit deeper and longer, and on the 14 even more deep and longer.  To quilt with King Tut or other 40 weight or thicker thread, use a size 14 or 16 needle.  For thinner threads, 50 weight or 60 weight you can use a thinner needle, such as size 12 or 10.  If you are sewing silk or chiffon fabrics, then choose a finer thread and  thinner needle such as a size 10.

So what's in my machine?  I routinely use a size 14 or 16 topstitch needle which allows me to quickly move from piecing to binding to quilting with a variety of thread sizes and without changing my needle.  Use the needle that will accommodate the thickest thread you will be using.  This needle will work fine when you are sizing down to thinner thread.  But using a size 10 or 12 needle won't work well if you try to size up to a thicker quilting thread. 

Some people go all out and use a size 18 or even a 20 needle for quilting.  My personal feeling is those large needles punch big holes in your quilt, like perforations.  Especially true if you use batiks.  Stitch on a batik quilt with a large needle, then hold it up to the light and you can actually see perforations in the quilt like a ritz cracker. 

So in summary, you may want to keep a "universal" needle to sew knits or t shirts and a "topstitch" to sew everything else.  One size for piecing and maybe a larger size for quilting and binding.  Or just stick with one size, 14 or 16.
Hope that's helpful Carmen.

A request from us.  What do you do with all those plastic bags from the grocery store?  We use them and are getting low, so will be happy to take any of your extras.  Stuff them into one bag and drop them off, thanks.