>Preparing to pintuck

>On the tote bag pattern I showed 2 days ago there is a bag with pintucking. To do it you need the right equipment. You have to have a double needle. The pattern calls for a 3.0 which means there is a 3 mm space between the points of the needles. A lot of my packages were purchased back when Pfaff was still putting their name on packages. You can see they come in lots of different sizes and even a triple needle is available, but not for pintucking. The 6.0 is for doing the double row of stitching when hemming a T-shirt, to look like the stitch from the manufacturers. The one shown is a regular one; I also have a ballpoint one somewhere. The tote bag pattern also called for a 3 groove pintuck foot. I see I have a 5 groove and a 7 groove which means the pintucks wouldn’t stand up as tall. I also have the foot at the bottom that is a single groove with a side panel that will ride on your previous pintuck so you can have evenly spaced tucks. You can also do fancy stitching down between 2 tucks with this foot. It looks like I may need to buy a 3 groove foot.
I do a lot of playing on little samples that sometimes just stay as samples, never made into anything. The next 2 pictures are my playing with a double needle and no pintuck foot. You will still get a tuck without the foot, just not as tall. These are hand dyed fabrics from Cherrywood.

On this next sample I also did not use a pintuck foot, just a double needle and tension tightened a little. Then I wanted to see if I could do a machine embroidery over the top of the pintucks.
I think it worked pretty well.
A long time ago I gave classes on making quilts from old blue jeans. I took one of the softer pairs of jeans, cut a square and started playing with the double needle again. Then I came back and couched down some hand dyed thread with a clear monofilament zig zag stitch.
Now I just have to decide what fabric I am going to use for the tote.


>Trial blocks

>Here are 2 trial blocks that I talked about trying yesterday. One has the wider strip first, and on the other block second. With light centers they will have light edges so they could be alternated light/dark all through the quilt. Because I get headaches with strong storms (barometric pressure changes) I didn’t feel so well yesterday and all I got done was the quilting in the border of the flannel quilt, the trimming, and cutting the binding. I still have echoes of the headache today so I may just do some more cutting of Kaffe fabrics.

A friend gave me 2 lilies about 3 years and and this year they are just filled with blooms. This little flower bed has 2 Rose of Sharon bushes with lavender flowers, so I hope the lilies will still be blooming when the lavender blossoms start. It is a beautiful, low humidity, cool day here in Illinois.

One last thing about sewing machine needles that I should have mentioned in my first post about them: if you have a Singer machine with a drop in bobbin you may only be able to use Singer brand needles. Other needles may cause skipped stitches. You should never use Singer brand needles in any other machine because it could damage the hook area of your machine. Unfortunately Singer does not make as large a variety of needles to choose from.

>Where oh where did my binding go?

>I made the top of this small quilt about 15 years ago. About 5 years ago I quilted it and about 2 years ago I started the binding. It has been moved from place to place in my sewing room during those 2 years, and now I can’t find the rest of the binding strips. I am half way done, so today I am looking for the strips again. If I don’t find them I will cut more, maybe from a similar but not the same fabric if I don’t have any more of it. I have a couple additional thoughts on the needle post I did yesterday. One person mentioned changing the needle often. I know people who won’t change one unless it is bent. What most people don’t know is that the eye wears out before the point a lot of the time. This is especially true with polyester thread.

If you ever hear it making a ticking sound as you are stitching, there is a tiny bend or burr on the point and if you don’t change the needle you can damage the hook area of your machine. Which is cheaper, new needle or repair on the machine?
Also, did you know the Schmetz cases have a magnifier strip on the case (on the cases with the little bumps at the tops of the needles)? If you put the needle in the little case, turn it rounded side up and close it, the raised bump strip is a magnifier. You can hold it under the light of your machine and read the needle size. I noticed some of the newer cases are totally flat.
Also some of the needles are color coded with a dot (Schmetz brand), blue for denim, purple for Microtex, red for embroidery and green for quilting. At least you can identify which type you are using by the dot, even if you can’t read the size.
Also stretch and ballpoint needles are for knits. They won’t cut the fibers like a sharp needle will. Did you ever see all of the little holes along the seam line on a t-shirt? That was caused by a sharp needle. Also some delicate woven fabrics need the ballpoint needle to go between the fibers, but usually a size 70 or smaller.
Another thing, the needle threaders on your sewing machine were made to work for size 80 and larger needles. If you use 60’s and 70’s you have probably noticed it doesn’t work as well, or not at all. I can use mine on 70’s if I am careful.

>Sewing machine needles

>When I got my first sewing machine in 1954 there was only one kind of needles, sharps. By the 1970’s when polyester doubleknit was the fabric of choice for clothing, the ball point needle was invented. A sharp needle on the doubleknits just bounced and couldn’t penetrate the fibers so you got skipped stitches. The ball point needle actually went between the fibers and produced a perfect stitch.

Then they invented the universal needle. It is halfway between a sharp and a ballpoint. It is called universal because it works on most fabrics. It has a slightly rounded point. This solved the problem for people that didn’t know what type of needle they needed. However when you get into tough fabrics like denim, you need a sharp needle but not necessarily a bigger needle.

I worked off and on at a sewing machine store for over 30 years. The majority of the people who came in didn’t have a clue what type of needle they needed, they just wanted a larger one. Then they were getting a lot of puckering with the larger needles because they punch bigger holes in the fabric. In most cases with heavier fabrics, you need a sharp needle but could still use a sz. 80. So then denim needles were introduced. Rather than telling you it is a sharp needle, they named a type of fabric that it could be used successfully on.

Then the needle companies decided an even broader range was necessary. Now you have to know both the type of needle and the size of the needle when you go to a store to purchase them. Not all sales people are created equal. I have met employees of fabric stores that have never changed a needle and can’t help you with your choice. I was one of the other kind. I probably gave the customer too much information about the needles.
One needle that seems to be a problem solver for a lot of people is the topstitching needle. It is a sharp and has a larger eye so the stitch connects better through thick fabrics. Topstitiching needles are also needed when you use heavy weight thread. Now there are quilting needles which also make the stitch connect better in thickness.

Microtex needles are sharps and are the most tapered. They were made for microfibers like your silky shirts. They are also great for piecing on quilting weight fabrics. I use size 70 for piecing regardless of which style needle I am using. This creates less puckering of seams.

So now on to sizes, 60 is very fine, 70 lightweight, 80 midweight, 90 and larger, heavy duty. For piecing 70-80 is sufficient, for quilting 80-90. For sewing heavy canvas you might like a sz. 100 but make sure that is a sharp, not a universal. Remember sharper, not larger works in most cases.

If you have a Singer machine with a drop in bobbin, Singer brand needles might be your only choices. Other needles may cause skipped stitches. You should never use Singer brand needles in any other machine because it could damage the hook area of your machine. Unfortunately Singer does not make as large a variety of needles to choose from.

Is that more than you ever wanted to know about needles?