28 April, 2009

"Let's Talk" Tuesday...

Today's topic is back to basics, let's discuss the most basic tools of our trade: needles and thread.

Do you have a favorite needle for handwork, for quilting, what about thread? Are you loyal to your tried and true choices or do you prefer to try new products whenever you discover them?

I met up last week with the gals from my Bee to help out a friend with a binding project. The bindings were already applied by machine and we were to assist with the hand finishing portion of the job. I knew exactly what to throw in my bag for supplies: my favorite thread, needles and a small pair of stork scissors; that's all I need. As the binding party progressed there was much discussion about a new (at least to me) needle for accomplishing this handwork, several of the gals were trying it out and really liked it. When I find a needle, or thread, that I like that's it, my search is over. I rarely try new things anymore in that regard. So, what are the choices? After years of trial and error here's my definitive list:
Needles: (hand) quilting-- Clover, between, size 12
(hand) applique-- Piecemakers, sharps, size 12 (I use these for handwork on bindings, too.)
(machine) Schmetz Sharps 80/12 for piecing and Organ for machine embroidery
Thread: (hand) applique-- Mettler machine embroidery thread, cotton, 60 wt.
(hand) quilting-- Mettler, cotton, 40 wt.
(machine) piecing-- Aurifil, cotton, 50 wt. (top and bobbin)
(machine) all other sewing: Mettler, cotton, 50 wt. (top and bobbin)

...and sew, let's talk...
What are your favorites?
Life is Good!


The Calico Cat said...

Get ready to call the loony bin...
As for thread, I have NO preferences... (I buy mettler because that is what they sell...) Back to the no preferences thing... I piece with what ever is in the machine... With few exceptions, I use the pre-wound bobbins that they sell at my LQS.

needles, if the thread fits through the eye, I use that needle... (So I use the same needle for applique that I use for hand quilting.)

The current package is mostly black - not sure the brand although I prefer the ones that have a spot for the needle instead of the ones that are "just" in an envelope, but that is more for me to be able to get a needle out without stabbing one under my fingenail rather than a prefernce based upon use.

I but at my LQS - that is my quality control...

LauraQuilts said...

I love Clover #10's for applique, but for hand quilting - it's Roxanne's betweens. They are tiny, tiny, tiny, but I have a much nicer quilting stitch. Love the Aurifill for piecing - I was a big fan of Star thread for piecing until I found the Aurifill - I just wish it weren't so expensive. I use YLI Silk for applique, one of these days I'll have them all! I'm also partial to YLI for machine quilting as well. Those Scarlet Ladies needles were wonderful, though. I don't think I could bend them as quickly as I can bend others!

Domestic Designer said...

Well I use Piecemakers sharp size 9 for hand quilting, Clover size 9 sharps for applique, Bernina or Schmetz 80/12 for machine piecing. I use all cotton Mettler thread....40 wt for quilting and 50wt for piecing. I am currently trying to use up some Coats and Clark Hand quilting thread that I won as a door prize. I think I have every color of the rainbow, but I wish it was Mettler! :-)

Anonymous said...

Betweens are my needle of choice for hand sewing the bindings and I prefer silk thread. Also I use silk for hand applique. For hand-piecing (my GFG for example) I use a between and silk.
Beside my sewing machine I keep a pair of gray small Fiskars snips and a stiletto and two sizes of pins - silk and longer ones with glass heads. I like cotton thread for machine piecing, usually I use Coats & Clark Star brand on the large core spools. I like a leather inexpensive thimble for hand work although I have a beautiful Roxanne thimble that I rarely use, it's not nearly as comfortable as the leather one.

Bonnie said...

I like size #10 sharps for applique and for doing binding. Never could get used to the straw needle thing..too long and bendy, and I hate needle threaders. I want that thread to go through the eye..without help..period!

Roxanne #11's are my quilting needle of choice.

I love YLI quilting thread...


Libby said...

I'm of the find something and stick by it mindset. For hand work (applique, piecing, binding, quilting) I use YLI handquilting thread and Richard Hemming Big Eye betweens needles size 8 or 10 depending on the project.
At the machine, I piece with Aurifil 50 wt and I'm experimenting with threads for quilting - once I find the one I love - I'll probably use it forever *s*

p.s. When we eat out - I always order the same dish. Once I find a dish I enjoy, I don't want to take the chance of being disappointed by making a new selection.

OhQuilter said...

I have commited to participating more but this topic is over my head! But that is OK I thrive on the need to learn more and this forum feeds that opportunity!!

Zlaty said...

I am not afraid to try new things! I recently tried a new frosted ruler and I love it!
I am not so picky about the needles, but recently bought quilting needles for my machine for quilting and I actually changed my needle and they worked very well!

Happy Sewing!


Salem Stitcher said...

I used to try all kinds of threads but with the thread breakage I have experienced lately, I have come back to Coats and Clark for all machine work. Dottie Moore, a wonderful fiber artist once said she used C&C for everything and I figure if it is good enough for her increadible work, it is good enough for me. I've learned not to buy cheap thread.

For hand applique, it's YLI silk. Like LauraQuilts, I am working on having a complete collection of all the colors for no other reason except I like to look at them in the box.

Machine needles... Schmetz Sharps 80/12 for everything. I'll use Universals for piecing to but on;y because I have a stock of them. Eventually, I'll use them all up and just use Sharps.

Hand quilting - Rozanne's #12 quilting needles...though I can't remember the last time I actually hand quilted anything. (I need to change that.)

Hand applique - the jury is still out. I pick up applique needles every time I see something different, just to give it a try. the Scarlett applique needles everyone was trying at the binding party are currently my favorites.

Carrie P. said...

I really like John James size 11 sharps for hand applique.
I have been using the thread from Connecting Threads for my machine piecing. I really like it a lot and it is a great price especially when they have a sale.

Carole said...

Hum... I enjoy trying out new needles. I know it doesn't make sense (sort of like the 1/4 inch being different on every machine) but, they are all different! I use the same as you for machine piecing, for thread, I use Master Piece.

Machine embroidery I use Schmetz universal 80. They are cheaper and perform just as well as the expensive organ (it's easier for me to discard one after a block ;o).

I use a 10 straw/milliners needle (Richard Hemming) for hand sewing my binding. I like a long needle.

YIL silk for hand applique is my favourite (4 essential colours) with an 11 straw/milliners needle (Foxglove Cottage).

I use the Mettler 60 wt embroidery (Love the choice of colours for machine applique)with a 70 sharp schmetz.

Wow, long comment! After years of trying things out, those are my favourites. I haven't hand quilted in a while, but my favourite needles are John James 12.

Keep well!