Let’s learn about Needles – Needle Sizes

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Last week I talked about the anatomy of the needle.  Today we are going to look at the different types of needles and what you use them for.  All of this information is courtesy of Schmetz and Generations Quilt Patterns.

When a quilter talks about sewing machine needle sizes, they’ll say, “It’s an 80” or “It’s a 12” or “It’s an 80/12”.

Just what exactly do those numbers mean?

The Sizing Systems

The sizes are found on the front of the packaging (circled in red to the right).

That first number is the Number Metric (shown as NM). This system was set up in the 1940’s to standardize needle sizes.

It is simply the diameter of the needle shaft in millimeters multiplied by 100 to get rid of the pesky decimal places. That means that our standard “80” needle is really .80mm in diameter. (You’re glad you asked, right?)

What it means to you as a quilter is:

The larger the needle size, the stronger and thicker the shaft.

So where does the ’12’ of the 80/12 name come from?

It is nothing more than the merging of two measuring systems. The ’12’ comes from the corresponding Singer or US needle system. The ’80’, as we’ve learned, is the diameter of the shaft in millimeters multiplied by 100.

Next week I will talk about trouble shooting needle problems and how often you should change them.

Would you like to save and carry any of this information about needles?  Schmetz has their own app!  It has all of the information we have shared here plus more.  Download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

-Toni


DIY Picnic Blanket

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While you wouldn’t know it in some parts, Spring is almost upon us and I for one can’t wait to say goodbye to cold winter weather. In celebration of that, I thought I’d share this project for making your own Picnic blanket so it can be enjoyed as early as possible. 😀 For this project you will need:

  • 1 vinyl or waterproof tablecloth
  • 1 cotton tablecloth of matching size (48×60 is a common one)
  • 3 yards of twill ribbon (cut in half.
  • thread to match your tablecloth
  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Pins

You’ll want a nice flat area you can lay booth table cloths out on so you can pin the edges together. While doing this, take the two ribbon strips and fold them in half. Then, place them 1/3 and 2/3 of the way on the short end between the two cloths with the middle folded section on the inside. Make sure to pin them in place as you’ll be using these to tie the blanket closed.

 

With your blanket pinned, simply sew around the edges to bring everything together. When sewing over the ribbon section, be sure to back-stitch/reverse over them to make them more secure. You’ll be pulling on this point when you tie it closed so you want it to be reinforced. Once it’s all sewn up you’re done! Roll it up and place it in your car to be ready for your first spring picnic. 😀


Let’s learn about Needles – Types of Needles

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Last week I talked about the anatomy of the needle.  Today we are going to look at the different types of needles and what you use them for.  All of this information is courtesy of Schmetz and the Schmetz website.

SCHMETZ COLOR CODE CHART

Did you know that SCHMETZ is color coding their home sewing needles (needle system 130/705 H)? Most, but not all, household needles now have two bands of color. The top color band indicates needle type and the lower color band indicates needle size. Due to special features, SCHMETZ Universal, Hemstitch, Double Eye, and Quick Threading needles only have one color band to identify needle size.

SCHMETZ_Color_Code_ChartLG

 

needle_eye_comparison-Revised-011614

Denim/Jeans Needle — Color Code: Blue Feature: Modified medium ball point and reinforced blade. Fabric Use: Denim and similar fabrics. Advanced point design is a SCHMETZ exclusive. For penetrating extra thick woven fabrics, denims, or quilts with minimum needle deflection, reduced risk of needle breakage and skipped stitches.

Embroidery Needle — Color Code: Red Feature: Light ball point, wide eye and groove. Fabric Use: Use with rayon, polyester and other specialty embroidery threads. The special scarf, widened groove and enlarged eye protect fragile threads and guard against excess friction allowing trouble-free embroidery and decorative stitching

Jersey / Ball Point Needle — Color Code: Orange Feature: Medium ball point. Fabric Use: Knits and some stretch fabrics. Made especially for sewing on knits. The medium ball point does not damage or break knit fibers.

Leather Needle — Color Code: Brown Feature: Cutting point. Fabric Use: Leather, artificial leather, heavy non-woven synthetics. Do not use on knit or woven fabrics.

Metallic Needle — Color Code: Pink Feature: Elongated eye. Fabric Use: Metallic and other specialty threads. A “must have” for sewing with sensitive metallic threads. The elongated eye prevents shredding and breaking of metallic threads.

Microtex/Sharp Needle — Color Code: Purple Feature: Very slim acute point. Fabric Use: Micro fibers, polyester, silk, foils, artificial leather, coated materials. Very thin acute point creates beautiful topstitching and perfectly straight stitches for quilt piecing when precision is paramount.

Quilting Needle — Color Code: Green Feature: Special taper to the slightly rounded point. Fabric Use: Made especially for piecing and machine quilting. The special tapered design allows easier fabric penetration and helps eliminate skipped stitches.

Stretch Needle — Color Code: Yellow Feature: Medium ball point, special eye and scarf. Fabric Use: Elastic materials and highly elastic knitwear. The medium ball point, specially designed eye and scarf prevent skipped stitches.

Topstitch Needle — Color Code: Lt. Green Feature: Extra long eye. Fabric Use: Topstitch, heavy, multiple or poor quality threads. Achieve perfectly straight stitch lines and even stitches when using a straight stitch plate.

Universal Needle — Color Code: None Feature: Slightly rounded point. Fabric Use: Numerous – woven and knits. A great general purpose needle.

So what do those needle sizes mean and how do you pick the right one?  I will tell you next week!

Would you like to save and carry any of this information about needles?  Schmetz has their own app!  It has all of the information we have shared here plus more.  Download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

-Toni


Let’s Learn About Needles – Anatomy

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Last week I talked about the new Chrome sewing needles by Schmetz and why I love them so much.  I decided I want to know more about needles and how they work, so for the next few Saturday’s I plan on learning about sewing needles and want to share that knowledge with you, courtesy of Schmetz!

Just like people, needles have an anatomy.  If you know the parts of the needle, it will help you to understand the different types of needles better.

Butt: The beveled end allows easy insertion in the needle bar.
Shank: Household needles have a flat shank, while commercial and industrial needles have round, threaded, notched or other special shanks. Shanks allow perfect positioning of the needle in the sewing machine.
Shoulder: The sloping area transitioning between the shank and blade. SCHMETZ color codes appear on the shoulder.
Blade: Needle size is determined by the blade diameter (i.e., size 75 is .75mm).
Groove: The groove cradles and guides thread to the eye. The length and size of the groove vary according to needle type.
Scarf: The indentation above the eye that allows the bobbin hook to smoothly grab the thread under the throat plate to create a stitch. The shape and size of the scarf vary according to needle type.
Eye: The hole through which thread passes. The shape and size of the eye vary according to needle type.
Point & Tip: Length, shape and size vary according to needle types.

In addition to these parts of the needle, Schmetz adds two color bands to identify the needle type and needle size.  Next week I will talk about the different types of needles, what you would use them for, and the Schmetz color coding system.

Would you like to save and carry any of this information about needles?  Schmetz has their own app!  It has all of the information we have shared here plus more.  Download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play.


New Schmetz Chrome Needles

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I am a mostly self taught quilter and sewer.  I took a few classes on the basics of quilting when I first started years ago, but since then discovered things on my own.  Because of this, I don’t have a lot of knowledge of sewing and the best tools to use.  I am trying to fix the gaps of my knowledge and over the past year have taken more classes and asked more questions about why things happen.

One of the questions I asked was “why do I get a gunky build up on my needles when I applique”.  The answer was the glue from the applique was building up and causing the needle to stick which caused skipped stitches and uneven stitches.  The answer, a friend told me, was the new Schmetz Chrome needles.

They resist heat, wear, and allow the needle to pass through the fabric with less resistance.  I tried them out this week with the Link Stained Glass Quilt I am making for Nicole and LOVE them.

I used a single needle for the entire quilt top and didn’t have any build up at all. NO BUILD UP AT ALL!  I was pretty amazed and told Schmetz that I don’t think I could ever use any others now!

They are only in Sewing and Quilt stores.  So if you want to try them for yourself check your closest Sewing store.  If you don’t have any Sewing or Quilt store near you, you can buy them on line from Schmetz directly.  Although PLEASE support a local brick and mortar store if you can.

For the next few weeks let’s learn about needles together!   I will be talking about the Anatomy of the needle and how different needles can be used for different projects (and why you would want to).

 

 


Ghee’s Zipper Tutorial

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While I was in Vegas I met a very talented amazing person, Linda McGehee.  She is known for her unique designer-styled handbag patterns and accessories.  A lot of her patterns include zippers and use them in innovative ways, such as her new Zip to Shape Handbag Pattern.

In order to make this pattern you need to know how to sew a zipper.  So Linda gives you a free tutorial!

You can find more tutorials and free projects at Ghee’s website.  Want to buy some of her patterns or materials?

Linda has given us a discount code just for Craft Hacker readers!!

Enter code cos315 at the checkout and receive 20% off everything in the store!!

Are you making one of Ghee’s patterns?  We want to see it!  Show us your pictures in the comments we may feature you on the blog.

-Toni

 


New Studio!

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My studio is finally finished!

It took a lot of hard work, but I am ready to start live streaming and record tutorials!  Here are some of the pictures of the studio in progress.

I was super excited to unbox my new Olivia Sewing Cabinet by Arrow.

The sewing area is a lot wider than the Ikea table I used before allowing me to work on larger quilts.  The extension table on the back prevents quilts from hanging off and adding weight and pressure to the machine/  The new chair is very comfortable and give me a perfect height to use my machine.

The other new additions are my two Mod Thread Cabinets.

They hold all of my thread and I still have room for more!  They are super easy to use and all I need to do is spin around, pull out the right rack, and choose a color.

The last addition is the lighting set up and cameras to record.

This will allow you to see what I am doing without any shadows.  So where will I be streaming?  On Twitch!  Twitch is the world’s leading social video platform and community for gamers, video game culture, and the creative arts.  As a video game and comic book quilter, I think it is a perfect fit.

Follow my Twitch channel and then watch when I sew!  My streaming schedule can be found here.   My backers on my Patreon page will have input on when they would like to see me and what they would like to see.  Streaming starts next week!

Now to get sewing.


Adorable Felt Bookmarks

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I know traditional books are becoming a dying medium, but there is something wonderful about them. The weight and age a book can carry isn’t something that can quite be replicated with e-readers yet. So if you’re like me and still read bound books, I have some super cute felt bookmarks to share with you today!

These adorable things are handmade and designed by Italian creative artist Alessandra Rossi from Lanatema. They’re designed to not only help you find where you left off, but make it super easy as well since they sit on the corner instead of by the binding. Bonus, this also helps keep the spine from being stretched out! She has many other adorable felt creations listed up on her shop like phone cases, key chains, ornaments and even some plush! I certainly recommend you take a look if you are a fan of cute things. ^_^


A Hand Warming Experience

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Happy Sunday, all!

While we are enjoying some unseasonably warm weather this week, it’s still winter and the Midwest US is famous for it’s sub-zero temperatures. So how to keep warm? With a little help from some grains (or seeds)! I’m talking hand/feet/neck warmers here. If you spend any time at all on Pinterest, I am quite sure these have popped up in your feed at one point.

If they have unicorns on them, even better!

They are pretty fantastic and a tutorial for the rice type ones has been posted before on Craft Hackers (here) but I want to go a little more in depth because these things are super effective, easy to make, and great for gifts. I’ve seen tutorials for rice, corn and flax seed types but hadn’t quite settled on which one would suit me. Lo and behold, someone has actually done some informal research on the subject! Sew4home compared the three for the time it take for each type to cool down (read the entire article here).

Which will it be? Will longer grains prevail? The seeds? The round kernels?

It turns out that flax seed keeps the heat steady for the longest period of time but there are other parameters to consider such as smell, feel, and cost. Each has a bit of a smell when heated but this can be reduced by adding in some aromatherapy (a great tutorial with different smells can be found here).

A little lavender can go a long way!

As far as feel goes, corn with all of it’s round bead-like size can be the most soothing against the skin. Corn also heats up faster and has great heat staying power as well. My favorite tutorial for making corn bags comes from the PlaysWithNeedles blog where she has a handy dandy tip sheet for making a “Cozy”:

The final parameter they mention is cost but I would also put in an honorable mention for availability. Rice is generally cheapest and most widely available but if you have a feed/grain store nearby, corn and flax can still be very economic. Flax does recommend itself as a reasonable option, especially as it is a seed and won’t need replacing as often (a purely flax tutorial can be found here).

Although I can just imagine the mess that comes with flax vs rice vs corn cleanup.

Whichever you may choose, there are some items they all share in common when making a warmer/cooler (yes, these can be stored in the freezer for soothing ouchies and headaches as well):

  1. Only use 100% cotton fabric, flannel is preferable for feel but not a necessity.
  2. Only partially fill the bag so that it still has movement and is not as hard as a rock – this also helps when sewing the end closed.
  3. Ensure that before the first use, you zap it a couple of times in the microwave to kill off any possible bugs and eliminate moisture.
  4. A funnel is your best friend when filling.
  5. Put a double seam around the edges to prevent these from breaking open (the temptation to toss them like bean bags is great).
  6. A cover is a great way to prevent these from getting too dirty but again, not a necessity.
  7. Heat in a clean microwave as I’m fairly certain you don’t want them to pick up the smells of leftovers.

That’s everything I’ve saved along my way in the quest for fantastic hand warmers! I think I’m going to use some of this good weather to open the windows while I get some sewing done, in prep for colder temps I know are just lying in wait.

Stay crafty!

~Laura


My Favorite Princess Crafts

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Yesterday I talked about how Carrie Fisher, Star Wars, and Star Trek have had a huge impact on my life.  I shared some crafts you create yourself with Princess Leia as the center.  Today I am going to share some of my favorite Princess Leia art I have seen over the years.

My favorite art I have seen is a set of two quilts by Cheryl Sleboda.  She captured everything I love about Princess Leia.

Wee Little Sitches (my FAVORITE Cross Stitch pattern maker) created some amazing Leia patterns/prints through the years.

Finally Cosplayer Elizabeth Rage created this gorgeous dress.  This is how I see and remember Leia.

 

You will live forever in my heart Carrie.

-Toni