Free Motion Cutwork and Thread Choices
I had some fun quilting this week. I wanted a redo on a cutwork piece I’d done recently. I’ve taught it virtually and the class went very well but as I pondered my class sample, I decided I wanted to improve it. It was a bit of a risk, but it turned out well and proved my theory. I wanted to have more open cutwork space to better define the shapes, so I gave it a try:
The class sample seemed a little dense with too much fabric; it needed more open space. It looked a little blobby to me. Well what would happen if I went in there and added another row of stitching inside the petals and then cut out that space? In the photo above, the right-hand side is how it looked before the extra stitching and the left side has the stitching added. Already, the added stitching is a win.
After cutting the center portions out, I really liked the end result. It was well worth my time and a fun diversion. Ooops, I see a little guy I forgot to cut on the right-hand side in the middle – see it?
The cutwork left the cutest little pile of debris. I was tempted to save the shards, but for what? Besides, they could easily be recreated or even cut using my digital cutting machine. I tossed them.
That put me on a roll. I always suggest my students use a solid or near-solid, which is generally the best choice. But I had been wanting to try stripes. It could be a bust, but I wanted to try:
Front. I forgot to pre-wash my fabric and this rumpled thing is the result. Oh well, sigh, it just became a class sample on why you should pre-wash your fabric.
Too bad the fabric rumpled. I do like the stripes! A lot. So maybe next time it will be stripes.
This is how it looks out of the washer, very rumpled. It is impossible to press it in the normal fashion, as the tip of your iron will get caught in all the little empty spots.
A press cloth is a must. I do not like the cotton ones you get in the store. You can’t see through them well. I use silk organza as a pressing cloth – I can see through it and it does not absorb. The heat goes right through to whatever I’m pressing.
Another thing I was testing was using big, fat thread. Normally I tell my students to use a mid-weight thread but once again, I thought, what would happen if….I used a big fat 12 weight cotton, top and bobbin? This is not for the unexperienced quilter to put a huge thread like a 12 wt into the bobbin to free motion quilt! A lower-end machine would most likely have a fit with thick thread in the bobbin also. I know my threads and I know that Aurifil 12 wt is both high quality and linty. Yes, that is an unusual combination.
I hope you can tell from the photo, the Aurifil is more expansive and fluffy than the Wonderfil. It is personal preference, they are both high quality threads.
You can see the difference in them stitched out. Again, personal preference prevails.
But I love how 12 wt Aurifil looks almost like hand crewel work. So I was willing to put up with that lint:
I knew I would need to carefully and thoroughly clean my machine as soon as the project was done. Yeah, that’s a lot of lint but the stitching is oh so pretty!
After cleaning from the top, don’t stop there. If you are cleaning out your machine you need to finish the job and clean the bobbin area too:
Yikes, there is a lot of lint there! I used to use a soft make-up brush but I realized that I needed to get into the nooks and crannies where lint had lodged. That required a stiffer brush.
This is my weapon of choice:
the plain ‘ole brush that came with my machine. You need those stiff bristles.
When you’ve got lint like this, go one layer deeper:
And lookie there, I got a surprise – that little bit of light colored thread. I’m glad I opened it up! And see that second arrow there? You need to get out what you can from that crevice too. It can be a bit tricky. I would stick the brush in there to gather it up and then try to pull out the debris. It also required the use of my skinniest tweezers to pick it up the little gathered ball from that rim.
By far the bulk of my week has been spent on my speech for Houston (the opening night speech – yikes!). It is a tremendous amount of work and I’m only half done at this point. No worries, I will pull it out. Once I get a rough draft going I will feel a sigh of relief. But I am far from that point. Wish me luck!
I’ll be linking up:
Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday
Finished or Not Friday
Ellen Lindner says
Jeepers! Great info and great work. I’d love to see some detail shots of your cutwork.
It seems like it would take quite a bit of time to cut out all those shapes!
Yes Ellen, it takes time but it’s not complicated or fussy so it’s the perfect work for when you’re in a small quilt group chatting or watching tv, etc. It’s relaxing actually and oddly satisfying when you make the last cut on a particular area and the remnant drops out and you get the reveal. It doesn’t take much to entertain me:-)
Betty Jo Tatum says
I love your cut work here. I do like the stripes. I have noticed wide differences of characteristics in quality 12 weight threads. My cotton preference for machine work after much testing is Sulky, and that is not a brand I normally use. I also like the crewel work look you point out there of the Aurifil though. I really love the 12 weight wool blend Aurifil. Talk about lint! But I still use it. Great tutorial on cleaning the machine. Cheers.
I’ll have to pull out my Sulky Betty Jo. I normally avoid anything Sulky. The Aurifil is super linty but I think that’s what makes it look crewel-ish. It is kind of shockingly linty.
Jeanne Marklin says
Jenny, I am wishing you luck, but I think you already know that preparation is better than luck! You’ll be wonderful, and gain more fans.
Thank you for the vote of confidence Jeanne! Ugh, the prep is killing me right now!
Elizabeth V K says
Lovely and interesting! Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome Elizabeth! Thank you for reading.
Alycia Quilts says
Oh wow – that is just so pretty! I do like the extra cuts!
Thank you Alycia – I LOVE cutwork!
Kathy Moran says
When cleaning your machine you can also use a pipe cleaner. It gets into the skinny places a brush can’t go..
I forgot about that Kathy – thank you!!
The Joyful Quilter says
Melanie Dossey says
Thanks Jenny for being so transparent and showing your corrections.
And yes, I’m getting to the age of forgetting my grandchildren’s ages!
Best wishes in Houston.
We all have things to correct! It is a good problem to have so many grandchildren that you forget their ages!
Rebecca Grace says
Oh my gosh, YES to the additional stitching and snipping. The second version looks much more finished. Also loving the stripes and thicker threads. What a great idea, saving “what-not-to-do” samples to help students learn from your mistakes! I’ve been wanting to try some heavier thread weights in my 750 but alas, I took her in for her bi-annual Spa Visit and my estimated time without her is 3-4 weeks. :-(. Also I have visited two shops where I thought I remembered them carrying the heavier weight Aurifil threads but I was wrong; they only had 50/2. It’s just as well, because really I have no business chasing decorative machine stitching squirrels so soon after R2D2 has come to help with the long arm machine… Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I am loving this whole cutwork thing Rebecca Grace! It’s just so freeing. Do try the 12 wt, any brand. They sit up and shout and sometimes that is just what your project needs. You too, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!