The Thread From H-E-Double-L

My nemesis was lurking in my threads box waiting for the day I would need a glittery silver thread.  That day arrived when I chose a galaxy for a Chinese Year of the Dog quilt challenge. I’ve never owned a dog so I don’t have a burning desire to capture my fur person in fabric. I’m OK with dogs, but don’t turn to mush over them.

Instead, I decided to do an outline of the Canus Major constellation, which contains Sirius, the dog star.  I FMQed glittery synthetic black organza to a piece of navy cotton, and then outlined the constellation using my mother’s tracing wheel and paper.

The constellation of Canis Major and nearby open clusters and nebulas.

My problems began at this point. I wanted to use a silver metallic thread over the outline, but had only a Sulky thread called Holoshimmer in the right color. Since I didn’t see this challenge piece as a work of art I had no intention of buying additional supplies. Holoshimmer it was.

Even after following the helpful hints on the Sulky website I had issues with the thread. I was using a jeans stitch to outline the constellation and that went OK except for one thread wrap-around that broke the thread. The real issues started with the zigzag edge stitching. Despite the vertical thread stand, stitching slowly, and 50 weight bobbin thread; the Holoshimmer insisted on wrapping itself around all the openings on my machine, causing the thread to break many times. I finally ended up hand feeding it through my tension discs to remove tangles. Never have I been so glad to see the starting point of a stitch line. The spool of thread is now in the trash.

Everything after that was anticlimactic. I sorted through my Swarovski crystals to find appropriate colors and sizes. and glued them on for the stars in Canus Major. Because the piece is so small I made a backing for it out of a painting experiment. I found that my Decor bond had lost most of its adhesiveness. I didn’t think it was that old. My mother’s tracing paper from the 1960s held up much better.

Finally, I stitched the black part to the backing at the corners. My plan to sew on some fabric stars was thwarted when I couldn’t find them. I know they’re in my sewing room … somewhere.

At this point I declared “Siriusly” done.



Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Completed Projects

17 responses to “The Thread From H-E-Double-L

  1. I am glad to know I am not the only one that has had trouble with these fancy threads. They look so tempting but they have not been worth the grief for me.

  2. Oh, dear! There are projects like that! Time to say, “A good project is a DONE project!”

  3. I’ve used a fair amount of this stuff, as well as other metallics and glitzies, and I swear by Sewers Aid. I even use it on invisible thread for quilting. I had thought it might gunk up the machine but it doesn’t, and there’s no sign of it on the fabric either.

    • Where exactly do you apply the stuff? Instructions I’ve read call for putting it on the needle, but my problems start much closer to the spool. The thread coming off the spool is coiled and that seems to cause the wraparounds that make the thread break. I have the spool stand about 3-4 inches from the machine to help uncoil the thread.

  4. This is the breed of dog I love best, no mess, no fur, no care. Your interpretation may have been painful, but it turned out well! And it may or may not surprise you to know, one of the quilts I’ve long had planned is a quilt with both Sirius and Lepus on it, along with the boy peering through his telescope. Someday… and then I’ll check back with you for some hints on technique. Thanks!

  5. jennyklyon

    Nooooooo! When I read your title I immediately thought, oh no, please not Shimmer. Shimmer absolutely sucks and I talk about it in my classes. I too have a Shimmer story, sigh. It did not turn out well like yours did! Metallics must be of high quality and by definition, anything that you can purchase in a big box store is not high quality. The piece is fabulous!

  6. That is a neat piece with a great painting experiment backdrop. I share your pain in regards to metallic thread. I have read (I think on Superior Threads site) filling the bobbin with the thread is the trick, though at the time I was so discouraged I didn’t even want to go there! That only works if your design can be done from the quilt back and in reverse. I tried hand sewing with that thread once too; it was not a good time!

    • I can see the logic of using the metallic thread for bobbin work rather than running it through all the hooks and tension discs. Of course, that assumes your piece can be done with bobbin work…

  7. Rosemaryflower

    I like the result. I have sewn with this thread, but only hand sewing. My mom had a bunch of nice quality spools. Even hand sewing was rough. I know my mom hand sewed with it to make alter cloths for church, She also made bobbin lace and made several pieces with gold thread as well.

    Yes, I have all of my mommas sewing things too. ❤️All of it.

    • The only metallic thread I’ve had much success is Madeira. The rest require constant attention. I can’t say I have all my mother’s sewing stuff, but I do still have her darning egg.

  8. That doesn’t sound like much fun at all! The finished piece looks very good, though–doesn’t reflect your frustration in the least!

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