A very Happy New Year to you. Sorry for the long delay in posting. I have been doing some studio work, mainly these three hand embroidered bags which are in the shop now (see all three below). All started with some hand dyed indigo fabric (vintage linen in the chicken bag and new linen in the two zipper bags). I then went through my vast collection of hand stitching threads and stitched in a very intuitive manner. For each area of the bags the thread type, thread color and stitch pattern was decided as I went along. it’s a very freeing way to work and leads to surprises. I wanted to weed out some threads that aren’t my favorite to work with and I did set aside quite a bit to pass along to friends. Now my favorite threads are all sorted and organized and easy to find.
What makes a good thread? That totally depends on the stitcher’s comfort level, the stitching substrate, the visual effect, tactile pleasure, and the desired thread composition. In the past I have had been introduced to all sorts of unusual threads, especially by Sue Spargo. Some of them are best for working on wool because it’s more loosely woven than cotton. However, since I am doing so many pieces on cotton I decided to weed out those that don’t meet these criteria:
natural fiber composition (mainly cotton and silk)
thread size (too thick and every stitch becomes a struggle, too thin and the stitches don’t have the desired impact)
ease of stitching (will differ for each individual)
tactile pleasure (differs for each stitcher)
visual effect (personal preference)
As I get older I have more issues of pain in my hands and wrists and I have to be mindful whenever I do handwork. The threads I decided to keep make my handwork time pleasant, comfortable and visually exciting. I thought I’d make a list of various threads from most liked to least. Perhaps it will be helpful for you, whether you are just starting out in embroidery or you are a long time enthusiast.
My favorite threads are:
Finca by Presencia size 8 perle cotton (I only have one spool, but it’s very nice)
Valdani size 8 and 12 perle cottons (solids and variegated threads are all fabulous)
WonderFil Eleganza size 8 perle cotton (the variegated threads are beautiful!)
Soie et 100% silk 3 strand embroidery thread (swoon ***)
DMC 6 strand embroidery thread (yummy color selection, high quality thread, versatile since you can use any number of strands from 1-6)
***I discovered this silk thread in a sampler set sold by Superior Threads and it is the most luxurious thread I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. I have only one spool of it, but I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more. There are other silk threads I’ve tried (Silken Pearl and others), but I didn’t like at all, so this is the only one I can recommend.
My second favorites that I plan to keep, but don’t use much are:
Sea Grass, 100% organic cotton tape thread (works well on cotton and wool, I like the matte finish and flat stitch effect)
Silken Chenille (works best on wool, especially for couching)
Silken Ribbon (works best on wool)
These are threads I plan to use up, but wouldn’t buy more of:
DMC perle cotton any size (I think these threads are more coarse than the other brands of perle cotton, also limited colors)
Aurifil 6 strand embroidery thread (meh, I just don’t like it as much as DMC and it’s more expensive)
sashiko thread (I like the matte finish, but I don’t like how thick it is, it hurts my hands to use so I’ll save it for mending jeans)
These are the threads I am getting rid of. Many of them are absolutely beautiful, but they lead to sore and tired hands and/or lots of frustration. I know many people love these threads, so take my recommendations with a grain of salt.
Bozzolo Reale silk thread (too slippery, too easy to tangle, frustrating to use, but beautiful to look at!)
Silken Pearl silk thread (too easy to tangle, stretchy, but again, absolutely beautiful!)
Kreinik Metallic Braid (polyester, scratchy, frustrating to use)
WonderFil Razzle (rayon, slippery, too shiny, frustrating to use)
WonderFil Dazzle (metallic rayon, slippery, too shiny, frustrating to use)
Perle Cottons size 5, various brands (just too thick for me, useful for tying a quilt, but I don’t need to keep it in the stash)
I’ll pass those threads to friends to try. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean someone else won’t. If you have a favorite natural fiber embroidery thread please let me know in the comments. I am quite sure I have several lifetime’s worth of thread here, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on something great!
The chicken bag is very densely embroidered with lots of different threads. I also added some chicken patches I had set aside. It’s fully lined and has batting between so it feels very substantial.
The Stripey Indigo Zipper is made from my hand dyed linen and simply stitched in vertical lines. I love the minimalist look of this one.
The You Are My Sunshine Zipper was also made from hand dyed indigo new linen fabric. The embroidery was done in an intuitive manner with just a few different threads. I also included one of my hand printed labels as embellishment. The cheerful polka dot lining makes me smile. All in all, it’s the perfect antidote for a rainy day.
Details and prices for all the bags can be found in my KMS Handmade shop.