The Studley Quilters Competition

The Studley Quilters based in Warwickshire, are a group of ladies who, prior to Covid19, get together once a month and who enjoy quilting and all aspects of sewing. Their aim is not just friendship, they also learn sewing and quilting techniques from one another and put their practical sewing skills and creativity to good use in order to create unique supplies for numerous charity projects. This year, not only have they supplied the NHS with much sought after scrub bags and headbands, but they are also busy making incubator quilts for the Neonatal Unit at the City Hospital in Birmingham.

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Embroidery Stitches on Canvas

There are a wide variety of stitches which can be used in canvas embroidery and using a mixture of stitches within the same project can ultimately create an interesting piece of work. Most stitches are formed from combinations of straight, horizontal and diagonal stitches and when stitched in a variety of lengths they can create texture and depth. This piece of stitching has been created on a single thread canvas and using tapisserie wool which is moth resistant and colour fast. A size 26 and a size 28 round blunt point tapestry/cross stitch needle was used.

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Canvas Embroidery and Needlepoint

Sometimes canvas embroidery and needlepoint are referred to as the same application, however there is a difference between the two. Canvas embroidery, as the name suggests, is a combination of embroidery stitches whereas needlepoint, also referred to as tapestry or petit point, consists of a single stitch called a Tent Stitch which is rather like a half cross stitch. Both types of application are created on a canvas rather than on a material. There are different types of canvas available and choosing which one can sometimes be a nightmare.

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Using Different Threads To Create Texture

Embroidery needles and chenille needles, sometimes referred to as crewel needles, are used in free style embroidery. Your choice of needle is dependant upon the weight of fabric and the type of thread used. Traditionally an embroidery/crewel needle is used for stranded cotton and a chenille needle is used when stitching with Perlé thread, crewel yarn and some metallic/Lurex threads.

This sample of free style embroidery is using a combination of stranded cotton, crewel yarn and lurex embroidery thread to create texture and depth highlighting individual areas of this piece of work. Stranded cotton as the name suggests consists of 6 separate strands that are twisted together which makes this thread quite versatile. You can use all 6 strands at once as used in this piece of stitching, or you can separate the thread into single strands or groups of 2 or 3 strands etc. The needle used most probably would have been an embroidery size 5

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What Does The Reverse Of Your Embroidery Look Like?

It is just as important to try and create neat stitching and a neat finish on the reverse side of your work as it is on the front side of your work. Admittedly this can be very difficult to achieve but something we should strive to do.

This piece of embroidery stitched by my late mum is quite old and for years it was used as a display piece and was not behind glass but open to the elements in her then wool, handicrafts and haberdashery shop. Considering it is was stitched in the 1980’s it is still in a reasonable condition even though I recently placed it in my washing machine and pressed the delicate hand wash button and prayed.

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A Forgotten Piece of Free Style Embroidery

I was reminded the other day how a piece of forgotten embroidery can take you back and remind you of happy times with loved ones that are no longer with you and how calming and soothing and indeed personal a piece of stitching becomes.

Its over a year now that my mum passed away. However the other day I found myself looking through a couple of boxes of Mum’s stitching and finished pieces which I had put to one side.  Although this beautiful piece of work stitched by Mum is personal to me, I could not let it go without sharing it with you.

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The Sizing of the Sewing Machine Needle & Making Identification Easy with Colours

The Sizing of the Sewing Machine Needle

In 1942 the sizing of machine needles became regulated and fixed individual metric sizes were introduced, leaving behind an antiquated system of more than 40 different individual sizes. Sewing machine needles are sized in metric, however the equivalent imperial size is also shown, which appears adjacent to the metric size. For instance: 90/14 means that 90 is the metric size and 14 is the imperial size.

The size of the sewing machine needle is dictated by the diameter of the needle blade, which is measured above the “scarf” of the needle. The measurement is in one hundredths of a millimetre, the same as a hand sewing needle and therefore, for example, a size 90 sewing machine needle means that the needle diameter, just above the “scarf” area, measures 0.90mm.

Remember the bigger or larger the number size – the larger the diameter of the sewing machine needle and therefore this denotes which fabric to use.  For example: a size 70/10 is a fine needle and this is used on lightweight cottons, whereas a size 110/18 which is thicker than a size 70/10 and is used on heavy brocade fabrics.

The most popular size of a sewing machine needle is a size 80/12. It is a middle size, not too large and not too fine.

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The Eye of a Sewing Machine Needle

The eye of the sewing machine needle can differ depending upon the brand and indeed upon the application for which the needle is designed. It is worth noting that domestic sewing machine needles are identified by the 130 / 705H system, which is universally designed to fit all electric domestic home sewing machines. Therefore Schmetz sewing machine needles, the best quality and the Rolls Royce of machine needles, are interchangeable and should fit all brands of sewing machines.

130 / 705H needles feature a flat shank and round front. They also have a “scarf” which is an indentation just above the eye that allows the bobbin hook to smoothly grab the thread from under the throat plate in order to create a stitch. The “scarf” shape and size can vary depending upon the type of needle even though each needle type may have the same shape of eye. The shape of the eye should not be confused with the “scarf” of the needle.

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The Life of a Sewing Machine Needle

Life Expectancy of a Sewing Machine Needle

During my Needle and Pin Knowhow Talks one of the most popular subjects we speak about is sewing machine needles and why we should regularly replace our needle. This always receives a gasp from the audience and sometimes with murmurs of “I change my needle when it breaks.” Here I delve into the mysteries of how long my machine needle last and why should I replace it.

Sewing Machine Needles

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W.Williams & Son: The Period During The First World War

W.Williams & Son: The period of the first world war...

The period leading up to 1914 was one of almost constant success despite various changes in fashion. When war broke out there was considerable nervousness throughout the textile trade and at first a great reduction in business. After some months trade adjusted itself accordingly. In 1914 most of the men in key positions at W Williams were exempt from military service and therefore the business ran on with its main methods unchanged. In May 1918 during the height of the war the staff at W Williams & Son, Bread Street numbered 436.

There were a few minor air-raids between 1917 – 1918 and as a consequence W Williams & Son had the roofs of each warehouse covered with steel netting attached to steel supports to protect the buildings and roll the bombs off the roof and onto the street. Thankfully this system was never tested.

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