I learned a new thing about polyester thread!


Sew Fine! thread from Superior.

What do you do when you find out that something you thought was true, really isn’t? If you are me, you write a blog post for all the world to see :-).

If you have ever been in my class, you know that I use cotton thread with cotton fabric. That’s not going to change because cotton thread has many characteristics that I like. However, one of the main reasons I have not recommended using polyester thread is that I believed that it might degrade faster than cotton over time. This was based on old information that may have true back in the day but is no longer relevant.

I have been doing quite a bit of research on thread and I ran across this academic study  that looked at the biodegradability of polyester vs. cotton. You can read the whole paper, or skim it, but here’s the very short story:

The researchers took cotton and polyester jersey fabrics and subjected them to the same treatment. All fabrics were laundered 30 times with various washing products to simulate garments at the end of their useful lives prior to testing. They were then buried and composted for 3 months.

“The polyester fabric showed a slight initial degradation, but the fabric was still intact after testing under both laboratory conditions and the compost environment. In soil and compost testing, which included multiple organisms and enzymes, the cotton fabric with softener had an accelerated degradation rate, while the cotton fabric with resin showed a relatively slow degradation rate.

All cotton samples were more significantly degraded in the compost environment than under the laboratory conditions and confirmed to be ‘compostable’.”

I’ve been wrong about this aspect of polyester thread. I still don’t love it for the kind of sewing that I do. Polyester thread doesn’t tolerate high heat from an iron, it is slippery, and it is shinier than cotton. But there is nothing suspect about the fiber itself. If you have a place where it makes sense to use polyester, go for it. Who knows… it’s possible I might find myself using it in some future project.

Lastly, it is true that polyester is basically a plastic. Many of us, me included, are trying to cut back on the amount of plastic we use. However, until we manage to cut out much bigger sources of plastic in our lives, I think it’s safe not to obsess about the plastic in polyester thread.

More wooly news from Linda and her stitch group!

My stitch group had so much fun with the embroidery and embellishment of the blocks from Appliqué Delights. (If you are interested in making your own blocks just like these, click here to find a print-on-demand version of Applique Delights, or click here to find the eBook.)


Here are some close ups of the blocks. Let your imagination run away while planning how to turn your block into a special one.


Denise’s Telephone block used Perle Cotton for the cord and number buttons for the dial.


Gini bedazzled her Honey Bee block.



Judy caught a fish off of Jeffery’s Sail Boat.


Kathy used a variety of embroidery to make her Daisy Chain block special.


Joyce’s Dragonfly antennae are shiny beads.


Linda’s Birdhouse has embroidered roof and flowers.

Wednesday Giveaway

Kathleen Connolly has won the Sewing Needle Guide! If you are not Kathleen, you might want to purchase a copy of this guide because there are a lot of needles out there and this handy guide walks you through them.

Truth be told, I sometimes use a needle for something other than its intended purpose—I’m currently hand quilting with #16 perle cotton using a #9 Bohin Crewel needle. It works very well! But I tried that needle because I could look at the various needles and see the similarity between crewel and between needles.


You can always find this and more at pieceocake.com!

Here’s something you already know…

Copyright infringement is illegal. You know that and I don’t think any of you would dream of scanning pages and patterns from a book and posting them online. Even if it is  to your friends in a closed online group (something I found out was happening recently). But you know what? There are people who do that!

Every now and then someone lets me know when this sort of thing happens and I really do appreciate it. However, the truth is that it’s very difficult to fight online sharing.

Even though you know why, let me take a moment to explain why it is that you need to pay for your own copy of whatever pattern or book you want to work from:

If you want there to be a supply of new quilt patterns and books with well-written instructions, you need to support the authors and designers that who write them. Writing instructions, calculating yardage and precise cutting instructions, making the quilts and projects, all take a great deal of time and effort. I am not doing any of this for fun. If I want to make a quilt for fun, I just make it and to heck with all of that writing and calculating.

Plus, when you buy a book or pattern, it’s not just the authors you are supporting, but the publishers too. because i It is the rare author that who can produce an error-free, print-ready manuscript and pattern.

So, please, when you run across sharing that you suspect is wrong, consider nicely mentioning to the person or persons involved that you prefer to support the author rather than saving a little bit of money. Thank you so much :-).

Show and Tell…

Margery Tadder from Colorado Springs sent me a lovely email show and tell and I’m sharing it with you. Margery, I love your quilt and I’m so happy that you enjoyed making it! It was a very creative thought to enlarge the block to make the medallion. Way to go, you!

Many years ago I bought your wonderful book, Welcome to the North Pole, and immediately fell in love with the ice cream shoppe. I had the design enlarged 400% and made a machine appliquéd medallion block. I love to do hand appliqué but knew I wouldn’t live long enough to make a king size quilt by hand!


Anyway, copying Baskin-Robbins flavors, I made 33 cone blocks to go around the shoppe block. Of all the quilts I’ve made this is my favorite and am so grateful to you for your wonderful designs. Am sending a picture of the medallion block and one of the cones so you can see how it turned out.


I used to enjoy seeing you and Linda on “Simply Quilts” and have been a devotee of hand appliqué ever since seeing those shows and buying your great books. Whenever I sit down to do hand work your New Appliqué Sampler is always right beside me!

Most Sincerely,


Wash a batt?

Do you ever read the instructions on batting? I only do when I’m working with a new-to-me batting and sometimes I learn a new thing. In this case I learned that the manufacturer recommends washing the cotton/poly batting before using, or after quilting.


Since I wasn’t sure I’d want to wash after quilting I decided to do it beforehand. I put in the tub with a little bit of Soak. You don’t have to rinse Soak out, making it a good choice. The wet batting reminded me of oatmeal.


I let it soak 15 minutes as per instructions, and then I let the water out. As I squeezed the batting I realized that the water was not clear. It wasn’t bad, but I can understand why washing is recommended.


It didn’t take long for it to dry on my rack out in the sunshine.


Some batting instructions suggest washing, others do not. Either way, following instructions is important. And you know what? Washing batting in the tub is a lot easier than I had imagined it would be.

Wooly news from Linda and her stitch group!

Linda decided she wanted to do 48 of the blocks from the Applique Delights book in wool. She thought her stitch group would have a lot of fun doing them together. The girls met and loved the idea!

For those of you who haven’t seen this book, Applique Delights has 100 different block designs that range from classic to whimsical. The patterns are 5″ x 5″, but you can enlarge them to any size—there is a handy chart in the book. The original book is out of print but you can get it as an ebook or as a print-on-demand book. AND these blocks are great in wool!

Each stitch group member selected the blocks she wanted to do. Linda provided the background fabric and she put her wool fabrics out for them to choose from. The finished blocks are wonderful! And Linda says that as new blocks go up on her design wall, she is thrilled to see how great they look together.

Lindas Stitch Group

Everyone has personalized their blocks with embroidery and embellishments. They are having a whole lot of fun sharing ideas. Linda sent me this picture of some of stitch group with their finished block. More to come as the blocks are done.

Linda says that if you have a stitch group, you might consider doing his kind of project because it is so much fun! Happy stitching, from Linda and me :-).