Guest Blog Post by Kerry Ayers Cain – Design Team Member
For Valentine’s Day a year ago, I took my mother to tea at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. They were doing a presentation on crazy quilts, which has always been one of my favorite quilt forms. The presenter was offering classes in making a crazy quilt and I signed up as motivation to finally make one and get that off my to-do list. (Have you ever tried to motivate yourself this way?) Well the small wall-hanging quilt I started as part of the class is still a UFO, but the class was more than worth it for the a-ha moment I had when I discovered Valdani thread (Valdani threads are hand-dyed, colorfast threads in luscious colors, both solids and variegated, and a variety of thread weights, in cotton, silk, polyester, and rayon. They offer hand-sewing threads and yarns, as well as machine threads. They have something for every project.)
I have done embroidery of various kinds since I was a child and always used embroidery floss, separating it into as many strands as the directions say, hoping the floss would behave and wouldn’t separate or twist or knot or do any of the other things floss sometimes did. Then I took that crazy quilt class and the teacher suggested using Valdani thread to embroider. I tried it once and was hooked. Compared to floss it is so much easier to use and makes the hand stitching fun rather than being a chore (Valdani does offer a floss as well for those times when you really need it). The first big project I did with Valdani thread was as part of the first Blue Twig challenge when I used it in my Crazy Wedding Quilt (pictured below). I found I was never exasperated or frustrated with the way the thread behaved, even with all that hand stitching.
Over the past 18 months, I have built up a fairly large collection of Valdani thread (and really appreciative that I can get it so easily from Blue Twig Studio). It comes in a wide variety of colors and I particularly like the variegated colors, which offer a choice of either subtle or dramatic color changes in the variegation. I use Valdani in about 90% of my hand sewing, although there still is that occasional part of a project where floss is the better choice. Because the thread makes it so easy, I have found that I do more hand sewing in recent projects as you can see in the pictures below.
In the first project I copied pictographs onto fabric, using primarily the Green Mask pictographs from Sheiks Canyon, Utah. I then hand stitched and beaded over the copy.
The second project is part of another challenge called “Along the Trail.” The challenge specified the size of the quilt and the use of a given piece of fabric as a “trail” across that quilt, but everything else was left up to me. I designed and stitched a scenic piece in the style of Judith Baker Montano.
Finally, I have recently used the thread in a wool “block of the month” piece that used some of the basic hand stitches such as the buttonhole stitch, featherstitch and backstitch.
The next time you are considering a hand-stitching project, do yourself a favor and try some Valdani thread.
PS from Deb – These photos don’t do the work justice. It is really hard to see the details from hand stitching in a photo. It is so much more impressive when seen in person. And Kerry does amazing work!
I also want to let you know that if you are looking for a particular color or type of Valdani thread, I can order it for you. Since Valdani is out of Canada, it is often hard to find, but I am happy to order the colors or weights that you need for your project.
Blue Twig Studio – 5965 Whiskey River Dr – Colorado Springs, CO 80923 – USA
- Introducing Kerry Ayers Cain (bluetwigstudio.wordpress.com)