Why I Love Aurifil Monofilament Thread

Friday, March 17, 2017

In the current age of social media "brand influencers," there's always some blogger talking about how much they "LoOoOoVeEe this amazing new product from Brand X" in their sponsored blog post filled with affiliate links to what is probably a not-so-life-changing product. Well, at the risk of sounding just as obnoxious, I REALLY HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT THIS PRODUCT I'VE BEEN USING THE CRAP OUT OF: Aurifil's monofilament thread.

Disclaimer: Aurifil did send me two free spools of the thread for this tutorial, but this was at my request after I months of using it, having purchased a cone with my own money. I mainly wanted to make sure that the spools didn't suffer from the issues I experienced with a different brand I'll mention later.

You may remember "Quilt Purgatory" from my Instagram late last summer. I had a stack of like...seven or eight quilt tops that I felt obligated to finish before I could move onto new projects. Faced with the task of rapid fire quilting so many quilts, I turned to invisible thread as an alternative to buying a ton of new thread colors to match all these quilt tops. I ended up falling in love with Aurifil's monofilament thread and I've used for every single quilt I've made since I discovered it.

What it is and how to use it:

image source: craftsy.com

It's a nylon "invisible" thread available in two colors: clear (for use on light fabrics) and smoke (for use on dark fabrics). Thread your machine with the monofilament, loosening the top tension slightly. For the bobbin, use a 50 weight cotton thread in a color that matches (or is close-ish to) your quilt top. You match the bobbin to the quilt top because sometimes the bobbin thread pulls up and becomes visible from the top as little dots, which you'll see below. But guess what this means? Wherever you'd normally be changing thread colors and rethreading your entire machine, all you have to do is switch out a bobbin color. Huge time saver!

The time saving aspect isn't the only benefit. Monofilament means I can get away with having a smaller selection of thread colors for applique and quilting. Example time!

Let's say I want to applique these Kona Gumdrop shapes onto a white background. I need a color to match my applique, but these are the only two pink thread colors I have. Poop, both are terrible matches. If you put a gun to my head, I guess I'd pick the lighter color, so let's give that a go with my preferred stitch, the blanket stitch.

No surprise here. It doesn't look great. BUT, what if I switch the top thread to the monofilament and leave that light pink in the bobbin? It looks way better! The bobbin thread still pokes up slightly, but becomes less obvious as I reduce the thread tension (on the top half of the circle) a little from my normal setting. Having the perfect thread match may be the best option, but I'd say this is pretty good without having to buy any more colors.

The other reason I like this thread for applique is that it hides your mistakes for you. Even if you're using a pretty close color for your applique, if you get off course, it will be painfully obvious. Not the case with monofilament!

As I said earlier there are two colors to choose from, clear and smoke. Smoke looks black on the spool, but it's a tricky chameleon. Personally, I have zero problem the way the clear shade looks on dark fabrics, but I will concede that smoke blends better. Unless you're a lot of super dark fabrics, I think you can get away using just the clear. If you want proof, look at this album of my Overwatch quilt, which I appliqued and quilted with only the clear monofilament and handful of bobbin colors.

Here's two test quilt sandwiches I made to show what the two colors look like on a dark charcoal fabric and white fabric. I think the clear thread on dark fabric looks worse in photos than it does in person.

So now that I've shown you that monofilament is awesome, why Aurifil specifically? Well, I actually started off trying the Coats & Clark monofilament. It looks almost exactly the same as Aurifil, but sewing with it makes me want to tear my hair out. It's unruly and tangles if you even look at it funny. It constantly would unspool prematurely and get tangled in my machine. It was seriously nightmare. Plus, it feels much stiffer, almost like a thin fishing line. Any untrimmed threads feel horribly pokey and scratchy. Ick. Coats & Clark is like a nasty feral cat to Aurifil's sweet and gentle lap cat.

So yeah, if you hate having to buy matching thread, this stuff is magic.

Open Wide Pouch Pattern Hack: Sun-Star Delde Slide Pen Pouch Dupe

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In the past two months, I've gone bananas for Copic markers. I can't say enough good things about them. They look so great that I'm more motivated than ever to draw. My collection was on the verge of outgrowing my small, boxy zip pouch I'd been keeping them, so I had to think of a home for them.

While browsing Jet Pens (one of my favorite shops for art supplies), I came across the Sun-Star Delde Slide Pen Pouch. The pouch stores pens vertically and converts to a standing pen cup. Cue heart eyes! Perfect! The only issue was the size. I needed a taller size to accommodate some of my pencils, so I went the DIY route.

It took some experimentation and guess work, but eventually I figured out a serviceable dupe solution.

My version measures 8" tall, 4" wide, and 2.5" deep.

A few notes on materials:

Firstly, for your exterior pouch fabric, I suggest using something more durable than quilting cotton. A cotton/linen canvas or something like Essex linen would be good.

Second, interfacing matters. I tested this bag multiple times with different interfacing options, and Peltex and or a double layer of Craft Fuse are the only options that yielded a functional slide pouch. Substituting fusible fleece, Soft & Stable, or Shape Flex will not work properly.

  • (2) 7.5" x 10" for Main Pouch Exterior
  • (1) 4" x 5" for Pull Tabs
  • (1) 2" x 3" for Zipper Tab
  • (2) 7.5" x 10" for Main Pouch Lining
  • (1) 13.5" x 9" for Contrast Band
  • (2) 7.5" x 6.25" Pellon 71F Peltex or (4) 7.5" x 6.25" Pellon 808 Craft Fuse
  • (1) 13.5" x 9" Pellon SF-101 Shape Flex interfacing (optional)
  • 8" zipper or longer
To make your pouch, start by fusing your interfacing to the wrong side of your Main Pouch Exterior pieces, aligning the long bottom edges. If using the Craft Fuse, you'll be fusing two layers of interfacing directly on top of each other.

Now follow the the instructions for Noodlehead's Open Wide Pouch. There are only a few differences. First is the dimensions of your pieces, but that doesn't affect the process. (Note, all my measurements are width x height.) Use the same seam allowances she calls for as well. Second, you'll want to leave a smaller, 3" opening in the lining for turning. Third, when boxing the corners, the marked line should measure 2.5" long instead of 3.5". Follow her instructions but stop BEFORE you topstitch around the pouch opening at the end. Skip to the end of her instructions and attach the Zipper Tab.

Fold the Pull Tab in half vertically, WST and press. Unfold and then fold the edges in to meet the crease and press. Refold in half, yielding a 5" long piece of 1" wide double fold tape. Stitch 1/8" along each 5" edge, then cut in half to yield (2) 2.5" long tabs. Fold Them in half horizontally, press, and baste closed. 

Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the Contrast Band. Press the 13.5" edges your Contrast band .5" to the wrong side. Fold the contrast band in half wrong sides together (WST), aligning the folded edges and press. This will make it easier to get your band in the proper position later.
Unfold the Contrast Band and fold it in half vertically, right sides together (RST), aligning the 9" edges. Pin and sew with a .25" seam allowance. Press the seam open and turn the tube right side out. The previous pressing you did should make it easy to fold the tube in half WST so that you have a 4" tall tube with the raw edges folded in. Set aside.

Measure 6.5" from the seam on the Contrast Band and mark with a water soluble marker along the top and bottom edge. Insert the basted end of one Pull Tab .5" into the open side of the Contrast Band, centering it with the seam. Baste in place. Do the same with the remaining Pull Tab, centering it with the line you marked. Pin the open edges of the Contrast Band closed and topstitch with a 1/8" seam allowance.

Slip the Contrast Band over the pouch with with the pull tabs pointing towards the bottom of the pouch. Align the top folded edge of  the Contrast Band with the top edge of the pouch. Don't cover any more of the zipper tape. Line up the side seam with one of the side seams of the pouch and pin. Line the marked line up with the opposite pouch side seam and pin. Pin around the remainder of the pouch, lining the Contrast Band up with the top edge of the pouch. Make sure your pouch lining is neatly pressed inside, then topstitch the band to the pouch with 1/8" seam allowance. You're using the topstitching step from Noodlehead's tutorial to attach the Contrast band. Your pouch is finished!

The pouch at the top of the post was made with my Witchy Objects print from Spoonflower, black linen, and Craft Fuse. The pouch below was made with Cotton + Steel cotton/linen canvas prints and Peltex.

And here's a video of the bag in action. Just pull the tabs to convert use as a pen cup, then pick it up by the zipper and give it a little shake to go back to its full height.

A post shared by Felice Regina (@iamlunasol) on