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Thread Samplers – Variegated Threads Anyone? aka Bad Girls of the Thread Art World

Variegated Thread Sampler Diary Pages

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My Thread Samplers (are many years old…unlike me).

We all love fancy threads – variegated, iridescent, metallics, wools, etc.  I collect many types too. But the most mysterious of all of these are the variegated color threads. It’s always a guessing game how it will turn out when sewing with one of them. With manufacturers always tinkering color pallettes, frequency of color variation and variations in color run lengths, using variegateds is not for the faint of heart, as each spool appears to have a mind all their own.

I’ll pause here to distinguish between ombre and multi-color spools/cones of thread. Ombre threads are all the same color with various degrees of shading. Multi-color threads are just that, multiple colors. These are particularly exciting threads – IMO. They are very nice to use for machine embroidery quilting, as they create a new, visually exciting and organic dimension to your art.

Note the wide variation in presentation from the twelve threads debuted in this sampler, from color banding (multi-color) to tone transitioning (ombre).

However, as I’ve already mentioned, these threads don’t behave as we might expect.  When I’m working on a project, I find it annoying to stop and sew samples to find out what’s going to happen, should I have an interest in using one of these bad girls of the thread art world. Audition them became a chore and I soon grew tired of these wonderful threads beautifully littering a perfectly good thread drawer, while not living up to their full artistic potential…or allowing me to do the same.

Of course, the catch is that variegated threads look differently when sewn with different types of stitches. So, in the interest of taming these bad girls, I decided I was going to find out how each one behaved with which stitches and which stitch type brought out the beautiful dimension of each one of my treasured variegateds. That’s when it dawned on me that a reference sampler would be the perfect cotillion or quinceañera for these bad girls. Once sewn, I could simply look at my sampler and decide which brand, thread model/lot number and color motif was right for my project. At that point, a new band of sisterhood was born with me and my drawn full of bad girls.

I use a fine-tipped fabric pen or permanent ink marker to note the brand and thread model/lot number

When sewn as a line of satin stitches most variegated threads stripe. Often times the same thing happens when used as a fill area. Sometimes stripes are exactly the effect you are looking for.

Some variegates do best sewn as simple outline type designs. However some colors will disappear in this scenario. Designs that are outlines but more dense with the outlines will sometimes prevent the disappearing effect.

Designs that have outlines plus some satin stitches may be perfect for some variegated threads but the satin stitch parts are a problem for others.

So, as I hope you can see a sampler is the perfect solution for visualizing your treasured variegateds’ full potential.

Another of my years very old thread sampler pages. I may have inherited this one from my great, great mother, by way of my mother and her winning stash of fabric collection.

Of course, if you’re going to do this right, your bad girls are going to need a diary. A Bad Girls Sampler Diary of variegated thread sampler pages put your investment of time and money into one convenient location from which you’ll get years of use, while eliminating a lot guessing and fretting over what to do with that drawer of bad girl threads. Now you’ll know what to expect from them, even before you open the drawer.

Your Bad Girl Sampler Diary needn’t be anything elaborate. Still, you’ll need some page protectors and a three-ring binder. Just slide each page into a clear sheet protector and voilà, you’re off to adding a new chapter in your life as a fabric and embroidery artistI make my samplers into ‘pages’ that I keep in 3 ring sheet protectors and in a 3 ring notebook.

You can tell by the look of my samples that they have been referred to many times over the years.

Bad Girl Sampler Diary – in sheet protectors in a simple 3-ring notebook. Note: If you’re going to have a lot of chapters/pages in your diary, consider using zipper binders to help keep them organized. Otherwise, smaller notebooks are better.

The sampler design pages I created are in various sizes to accommodate as many hoops for folks as they need. I used the 8×11 inch designs for my samples. Of course, my Thread Sampler project includes sampler sewouts in five different sizes, to accommodate your specific needs.

Absolutely! I want to tame my Bad Girls Thread Stash.

Designs fit the 8×11, 7×11, 6×10, 5×7, and 4×4 inch hoops.

If you need some (or more – smiles) consider clicking on the links to the deals I discovered on these dreamy threads. 

When you elect to purchase any of the recommended notions through the links below, Laura’s Sewing Studio receives a small remuneration at no additional cost to you.

2 thoughts on “Thread Samplers – Variegated Threads Anyone? aka Bad Girls of the Thread Art World

  1. I bought the Wing needle sunbonnet Sue – thought my new 780 machine with a 6×10 hoop would be ok. The design is a little bigger so can I reduce the size a tad to fit the new hoop?

    1. I haven’t done that but probably would be okay if it is less than 10%.
      I’m not sure how the wing needle parts would sew if more than that.
      Let me know how it turns out.

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