Monday, 8 July 2019

Sip Tea and EPP: Thread Conditioning

This week at out Sip Tea and EPP Party we are talking about thread conditioning. Before I go any further and share my experience, I would like to say that it is very important to do your own search, try things out and decide what works for you personally. We all use different techniques, threads, needles, fabrics, so it is extremely important not to simply follow others, but rather find what works best for you.

As I was getting ready for this party, a memory of my Grandpa came to my mind. He was a kind of a man who did not shy away from any work, he could easily fix a pair of old shoes, he could mend a worn out jacket, sew on buttons, cook, clean, build, grow anything and even crochet. Yes, you read it right. Crochet. Floor rugs from fabric scraps and tiny hats and jackets for dolls for his granddaughters.

When I was little, I used to love watching him doing some hand work. I would sit next to him and ask questions from time to time. Once he was sewing on buttons on his old winter fishing jacket as I saw him reach out for a piece of wax. With his thick fingers, he took a piece of thread and pulled it through the wax (paraffin) a few times. Curiously I asked why he was doing that, and he explained to me that pulling the thread through a piece of wax makes it stronger, especially when you are sewing buttons on heavy jackets or need some strong stitching done. It stuck in my mind, and I always use this little trick ever since, but I use natural 100% beeswax instead now.

When I got interested in sewing, I started exploring new threads and notions, I came across a thread gloss (conditioner). I was curious to give it a go, but I found that the price of one tiny jar did not justify the price of the shipping. Reading more and more about the synthetic thread conditioners, I decided that this is not something I wanted to use in my work. Firstly because women generations before us (including my dear Mum and Grandma) never used anything like that and they created masterpieces that still bring us joy. Secondly, I kept thinking that now we have threads of a much higher quality that do not require any additional treatment really. And I still believe that maybe for a quilt that is going to be washed, it is OK to use the conditioners as it would be washed out with time and won't ruin the work. But with the small items, that cannot be washed and especially with more delicate fabrics like Liberty, I feel quite sceptical as I would not want my work to be effected by these new materials in any way.

I was still curious, and decided to buy 100% natural beeswax instead and try it out. Some people use it for embroidery. I tried it and, to be honest with you, I was not happy at all. It made the strands of floss stick together, and the floss lost its spring, it was not as playable and the stitches were looking rather flat. Also I did not like the residue left by the wax on the floss, it felt a bit too sticky for my liking.

But I still do use the beeswax in my work occasionally. Sometimes, when you have to unpick a seam, but you do not want to cut the thread, you might find that the thread is all tangled. Beeswax can help you with this. Just run your thread though a piece of wax, then run it again through your fingers to remove any residue and the thread is going to be perfectly straight and ready for sewing.

There is another small trick that I use if my thread becomes tangled when I am doing hand sewing. I hold one end of the thread where it enters my sewing in one hand and the other end in the other hand and stretch it. I let the needle hang, then I pull the needle close to the sewing and run the thread between my thumb and index fingers to the end. Then I pull the needle where it needs to be and continue sewing. Hope this helps.

So these are my humble thoughts on this weeks discussion and below you can read some of the views posted by our party members. Once again, please make sure to explore your options and decided what you like. Please visit the #thesipteaandepp hashtag to learn more tips and tricks on English Paper Piecing and share your own experiences.


"I love my little pot of beeswax thread conditioner from @willowandtrout and since I bought some earlier in the year I now I use it for all my embroidery and some hand quilting (depending on what thread I’m using) but I haven’t used it for EPP. I feel that my thread glides nicely without it and I don’t need the extra step."


"I use both Bottom Line 100% polyester thread and 100% cotton thread in my EPP projects and find that I do not require thread conditioner or beeswax. Perhaps this is a result of reading a response on a post where my dear friend @pamalamajodesigns asked @jeanakimball about what to do about threads getting tangled while stitching in applique. Jeana, in her INFINITE wisdom, responded that if you give your needle a slight turn to the right, it will undo something that we may automatically do (turning needle to the left) before each stitch. By doing this, it ‘corrects’ this turn, which is what ultimately creates tangles in the thread. My thread hardly ever tangles now while sewing. Also, if you are concerned about the long term effects of using beeswax or thread conditioners in your work, it is best not to use anything that leaves a residue and could potentially have adverse effects on the fabric over time. I am always a proponent of less is more😉 and want my quilts to last long after I am gone. This is another of Jeana Kimball’s philosophy."


"The theme this week for sip tea and #epp is thread conditioning. I always use beeswax (I like the little 2 oz bars sold by @mountainroseherbs or melting their pastilles, adding a scent, and molding it myself) if I’m using 100% cotton or linen thread or embroidery floss. Quilting thread usually doesn’t give me trouble with fraying or knotting, since it half-synthetic/half-cotton."


"I was introduced to @robotmomsewsunicorn thread gloss by @muddle_and_grace and it makes my sewing smell divine! I tend to sew EPP with a double strand of Gutermann sew all thread, and running it through the thread gloss keeps the strands together and stops them from getting tangled. Plus did I mention it smells amazing?!!! So many scents to choose from too!"


"I've been trying out the the unicorn thread gloss as a result of a tip from this hashtag. This scent is citrus basil which is pleasant. I still get tangles when I'm #epp, but that is because I like to start with long threads-less needle threading! I do think it helps!"

Happy slow stitching! Larisa xox

1 comment:

  1. I have never used a wax for my EPP. I do use Thread heaven for embroidery/cross stitch but only when using metallic threads as they knot and fray very easily. x