Thursday, 2 July 2015

How about that sparkly stippling...

Zoë MacDonald is E-Commerce and Social Media Manager at Canada’s largest manufacturer and wholesale distributor of quality sewing, quilting, and knitting supplies. Crafty lady and recent quilting convert, she is keen to share her love for the latest in notions.

In my mind, there are two attitudes you can adopt when tackling your stippling stitches.

One approach is utilitarian: the stippling stitches hold the layers of your quilt sandwich in place. Carefully sewn in a complimentary, neutral or invisible thread, these stitches may reside neatly in the ditches of your quilt seams, in a grid, or in a stippled pattern complimentary to the flow of your fabric. In this scenario, stippling plays a supportive role and your fabric and piecing work is allowed to shine without distractions. In other words, the stippling is like a supportive back-up singer whose job – not to be underestimated - is to support the main attraction (your quilt piecing).

A different approach is making stippling a co-star, or even the main attraction; like a duet performance with two powerful vocalists. Sure, personal preferences will draw your ear (or eye) to one or the other, but there is no denying that their collective star power is evenly distributed. Both elements compete for attention, and it shouldn’t work, but somehow it does: beautifully! 

What I’m talking about today is on the topic of this second kind of stippling.
Once you’ve decided that your goal is to create stand-out stippling work, might I suggest adding a little razzle dazzle with sparkly thread? And if you’ve come this far, I would like to kindly nudge you to fully commit to the best, brightest and hands down sparkliest thread on the market: Sulky Holoshimmer.

Sulky Metallic, Sulky Silver Metallic, & Sulky Holoshimmer

Now, this is indeed a special thread. Similar in quality to decorative ribbon, it’s made from flat ribbon-like foil that is laminated with polyester to create maximum reflectivity and superior sparkling ability. Like a celebrity among your thread stash, what makes this thread extra special can also make it a challenge to work with. Well, no longer! With the tips and tricks I’ve learned from our product experts, you can achieve the very best thread performance (and maximum sparkle) sans the frustration.

Sparkly thread success kit

First things first, set the stage with the right tools and supplies:

• Sulky PolyLite (60 weight) in the bobbin thread. Because of the superior strength of this thread, you should wind the bobbin only half full and at half speed. Failing to do so could result in a flying bobbin (which is only fun the first time it happens) or the bobbin can become distorted or even break.
• Heirloom Sew Smooth sewing lubricant.
• Schmetz size 90 Topstitch needle.

Sparkly thread success kit

Ready, set, sparkle!

Now that your toolbox is stocked, get set:

1. Change your top thread to the vertical orientation, to avoid twisting and ensure proper unraveling.
2. Increase your stitch length, and decrease the top tension on the machine.
3. Insert a new TopStitch 90 needle.
4. Draw a thin line of (Sew Smooth) lubricant in a vertical line along your spool, and add one drop through the eye of your needle (you can use a cotton swab to put it on the needle).

Now, it’s your time to shine. Aside from taking it slow – and very slow to start – these combined elements will work for you to create your most stunning stippling yet. The tricky part is achieving a stitch length long enough to show the hologram effect of the thread, but not so long that it makes smooth curves look choppy.

PSA: There are no quilting police

There is no quilt inspector who will break down your door to inspect your stitches with a magnifying glass. There are no citations and no penalties for imperfections (or as I prefer to call them: design details). With each stitch too close or too far, you are one press of the peddle closer to the super stippling of your dreams. Go on and follow my (decidedly imperfect) example, and you sew girl (or guy)!

High on the satisfaction of tackling sparkledome, you might even decide to try another intimidating technique, like free-motion writing! Which got me thinking about a new way to tag my quilts…

"this took forever"

To get your own Sulky Holoshimmer thread & other fine quilting thread, visit your local Canadian quilt retailer.
For more inspiration and product education, like H.A. Kidd andCompany Limited on Facebook.


  1. I've been using Sulky Sliver and holographic threads for years. However, I never thought to put the lubricant on the needle too! There is always something to learn. Thanks

  2. I have never heard of sewing lubricant. I was happy when I found out about topstitch needles. Thank you for the information.