Mar 25, 2011


They say that curiosity killed the cat, but I'm hoping that it's not quite that lethal to a poor unsuspecting spinster living in Hoosierville.

How the heck do you stitch?

What I mean by that is....what are all of your tips and tricks that you would just love to pass along so that the rest of Stitchy Blogville will come to worship you as the God/Goddess that you are.

I ask this, of course, out of purely selfish motives. I've really been struggling with my latest project....not the actual stitching of the project, mind you, but the meachnics of it.

As you might have guessed, this is a pretty big piece. I originally had it mounted on q-snaps that were just large enough to get a decent sized stitching area, but all of that extra linen drooping over the sides drove me batshit crazy.

So last night I switched out the q-snaps for some taller ones, but I still had excess linen at the bottom. This might not seem like that big of a deal to most of you, but if you're me, it means that you will inevitably stitch the droopy part to itself on the backside because you just have to sit in some facockta position in the Happy Chair, and as you poke and stab the needle through the linen you just can't be bothered to realize that you are, in fact, going through about eighteen layers of it.

After futzing with it for about three hours, I finally rummaged around in my bathroom drawer and came up with a headband that seems to be doing the trick:

Before you have a heart attack and admonish me for using something that could be potentially dangerous to the stitching and linen...don't worry. I never used this headband, so it doesn't have any hairspray or other spinster detritus anywhere near it. (And if you must know, the reason why I never used this headband is because it wouldn't fit on my big fat head and it kept slipping on my big fat hair and I ended up looking more like an idiot than I do now.)

So for now I seem to have solved the pesky linen issue, but now I've got a thread situation:
How do you organize your threads when you're stitching something that has multiple colors and multiple color changes? Do you thread up a needle with all of the different colors, or do you use the same needle over and over again, but thread it each time you change colors?

Since this project uses thread balls and not thread skeins, I got desperate and fished out an empty box from the studio. Try as I might, I just couldn't get the balls to work in FlossAway bags, and I really didn't think it would be a good idea to unwind them and then re-wind them onto bobbins.

So here I sit, completely angst ridden with a feeling like there are millions of stitchy secrets that I don't know. I'm sure that Aunt Chrissy would never intentionally keep these types of things from me, but she tends to be a very very calm, patient, and organized stitcher, and I get up in my head enough for the both of us.

In hand? Q-snaps? On a frame/stand? With the use of various and sundry kitchen and/or bath gadgets? Spools? Bobbins? Bags? Come on, people! You've just GOT to help a girl out!

Here's hoping that your Friday is a lot more peaceful than mine and that your stitching doesn't make you want to run right out and invest millions in new plastic bins from the Target clearance aisle!


  1. I like your idea of the stretchy headband! I use the plastic hair combs with springs in them. All sizes. You know, where you squeeze them apart and lock on to your linen after you roll it up neatly. Also, for my 8x8 q's, I use the elastic cover and roll my linen in it.

    I like your floss holder for the balls also! Thanks for the idea!

    Just checking to see if you have been watching the live cam of nesting eagles. Site is: . I keep it on my computer 24 hours a day. She is sitting on 3 eggs and one is due to hatch around 4/1/2011. Male will fly in every now and then to relieve her. Interesting...

    Hope your weekend is great!

  2. Coni,
    I make my own scroll rods, and needle holders. I tried hoops, and QSnaps. The scroll rods were my Savior for large projects, and now I use them for everything! Yeah... ya' have to either sew or glue a whole 1/2 inch of linen to get started, but the only REAL measurement ya' need is the Width! Everything else is "rolled up" and out of the way. Travels great, too!

    I also make my own needle-minder from a piece of matboard, a magnet strip to hold the needles, and a few leftover Christmas labels for the names and symbols.

    I have directions on how to make your own scroll rods (MUCH cheaper!!!) if you want them.
    Barb in Syracuse

  3. Hi Conni you can get q snap covers that will take up the excess fabby .. they look like steering wheel covers :) you pop them over the frame and then tuck the fabbie inside :) hope this helps abit :0 love mouse xxx

  4. Hi Coni,

    I stitch in hand most of the time. I will sometimes use a scroll frame (if the piece is long and there are specialty stitches). For silk floss I use floss-away bags while stitching. For cotton or DMC threads I use thread drops. If a project has a lot of color changes I will thread a few needles with the different colors. If there is a lot of solid stitching I will use just one needle. I think the floss box is a good idea for those balls and your project is looking great by the way!!

  5. I use Q-Snaps with a floor stand. Most of my projects are very large, but I am uncomfortable working with large Q-Snaps. My favorite size combination is 8x11. I roll up the excess fabric and put on a Q-Snap cover. I love Q-Snap covers. Not only do they hold all of the excess fabric, but they collect the dirt instead of your project collecting the dirt.

  6. I, too, use Q-snap covers and love them. I purchased mine from an indivdual who was making them; not sure she still offers this service, but I do know that Nordic Needle offers several sizes. Here is a link to one of their sizes.
    I use a lap or floor frame, and it hold the Q-snap with the cover on very well. Your LNS may carry them; I hope you cangive them a try.
    Thank you for always adding something fun to my day when I read your blog.

  7. Hi -- Don't be too hard on yourself. Your headband is a great solution. I use Q-snap covers, rolling up the excess fabric to fit under the cover. Right now I am doing the Blackbird Anniversaries of the Heart on a big piece of fabric, but using 8-inch Q-snaps. I got my covers from The Silver Needle. As far as needles, I just use one needle, and re-thread as I run out of thread or as I need a new color. Having multiple needles threaded would probably send me over the edge and be too big of a temptation to my curious kitties. Good luck and happy stitching.

  8. I have been reading your blog for a while (love it!) I have to say the headband idea made me come out of the shadows - You. Are. A. Genius! Thanks. I've tried the q-snap covers, but I just can't seem to manage them. My next future project is going to have a lot of excess fabric, so I'm totally lifting your idea. The floss box looks like it will really work for you. I use pretty much the same set up, it works when there's just too many colors for floss bags!

  9. I prefer rods for the larger projects and make my own as well. That way my excess fabric doesn't get in the way and I am not putting permanent wrinkles in my fabric either.

    Like your idea for the balls though. I have had larger projects where I thread up 5-10 needles with the different flosses and keep them pinned to a sheet of paper or as mentioned a magnetic strip works great with the color numbers written above.

    Good luck.

    Peggy H.

  10. I love this post! I feel as if I have a partner in crime. I must not be using Q snaps enough. I find them really awkward for some reason. I have used rubber bands, plastic bags, and even drawstring bags to get rid of all that extra fabric. I sew through it also. The bad thing is that it tends to limit what I'll tackle as a project. Love, love, love the headband idea. I'm currently working on a lap quilt top and I will definitely use that idea.

    I have also tried a couple of those lap things, and under the leg things, etc., etc., and none of them are very comfortable. I guess it's just the price you pay for wanting to do hand needlework.

    I don't use a floor stand because that means I can't lounge in my favorite nest chair and have to sit up straight - heaven forbid.

    As far a floss - I've got lots of things I've collected over the years and none of them are my favorite things. I still end up with thread all over the place.

    But, I still stitch! So it must not be too bad.

  11. The headband was a good idea. Usually, if there is too much excess linen, I just use hair clips with a little bit of felt between the linen and the clip. I've used qsnap covers but my linen gets really wrinkled. Lately, I've been stitching in hand or with a floor stand and the excess linen doesn't seem to bother me as much if I'm using the floor stand.

    I only use one needle which is good since I have the bad habit of stitching my needle in the upholstery. Great idea to keep track of your Valdani!

  12. I like to use a scroll frame for big projects like that one - with the linen basted onto the top and bottom dowels then rolled along to give the stitching area.

  13. has this cute frabric to go around the q-snaps so it A) protects the fabric from getting dirty and B) keeps it out of your way. you should look into it :)

  14. I understand your pain! I too seem to obsess and fret over organization of stitchy materials. I use qsnaps now and like the others have some of the covers that go around the outside, but I like your headband idea. I have a ton of those around! Your posts NEVER fail to give me a chuckle. Talk to Aunt Chrissy and then come back and tell us what SHE does. I'm sure she is a wealth of tips.

  15. I stitch in hand. I used to use a scroll rod but they got in my way. I use one needle for every color on whatever I'm stitching; even when there are frequent symbol changes. I could stitch faster if I didn't have to change floss colors all the time! I haul all my floss out with me to stitch, nothing in floss bags or rings but in a project bag. I guess I'm an old-school stitcher!

    I'm on my way out to buy more needles! I enjoy your blog, it's very entertaining!

  16. Coni,

    One of my stitchy peeps passed this link on to me for a tutorial that shows you how to make Q-snap covers. It's good if you want to try the Q-snap cover but don't want to spend money on them.

    It's on the The Cowgirl from Hanna blog here:

    The good thing is if you make your own then decide you don't care for them you're not out much money just the time spent and some scrapped fabric.

    It's a thought! No affiliation or anything.

    Lisa in SW Ohio (a transplanted Hoosier)

  17. I stitch in hand. I have only ever stitched in hand but do get curious about scroll frames from time to time. I may try it out someday. I also use one needle and thread it every time there is a colour change. No real reason why I do things this way, I just do.

  18. Sorry Coni - no help here. I stitch in hand 95% of the time using a sewing method instead of the poking and pulling thing.

    As for the floss - your box is great storage. I wind all my skeins on bobbins and use the same boxes as you.

    Good luck

  19. I'm useless. I stitch in hand. Even on the "toga."

  20. I like the headband idea. I hadn't thought of that one. I, too, have had those big ass projects that leave you with linen hanging over the edge... I did use one of those giant plastic hair clips once.

    I use a floss box like yours for projects. And, as far as needles I usually just use one and change the thread colors as needed.

    It's good to share this knowledge, cause I'm sure some people out there in blogland have some great ideas I've never thought of...

  21. I LOVE the haircomb/clip thingies. I use them anytime the fabric is much bigger than the qsnaps which I also swear by. Just roll up the excess and clip them on -- I use them at the bottom and top, and have also used them on the sides.
    I rarely use a stand with the qnaps as they are light enough for me to hold in my hand while I stitch.

    I am getting ready to use the Valdani balls of thread, and think your idea of the box with the sections is great -- I shall have to look for one of those soon.

    Love your blog as always.

  22. I use Siesta bars which are extremely lightweight. I work them like scroll bars but roll up my fabric and pin in with quilting pins. I move it on the bars as I progress - I find it so much more user friendly than scroll bars which are heavy and cumbersome.
    Sorting thread is always a nightmare as I refuse to use bobbins - I've tried every method known to man and there's no perfect solution that I've found so far.

  23. I love your headband idea! I've been using brand new rubberbands on my neatly rolled excess but the headband idea better. I tried Qsnap covers on my qsnaps but couldn't get them to work without wrinkling up the excess fabric horribly.

    Your box idea is also very good. You can get boxes like the one your using that only hold only a few compartments, and that's what I do. I look at the areas I'll be stitching next and carry only those colors I will need rather that lugging around everything.

    So basically I have a cosmetic zipper bag that carries my scissors, needles, needlethreader, highlighters, needle magnet and a few colors of floss.

    I find the less cumbersome the better!

  24. Coni,
    Scroll rods or in hand. I'm not a fan of Q-snaps...all that extra fabric hanging around, doncha know... Love your idea for the balls of floss, you're a genius! Enjoy your stitchy day!

  25. This is my favorite needle organizer: I use it all the time. You pencil in the symbols and then you can thread and go!

  26. I thought your methods were brilliant, Coni.

    I double my fabric back over and tuck it under the clip part of the Q Snap. But like you said, that sometimes leaves a lot of it still draping down & getting in the way. I usually just mutter a lot and get into unnatural positions that require assistance to un-do when I need to move. ;)

    I usually use the overdyed threads as they come, but that's just because I'm too lazy to cut the and lay them out in order beforehand. (Not to mention that by the time my 4 kids, 3 cats, and 2 dogs ... not to mention the house rooster ... came by, I probably wouldn't have any floss left at all!)

  27. Another in hand stitcher here! I will roll the fabric (so the back is on the outside) to hold it comfortably to stitch with the sewing method. I also use thread drops for my floss but that probably won't help for the spools :(

  28. I use scroll rods from American Dream Products for just about every project...all the excess fabric gets rolled up out of the way until you are ready to move to the next part of your design. If you don't want to spend the money to purchase the pre-made scrolls, you can buy dowels, screws, butterfly nuts, and velcro to make your own. My neighbor used mine as a pattern to create her own, and they turned out perfectly.

    If it is too small, I hold it in my hand rolled up with the backside exposed. I tried the Q-snaps, but they crushed the threads in the areas that I had already stitched...even when I used fabric or dryer sheets between the snap fastener and the stitch fabric.

    I love the organizer idea for the Valdani though...great idea. I keep my floss in the plastic bags on an O-ring and thread up a needle for all the colors in the area I am working at the time. I keep the threaded needles in the appropriate color floss bags.

    I also cover the scroll rods with fabric protectors that have elastic in them when I am not working on a piece. They are easy to make, or you can purchase/order them from any needlework shop. My friend, Michele, made some for me in fabrics of my choice after we saw them in a LNS...easy peasy!!

    Good luck in your information quest!

    American Dream Products-

    Happy Stitchin'

  29. I avidly read blogs, make note of the great ideas, peruse the stitching catalogues, organize my threads in baggies, buy totes and organize everything perfectly....and then I sit in bed and stitch ending up with balls of floss everywhere, tote upside down and the stitching accoutrements lost in the bed covers. Where is the road that`s paved with good intentions going?

    Kisses to Stewey...

  30. Dearest Spinster - Wow, what a great idea! A headband! I use scroll rods for my stitching simply because I cannot stand having the linen hanging down. I also use applique pins to pin my linen to the rods instead of sewing; works like a charm! Living in a dog house as I do, I also want to try and keep things as clean as possible. Usually, when finished I use a lint roller on my linen to get anything off that's gotten on in spite of my efforts. I am now working on a reproduction sampler that's had me thinking I should be covering the linen on the bars so that my hands won't make it dirty. I've been thinking about getting the Nordic Needle elastic/fabric covers that go on scroll rods (and I guess q-snaps) to cover the linen - or making my own. As to keeping my thread for projects, I have a cabinet next to my chair. I have wrought iron S hooks hanging on the drawer pulls. I take my threads and put them in individual floss bags and the floss bags on a ring that I hang on the S hook. When stitching something in lots of threads, I have a wool pincushion and as I work I use different needles for each color. If I don't use up a thread, then the needle sits in the pincushion until needed.

  31. I feel like such a shmuck reading all the good suggestions posted. I usually end up wadding the excess fabric up or rolling it up in a tube and holding it while I stitch. I really should try to organize a bit better. On the positive side, now that you have that big pink headband stretched over your big ass q snap, maybe it will be big enough to wear!

  32. I stitch mostly in hand unless the piece is just too big, then I use what's called "rod 'n roll". You just roll it up as you stitch. They come in all sizes. I will never use a Q-snap or hoop again!
    Looks like you are getting lots of excellent advice. Isn't blogging awesome?

  33. "it means that you will inevitably stitch the droopy part to itself on the backside "

    This happens to me all the time but love the idea of a headband :)

  34. Hey loyal ND alum - my team is gonna whup your team in ice hockey tomorrow night!!!

  35. Dear Coni,

    I let my sister Laura do the fancy stitchin' but I just wanted to say this: I think Stewy might need a sheep. See:

  36. I hope you got some good tips. I'm laughing so hard I can't think what might help...other than the qsnap covers. You always make my day!

  37. When I have extra fabric hanging over the sides of a hoop or q-snaps I roll it up carefully and use hair clips (the plastic ones used to hold a twist of hair on back of your head) to clip the rolled up fabric to the hoop/q-snap.

    As to the floss, if it were me I would stick the balls in the same sort of box you have. I've tried the needle sorter and threading a bunch of needles for a Teresa Wentzler piece (loads of color changes) and it drove me batty! So I just returned to rethreading my needle when needed. I think its a matter of what feels most comfortable for you!

  38. Since you asked........... I stitch in hand. I tried hoops, qsnaps, stands and hated them all. I found them cumbersome and clumsy. It made stitching a chore and not fun. So in hand it is. I like you floss idea though. I keep mine in large baggy. I dig through them and change the color as needed. Messy I know but ti works for me. :)

    Now aren't you sorry you asked?

  39. I wonder...with yout thread rolls in the plastic box, why couldn't you punch holes in the lid (or maybe Chrissy could since I don't know if you are allowed to have say a hammer and a nail)one above each spool and thread the perle through the hole in the lid. Maybe a little piece of double stick tape or hook side of velcro to hold the thread to the top of the lid? It would keep it from rolling all over the floor as you try to roll off a length and cut it one handed (NOT that I have every done anything like that)