Thread Junkies Unite!

My ever growing Sulky thread stash

Ok, I admit it- I’m a thread junkie. I love all the juicy colors and the lovely sheen of a new spool of thread. Unforunately, this addiction can get a bit expensive, so I’ve put together some of my best tips on how to save money on thread and still feed your passion.

How to save money on thread: A guide for the aspiring threadpainter.

1. Have one particular color that you use a lot of? Buy a larger spool of it. This gives you a couple of great advantages- you get more bang for your buck and typically it’s over the $5 minimum for Joann’s coupons!

2. Make sure and use the Joann’s coupons every week. But be careful- it’s easy to walk in for thread at 1/2 price and walk out with a hundred dollars of other addictive crafty substances. I try to head straight for the thread aisle with my blinders on, grab what I need and sprint for the front counter. I recently used a 50% off coupon to buy a Sulky thread container full of their newest colors- Great deal!

Sign up for Joann's mailing list

3.Watch (electronically) for those sales- it’s easy to get put on a store’s email list for specials and sales. I love Joann’s for this. You can sign up for their mailing list on their website- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up for email updates. (I know, I know- it’s MORE email, but It’s worth it!) When you see a sale on thread head in or place your order online.A couple of months ago I scored and bought over $600 of thread for under $300.  (That should give you an idea about the size of my habit!)

Also check out their sale category on the website and click on sewing & quilting, then thread to give you the current deals on all sorts of thready goodness. I got a slimline embroidery case from sulky full of thread for only $84- the list price is $299. SCORE!

4. Keep tabs on what you currently have and use the most of. It’s not a deal if it’s a color you will never use… I have some early purchases sitting around like little lost children- begging to be used- but I just don’t have any projects for them. And of course, when I started out I would buy too few of the colors I am addicted to on sale, and be forced to buy them at full price to complete my pieces.

5. DON”T attempt to save money on thread by buying a lower quality thread. Lower quality threads will cost you more in time and money than you ever thought possible. With the amount of heavy thread coverage that you will be creating, any sub-standard thread will tear, shred and completely junk up your machine with fluff- potentially leading to costly repairs. Not to mention you’ll miss out on the joy of a finely made spool of thread- the color, sheen and texture are simply vibrant and beautiful.  Wouldn’t you prefer your art resembling a luscious piece of fruit than a dried up ball of matte lint?

Since I like to see my threads in person when I’m buying (at least for the first time) I use mainly Sulky threads. They’re high quality, and have an awesome selection of readily available colors that I can get at a discount in a physical store near me. What more can you ask?! If you’re looking for other good quality threads look at your local quilting store or search for deals online…

Helene :)

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Topographical Threadpainting!

A not so well hidden fact about me is that I’m pretty much obsessed with topo maps. I LOVE the lines, the curves, the symbols… In the summer I often will disappear out into the mountains for multiple day stretches with nothing but my backpacking gear and a USGS Topo map to gleefully navigate my way cross country. Nothing is quite as fun as relating the lines to the landforms… *sigh*

Well, how in the world does my wierd obsession Topographic maps relate to threadpainting you ask?

Well- A couple of weeks ago I was asked to return as a navigation instructor with the Sierra Club WTC (Wilderness Travel Course)…After a full weekend of pouring over Topographical maps  with students and some down and dirty hands on instruction in Joshua Tree my mind was a jumble of lines, curves and happiness. It was only natural that when I sat down to finish the threadpainting of the Sierras that more than a little of the topo should slip into the style.

While not exactly true to an actual USGS Topo (otherwise the lines would run parallel and horizontal), I found myself inspired; using lines to define the contours, separating out the ravines and gullies from the ridges with sharp v’s of thread, making the trees, hills and mountains appear to separate & recede.

I love the idea of contour mapping with thread… It’s not a new idea, but learning to pull from outside the typical “artistic” field and use Topo maps as a guide has opened up new ways of seeing.

:) Helene

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Landscape Quilting

Class members assembling their landscapes

Most of you know by now about my…ahem…*slightly embarrased cough*  “fiber addiction”. Well, in recent days I’ve been (over) indulging again! I know, I know, I’ll never learn…

Trust me, I attempt to only do good with this fibery compulsion. In fact, just this last Friday I geared up for a wonderful fiber arts workshop taught by Phyllis Binkley of . About eight fiber enthusiasts came together at Phyllis’ studio for a true fiber-fest- A workshop on creating landscape art quilts.

Phyllis was well prepared for the invasion and had a mind boggling array of fabrics organized in giant folders across all major production surfaces.

If only I had her organization! Come to think of it- if only I had her collection of FABRICS! Gorgeously textured browns and greens for the forest, bushes & rocks; lovely blue and gray hand dyed skies and water; batiks with intense natural patterns & colors. *sigh* I’m swooning with fiber-envy.

The class was perfectly set up for fiber lovers of every confidence level. A solid overview and plenty of great guidance as needed.  We jumped on in with a demonstration from Phyllis on creating depth in our landscape through use of color, texture and layering. Since Phyllis has classic art training she really knows her stuff. Tips and tricks abounded: Warmer colors in the foreground, cooler to the back; detailed prints and dark colors up front; lighter colors in the back to mimic the effects of atmospheric haze …and don’t forget to layer those mountains!.

Diving into the piles of fabric was almost bewildering. So much to choose from! Some students went for the fabrics with lots of preprinted detail- there were rocks, cabins, moose, ducks & deer…  I heard little exclamations of joy from other students as they discovered just ‘the piece’ the needed. Of course, being the little rebel, I had  “A VISION” and decided to create a simpler scene that I’ll fill in the detail of by (wait for it)…massive amounts of threadpainting! Yaay! (of course!)

Now, I’m trusting you here. I’ve actually posted my rough, unthreadpainted piece from Phyllis’ class -Next time you see it, it’ll be just about COMPLETELY covered in thread…

If you’re looking into starting to create your own Art quilts or want to know more about threadpainting make sure and look Phyllis up. Her website & workshop information is at

Categories: Textile Techniques | 3 Comments