Have Your Say

2nd July 2021

On Scraps, Needles and Being Enough

Threading needles is one of those things we can’t avoid doing. It’s often said that once you’ve threaded a needle 10,000 times, you can’t help but become adept at it, but we’re all open to learning new tips and techniques to make this necessary task easier.

Lalah offered a tip that works for all kinds of thread, from cotton through to wool. After trimming the end, pinch it between your thumb and forefinger so the end is hidden. Without letting up the pressure, slide the eye of the needle between your fingers where the thread end is, and hey presto! the thread ends up in the needle.

Although this technique takes a bit of practise, in reality the thread end doesn’t have a choice – it can’t go anywhere else.

It means you can get your needle threaded quickly, and happily get on with your stitching.

Alice Person wrote to us about licking the thread. She learnt to do this from her mother, who was a talented seamstress. Her mother advocated licking the thread end, then flattening it between thumb and forefinger. This flat end will then slide through the dry eye of the needle. It doesn’t seem to work as well with plain water, as the water doesn’t hold the thread fibres together.

But Alice also wanted to dispel a belief about licked threads ‘rotting fabric’. She described a gorgeous wedding gown covered in tiny pearls. Her mother had painstakingly sewn the pearls on, licking her thread in her usual fashion. Alison said that 50 years later, the gown is still in perfect condition without the slightest sign of deterioration. 

Also, Heather Blair directed us to an online article HERE showing a failsafe way to thread a needle. The piece is written by a tailor and Heather has said she’s used the technique with success every time.

The Heart of Teodolinda

Responding to the discussion about using scraps, we were charmed by a message from Cristina Casoli from Italy. Cristina has written in before, describing her beloved cat, Teodolinda. It seems that nothing goes to waste in Cristina’s house. Every morning she brushes her cat (something Teodolinda loves) and collects up all the fur. She is planning on her creating her own very special biscournu based on Rosewood Manor’s Lighthouse Island, stuffing it with Teodolinda’s hair. Now that will be a very special biscornu indeed!

L- Lighthouse Island biscornu by Rosewood Manor R- Teodolina having a nap!

Dawn Beck informed us that a lot of charity shops in the UK are happy to take bags of scrap wool, thread and fabric that they sell to fabric manufacturers to make ‘shoddy’. Shoddy is where old materials are used to make new cloth. It was something done frequently in the Yorkshire Mills in the past, but is now coming back into vogue. If you’re curious, you can read about the history of shoddy HERE.

Women sorting rags during WWI to make ‘shoddy’ (Source)

In Have Your Say in All Stitched Up issue #284, Pat Demharter had asked what drew other stitchers to particular projects. Anne Shields wrote in with a wonderful story about her family and how they had shaped her own choices.

Anne explained how she and her sister were encouraged to be independent and expected to work out how to do things themselves.

At one point she had wanted to learn to crochet, so her mother had given her a book and, although had offered help if needed, had expected Anne to read the book and figure it out… which, she did!

1943: Anne is on the right. The coats, made by her father, were bottle green with faux fur muffs and collars.

Anne’s father had been a draughtsman and had handmade everything from a sewing machine cabinet to the family’s winter coats. The inspiration from both her parents led Anne to draw and paint, and now, with walls full to bursting already, she has turned to making practical items with her needle and thread to give away as gifts. The self-sufficiency that she learnt from her upbringing has led her to where she is today.

L – Anne’s sewing machine cabinet. R – Another of Anne’s hobbies, her garden

Finally, Judy Lawrance was encouraged by the welcome in All Stitched Up! issue #284 that included the quote ‘you are enough’, as she so often feels like she is not enough with her sewing and quilting. However, she acknowledges all of those ‘poor, unfortunate souls’ who don’t know the joy of stitching and how none of them ever see the imperfections of her work, so perhaps we should try and ignore our imperfections too. And to that sentiment we whole heartedly agree.

Thank you for everyone’s participation this week and as always please keep on writing in and sending us your thoughts. Our inbox is always open.

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