Sunday, August 28, 2011

Embroidery thread debacle

I learned to embroider when I was five years old. Scattered through my mother's kitchen drawers were towels and aprons done in a decidedly childish, 3-strand embroidery. We bought Aunt Martha's hot transfer patterns at the dime store and Mother would cut up old sheets and my sister and I would decorate them. Some lasted quite a long time.

So did the thread.

I don't know when my current "collection" started, but I'd wager some of it is close to 25 years old, dating to the December I made felt kit Christmas stockings for the four of us. Although the kits have become harder to find (make that near impossible), I've made 4 more: daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Each kit had more thread than needed.

So did each cross-stitch kit. Not to mention the threads I purposely bought for the vintage-esque Victorian quilt I fashioned for a friend. Or the tie quilts I've made for myself. Or the kitchen towels I embroidered just for the fun of it.

So, in need of a project, I've decided to make a new Christmas tree skirt. Our current one dates to our first Christmas and is made of felt and rickrack, glue and sequins. To say it is shabby is an understatement. It's a good thing it so quickly becomes covered with presents. I have a pattern for a machine-applique 12 days of Christmas tree skirt which I actually did make once in a sewing class and then donated to a silent auction. I believe it fetched over $200 which, given the labor involved, was a steal for the buyer.

But now I'd like to hand applique and embroider the details. I've cut out the pieces from scraps and a few new quilting fat quarters. I started gathering all the necessities, thread and needles and small scissors. A friend has given me an applique lap board which I'm not sure I'll be able to use, but I'll try. All I needed was to select my embroidery threads.

Two (or so) hours later, I had over 100 colors of thread spread out on my cutting board. Some of the shades were so close, I had to wait until the next morning to be able to determine the differences. Gazing over the threads was a review of my last quarter-century's work.

I was appalled.

It was obvious they couldn't go back into the zippie bags and get all crushed together again. Off I went to Walmart to get a tackle box. I found one I liked which would take up a minimum of space and had slide out drawers. It looked like it would hold about 60 separate colors and I thought I'd just squeeze a few in together.

It quickly became evident that that wasn't going to work. If I was going to arrange and organize, I might as well do it right. Tackle box number two was fetched.

120 colors and dividers later, I am pristine in the embroidery thread dept. I have trays of yellows, oranges, browns, blues, greens, blue-greens, reds, and pinks. I only need one more thing: black.

I have a skein, but you never know...

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