Let me begin by thanking so many of you who stopped by to offer suggestions a couple of weeks ago as I was pondering the colour and contrast balance of my Fresh Fields quilt. The general consensus was that a little more green as well as a greater sprinkling of navy would be beneficial - thank you!
In several places I had seen Bottom Line thread by Superior Threads recommended for the fine hand stitching of English Paper Piecing. I have been happy using Gutermann 100% polyester thread but my curiosity prompted me to order some Bottom Line thread - maybe it really is noticeably better - only one way to find out for myself.
I also ordered a Bottom Line thread colour chart for future reference - aren't the colours gorgeous!
Bottom Line thread on the left, Gutermann on the right, both 100% polyester. As promised, the Bottom Line is definitely finer, smoother, silkier and I really wanted to love it but I'm undecided. The Bottom Line is so fine and slippery that I find it a little more difficult to use - harder to thread the needle, comes unthreaded more easily and can fray into its two component strands at the ends and catches on rough skin.
Another point which surprised me was that it isn't quite as strong as the Gutermann. Bottom Line thread is also slightly elastic/stretchy, in fact it reminds me a little of the clear nylon thread I have used for some sewing tasks, feeling like a cross between the nylon and a regular polyester thread.
Over the weekend I sewed a couple of my epp flowers together using Bottom Line and the stitches are slightly less visible than when using the Gutermann. I found the seams do however very slightly "give" if pulled due to the touch of elasticity in the thread.
I also trialled two slightly different whip stitch techniques, one shown here by Lori Holt and another detailed here by John'aLee of The Scrappy Appleyard. Each of these techniques does produce a finish where the stitches are less visible from the top. However I found both techniques more time consuming and again the completed seams aren't quite as tight/firm as with traditional whip stitching.
In my online readings on Sunday I stumbled across a recommendation not to use a hot iron for an extended time on work made using Bottom Line thread as the heat can soften the thread. Now I know a quilt is unlikely to ever require extended hot ironing/pressing but it added to my uneasiness. I wonder about the longevity of Bottom Line thread*, especially in our harsh Australian climate.
In the end I've decided I quite like the charm of small, neat hand stitching and don't mind it being just visible, somehow it seems more authentic to me. I also prefer the tactile features of "real" Gutermann thread and the steadfastness of the completed work. It seems I shall return to using traditional whip stitching with a very fine needle and Gutermann polyester thread, just as I had been doing until my curiosity sent me on an adventurous detour.
|Flowers from the last two weeks|
If anyone has an experience to share of Bottom Line thread which can convince me to reconsider I'd love to hear from you. Otherwise, I may be looking for Australian or two who would like to be the new owners of some Bottom Line threads and a colourful thread chart.....
*** Since writing this post I have been made aware of, and am now very happily sewing my epp with, the new Gutermann Extra Fine thread which seems to me to be the perfect epp thread. It has all the qualities I appreciate about Gutermann Sew All thread but is finer - a brilliant thread. Here is my blog post comparing Gutermann Extra Fine, Bottom Line and regular Gutermann Sew All thread.
* Todd Purcell of Superior Threads reassures me that "since Bottom Line thread is a polyester thread (synthetic fibres) it will last a long, long time. Synthetic threads that aren't exposed to direct sunlight, or high levels of humidity don't experience degradation nearly as fast as natural fibres, such as cotton thread. We don't have a specific timeline such as 100 years, but we are confident that our synthetic threads will last generations."
Sharing at Work In Progress Wednesday, Fabric Frenzy Friday, In Hand ( an epp link up).