I’m finally getting around to sharing some of my experiences with some new products I picked up at the quilt shows last October. Up on the Keep It or Bin It review block today are a few products that I’ve been using and testing since then. Did they make the grade? Let’s see:
Lickety Grip: One of the challenges when free motion machine quilting is getting (and keeping) a firm grip on the quilt. I used to use gloves with gripper dots on them, but had to take them off every time I needed to start or end a line of quilting, because I couldn’t manipulate the thread and everything else with the bulky gloves on. Then I started using a very tacky (not tacky, as in “without good taste”, but tacky as in sticky-ish) lotion, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, a tip I picked up from Diane Gaudynski.
We all like to try new things once in a while though, and I thought maybe this Lickety Grip stuff might turn out to be even better than the lotion trick. Lickety Grip says it provides “Better Grip For Better Control,” and maybe it does, but the first problem is that it comes in a little box and you rub your fingertips across the top of it, instead of squeezing it out into your hand. I can see that after using it for a while, it will be hard for me to get the remaining product out of the box because of my nails (yes, I realize that this is a personal problem, but I’m probably not the only person to have it). The other problem: it claims to have no perfumes, but the stuff smells like exceedingly strong soap (and not in a good way, really) when it’s on your hands, despite being virtually odorless in the box. Eeeewww. In actual usage tests, I found it to be a poor replacement for the Neutrogena lotion. Verdict: Bin It.
WonderFil Rayon thread: I use rayon thread an awful lot these days, so I thought I’d see if there was something better out there than Sulky (that comes on spools that are not ginormous). Not that Sulky is bad, not at all, but you never know when you might run across something better. I bought two assortments of ten colors each of this WonderFil thread at the Quilt Market Sample Stampede. I think I’m sorry I’m stuck with this much of it now.
From beginning to end, it’s totally frustrating. I couldn’t easily remove the plastic wrappers without sticking very sharp embroidery scissors under the wrapper to cut it, and catching the thread on the spool in the process. When I did finally get the wrapper snipped and started to peel it off, it only partly came off, and then I had to repeat the process with the embroidery scissors to remove the rest. When I put the spool on the machine to use it, instead of a hole getting poked in the paper label on the end of the spool, the entire end of the spool fell off in my hand. After using the thread, I tried to anchor the thread at the end of the spool, but the thread anchoring system on these spools is completely worthless. The thread broke more often than not while I was trying to get it to go under the little knobs, and when I could get it to go under the knobs at all without breaking, it wouldn’t stay.
Rayon thread being the slippery stuff that it is, what I’ll shortly have is a giant mess because none of the thread ends are anchored on the spools when not in use. Qualilty-wise, the thread itself is fine and comparable to Sulky so that’s not an issue, but it’s just such a pain to use because of the way it’s packaged that I know I’ll have to be desperate for a color match that I can’t get with 300 spools of Sulky to bother even looking toward the WonderFil. The WonderFil spools are just total junk IMO. Verdict: Bin It. Not worth the trouble.
Clover Embroidery Threader: I knew I would love this threader, and I hunted high and low through two quilt shows to get it. I was right, and it is a gem. The packaging says it all and doesn’t lie: “Unique design”, “Flat tip for easy threading”, and “Smooth threading even with thick threads”. I’ve been using quite a bit of embroidery floss and thicker specialty fibers lately for embellishments, and a regular needle threader just doesn’t cut it. Rather than just a slender (and easily breakable) wire threader, this threader is a folded piece of thin metal which slides through the needle eye vertically.
The instructions in the package are well written and worth saving as there is a needle chart showing different types and sizes of recommended needles as well as tips and tricks in case of difficulties with certain needles or threads. The threader itself is well made and the cover attaches firmly. It’s cool to look at with it’s elegant design in limey green, and even has a hole on the end to attach it to a cord or chatelaine to keep it handy. Verdict: Keep It. Definitely.
Note: In all honesty, “Bin It” is probably not an entirely accurate representation of what will happen to these failure products. I generally don’t throw anything away, and you never know when you might need some sticky stuff in a box for some odd job or other (though it’s too light to be a paper weight), and maybe I can think of something creative to do with the tangled mess of rayon thread that won’t stay on the spools. They probably should go in the bin, but I’m way too much of a pack rat for that!
Have you tried any of these products? Have a different view or experience? Share it!