Keep It or Bin It: Lickety Grip, WonderFil Rayon, and the Clover Embroidery Threader

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

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

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

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!

Clover White Marking Pen Love

Clover White Marking Pen review: Keep It or Bin It? I’ve blathered on about the Clover White Marking Pen before, but it bears repeating, especially after my “A-Ha” moment” the other day. This is why the White Marking Pen (Fine) from Clover rocks:

White marking pen mistakes

No, you’re not seeing double, I marked the first set of lines through the stencil on the border of this quilt, and it was in the wrong place, so I marked over it, figuring I’d be able to remember which lines were the right ones later. Yeah, right. And there were other parts of the marking on this quilt that were much worse, with so many lines and marks that it was likely to be impossible to figure out where to machine quilt when the time came.

But wait! I’d temporarily forgotten that you can use the iron to make the marks disappear:

White marking pen mistakes

Ah-la-peanutbuttersandwiches and A-Ha! A quick pass with the iron, and the marks were gone, and I could re-mark the lines in the proper place. This makes fitting continuous line borders easier too, since you can start at the corners and mark your way along, guestimating as you go how it will all fit together in the middle, and if you need to, you can erase a bit of it and remark it to make it fit better in the end.

And while the Clover White Marking Pen is ideal for really dark fabrics like this black Bali batik, I’ve used it successfully on even medium value printed fabrics, when nothing else would do. The ink is delivered via a roller ball like a Gelly Roll pen, and marking lightly is best. Also note that the ink is virtually invisible until it starts to dry, and will become fully white and opaque when completely dry. The white ink sits on top of the fabric a bit, so that it’s easier to see under the sewing machine lamp. It’s become my go-to marker when I’m faced with a difficult marking task.

It is a bit expensive, selling for around $6.50 per pen in shops, and to be honest, I sometimes marvel at how fast the ink in the pen disappears, but it’s so worth it when no other marker in the arsenal is up to snuff. You can find it cheaper if you scout the Internet a bit, and buy in multiples so that the shipping costs per pen are cut down.

Definitely a Keep It notion in my book! If you’ve used it, share your experiences, good or bad, here!

Techie Coolness: LibraryThing

Visit LibraryThingI discovered LibraryThing a couple of weeks ago, and I’m in book lover’s heaven! I could instantly see major potential here, and I’ve already started to get a couple of long-term goals accomplished. Ever since I started writing at Quilt Epiphany, I’ve wanted to make a Library page, showing all the quilt books in my collection, and either linking to my review of the book (if there was one) or to the book at Amazon.com, or both.

I do have a Worpress plugin called Amazon Media Manager (AMM) which makes it possible to insert a pretty picture of a book or product into my posts and have it linked directly to Amazon where readers can buy it. Oh, and the veritable river of cash that flows from the Amazon Associates account into my wallet is staggering, as well. 🙄 However, while AMM works great for one at a time inserts, or lists of two or three books or CD’s in the sidebar, I just couldn’t see spending the amount of time it would take to input 140 quilt books into my AMM list, and then program the thing to display them on a separate page. Never mind.

Here’s why LibraryThing is such a killer app. I made a free account at LibraryThing (a one step, two word process, believe it or not), and added a couple of books to my Library. It’s a simple process, since you can either enter the ISBN of the book, or search by title or author, and then select from a list to add the book to your Library. You can see the contents of your library, add tags, write reviews, share your profile with other users, see what other users are reading, etc. This is social networking for book lovers, Continue reading “Techie Coolness: LibraryThing”

Portable Design Wall–almost, but not quite…

When I saw the new Portable Design Wall, I thought, “Great, just what I’ve needed for ages!” and I was happy to find it on sale at Nancy’s Notions in February. From there, the story and product review is all downhill. I ordered online at Nancy’s Notions, which I will probably never do again, but that’s another rant for later. Suffice it to say that I did finally get the thing, but before I even had a chance to set it up, I received a call from Nancy’s Notions explaining that it would probably be difficult to set it up at all. Some of the parts for it were being remade, and I’d have to wait 4-6 weeks (!) for delivery of these parts that weren’t right to begin with. They asked if I wanted to wait; I thought this was kind of a weird question, since what else was I to do?

In any case, I waited for the parts. Meanwhile, I decided one day to try to set it up, since they didn’t say it would be impossible, just difficult. They didn’t lie, let me tell you. The poles were too long, and the clips that hold the cross supports onto the frame were flexible rubber, and absolutely wouldn’t stay connected to the frame at all. It was difficult to set up to say the least, since you need a space on the floor that’s at least six feet square so that you can lay it flat on the floor to put it together. I don’t have that unless I move my dining room table. The poles were also filthy dirty, and left black marks all over the flannel design wall and my hands.

I stuffed it all back in the bag, and emailed Nancy’s Notions and the manufacturer to ask exactly what parts I was waiting for, Continue reading “Portable Design Wall–almost, but not quite…”