An intriguing thread: Kreinik's fusible fibers

We take at least one sample of each Kreinik fiber to every show so that visitors can see all the creative options available in thread. The threads guaranteed to catch attention, no matter what the focus of the market, are Kreinik Iron-on Ribbon and Iron-on Braid. Embroiderers can't believe you don't need a needle, paper crafters are fascinated that it's so much easier than glitter, and quilters are surprised that it actually stays in place. Demonstrations and project models show people how easy, fun, and useful the threads are, then they pick up some spools to go home and play.

Quilter/mixed-media artist Catherine Hill was one such person inspired to experiment with Kreinik Iron-on Thread at a a craft and hobby show in England. She took home some of the fusible fibers and later shared her results. You will likely find Catherine's story to be similar to your own: crafting most all her life, always has a project in hand, loves to be challenged by new materials. Here's our interview with quilter Catherine, sharing her thoughts on the iron-on threads, making things, and the influence of handmade gifts.

10 questions with UK quilter Catherine Hill

Q: What type of crafting or stitching do you like?
A: I have been involved with patchwork and quilting for over 20 years (including ten years working & teaching in a patchwork and quilting shop), but I classify myself as a dabbler of many crafts – felting, hand and machine embroidery, braiding, darning, mixed-media. I love stitching into paper, and I am currently learning dressmaking. Unfortunately I am easily distracted and find myself indulging in as many textile crafts as time will allow.  

Q: How long have you been making things? 
A: I come from a long line of crafts people and my childhood was full of textile and ‘make-do-and-mend’ influences. I started sewing as a young child (hand sewing and tapestry) and developed my own direction in later life starting with soft furnishings for the home and a quilt for my first child. From there I developed my machine skills and took classes to feed my interest in all things textile and sewing…I never tire of learning. 

Q: Has your creative life been influenced by a family member, teacher, or friend?  
A: Throughout my childhood my mother told stories about her childhood through World War II and the rationing afterwards. She explained how resources and materials were extremely short – yet every year she and each of her siblings (she was one of 7 children) received a handmade gift made by her Auntie Mary. The gifts included numerous dolls (she particularly remembers a topsy-turvey rag doll), a dolls house & fort (made from painted cardboard and wood) and knitted garments. The notion that my Great Auntie could turn her hand to anything and make something from nothing always fascinated me. I like the idea of recycling or ‘upcycling’ and that the materials used have had a previous life or a story to tell (ie, worn out patches, darned fabric). My family was heavily involved in the Lancashire cotton mills, so I think that textiles must be in my blood.

Q: What influences your design ideas?
A: Part of my work revolves around photos of my children and the summer holidays we all shared on the beaches in Brittany, France or Portland, England – bright colours and free motion embroidery. There is another side of me that is heavily influenced by family stories of Lancashire, rural dialect and the expanse of green misty Moors. I have always been interested in Lancashire textiles and the heritage of the Cotton industry, but recently I inherited bags and bags of textiles, linens and haberdashery from an old gentleman who’s family had worked in Lancashire for generations – he was called Arnold and I inherited the textiles from his Attic (this was the starting point of my website and blog 'Arnold’s Attic’). The textiles and garments in the bags date back to before 1900. Some garments are hand stitched from simple yet effective designs, and there is one bundle of fabric, wrapped in brown paper and string labelled ‘For a quilt’. Every stitch, darn and mended garment tells a story of its construction and working life.        
 
Q: Which Kreinik threads have you used, and how have you used them? 
A: I was so happy to meet Dena [Kreinik's Creative Director] at a tradeshow in England. I was drawn to the iron-on threads; took them home, very excited, and made a Stained Glass Window Mini-Quilt from linen, a Celtic knot bookmark on silk and a decorated wooden love heart. The threads/braids, were so easy to use. I have made stained glass quilts many times using iron-on or even hand stitched bias, but the fusible thread from Kreinik is the fastest, easiest and most effective method I have used and it is so fine…. fusible bias tape is rarely available this narrow.

Q: How do you see decorative threads enhancing projects (patchwork, mixed media, felting, cording, etc)? 
A: I like the idea of creating fine cords and couching them down, incorporating silk or metallic threads into wet/nuno felting or needle felting a surface and machine embroidering on top, free-motion machine quilting or layering mixed media materials and machine/hand stitching into them. The beauty of Kreinik threads is that whichever thread is used – metallic or silk or even wider braids – it will create a different feel and finish to the piece making it unique.

Q: Where do you find or buy your materials?
A: Whilst working in the Patchwork and Quilting shop, all I ever used were modern prints – Moda, Alexandra Henry, Lecien – but since leaving to study for a teaching qualification,  I have turned into a bit of a charity (thrift) store queen. All my modern fabrics have been moved into the attic, and I now only ever use recycled and reclaimed fabrics….They tend to be softer to hand embroider. My only weakness for modern fabric is Liberty prints which of course I have to buy from Liberty of London (which is a very good excuse for a day out in Oxford Street and Soho, London!). Threads I buy at festivals or from shops (I like to see the lustre and feel the texture of the threads).

Q: What technique are you really excited about right now? 
A: I recently made a nuno felted scarf and am busy sorting my Blue-Face Leicester and Wensleydale fleece rovings and silk caps to make another, meanwhile I am part-way through a machine-embroidered picture using recycled fabric….And I am altering a vintage French shirt ready to over dye and hand stitch into….Oh and of course there is my rust dyed fabric (very satisfying) that is waiting to be embroidered.

Q: Do you have a blog, website, Flickr, Pinterest etc that you want to share? 
A: I am on Facebook, Blogger, Tumbler, Twitter and of course the very addictive Pinterest.   https://www.facebook.com/ArnoldsAttic  ;  http://www.arnolds-attic.co.uk/ ; http://arnolds-attic.tumblr.com/https://twitter.com/ArnoldsAttic ; http://www.pinterest.com/catherine0161/ 
 
Q: Do you have any unusual talents, or strange or interesting jobs, you can share with us? 
A: I am a Mathematics Tutor by day and stitcher by night. I love the beauty of number and pattern which often works its way into my work. I was also a founding partner of the British based, Quilts4London London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Inspire Project which inspired 17,000 pennants to be made using all forms of textile medium (embroidery, tatting, lace, patchwork, crochet, felting, plus many, many  more), which were given as gifts to each of the athletes of the Olympic & Paralympic 2012 Games, and to the athletes of the Special Olympics in 2013. Lots of hard work for 4 years, but worth it… pennants were made by all ages, all abilities and all textile forms. They arrived from all over the globe. My favourite was the email from a lady in a town called East London in South Africa who was very excited to be making a gift in East London, South Africa for an athlete who would receive it in East London, England.

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