Have you ever been hand sewing and got your thread tangle in a knot so big a family of birds could make it their nest? Me too. For the longest time, I thought this was just part of sewing. I thought maybe I wasn’t threading correctly or using the wrong kind of needle. The constant knots would triple my work time and I’m pretty sure, at one point, smoke came out of my ears. I’m self-taught, so I figured there must be some trick of the trade I just hadn’t come across yet. Turns out, there is! When hand sewing, whether it be quilting, beading, mending, etc, you need a thread conditioner. What in the world is a thread conditioner? Nope, put back that bottle of Tresemme, we’re talking a whole different kind of conditioner; wax.
The sewing industry has already developed a couple products labeled as thread conditioners, such as Thread Heaven and Beeswax Thread Conditioner. Both are affordable, under $5, and work wonders on your thread. Personally, I prefer Thread Heaven because it acts as a protect and doesn’t wash out. It also won’t break down over time like beeswax does. Thread Heaven was created by Roni Hennen to solve the frustration people experienced while beading. As Hennen was teaching beading lessons, she noticed untrained or stiff fingers found it too difficult to thread and prevent knots as they beaded. She actually hired chemist to make this superior product. Pretty cool. Also, if you visit their site, they have lists of tips, tricks, and other uses for Thread Heaven, like applying some Thread Heaven to eliminate prickly clothing tags.
So how does it work? Let me show you.
Let’s pretend this is a beloved quilt we have been piecing for 6 months and this is the first time ever we are attempting to quilt by hand. After all that hard work, we just want to relax in front of the TV and peacefully stitch along the lines. Here’s what happens without thread conditioner:
Gasp! The horror!
We can really see the problem when we look at Nylon thread. You can see in the before picture that the thread it easily separating.
The nylon thread has a bit more mass than the average thread, so when trying to pass it through fabric using a thin needle, such as when beading, we can see that it tangles into a huge nest.
After we apply the thread conditioner, you immediately notice the Nylon thread is structurally more stable. It is no longer fraying at the edges or separating.
Because of this, the thread passes easily through the smallest holes without friction.
As I mentioned before, I prefer Thread Heaven, but the application is generally the same across the board. You simple sandwich the thread between your finger and the conditioner
and pull the thread through. You only need a little bit of pressure to get a good coat.
Then, run the thread between your finger and thumb.
Now you are ready to sew! Do you have a special technique for hand sewing perfectly? Share it with the sewing community in the comment section below. Happy Sewing!