I've been having a conversation with Chris of chrissquiltinguniverse.blogspot.com about thread these last few days as she works on her latest quilt and I work on my latest padfolio. We both were bumping up against color and value choices as well as solid vs variegated, and even poly vs cotton when the stitching would be traveling over shifts in value of the underlying fabric. Will the thread I choose look jerky as it variegates, will it show up too much and become a distraction or not enough and get lost save for any texture it might create? Auditioning doesn't seem to help. I tend to lay a length of thread over where it will be stitched or "pool" it if the design will be irregular. Chris actually put in some stitches by hand on her current piece to test her choice, even though she planned to machine quilt. Both of us find that when the real stitching begins, the thread often does something entirely different than we expected. Chris could rip hers out (which she did) and try again; I on the other hand have to live with what happens on the padfolios because holes punched into Peltex (which is what the covers are fused to) when stitching are impossible to get rid of should one make a mistake and need a do-over. I do some testing on small pieces of fabric fused to Peltex to see what the thread will look like in a satin stitch and to test tension, but otherwise, it is often a hold-your-breath-and-hope-for-the-best proposition.
In the case of the dark purple with blue accents padfolio, I thought the variegated thread would do the job of compromise over the predominantly dark fabric with a few lighter spot. Instead, I found it a bit distracting, showing up in a way I hadn't exactly foreseen. It made me wish I'd opted for the navy thread I'd considered but feared would read a harsh line over those light areas. So when I decided to cut another cover from the fabric to make up a second one (as long as I was making others for my customer to choose from), I'd do the stitching differently and with different thread. I was amazed that this section had much more visible purple in it, and that the lining fabric I'd used in the first one did not begin to look right with this one. Maybe I should use a purple variegated Oliver Twist - its changes more subtle than the King Tut I'd used on the first one and a seemingly perfect match. But again, I was afraid it would show too much and take over the show. Remembering my previous thought to stick with navy, I ended the back and forth and stitched away with an Aurofil solid dark blue thread. It barely shows except over some lighter areas, which I have to admit I thought I wanted, so why am I disappointed and ruing the fact that I did not use the purple thread? Just look at how lovely a closure cord I could have made with that Perle cotton if I had, but now it doesn't look right with the navy satin stitching. Sigh... It's the Goldilocks syndrome again - not too much this direction, or the other, searching for that perfect spot in the middle, but erring too conservative. I've now identified a blue decorative thread that may work, after stunning myself with the lack of any dark blue elastic or Perle cotton.
It doesn't take much variance in fabric to change how a thread will read. Here are the two padfolios I made for my customer who wanted the rich rust one that had sold to choose from. In auditioning the thread I'd used on the original over the one on the right (cut from the same piece of fabric but with much more light areas) and the one on the left which has less red in it, I was satisfied that it was the perfect thread for both. Yet when they were done, I'd wished I'd used a darker rust thread on the left one - something more like the darkest values in it.
Granted, there's nothing wrong with the thread I used, but in hindsight, I wished I'd thought to go bolder so the leaves would show more. It ended up being the one my customer chose to buy, the thread I used having nothing to do with it. She got sucked in by the lining fabric - see above. The lining and pockets for the one she didn't buy are identical to the original Rich Rust padfolio.
I had better luck pleasing myself with the Burgundy Leaves padfolios. Love the thread I chose, the way it showed up on both light and dark areas but faded in and out as well.
Subtle yet not having to be searched for to see.
I dangled them in front of my customer and she bit, adding this one with dragonfly lining and pockets to her order. (We are old friends so I don't feel too guilty about that, especially since she tells me she's keeping it for herself while the rest will be given away.)
The second one is essentially the same, with flashes of texture falling in different places and a commercial leaf fabric for the lining.
I was quite surprised that of the several toned pink prints I could have used on this one, none of them felt quite right with the one that eventually got the dragonfly lining. The subtleties of hand-dyed fabric: even when cut from the same piece of cloth, each section will vary enough to need a customized approach.
I'm thinking about putting some of the unsold ones in the exhibit that Masks will be going into. At that venue they have pedestals with enclosed glass cases for 3-dimensional items like small sculptures, jewelry and baskets that might otherwise "walk off" or be mishandled if out in the open. This has been the difficulty in figuring out where to display these locally - generally my options have been to display them in open wall racks or in a big basket on a counter or table.
On the other hand, after pumping out 14 padfolios over the last couple of months - a group that I absolutely love - I want to be done with them for awhile and get back to other creative endeavors. Might be nice to just have a few on hand for my repeat customer here in town...