Workshops » Filament Fantasy

Filament Fantasy

Learn to stitch with specialty threads and yarns

With: Linda Schmidt
Skill Level: Intermediate

Learn to stitch with specialty threads and yarns

Filament Fantasy calendar image

4 Lessons
Type: On-demand Limited
Price: $42.00 or $56.00
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Tags: Threads, Fibers, Applique, Cutwork, Beading, Solvy, Foil, Free Motion, Reverse applique, Hearts, Threadplay, Embellishment, Quilting


Fantastic, frantic, frustrating, festive filaments; turbulent, twisting, tormenting threads. If those words describe your feeling about any threads but cotton, this class is just for you. Award-winning quilter Linda will show you how to use fine and twisty metallics, rayons, blending filaments, yarns, fine braids, invisible threads and others in your machine as you create this beautiful heart sampler. Learn how to do invisible machine appliqué, cutwork, make thread appliqués, machine bead, use two threads in one needle, and much, much more. Intermediate to advanced level.

Supplies Required for Workshop


We will be making twelve 6 1/2" blocks, then creating a hanging sleeve. You will need fabric for the fronts and backs of these blocks, plus sashing strips, binding, and fabric for the sleeve. I used a single yard of a very vibrant hand-dyed fabric that shaded from gold to burgundy, through pink, for my background squares and sashing, but needed more for the binding.

You basically need about a yard of a background fabric and a small amount (fat 1/4 yard) of a contrasting one, but you can use different colors for each block if you prefer. One suggestion might be a black background with jewel-tone contrasting fabrics and sashing.

DO NOT cut these fabrics up into squares, yet!!!

Sometimes you will want to put it in an embroidery hoop, and you will need extra fabric around the edges in order to do that. You will also need a few squares of plain muslin or ugly fabric to stabilize the blocks as you stitch.

Of course, you may choose to arrange your squares in something other than my heart design.


This class is all about threads.  I am not out to make you buy a whole lot of new threads, but I do want to show you how to use what you have and get you to experiment with some very cool threads I have encountered that will make your life much easier.   See below for my recommendations of what to buy if you don’t have any specialty threads already (yeah, right).   Gather up whatever you have in colors that contrast/coordinate with your background and contrast fabric. We will use it. Make sure you have one or two spools of:

  • fine metallic 
  • satiny rayon or polyester in a couple of colors that contrast with your background fabric
  • sliver (flat, tinsel-like, metallic)
  • twisted fiber metallic (two or more threads twisted together) 
  • some fancy yarn  (just a little bit for couching)
  • heavy metallic (about the weight of 6 strands of embroidery floss) 

If you do not have these threads already, consider:

My favorite fine metallic thread is Yenmet.  If it is not available near you, put the word "Yenmet" in your search engine.  YLI and Superior metallics are more readily available and are also very good.  They are fine metallic but covered with a very fine clear coating which makes them much stronger and smoother, so they will not break as easily or dull your needle as quickly.

Sliver Thread – Superior Thread makes an excellent sliver thread (flat tinsel-like thread with amazing reflective qualities) that they call Glitter.  It is much stronger than Madeira, Guterman, Sulky or Coats & Clark.  Get a spool of hologram sliver Superior thread just to compare it with the other kind.  Of course, I had to buy the $50 get-one-of-every-color-available kits, but I haven’t regretted it for a moment.  The spools last forever and do not break nearly as often.

Heavy Twisted Metallics – There are many sorts of heavy twisted metallic threads that are about as heavy as embroidery floss hanks: Madeira Glamour; Kreinik Fine Braid and Extra Fine Braid, Ricky Tim's Razzle Dazzle; and those anonymous threads that are wound on cards. These threads are lovely, and can mostly be used in the bobbin and to couch over. Probably the least expensive and most useful is Madeira Glamour thread.

Invisible thread – Very fine (.004 mm) invisible thread clear or smoke or both.  Use the clear for light colored fabrics, the smoke for dark colored fabrics.

Try to get some Madeira FS Jewel – Black Core, weight #20, as well.  If the store near you has a metallic #20 weight rack, there are about 10 colors or so, mostly in the gold and bronze tones, but there are also blue, purple, red, and other colors.  This thread feels very smooth, and has a metallic fiber wound around a black core, but sews just like cotton and looks almost like beading when you sew with it.

Superior Thread makes a thread called Halo, which is really meant for sergers, but can be used sparingly in the needle and definitely in the bobbin.  It comes in absolutely lovely variegated colors and is what I call a twisty horrible thread along with Supertwist.  Horrible in the needle, but magic in the bobbin.

Online thread resources:

Other Stuff We Will Use During Class

Batting – We will be doing quilt as you go, so you will need batting. I use a fairly firm natural batting like Hobbs Wool, Warm and Natural, Hobbs 80/20, something like that but preferably not polyester. If you like, cut it into twelve 7" squares.

For this class, you need a sewing machine that will sew straight and zigzag, preferably with a few decorative stitches, but even they are not absolutely necessary. You do NOT need a fancy sewing machine. You do need a regular foot, darning foot and (preferably) open-toe sewing foot. If you have a removable bobbin case, it is highly desirable to have a "black latch" extra bobbin case so you can set it for heavy threads and leave it set that way.

Sewing Machine needles:

  • size 100 or 110 Topstitching (Schmetz System 130N) needles
  •  size 80/12 Sharp needles (Schmetz Microtex) or Quilting needles (for regular sewing)
  • size 60/8 Sharp needles (Schmetz Microtex) (for sewing on beads)
  • size 70/10 Sharp needles (Schmetz Microtex) (for appliquéing with invisible thread)

If you cannot find these locally, try  or

  • 1/4 yard of fusible woven interfacing
  • Solvy, DSV, Dissolve, or Aqua-Solv – At least two packages of Solvy, or a roll of whatever soluble stabilizer you can find. Hospitals use laundry bags made of Solvy to wash their linens in, so if you cannot find it in stores, try a hospital supply place.  You can also get Solvy from
  • embroidery hoop – preferably 8 1/2" diameter thin one designed for machine embroidery
  • freezer paper
  • tracing paper (the kind you can see through easily, not dressmaker's carbon)
  • regular white paper
  • a water soluble marker
  • Ultra Fine Sharpie marker
  • Lightweight fusible webbing like Misty Fuse, Wonder Under or Steam a Seam II Lite.  Do NOT get Heat N Bond! It won’t work with the fusible foils.
  • roll of 1/4" wide Steam a Seam II (if you can find it. Otherwise you will be stuck with hand hemming the backs of these blocks)
  • bobbin thread or fine machine embroidery thread the color of your top background fabric.
  • small piece of foil (the kind you get in craft stores for decorating T-shirts, not the kind you cook with) in a color to coordinate with your piece.  This is available from many sources, including, and  I used coppery-gold.
  • a few small beads
  • fine hand-sewing needle like Size 11 sharp
  • stiletto, if you have one; a tweezer or seam ripper will also work
  • some fabric paint in a color to coordinate with your background fabric, preferably one metallic and one base color. I use Setacolor fabric paints by Pebeo (now available in most craft stores in the T-shirt painting section, or from or, but you could also use Versatex, Jacquard, Delta, or even acrylic paints.
  • small paintbrush
  • hair dryer (optional) to dry things fast
  • Sewer’s Aide – Silicon lubricant for thread, usually available at any fabric store. If you can't find that, get Thread Heaven, a different sort of lubricant.

EXTREMELY OPTIONAL SUPPLIES – Things you should know about, could use in this project, but are not necessary!

Bo-Nash Fuse It Powder – a powdered bonding agent that is a very useful fusible but can also be used to embellish fabrics. This powder is available from Bo-Nash (North America Inc.), telephone 1-800-527-8811.They are located at PO Box 1797, Auburn, WA 98071, email: website:  It can be used for many other things, besides foiling, such as putting up hems and repairing holes in wool garments, so if you are interested, tell Beryl "Linda sent me."

Liquid Beadz - These are no longer at Michael's, but are still available online. They are tiny beads that come in a clear glue that you could use to embellish the insides of some of your hearts. Available in the scrapbooking section of some craft stores and online at, get micropearls and clear fabric glue; spread the glue on the project, dribble micropearls on top. Available at craft stores.

Metallic paint powder that can be mixed with regular fabric paints or Shiva paint sticks to make them metallic; can be fused on with Misty Fuse

Shiva Artist's Paintstiks – paint stick crayons that can be used to do stencils and draw directly onto fabric, available lots of places, such as:


Lesson One

  • Prepare Your Machine
  • The Needle
  • Dealing with difficult threads
  • Block 1  Sewing with Normal and Rayon Threads
  • Block 2  Sewing with Fine Metallic and Sliver Threads
  • Block 3  Sewing with Horrible Threads
  • Block 4  Sewing with 2 Threads Through the Same Needle
  • Painted, Fused Wonder Under
  • Foiled Again!

Lesson Two

  • Disaster Control
  • Preparing Fabric for Future blocks
  • Decorative Machine Stitching with Difficult threads
  • Stabilizers
  • Embroidery hoop as a stabilizer
  • Fun with Appliqué
  • Block 5 – Invisible machine appliqué
  • Block 6 – Invisible reverse machine appliqué
  • Block 7  Bobbin Work
  • Block 8  Bobbin Cutwork

Lesson Three

  • Block 9  Couched Machine Appliqué with Twisted Thread & Yarns
  • Machine Beading with Invisible Thread
  • Block 10  Little Bits of Stuff with Thread Embellishment
  • Block 11  Shimmering Thread Hearts
  • Block 12  Thread Heart Appliqué

Lesson Four

  • Assembling the Quilt
  • Binding
  • The hanging sleeve

Student's projects