Tag Archives: Connecting Threads

Translucent Vellum Paper

Featured Tool: Simple Foundations Translucent Vellum Paper by C&T, Item # 20712


What is Simple Foundations Translucent Vellum Paper typically used for?

This vellum paper is extremely handy for paper piecing. Can be used with any photocopier, inkjet or laser printer or trace patterns without a light-box – the design shows through the paper

What was your first impression?

I liked the texture and the sheerness of the paper. You can see the placement of fabric pieces before you sew!

What was your experience using the Simple Foundations Translucent Vellum Paper like?

I loved the vellum as soon as I used it, from start to finish. It went through my printer well, the ink dried quickly and didn’t smear. I could see the lines clearly through the vellum and it ripped out like a dream.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Learning to use the paper was quick – the paper piecing part takes a little longer!

Why do you NEED it?

I’ve become a little addicted to paper piecing so I need to have this on hand at all times!

Who would appreciate the Simple Foundations Translucent Vellum Paper most?

This would be perfectly suited for:

  • Paper-piecers at any level

Clover Mini Iron

Featured Tool: Mini Iron by Clover, Item # 81912

Clover Mini Iron

What is the Mini Iron typically used for?

It’s handy for applique and crafting; I use it for freezer paper appliqué and pressing small pieces.

What was your first impression?

I feared it wouldn’t work. It’s just so small I didn’t think it would get hot enough.

What was your experience using the Mini Iron like?

It is extremely effective in making the seam allowance on even the smallest pieces stay and the folded edges nice and crisp, and smooth. Just what you need for beautiful appliqué. I now use it all the time for preparing freezer paper appliqué pieces and liquid starch.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

The technique takes patience to perfect, so I will say a few days.

What did you like best?

I loved how well it pressed, but especially the smooth edges of even the smallest of appliqué pieces. I will only use this method of appliqué and the Clover Mini Iron.

What did you like least?

The iron gets extremely hot so I have to be very careful not to burn myself.

Could you see another potential use?

It would be fabulous for making doll clothes or having to press in very small places on garments.

Why do you NEED it?

I wouldn’t appliqué without it. If I don’t have this iron, I don’t appliqué (and I love to appliqué).

Who would appreciate the Mini Iron most?

These are perfect for:

  • Intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Paper-piecers
  • Those making small garments (such as doll clothes)


Want to protect your surfaces when using the Mini Iron? Try the Mini Iron Wooden Holder, available here.

Dritz Soft Comfort Thimbles

Featured Tool: Soft Comfort Thimbles by Dritz, Item #82343

Soft Comfort Thimbles

What are these typically used for?

These tools protect your fingers as you do handwork.

What was your first impression of the soft thimble?

They looked comfortable, and I was intrigued by the air holes.

What was your experience with them like?

You simply fit a thimble onto the finger you most use to push the needle into your fabric. They come in three sizes; the large size fit me best. I loved using them, they’re so smooth and comfortable. The air holes allow for a really great fit.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?


What did you like best?

I liked the feel of the Soft Comfort Thimbles. I don’t have long nails, so that wasn’t an issue for me either. The small, dimpled tips catch the needle and prevent it from slipping.

Why do you NEED it?

I love to embroider, so these are a must-have. Also, doing binding with these is a snap! It’s comfortable and I didn’t notice it was on after a while. My fingers were protected from accidental stress or needle jamming.

Who would appreciate the soft comfort thimbles most?

These are perfect for:

  • Anyone using a sewing needle by hand
  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Embroiderers, paper-piecers, hand crafters
  • Anyone acquiring the essential quilting/sewing tools

Dritz Needle Storage Tubes

Featured Tool: Needle Storage Tubes by Dritz, Item #82338


What is this typically used for?

This tool is used to store and dispense all of your needles.

What was your first impression of the needle storage tubes?

How cool! It looks helpful in keeping me organized, and definitely clever!

What was your experience with them like?

I currently have my needles in wooden tubes right now and all the sizes are mixed up between two wooden tubes. I can’t see them either. With these tubes, I’m going to be able to re-organize all my needles! Wahoo! I can’t wait because I have needles for appliquéing cotton and needles for wool appliqué and ones English paper piecing, not to mention all the regular needles in my collection.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

No time at all–I figured it out immediately.

What did you like best?

I like that the needles don’t all come out at once and are contained by the magnet. For me, tools must fill a measurable need for me to buy them and this one definitely does!

What did you like least?

It takes some skill to manage the little needles. I threw the tube with the same force I use for the larger sizes and all the little needles flew out of the tube and all over my desk!

Why do you NEED it?

I do a lot of handwork, and I do mean a LOT! It is so frustrating to go through my wooden tubes trying to find the perfect needle. I also don’t know what sizes I have because once I’ve removed the needles from the original packaging, there is no way to tell. These tubes come with labels! Now I know what to buy next.

Who would appreciate these the most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Embroiderers, paper piecers, or anyone using hand or machine needles
  • Anyone acquiring the essential quilting tools


Clover Hot Ruler

Featured Tool: Hot Ruler by Clover, Item #82301

Hot Ruler by Clover

What is this typically used for?

This tool is used to accurately press hems for anything! You can use it for anything that has a straight edge and is turned up–just press and sew.

What was your first impression of the hot ruler?

I used to use something like this for sewing clothes. Can this be used for quilting?? (Spoiler:  YES!!)

What was your experience with them like?

Perfect! I used it to turn up a 1/4″ hem and then a 1/2″ hem on a tea towel that was looking pretty wonky before I used this. Next, I used it to turn up the seam I was going to sew on a pillowcase, first 1/4″ and then 1″. I didn’t even have to use pins! No more wavy, uneven edges and I didn’t burn my fingers trying to hold the area I wanted to turn up and press.

How long did it take you to learn how to use it?

Maybe five seconds.

What did you like best?

I like that the ruler itself doesn’t get hot. The old metal rulers for turning up hems tend to sweat, slip, and get too hot to touch.

Could you see another potential use?

The hot ruler could be used for any type of sewing–strips, straps, handles on bags, pillowcases, large mitered corners, hems on clothes, curtains…anything you want to turn up that has a straight edge.

Who would appreciate a hot ruler the most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • Anyone acquiring the essential quilting tools

Clover Patchwork Pins

Featured Tool: Patchwork Pins by Clover, Item #82201

Patchwork Pins

What are they typically used for?

These are used for pinning fabrics before sewing–pins keep fabric in place. I use the .4mm regularly for pinning cotton fabric before piecing and sewing. The .5mm needles work better for multiple or thicker layers (like making bags, etc.). 

What was your first impression of the pins?

I liked how thin they are (the .4mm size in particular) and the glass heads.

What was your experience with them like?

These pins work great! They worked well from the start. I did learn to use the thicker pins with heavier fabric or additional layers to minimize any bending of the pins. They’re so thin and sharp that they glide easily through the fabric.

What did you like best?

These pins worked great for precision piecing–these pins distort the fabric less. In addition, glass heads mean the iron won’t melt them! The thin pins glide through the fabric well and the .4mm pins bend instead of breaking sewing machine needles if you miss pulling a pin out in time.

Were there any negatives we should know about?

They bend a little easier than thicker pins, but this didn’t matter to me because the benefits of use far outweigh having to straighten out a few crooked pins.

Who would appreciate these pins the most?

These are perfect for:

  • Beginner, intermediate, and expert quilters
  • General sewists
  • Paper-piecers
  • Anyone acquiring the essential quilting tools

Designer Interview: Jody Houghton

For Jody Houghton, the intention behind design is always the same: to bring joy and possibly even a little giggle to the quilters supporting her work.  Her motto has always been “Creating a Life, while Creating a Living”, and, after being in the gift business for 25 years, she expanded her interest in crafts to include quilting. Even after designing for 34 years, she is still creating whimsical and heartfelt patterns, labels, and greeting cards that her followers can gift to loved ones, girlfriends, or keep for their homes.While she still produces labels and greeting cards, her passion for art and quilting has taken her further than she ever imagined.


How long have you been working with Connecting Threads? I am going to guess five years.  I love working with the CT!  Their focus on the Quilter makes the work more personal. The organized structure makes the process enjoyable and not stressful.  The people are wonderful and so positive. I also enjoy slipping in a few gifts like my quilt labels or greeting cards that match my fabric collections.

Of all of the fabrics you have designed for Connecting Threads, which is your favorite? Which are you most proud of? Like so many artists, I do have to say the most current is my favorite.  Baby Blessings turned out great! And my next collection, Autumn Joy, is really exciting as well.  Because I am always learning new techniques and skills, it will probably always be the current or next collection that will be my “favorite”.


What is the typical process for designing a collection? I begin by asking what time of year my line will be published.  This often sets the subject matter.  Next I decide on a theme, which takes me to the decision of my basic color palette. With my characters, Faith, Hope, and Charity, I begin with each one and start playing “dress-up”.  Each girl is adorned with a theme icon in her attire what she is holding in her hands or by her side.  As an example, in my Morning Glory Farm collection, Faith is carrying a basket of eggs, so naturally the Chicken became her icon. Charity is holding a bottle of milk, so the black and white cow is by her side. Check out her boots, the fringe is also utter-like! It just evolves, one step at a time, coordinates are usually from a design in a blouse, or flowers in a hat from Faith, Hope, and Charity.

You have been designing for years- how have your collections changed? I used to hand draw and hand paint all of my designs. That process worked for me until the development of the Baby Blessings collection.  CT and I worked for two years to “birth” that collection at the print stage and could not get the colors that we desired; I had too much shading and highlighting in my designs that only complicated matching the coordinates. I changed my color application process to more solid colors, maybe even with an outline, then filled it in and added shading and highlighting in a more controlled fashion.  It was a major change for me and the results have been fabulous!  My new process has even opened new processes like the ability to have my designs digitized for Machine Embroidery.


What’s the most rewarding part of creating these collections? The most rewarding part is from quilters who tell me stories about what they created from my designs. How their creations brought joy to those who received their work.  I love to see quilters at shows that decorate shirts with my ladies and using them as their Shop Hop uniforms and Quilt Retreat attire.  I have started a “Show and Tell” invitation on my Facebook page and it is lots of fun.


What would you consider to be the biggest influence in your creations? How did you think up Faith, Hope, and Charity, the characters you often use in your work? The biggest influence in my creations is everyday life as seen through my characters Faith, Hope, and Charity. In 2000, I was asked by a gift shop owner in Sisters, Oregon to create a T-shirt design.  As a child, my family had lots of camping trips through that area.  As a creative child, I often gave inanimate objects, like rocks and flowers, personalities and made families out of them for pretend play. While sitting in the backseat on those trips, I viewed the Three Sisters Mountains as family of three girls, just like mine.  I am the middle child so Hope, would be my mountain. The mapping title of the Three Sisters Mountains is: North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister.  The nicknames for the mountains are Faith, Hope, and Charity.  I had not given names to my design characters up to that time.  When the Sisters, Oregon shop owner asked for a new design with my characters, I immediately knew that I would name my girls Faith, Hope, and Charity.  These would be names that I could develop personality characteristics with elements of the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity (love).

In 2002, I was asked to create gift books for Harper Collins Zondervan entitled, Everyday Faith, Always Hope, and Abiding Charity.  As I retold the story of how I came up with the names for the characters, I contacted the Chamber of Commerce for Sisters, Oregon to clarify how the mountains got their nicknames.  As I received an email back from them, I was awe-struck!  As the email stated each mountain, they included the elevation of the mountain.  Hope, (Middle Sister), MY mountain, was 10,747 feet.  I was born October 7, 1947 – 10-7-47!!!! I have taken that information as a Divine message that my work is my mission to spread as much joy and Faith, Hope, and Love into the world as possible.  My avenue in fulfilling that mission is through my artwork…… I also write a column for Country Register called Girlfriend Wisdom sharing joyful messages.

What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? Autumn Joy!  My “girls” are honoring the time of year I also love, autumn.  I attended Massachusetts College of the Arts to formalize my skills and loved New England’s autumn colors.  Faith has acorn earrings, Hope has Pennsylvania-Dutch style Chrysanthemums, and Charity is donning a pumpkin hat! On the Art Panel, Faith has a message of encouragement from William Ward:  “Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn.”  I hope the quilters love the colors as much as I do!

For more on Jody and her unique artistic style, visit her Etsy or Facebook.

20 Years: Looking Back and Thinking Forward

In honor of our 20 year anniversary, we recently sat down with Matt Petkun, Connecting Threads’ president and CEO

When you were watching your parents form Connecting Threads, did you expect you would be running it 20 years later? (If not, what were your plans back then and what convinced you to change them?)

20 years ago I was just beginning college, and I certainly had no intentions of working with my parents at that point in time. I was passionate about my studies, and knew that focusing on them could lead to a variety of opportunities and careers, but I never thought that I would ultimately end up working with them.

It has always been very important to me to keep family first in our relationship, and I worried that working together could distract from family.   I had a 12 year career in business before working with CT, and was happily engaged in that when my parents started discussing retirement.

 At that same time, I was looking for ways that I could take my skills and experience in the business world and use those to focus on a market that connected more closely with people and things that they are passionate about. The timing worked out, so that we have (mostly) been able to eliminate the challenges of a family business while at the same time continuing to support the crafting markets and customers that mean so much to our family.

What do you think has changed the most within the company from then to now?

Within the company, very little has changed. We were founded to provide the very best products to quilters and the most affordable prices possible. In many ways that mission hasn’t changed.

The world around us has, and that’s where one can find differences. Probably the biggest changes have come in the digital world. 20 years ago books were one of our biggest product categories, and catalogs were the only way we could reach out to quilters.

Today, the internet has made wonderful patterns and projects so much more accessible. This is great for existing quilters, and also allowed quilting to open up to a whole new generation. I am excited that we can be a part of sharing the traditions and joys of quilting with so many new people.


What are your favorite achievements CT has accomplished?

We measure our achievements only by the products we provide. Products always take work, and tweaking. The quality and hand of the fabric is equal to the best quilting fabrics in the market, the collections are diverse and exciting, and the price is unmatched. The feedback we get from customers is great, and I am really proud of our team for all the work it has taken to make this happen.


What is your hope for CT’s next 20 years?

The next 20 years is about spreading the word. We want to share our amazing products with every quilter, and we want to be part of sharing the joys of quilting and fabric arts with as many new people as possible.