July 11, 2011

During Spring Market, I stopped by the Colonial Needle booth and introduced myself to Pepper Cory. It was a great conversation starter to lead with the fact that I am a fellow native North Carolinian LOL!

Pepper was hanging out with Colonial Needle because she has really gotten into the Big Stitch way of hand quilting and has put together a special pack of needles just for this style.

When Pepper learned that I was an appliqué enthusiast, she asked me if I ever worked with batiks. I told her that I do have a small tub of batiks, but for hand work, not so much. She handed me a needle sampler pack that was put together by appliqué artist extraordinaire Kathy Delaney.



Since batiks have a very tight weave and a sort-of crispy finish, they’re a bit tougher to needle by hand than regular quilter’s cottons. On the back of the pack, Kathy says that for stitching batiks, she uses John James Gold ‘n Glide needles. They’re coated to slide through fabric even more easily than regular appliqué needles. I’ve heard of Gold ‘n Glide needles for years, but hadn’t ever tried one. I decided to give them a whirl.

I chose the Spring Basket block from my Inspired By Tradition. Here’s the one that’s in the book.


I pulled out my rather sparse stash of batiks and batiky-likes and chose some fabrics for this new version. The light green and dark purple are hand dyes and the brown is a Moda Marble. The other fabrics are all batiks. I didn’t have anything to use for a batik background, so I decided to keep with the spirit of the challenge and use a creamy white-on-white. Sometimes stitching through these can feel like punching your needle through dried latex paint.


Look at these funky scraps! They’re left over from the Keri Duke workshop.


Here’s a photo of my usual hand appliqué needle, John James milliner’s No. 10 (below), and a John James Gold ‘n Glide No. 11 from the pack. When I first picked up the No. 11, it did feel a little strange in my hand since I usually work with the next size up.


The sampler pack included both regular straw needles and Gold ‘n Glide straw needles, No. 11. (BTW, straw needles and milliner needles are the same thing.) I stitched the hand dyes and the printed marble elements first and got those out of the way. Then I started on the dark green batik leaves. I did the first one with the regular needle from the pack. The needle felt grabby and squeaky going through the fabric, kind of like eating undercooked green beans. For the second dark green leaf, I switched to the Gold ‘n Glide needle.

Did I feel a difference?

You betcha! The catchiness and squeakiness was gone! What a relief. I stitched away, glorying the in glidiness of this golden-eyed needle. I tell you what, if I ever embark on a whole hand-appliquéd batik project, I will go out and get myself a pack of Gold ‘n Glides. But probably in a Size 10… I did have significantly more trouble threading the needle, even with the gold eye.

Here’s my Batik Spring Basket.


If you’d like to try them, Kathy offers the sampler packs and regular packs of all of her favorite needles on her website.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie


8 Responses to “Needles for batik appliqué”

  1. Debbie St.Germain on July 11th, 2011 6:14 pm

    I like the john james needles for applique, I use them on all my needle turn.


  2. Angie in So CA on July 12th, 2011 7:01 am

    I’ve been using John James needles for a long time now. They glide so nicely. I must say while I love batiks for machine applique, I like your basket in cottons better.

    Have ordered my needles from Kathy. Thank you for this post.

  3. kathy in nc on July 12th, 2011 8:04 am

    I love your use of batiks!!!! I have quite a bit of batik that my son picked out because they were *rain foresty* he thought I should make a wall hanging or something because he’s nuts’ about all that,has won several state zoo poster competitions with that theme. Outside of copying him *hehee* I just have a big beautiful pile of batiks now 2 yr maybe auughhh. Maybe I was waiting for a needle? so the #10 Gold N Glide ? should I use this?

  4. Kim Jamieson-Hirst on July 12th, 2011 9:00 am

    I’ve recently been getting into batiks and now have lots in my stash. They work very well for pattern samples and show up well in photos. The right needle certainly does make a difference, doesn’t it? The John James ones are very good in any size. Looking forward to seeing more batik samples from you, Kay :)

  5. Tracy on July 12th, 2011 9:57 am

    If you like these you have to try Clovers Black and Gold needles. They have little parallel grooves along them which help to grab the fabric as you needle turn. The black coating makes them slide through the tightest batik with ease. I won’t go back to any thing else. I like the #10’s best but the 12’s work well for larger pieces.

  6. Kathy Delaney on July 14th, 2011 1:11 pm

    The mystery is solved!!! I have had a flood of orders for John James Gold ‘n Glide needles and my sampler pack and just could not figure out why! I knew something must have been said somewhere. I checked all my yahoo groups to see if I’d missed something and even emailed a couple of friends who might have seen something. My Google search didn’t show me anything, but a friend found your blog.

    I just want to thank you for trying my sampler pack (Thank you, Pepper!) and talking about it here. I am thrilled! I agree with everything you wrote (of course!) and am delighted to find you are enthusiastic.

    Thank you again for the mention!

  7. Kay on July 16th, 2011 7:44 am

    Hi Kathy, fellow appliqué enthusiast! I’m thrilled too! How very cool that you tracked down my blog! Nice to meet you, hope it can be in person one day.

  8. SewLindaAnn on July 20th, 2011 4:47 am

    Just ordered a few packs of needles and mentioned that you sent me. Love the batiks, I think it’s great to try all different fabrics.