Saturday, 28 February 2015

Bunny Tails and Chaining

When I first started machine sewing, I was taught to hold the threads back out of the way. I don't quite remember when, but someone has since taught me to use bunny tails. What are they? They're little shapes of fabric doubled over to start stitching into before I start on a seam preventing a tangle. Bunny tails also allow me to have two hands free to hold and manipulate the fabric or seams as I begin to stitch. Here's an example of a used bunny tail.

As they're used, they get fluffier and fluffier.

Some people put aside all of the empty thread reels for a year, to see how much they've sewn. I choose to save my bunny tails. They take up much less room and they're like mini works of art, I just love the look of them. Each colour and stitch reminds me of the projects I did that year. Of course, the more bunny tails I collect, the more I've sewn. 

Four bunny tails last year.

The other purpose for using them is that they save thread. I have a thread cutter on my machine and use it most of the time, so I have very short thread ends anyway. If you used them at the end of the seam as well, only a very short distance of run on sewing is necessary as long as you limit the size of the bunny tail to about 1" or 1 1/2" in depth. This is a much shorter distance than what would normally be pulled through the machine to trim threads. Over a large quilt, this can be a significant saving, particularly if you are using specialist threads which can be quite costly. Once you trim your work from the bunny tail, its there waiting for you to start stitching again, so you don't even have to trouble yourself to lift the machine foot.

More little tails

They're the best thing at the start of a chain run. Chaining is a sewing technique to save time and thread. Seams to be sewn are prepared and stacked ready to go beside the machine. Starting with a bunny tail, stitch to the edge, then butt up the start of the seam close to it.

Starting to stitch on a bunny tail

Lining up the first seam at the edge of the bunny tail.

Stitching from the first and onto the second seam.

A row of seams complete and still joined together by thread.
Seams finished.

Clipping the seams apart using scissors. Thread cutters are also
handy for this job.
The next fabric pieces lined up ready for seaming.

For beginners, this could now be your best time saver. I can only advise though, be very organised and watch carefully what you are sewing. Keep everything in an orderly sequence. Happy sewing.

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