Wind ’Em Up

Julie Yonge © 2008

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I just had to share this marvelous technique for winding ribbon, thread or fibers. I belong to the Lake Jackson Bee Crazy, a crazy quilting group in Lake Jackson, Texas. We are fortunate to have a fair size group of talented women who meet each week to stitch, share and laugh. One of the women in the group came in with the most amazing way she had come up with to wind ribbon or thread more quickly than by hand. And, the way the ribbon is spooled it lends itself very nicely to edge dying. I have to tell you, this is just ingenious, but then this particular woman is always coming up with ingenious ideas and sharing them with us.

Let me introduce you to Maureen Graham, one of our crazy bee members. Maureen is a wonderfully talented, soft-spoken, delightful lady of immeasurable talent and brains! Maureen had the idea of using her husband’s drill somehow to wind ribbon. Doing it by hand gets to be a drag; I am sure you will all agree we would rather be stitching than winding ribbon. Through trial and error, Maureen discovered that she could place one of her hairpins (a rather large plastic stick that diminishes in size from one end to the other) into the spot where you would normally put a drill bit. The hairpin looks a bit like a chopstick. As you can see in this picture of Maureen, she is a beautiful lady with long gorgeous locks of hair and uses various pins, barrettes and clasps on a regular basis.

The drill she uses (borrowed from her husband’s “stash”) is a variable-powered, battery-operated Skill drill. They can be a little pricey, but often can be found on sale (or just borrow them from your husband’s tool shelf). Since the drill has a rechargeable battery at its base, it is heaviest there at the base and sits on the counter or table quite nicely without tipping over while in use. The variable speed is also necessary in order to slowly get the ribbon to wind and then be able to increase speed at will.

You can see in this picture, the drill is like any other where you turn an area just behind the stainless front to open and close the aperture, to insert or remove a drill bit, or in this case the hairpin. The largest end of the hairpin goes into the opening. It is a good idea to gently squeeze the trigger to see which direction the hairpin is going to spin, toward you or away from you, so you know how to begin winding your ribbon.

You press the trigger slowly as you hold the ribbon in place to get it started around the pin. One it has taken hold (much like a bobbin on your sewing machine), you can begin to increase your speed and back off your hold on the ribbon a bit as you feed it onto the pin, I would say about 3”- 4”, as seen here.

You want to feed the ribbon uniformly onto the pin as you would a bobbin. In fact, I will mention here, that Maureen has actually placed bobbins onto the hairpin and spooled her ribbon right onto the bobbins as well. But in this case, we are spooling our ribbon freely.

Once you have your piece of ribbon wound, it is easily removed because the pin is a smooth plastic and because it diminishes in size. At this point, Maureen likes to use a bread or trash bag twist tie to tie the ribbon as you can see here.

This holds the ribbon nicely in place. Having your ribbon spooled in this way readily lends itself to edge dying the ribbon by either using the twist tie as a handle, a pair of tweezers, or seen here, even a clothes pin.

Storing ribbons wound in this manner keeps them free of wrinkles and ready to use. Maureen advises that she is able to get enormous amounts of ribbon onto bobbins, especially the smaller 2mm and 4mm ribbon.

Isn’t this just the most amazing idea? I guess our husband’s tools will be on the endangered list now! Thanks, Maureen!

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