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Superior Spotlight: Karen Barrett

Posted: 15 February 2017 at 6 a.m.

This is a guest post from our friend, Karen.

We made my great-nephews new drapes; six year-old Alex chose space fabric. The morning after we hung them Alex exclaimed, “I love my new drapes!”


What could we do but promise a matching quilt for Christmas? We shopped for intergalactic fabrics. I began piecing, modifying the Big Block pattern from Black Cat Creations, to show off the fabrics.

String Theory

When it was time for quilting, I wondered how to make this quilt – ordinary by day – magical by bedtime. Since Alex is such terrific boy, I wanted his quilt to come alive. I wondered if there was such a thing as glow-in-the-dark thread.

Sure enough, Superior Threads sells a glow-in-the-dark thread! I ordered a 500-yard cone. After quilting the first block, I couldn’t wait to see if it really worked.

But we live in a well-lit house! The only place dark enough for a test was my bedroom closet. I dragged the quilt through the house and when I turned off the lights, I was astonished to see my quilting actually glow!

I continued to stitch and stitch. Each new block required another trip to the closet. On the solid blocks, I wanted the appearance of exploding stars and comets racing by. In the corners I attempted a “matrix” look, to bend time and space - an Einsteinian concept I do not understand.

When the blocks were finished, I used the thread on the sashing, each strip requiring yet another trip to the closet.

String Theory

One evening I turned out my studio light to head for bed, but had forgotten my phone. When I returned a moment later, the top of my thread bucket was glowing! I couldn’t let this go to waste, so the next day I trapped all that thread waste under tulle and quilted it down with invisible thread to make a pillow. You can almost read by its light.

Glowing Pillow

I needed a name for Alex’s new quilt. Proving that a little knowledge is dangerous, I chose another term from physics that I cannot begin to comprehend:  String Theory.

Alex was thrilled when his Christmas gift finally arrived. He focused half the lights in the house on his new quilt while he waited for darkness to fall.

And then it was dark and then his new quilt glowed!

Postscript:  A week later I received a message my niece, “Lights on all day to get it ready for the night. Can I get a tax break for this kind of homemade solar project? :)”


Tips for stitching with NiteLite
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  • 4. Michelle (21 July 2017 at 3:15 p.m.)

    I have a couple small spools of the glow in the dark thread, that have been waiting for a project. I think perhaps pillow cases for my nieces and nephew. Please tell me, is the thread soft? I would have to stitch pillow cases if it made them too rough for their little faces.
  • 3. Elizabeth Schnelle (21 July 2017 at 10:55 a.m.)

    Glow in the dark names in big letters of this wonderful thread anyone, either all machine embroidery OR big cut out letters sown down and stitches all over the letters.
  • 2. Erin Horbach (15 February 2017 at 8:57 p.m.)

    Alex feels so special with his glow in the dark quilt and pillows. He loves them, and he loves knowing that you made them just for him!
  • 1. Bea Harrison (15 February 2017 at 11:57 a.m.)

    This is great! You makes such unique things and this turned out beautiful A lucky little boy.

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