Monday, February 2, 2015

February Lesson (& Giveaway): Thread

Don't forget to also check out January's Lesson: Beginners Guide to Free Motion Quilting.  But now onto thread.

I'll talk a little about thread below - but I also want to state my opinion about making things - it is very important to make something you like in a way that you like to make it. I don't believe that there is a right or wrong way. Personally I feel that it is the enjoyment of creating something that is important. It is important to stay open to learn new things - be open to new ideas too - be open to change the way you do something - be open to allow your way of thinking to change as your creative journey continues.

When you start exploring the world of free motion quilting it is important to use a thread that you AND your machine like. Choose a color that makes you happy and that you think is pretty. I found that when I was starting the bright Coats & Clark multipurpose threads I found at JoAnn's worked really well (I hear a collective gasp of horror!) It really doesn't matter what the thread is - what you are practicing is to relax enough to enjoy the process (this was the hardest thing I found to do) and how to repeat the same movement over and over again - worrying about what sort of thread you are using is pretty low on the spectrum at the beginning of your FMQ journey.



As you advance and get better - when you feel more confident with your designs you can begin to think about thread a little bit more - some threads will aid or interfere with the free motion designs you are working with.

Consider what fabric you are quilting on.
Quilting can be hard to see on top of busy fabrics - consider this when selected your quilting thread - do you want the quilting to blend in and the fabric to remain the focus? or if you want the quilting to stand out?
Beginner Tip: Using a busy fabric will help hide any whoopsies. Disguising whoopsies helps build your confidence. Solid fabrics will show every move you make while quilting - right or wrong!

 
This was some nice flower & leafy quilting I need but you can not see the detail in the quilting as the fabric is very busy. 

What is in your bobbin?
Make your life easy at this stage and put the same or similar color thread in your bobbin. You will get more on your bobbin and have to change/wind bobbins less if your bobbin thread is of a finer weight.
Beginner Tip: Think about what color your bobbin thread is when you select your backing fabric. If your backing fabric and your bobbin thread blend beautifully - your whoopsies will be hard to spot. Disguising whoopsies helps build your confidence.

Using an all-over-design with no backtracking?
If you are using an all over design that meanders with no backtracking - I think I can stand by my 'anything goes' or 'choose any thread that you like the look of and enjoy it' approach.


Backtracking in your quilting design?
Using a finer thread (like Superiors So Fine #50) can minimize visible thread build up. For example - minimizing thread building up can transform the way your heirloom feathers and other designs can look. However if you are looking for a chunky pebble look you might want some thread build up around your pebbles. Choose the look you want and own it!


Variegated thread? 
Variegated threads look gorgeous on the spool right? On solid fabrics variegated threads can look bold and very pretty. They can also blend beautifully on patterned fabrics. But be careful - they have a sneaky deceptive side too and can play a (in my opinion) a strange game of peek-a-boo on a quilt top - popping out too much in some areas and impossible to see in other areas. Always test variegated threads first. I have recently read that you should avoid using variegated threads that contain colors that match your fabric too closely - perhaps I need to experiment with them again.


I was disappointed with how the variegated thread looked/stood out on this quilt (above). 
Yet on the quilt below the variegated threads blended beautifully and looked heavenly. Those variegated threads are tricky!!


Do you want your quilting to stand out and be bold?
Consider using a cotton thread in a contrasting color if you want your quilting to stand out - cotton thread tends to be thicker and will stand out a little more from the quilt top fabric. Aurifil have some heavier cotton threads you could consider if you want things to really stand out. You can also play with sheen - use a high gloss poly or silk thread on mat cotton or a mat cotton thread on silk.

Want to be invisible? 
I loved invisible thread when I first started. It makes whoopsies hard to see, it builds confidence and saves you lots of $'s as you can use it on any fabric. Aurifil and Superior both make great invisible threads in clear & smoke. Clear can be used on light to medium color fabrics - use the smoke on darker colors.

Mix your threads? Go for it.
Nothing wrong (in my unwritten book that is) with mixing threads - use decorative threads to highlight areas and your 'safe' thread for the majority of the quilt. I've also used all sorts of different threads in bobbins and on the top thread. Remember there are no rules in creativity!!

You want a little sparkle? 
If you want to use a metallic thread I would recommend Yenmet or Glisten by Fil-Tec - both are strong and will not break every 10 stitches.
Beginner Tip: Lessen the tension a smidge when using metallic threads. 


Color Charts
I invested a little bit of $ in color charts. I feel like in the long run these charts have helped me select threads with no mistaken purchases. I use the color charts and search for the best price online (sorry local quilt shops.)


Ready to quilt? ALWAYS test your tension & thread on a scrap sandwich first. I say this sincerely, firmly and from wretched experience. Tension problems are the worst and most frustrating thing I have found. Spend an extra 20 minutes of testing tension before you start to quilt will save you hours and hours of time in the long run. You can read more about thread tension mid way down in my January post here.

Snip Threads? Yes you can snip if you want to - but once you start start spending money on expensive threads - and long hours quilting - trying burying your threads instead - I for one haven't looked back.

And finally - what needle should you use with your thread? 
I'm terribly lazy about my needles with my domestic machine (a bit more fussy - but not much - on the longarm.) I do change my needle regularly. I think a sharp needle does make a difference.  I tend to use a universal needle 80/12 on my domestic machine with practically everything. With the longarm I look at what the thread cone suggests. If you want to play with needles you can - but in the beginning (a lot like with the 'anything goes as long as it works' theory) while gaining control and learning how to enjoy it leave worrying about needles for later. (I think Leah Day also goes by this mantra too - in case you are hitting the off button on your computer now!) If you want to go crazy and experiment - try a 80 topstitch or an 80 microtex and go from there. It is all an experiment because a) we all see things differently b) we all have different machines and c) we all use different materials.

Some of my favorite threads: 
Glisten (FilTec) beautiful metallic thread that won't break on you and add just a little bit of sparkle. Having said all this - I have gone to the dark side with thread and I now spend a lot of time thinking about it and looking at them. My favorite at the moment would be Superior.  Gorgeous threads - though I have found their Rainbow line to be very problematic with with the longarm - they seem much happier in Bernie my 430 Bernina. I'm also looking forward to playing with Aurifil's thicker cottons in the year to come - experiment with thread really standing out as opposed to blending perfectly.

*********
In this months giveaway I will be sending a lucky someone a selection of Superior Threads for you to play with.


To win this giveaway - please let me know what color and brand of thread you like to use. Or what terrifies you about thread - any comment about your own thread experience in fact. 
Leave your comment by February 23rd - don't forget to leave some link/information that will enable me to contact you somehow.

(Please note: Giveaway will only be shipped within the US.)

83 comments:

Denise Mitchell said...

I use King Tut for quilting . Love how it works in my machine.

Debbie Rogowski said...

I just got a long arm machine (I could never figure out how to get a big quilt under a little machine) and I use King Tut on it. So far the varigated that I've used doesn't seem to make a statement. On my hand quilting I use plain ole white Coats and Clark hand quilting thread. I love the traditional look on hand quilts

Alli said...

I use Aurifil, and usually the off-white. I'm still learning, so I don't want my quilting to stand out too much. :D

Marilyn said...

I'm still learning on my HQ Avante - lots of tension problems and you are right, it's very frustrating.
{marilynrobin at gmail.com}

Debbie said...

I usually use Madeira thread. Thanks for a great giveaway, it is nice to try something new. I've also shared your giveaway on my Giveaway List for just sewers & quilters at wowilikethat.com. Thanks again. (debbie at wowilikethat dot com)

Kathy Davis said...

My choice in my small town come from Walmart. I use Coats and Clark and usually pick cream color.
kdavis1@centurytel.net

annemarie said...

I just use Coats and Clarks thread but really need to venture out and try the better brands!

Dawn said...

I am new to sewing and quilting. The only threads I've used are Coat's and Gutermann. I do have a little nightmare experience, and let me say first that I'm sure everyone knows this, but I found out the hard way. I was recently making a quilted potholder that had a ruffle on the front. I just grabbed a neutral thread and didn't give it a thought. Well, when it came time for the ruffle part I kept snapping the thread over and over and couldn't understand why. Then I looked at the thread....the thread I was using was very old, it had been in our mending box which had come from an auction years ago. I should have noticed, but I didn't. And what do you know I changed the thread, and no problems anymore. I almost gave up on ruffles, which is sad because this was my first. Sorry for the long comment, have a great day!
dawnm1993(at)gmail(dot)com

barbara woods said...

I love superior threads, thanks for the chance

jrwork said...
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jrwork said...
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jrwork said...

Love aurifil. ..afraid of metalics. ..never had any luck with monofil

jrwork said...

Love aurifil. ..afraid of metalics. ..never had any luck with monofil

Emily said...

for quilting i like to use YLI thread (100% cotton machine quilting thread), and almost always a variegated color scheme. Most recently I used the color "sticks n stones". My mom told me to always use 100% cotton thread with 100% cotton fabric, and i haven't strayed from that.

Karen said...

I enjoyed this post. I especially like the part where you said it's OK to mix-and-match threads. I am still quite new to quilting and on my second quilt i went all out with the FMQ. I started gaining confidence with about 6 different dark threads that I had laying around, because they blended right in with my "background" fabrics, then I got bold and used gold metallic (maybe not metallic, just really shiny) thread in a fiery design for the rest. The gold thread was trickier but I liked it nonetheless. I had to go a little more slowly (not a bad thing in my case) to keep it from breaking. The thread was embroidery thread and I can't remember the brand right now. I'll come back later if I can find it.

Sarah said...

I like neutrals, and I use (gulp) old cones I was given ages ago. ;) They are not my favorite brand! I just don't have experience with many kinds of threads. When I need to buy something I get Coat and Clark from Joann's.

sarah@forrussia.org

Kathy E. said...

I appreciate your tips here...so helpful for those who are still looking for answers (like me!). My thread of choice right now is Sullky. It seems to not shred, has a rayon or polyester choice and comes in many shades. Its serves me well!

PK Sews said...

Thank you for this post! I've been experimenting with threads lately and appreciated your observations. And the quilting in your photos is absolutely gorgeous! My favorite color for piecing is light gray and I use a variety of colors for quilting. As for brands, I like any good 40 weight. I would love to try these Superior threads. Thanks for the chance to win!

GranChris said...

I only use Superior thread. I haven't tried anything else to quilt with.

Lisa Marie said...

For quilting, Superior's King Tut is my favorite. I use a less expensive thread for piecing though -- usually Connecting Threads.

Janie said...

I always use Jo Ann Fabrics thread. Yes I need help! Your quilting is simply stunning, thank you for the giveaway.

Sonja Mclane said...

No specific brand I am newer at quilting and there are just so many. I have no idea which brand to choose!!!! sonjasmith76@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty new to quilting and admit to being pretty overwhelmed by the amount of thread choices! I appreciate the heads up about the variegated threads- I'm itching to use them, but now I know I better practice and test them out first! Sarah: crjandsbj(at)netzero(dot)com

QuiltShopGal said...

I love good quality threads and thoroughly enjoy Superior Threads, Aurifi and YLI. For Superior I'm partial to their Kimono Silk, Razzle Dazzle and variegated threads. Although I don't have much of a thread stash, I'm slowly trying to add more. I hate it when I need a certain color, for topstitching a quilt, and don't have it. I try to pick up a few spools every time I attend a quilt show.

Had not heard about Glisten. I'll definitely give it a try. Thanks for the recommendations.

QuiltShopGal
www.quiltshopgal.com

Emily C said...

I have a lot of tension issues with my machine when I switch threads. Just now starting to understand what my problem is. Part of it is my mother never let me change the tension when I was learning and I thought there was only one setting.

Denise Marie said...

Any thread from my Mom's stash!

MGF said...

I use a lot of aurfil in a medium gray. But then, I use a lot of medium gray fabric, too. It's my favorite neutral these days. :)

delaineelliott said...

The thread that I use the most is Guterman. Thanks!

Please click on the delaineelliott above for my email link.

dortha said...

I use Guterman. I intend at next quilt show to see about some other brands.

Linda Nelson said...

I like to see the colors of my thread, so I use Gterman. I'd like to try others, but stores in my area don't sell Aurifil.


lenelson(at)mail(dot)com

Michele T said...

I have just discovered that Aurifil 50wt thread is perfect for my Pfaff Quiilt Expression 3.0... I am amazed with how I am not having any thread nests or tension problems!! Since I hand quilt I have tried a variety of threads suited for this purpose. As for colour of thread, I prefer off white in the sewing machine and white or a colour that will blend nicely with the quilt fabric when I hand quilt.

Linda said...

HI,I like using Gutermann Threads for hand and machine sewing and quilting;prefer a cream thread for most uses,except,of course for matching.
Thanks for sharing!
Happy Stitching all!

msstitcher1214@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I use Gutterman thread as that is the best thread available locally. For piecing I like to use a matching or neutral color--usually gray.

senstrings(@)yahoo(.)com

AFistfulof Lemons said...

Well, I like to use contrasting thread to make the pieces really pop!

crafter1953 said...
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Nancy Lanier said...

I love Aurifil for piecing. I use polyester threads for quilting - my machine loves Isocord.

Knittingdancer on Ravelry said...

I like to use Coats and Clark quilting thread in either white or ecru for hand quilting.

crafter1953 said...

Hi, I only use Auriful thread on my quilts. I have a difficult time picking out the right color. I am new at this, I should try different kinds of thread. Thanks for a chance to win.

Darcy said...

Ugh...everyone seems to know so much about what thread to use with what project! I struggle with this. I just got a new machine and have bobbin trouble all. the. time. Maybe it's the thread! I've been using sulky. ?? totally lost.

Anonymous said...

Hi I am new to all of this, someone told me the best thread to use was Auriful so that is the thread I use. Now that I read this articular about thread I must rethink what to use. Thanks for the help and a chance to win the wonderful thread. crafter6013@twc.com

Anna said...

I'm usually using gutermans black or white.

dragonswing said...

I am a beginner quilter so I usually use Coats & Clark. I haven't tried the fancier threads. I tried Guterman a couple of times but had a problem with fraying and breakage, so went back to C&C. Thanks for all the information.

Karen Lynn said...

I usually use Coats & Clark, but would like to try Superior. I am a newbie right now.

Marjie Deramo said...

I use Coats & Clark. I am a beginner quilter and have very little knowledge of what is the best brand to use.
Marjorie Deramo

bohemiannie! art said...

I mainly free motion stitch with my Juki and Bernina 830. I find that the Juki doesn't like Gutterman…but pretty much ANYthing else goes. I don't consider myself a thread brand 'snob' and use almost any type thread. I find poly to be strong and reliable.

Anonymous said...

I use Aurofil. I don't free motion yet...home machine is too small. I've had problems with bobbin thread nests, too. trilliumwood@wwt.net

AFistfulof Lemons said...

Oops, I had commented earlier but forgot to add my contact info. It is afistfuloflemons @ gmail. Thanks! :)

nanny3925@aol.com said...

I use coats and clark. when I learned to sew, as a young girl, that was the brand my mother used on her treadle sewing machine. I have done well with the results on my projects! I did not realize there was sturdier metallic thread. my experience with this type of thread has not exactly positive. I love shinny things, so it was disappointing when it kept breaking. not to mention the wasted cost! thank you for offering this contest.

Melissa said...

Thread confuses me, I don't seem to be able to find a thread/tension/fabric/needle combo that works in my machine. (I'm a new quilter and I think I might just need to invest in better materials)
I need to do some more research, and I think better thread will help
Thank you for the giveaway

Kylie Menagh-Johnson said...

I'm such a newbie at thread. I bought a few sets from Connecting Threads and have been pleased with them, and also have quite a bit of Madeira (bought on sale at my local quilt shop) which seems a bit fuzzier.

SuperMomNoCape said...

Up until recently I pretty much used whatever thread I had available but for my Flying Zebra quilt I bought a spool of Sulky Blendables for quilting the intersecting circles on the rainbow border and I love it. So I'm going to branch out and try some different threads. Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.

Marianne said...

I'm not loyal to any one brand but I am now quilting a top with a 50 wt Aurifil and liking it.

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

I use a vintage Singer sewing machine which doesn't seem to mind any thread. I love trying all different ones!

Jusmom1 said...

I have just discovered Aurifil for FMQ, but am eager to try some other types of thread. Thank you so much for this giveaway!

Kristine said...

I love gutermann but have never tried any variegated or metallic so I need to experiment!

Tiffany said...

Great post! I've tried all sorts of different threads (including Aurifil) and have decided I'm really not too picky. I love veriegated thread, but like you I've had a few disappointing experiences. Veriegated thread is tricky!

Lori said...

these are great ideas. thank you so much for sharing. I tend to sew mostly with cream colored thread when hidden. Just depends on the project for the outside.

Karen in Breezy Point said...

I've been using Auriful or So Fine from Superior. I usually use a light tan, but it really depends on the quilt.

Kim said...

I use Superior and Glide thread on my longarm but also love Aurifil when quilting small pieces ony domestic sewing machine.

Vicki H said...

I have been using thread from Connecting Threads.

OhioLori said...

Kinda new to quilty things...so really, have jsut used thread I've sewn clothes & all with. Coat's & Clark...Jo-Ann's, and some given to me by a friend. Thanks for all the info you are sharing...sounds like I need to start fresh.. Yipes! lol

Margaret said...

I don't really have a favorite I like mixing and matching and go with what works in my machine

Margaret said...

I don't really have a favorite I like mixing and matching and go with what works in my machine

Angelia Lanouette said...

I love Superior Threads! As a new quilter I used to be terrified of thread until I found Superior Threads and there educational videos on their website. I have tried So Fine, Master Piece and Bottom Line. Thank You!

Ellee said...

Recently I started piecing with a light gray Aurifil 50wt thread and I plan to try it for quilting with the next top that I quilt. -- soparkaveataoldotcom

Lynn said...

I love the polyester trilobal threads as they seem slide through the needle and make a wonderful stitch plus give a little sheen to the quilting.

Nancy said...

I use aurifill, gutterman, and mettlerin me sewing.

tawa said...

I have used king tut a couple of times, love it! Thanks for the giveaway. Tarnia.hodges at gmail dot com

Joan H. said...

I prefer Essential thread from Connecting Threads. I have found it to be consistently reliable.

Helen said...

My Bernina 440 QE is very happy with Connecting Threads Essentials thread. It is durable for the many charity quilts that I've made for a Pediatric Infusion Therapy Unit (kids chemo) where I donate.

Joyce Carter said...

I use Coats and Clark in neutral colors. Thank you for the giveaway.

Karen N said...

I am making a handcut chenille blanket right now and am going through massive amounts of Gutermann thread in Light Turquoise.

mkjmc said...

Absolutely gorgeous quilting~ I use Guterman thread

clc408 said...

I use Guterman thread for general purposes and Sulky for embroidery.

Kelly Wilson said...

My main machines are sixties era Kenmores made in Japan. They are tanks! When I first started quilting last year my LQS had a deep discount on very bright colors of Aurifil 50 wt and Superior Bottom Line. I guess the hot pink, deep purple, flame orange and kelly green just weren't moving. : ) I piece with them and use them in quilting. I was also fortunate to recently win a large box of 12 Aurifil wt 40 in my preferred bright colors. I can't wait to see what it looks like on my next project. Thanks! notwendy gmail

Laura said...

I haven't picked a favorite quilting thread yet. For general sewing I use gueterman. Thanks for the give away. sewstrait(at)gmail(dot)com

annmarie said...

I use Gutermann thread in my Bernina - lots of colors & varieties to choose from. I need to try using invisible thread more.

Lynne Tilley said...

I never know what kind of thread to use. I always buy the standard Coats & Clark from the craft/sewing stores. I'd love to try those cone things, but why are they so scary?? :) The "UNKNOWN". :)

Liana said...

I use Coats and Clark and usually pick white or cream colors

Marianne said...

I've used a variety on my DSM. I just finished a twin-sized quilt and used a full spool (1422 yards!) on it of Aurifil 50#. It was really nice to work with. My first usage of Aurifil for quilting.

shirley hicks said...

I use coats ,,small town you don't have much of a selection





cpsnsamples@aol.com



Dana Charlton said...

I've only ever used coats or off brand thread. Don't have much money to buy other but would love the chance to use something different. Thank you

that's a thought said...

I usually use Coats and Clark because that is what my store carries. I use whatever color matches what I am sewing up at the time. Right now I need a hot pink to sew my granddaughter's coat. I really need to replenish my thread supply so this would be perfect!

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