What’s the Best Thread to Use for Machine Quilting?

Penny: There are really some fun and different thread with the variegated and metallic and all good stuff. Does the type of thread really make a difference? If so, what are some of the best threads to use? I guess you kind of alluded to this earlier about using different thread on the top and the bottom and if you could also throw in about something about invisible thread?

Pam: Ok. I’m not a fan for beginners of invisible thread. It kind of leaves the tail sticking out and can be unwieldy on the spool. However if you’re adventurous and want to try it go right ahead. But for a beginner I would want to use a thread that has a good track record and the other thing that you’ll see as you do your machine quilting is you’re going to end up with a ton of lint underneath and around your bobbin case and also above where the needle goes up and down. It just stacks up in there. So I started looking for threads that were the long Egyptian Cotton staple that don’t have so much of that fuzzing stuff and there are two that I really use the most. One is the brand Signature and I get it at my machine quilting store, Quilted Rose, and another one that I like really well is called King-Tut and Superior Thread sells the King-Tut. And then what I use on the bobbin thread when I use the King-Tut is the Bottom Line and that is a blend. It has poly in it and, contrary to the long standing thinking that everything had to be cotton in your quilt or that polyester would cut your quilt, that is not true with types of threads. So both the Signature and the King-Tut are great, and they come in wonderful colors and fabulous variegated ones depending on what you’re working on.

Then the Bottom Line, I get pre-wound bobbins and they hold so much thread. If you’re winding your own bobbins to match your thread if you’re using the same one you’re going to be winding probably 6 to 10 bobbins to do a lap size quilt top. And so that takes time and every time you have to stop and start with your bobbin that’s going to require extra work with pulling up threads and starting, stopping, knotting, burying your threads again. So if you don’t have to do that so often, then you’re going to save yourself quite a bit of time. So the pre-wound bobbins are nice. You just have to get your tension adjusted.

Now the metallics are beautiful and they’re great for accenting different pieces and as you get really experienced, then go for it, but as a beginner you really want to get down your technique and that’s where you want a good thread that’s not going to be breaking all the time which that tends to happen with metallics. And you have to have special needles and even then they’re just so finicky.

Penny: Yeah. I know with hand quilting it’s tough. You know because I end up using really short pieces. I’ve never machine quilted or machined stitched with the metallic thread, so I didn’t even know how it worked but they are very cool.

Pam: They are. Now Diane Gudinsky loves to quilt, and exclusively quilts with silk thread. I have done that several times and I found that is really, really, a wonderful thread to use and you definitely want to use the Bottom Line with because the silk is a finer thread. So depending on your effect that you’re looking for, most the time you want a number 40 thread because you want your stitches to show up. That’s the whole reason you’re doing it.

Penny: Right.

Pam: You know what, what I want to tell you, too, that I learned? When you’re a beginner and this doesn’t stand true necessarily when you’re really, really good, but when you’re beginning quilting don’t put dark thread on a light background, because it makes your stitches look bad even if they’re not bad. You’re much better off to use a light thread or one that will blend in with your background or if you have a dark fabric you could put a light color on top of it and it’ll look fabulous. But something about a dark colored thread like a dark blue, dark red, dark green on a cream background it just pops off the quilt and you will see every single mistake that you make and as a beginner I think you’ll be unhappy as I was.  So I’m just giving hints to help you feel successful about your turn.

Pam: But I do have a note of one thing that I did want to talk about was if you use thread on a cone, which I do because I buy it in large quantities. If your machine does not have a built in thread stand, you need to have a thread stand because the way the thread comes off the cone will affect your sewing. You don’t want any snags and a lot of times that’s one of the reasons that if your thread will break if there’s drag on it. So a lot of times I’ll put on, raise it up onto the thread things that feeds it across into my machine and sometimes even I’ll end up putting the cone itself in a glass 4-cup measuring cup so that is can tumble around in there freely and the thread comes off the top and then will feed into your machine from the stand and then that should give you a good result too.

By Penny Halgren & Pam Bauer of http://www.How-To-Quilt.com

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