#quilting #longarm # feathers #freemotionquilting · batiks · free motion · Long Arm Quilting · thread

Threads, Threads, and More Threads…

so many how do you decide what thread to quilt a project with?  Do you just always use such and such?  I recently saw on a FB post someone questioning why a particular thread was so good, was it worth the cost. . .  then the opinions flew “I only use X, I only use Y, Z does it for me.”  Now I know that each machine operates a little better with certain threads, but does it really?  Is it perhaps that it was timed with that thread, and the bobbin is adjusted to it’s particular thickness?  There are so many variables with thread:  climate, material, machine adjustments, quality, color, age, needle.  Maybe with a few tweets we could use any thread we want to for our project.  This a little bit of my thread journey.

When I first started toying with the idea of purchasing a longarm, thread was one of my main concerns.  I started to free motion quilt under the instruction of the great Diane Gaudynski.  She only used silk thread and did beautiful, heirloom, award winning quilts. I wanted to use nothing, but silk and did for quite a while.   Diane didn’t use a longarm she quilted on her Bernina, and I did the same at first.  Could I do it on a longarm?

A friend let me quilt on her longarm, and I brought my own thread.  It wasn’t silk, but even so it kept breaking.  She gave me thread and said her machine only liked “X”.  What?  I immediately crossed that machine off my list.  Now I don’t think that was necessarily the fault of the machine.  I think her machine, and needles were set for “X”, because that is what she used; whether it was her or the manufacturer who choose that thread.

Well a little time passed and another friend bought a longarm, and said I could come play on it, she knew I was in the market. “Will it sew with silk?”,  I said.  “I don’t know,” she replied, “come find out.”  Off I went, and you know what, it sewed beautifully

IMG_0894 with my  #100 weight YLI silk!

I was sold, I checked out a few more machines always asking could it sew with silk?  the looks I got were very discouraging.  “Well, silk’s a funny thing”, was the answer one representative said.  A year later my friend was done with her machine, and had moved on to another hobby – knitting.  I became the proud owner of a Prodigy Longarm, and used my silk thread for quite a while before I ventured out to other threads.

Being somewhat a traditionalist at first I would only use cotton.  I tried a lot of brands, and found the one I liked best.  I use Aurifil the most, because of the thickness.  A lot of the other brands are just too thick for the type of quilting I like to do.  I have broken away from the heirloom


only look, but I still like to do feathers and designs that need a thinner thread.

There was someone on that FB post that sang the praises of Superior Masterpiece thread enough that I went to look in my threads, and couldn’t believe I had never tried that one.

So I moved through silk, to cotton to “oh no” could I actually use polyester?  I resisted for so long, but when I took a class with Jamie Wallen he said that the museums actually wanted us to quilt with polyester, because of its strength. The cotton thread was breaking


down on the antique quilts.   I was always taught you don’t use polyester with your cotton fabric, because it was stronger, and would break down your quilt.  So many rules, so many opinions, but how does it quilt?  After struggling for a while with breaking threads for reasons unknown (maybe timing, a burr on my stitch plate, or the fact that I was sewing on a lot of batik fabric at the time) I decided to try it.  All the beautiful colors.  It did sew beautifully, but it gave me a new problem I still have to watch for.  Even though I hold on to my thread when I start to quilt I can still get nesting on the back that I didn’t have with the cotton or the silk.

So what do I do today?  I’m really free to choose the thread I want for the quilt I’m going to do.  If I want a shinny thread I will go with polyester.  I like Glide, and have quite a collection so it’s my thread of choice.  If I don’t want shine I will use cotton.  Aurifil is my choice, it’s 50 weight, but only 2 ply which makes it a little thinner.   If I’m going to use silk I know I will probably have to retime my machine, tweet my bobbin case and use a lighter needle.  That doesn’t stop me if it’s what I want to do, but often I will still sew with my domestic machine when I want to use silk.  It keeps up my free motion skills.  Let’s not limit our creativity.  Use the thread that is right for you.  Keep on quilting, keep on quilting …


2 thoughts on “Threads, Threads, and More Threads…

  1. Hi Gail and everyone. I’m the person that posted the question about thread. Interesting discussion and lots of information was revealed. Thanks for following up with a blog post about thread choice. Best of all is the fact that we have options and the act of sewing has not disappeared.

    Sent from my iPhone Margaret Lewis



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