Today’s Topic: The Best Bobbin Thread for Free Motion Quilting
Welcome to Week 6 of our 2021 Quilt-a-Long, Even Better Machine Quilting
This FREE multi-week tutorial is based on my books available in my Etsy shop: LoriKennedyShop
Sign up for emails of the class HERE.
Join the private Quilting with LKQ Facebook Group HERE
Find the 2021 QAL links HERE
Find the 2020 (25 Week) QAL links HERE
Good Morning, Quilters!
This week we are going to tackle tension-one of the most important topics in quilting. We will learn how to create a stitch where the top thread and the bobbin thread meet in the middle of the batting layer.
Thread characteristics, especially weight and fiber, impact quilting tension.
Today, we will discuss the best bobbin threads for quilting.
What Your Dealer Doesn’t Tell You!
Sewing machine dealers often recommend always using the same thread in the top and the bobbin to create perfect tension.
That’s fine if you are using 50 wt thread on the top because 50 wt thread is perfect in the bobbin.
But quilters don’t want to be limited to 50 wt thread on top!
What if we are using heavy, 28 wt thread? Should we use 28 wt thread in the bobbin? NO!
Heavy weight thread is not a great choice for the bobbin. Many bobbin systems don’t really “like” heavy weight thread–more jamming and skipped stitches.
Furthermore, you will be able to wind fewer yards onto the bobbin when using heavy weight thread than lighter weights. This means more bobbin changes–and no one likes that!
What’s in MY Bobbin-What’s in YOUR Bobbin?
I almost always use Aurifil 50 wt cotton in my bobbin. (The orange spool)
Why? Because my machine LOVES 50 wt cotton thread. I know my machine likes it–therefore if I have any tension problems–it’s not the bobbin thread.
I use the same bobbin thread whether I am stitching with 30 wt Rayon or 80 wt cotton on top. Use any top thread–and pair it with 50 wt bobbin thread.
Don’t listen to your dealer. Don’t match your top and bobbin threads–unless you want to.
Polyester or Cotton Bobbin Thread
Both cotton and polyester are good choices for bobbin thread and are a matter of personal preference.
Some sewing machines seem to prefer polyester which is slightly stronger. If 50 wt cotton thread is breaking, try another brand or try polyester thread.
Bobbin Thread Don’ts
It is best to avoid Rayon thread in the bobbin. While I love Rayon thread for a top thread, it is a weaker fiber and you will likely notice more fraying and breaking if you try to use it in the bobbin.
Also, avoid heavy weight thread (heavier than 50 wt.) Heavy weight thread doesn’t go as far (less yards fit on a spool). In addition, I notice my machine jams more when I’ve tried heavy thread in the bobbin.
Bobbin Thread Options
Lightweight thread (60, 70, 80 even 100 wt) is an option unless you start to notice more breaking. The extra yards mean more time to quilt between bobbin changes–but only if you don’t have to stop for broken threads.
Pre-wound bobbins are a time saving option too and are available from many thread manufacturers. ( find bobbins to fit your machine model.)
No matter how well calibrated your machine is, there is no such thing as perfect tension when machine quilting.
To camouflage small tension issues, use the same color thread in the top and bobbin.
For example, I often use 28 wt cotton white thread on top(gray spool), and 50 wt cotton white thread (orange spool) in the bobbin.
Getting Started with Tension Adjustments
This week, when you are testing tension adjustments, use 50 wt thread in your bobbin.
Choose cotton or polyester and try to use one brand.
Match the bobbin and top thread colors.
Later, when you are more confident setting tension, you can be more experimental…
Or do what I do, find a bobbin thread you like and use it all of the time.
- What balanced tension looks like.
- And how to tweak our machines to create a balanced stitch.
May you always have a carefree bobbin!
PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to LKQ. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thank you!
Visit my Etsy shop: LoriKennedyShop for all of my books! They are ALL bestsellers!