Today’s Topic: Why Quilting Thread Matters
Welcome to Week Twelve of The Better Machine Quilt-a-long based on my book 25 Days to Better Machine Quilting.
Find all of the previous Lessons HERE.
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Good Morning, Quilters!
I am running a little late this week…a happy, busy weekend with family! In Minnesota, we can’t take warm summer days for granted…
Quilting Thread Matters
After this week you will either thank me or curse me.
You may thank me because thread can make YOUR quilting look instantly better.
Or you may curse me because, after this week YOU will be a thread snob and your quilting budget will never be the same!
Desired Quilt Look
Every time you quilt you should decide whether you want to create texture motifs or focal motifs. (Many quilts contain both.)
Texture motifs combine the three layers of the quilt together and take a backseat to the quilt top design. They do their job without calling any attention to themselves. Stippling (though not MY favorite) is one of the most common motifs for creating texture. (Try Flower Power instead of stippling–it’s easier and prettier!)
Focal motifs are designs that do the job of holding the layers of the quilt together AND add a design element. They call out to be noticed. Motifs like flowers and leaves and pictorial patterns are common focal motifs. Focal motifs fill solid quilt blocks and negative spaces within a quilt while adding more interest to the overall quilt design.
Choose Thread After Considering Desired Look
Once you’ve decided if the motif will be texture or focal, then choose the correct thread.
Texture Motifs-Choose a lightweight (fine) thread (50, 70, 80, 100wt) in a matching color.
Focal Motifs-Choose a heavy weight thread (50, 40, 30, 28 wt) in a contrasting color.
One other property of thread to consider is sheen, or the degree to which the thread reflects light. The choice of sheen is subjective (I tend to LOVE shiny things-so I usually prefer high sheen threads–but not always!)
Some quilts look better with low sheen threads, some with high-sheen threads, or my favorite–a combination of both to create even more interest!
Reading thread labels is almost impossible. Every manufacturer has it’s own coding system and the codes are not consistent between companies. For example, 30 wt thread from one manufacturer may look more like a 50 wt thread from another.
I think it is best to rely on on an inspection method.
Choose a “Control” Thread
First, choose a thread that you use frequently. This will be your “control” thread. (I like to use Aurifil 50 wt cotton as my standard because it is mid weight and mid sheen.)
On a dark piece of paper or fabric, spool out several inches of your and inspect it closely.
Check the following characteristics:
Sheen (light reflection)
Fuzzy or not fuzzy (staple length)
Snap test (tensile strength) (Hold a 3-4inch length between your hands and see how much force it requires to break) (Don’t worry if it breaks easily–just start getting a feel for different threads.)
Next, pick up another spool of thread and compare it to the first thread.
Is it heavier, lighter, or the same?
Compare the sheen as well. What is the reflective quality of the thread relative to your control thread.
Is the new thread fuzzier or less fuzzy than the control thread.
Try a snap test.
Today’s homework does not involve any quilting.
Gather a variety of threads from your collection for inspection. Compare them to Aurifil 50 wt cotton or YOUR control thread.
If you are working with friends, look at some of their threads as well.
Take notes and make groupings based on three weight classes: light, medium and heavy.
Why I Prefer the Inspection Method
Every time you begin sewing or quilting, take a few seconds to inspect the thread for weight, sheen, fuzziness and strength. After a short period of time, you will have a much clearer understanding of thread. You will not need to decipher every manufacturer’s code, nor will you be at a loss when a thread label falls off.
Later this week we will begin stitching a thread sampler. Choose a new motif to use and begin doodling.
A few of my favorites are The Spool,
(page 119 of More Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3)
The Sewing Scissors
(page 114 of More Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3)
or Hugh-o-suarus -the new Dinosaur motif created for BERNINA We All Sew blog.
More All Week!
We will continue this thread all week including, how to organize thread, tips for using variegated thread, best bobbin threads, common thread mistakes and more!!!
Your Thread Examiner, (not to be confused with a head examiner….)
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!
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