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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Overcoming the fear of using Specialty Threads

I've been back from Quilt Market for a week now and finally found the time to share some of things I've learned.  We'll begin with a great Schoolhouse session I attended regarding the use of specialty threads.  This Schoolhouse was put on by the Wonderfil folk.

The Wonderfil folk were trying to help allay the fears of many when using all the various types of specialty threads in sewing machines - metallic, 12 weight threads, monofilaments, polyester and so much more.  The fear, using a variety of specialty thread in your machines - well don't you have to play with the tension? 

What the Wonderfil people were trying to say is, "no."  They said you can use just about any thread in the top of your machine up to a 12 weight, i.e. 12 wt Perle Cotton.  And in the bobbin they recommended using an 80 weight thread, such as their Deco-Bob thread. 

There are 3 reasons you want to use as thin/light as thread in your bobbin versus the top if using different types of thread:
  1. You don't want to add 'thread' bulk.
  2. You don't want the bobbin thread to be seen.
  3. You don't have to play with your thread tension.
Truly. Wonderfil was trying to say that you do not (necessarily, there's no guarantee - all machines are different) have to fiddle with the tension of your bobbin, at all.  And when I returned back to the shop and told this to our Cotton Club team, well Carol - our Thread Master - said, yep, that's pretty much correct.  She doesn't have to play with her tension if she uses an 80 weight thread in her bobbin.

Now mind you, Wonderfil said they thought using a 100 weight thread is best, but they admitted that there would definitely be some thread tension adjusting that needs to happen.

We think that is just simply great news because the other thing that I noticed at market and here at the shop (and last Spring Quilt Market) is the trend to do more and more embellishing on our quilts.  Especially since we have so many great sewing machines that have all those embroidery stitches on them.

Do not be afraid.  Use the many wonderful (no pun intended) specialty threads out there to create an even more personalized and unique quilt by adding threadwork design of beauty.

Here are a few photo examples - the bottom two are done by Carol, our Thread Master, did; the top one, by the Wonderfil gang.

The first picture shown was done by someone at Wonderfil.  At the bottom of the wall hanging, the grass, she used a 12 weight perle cotton.  The remainder of the threadwork is a variety of thread weights and types from Wonderfil.

The next 2 are done by our very own Carol, The Thread Master.  Here she uses a variety of threads, metallic, polyester, etc.  Some of the threadwork, the thread was placed into the bobbin (more about how to do that another day).  Some of the other design elements, the threads were placed on the top of the machine.  All quilts, above and below, used an 80 weight thread in the bobbin.
One last thing I'd like to add.  You might ask - well if you use a thinner/lighter weight thread, well, will that hold up well in a well-used quilt.  Again, the Wonderfil people assured me that yes it would.  Typically a well-used quilt will show the stress in the seams, not, as a rule, in any embellishment.