Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thread sample

My tree quilt is in danger of becoming a UFO, because I'm not sure my quilting skills are good enough to really quilt it the way I want to.  Partly to procrastinate on the boring steps of piecing a back and basting, I sewed a quick sample to test the threads and patterns for the quilting. Usually I just dive into projects, but I was really glad I took the time to do this test piece, because I learned a lot. 


Here's  my sample, quickly pieced from scraps from the top.  I tested these threads:
Coates and Clark Polyester- yellow
Mettler Silk Finish Cotton- variegated gray
Aurifil Cotton, 50 wt- blue
Superior Threads Glitter - gold
Superior Threads metallics- blue
Superior Threads silk- light green

In general, I prefer polyester and metallic.  The cotton just didn't look as nice.  I had thought that variegated thread would be fun, but actually it just seemed to highlight tension problems on the back, because it is impossible for the top and bottom threads to match, because they both keep changing!
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the metallic and glitter threads were.  I followed the manufacturer's instructions and reduced the upper tension to 1 (usually I set it around 3 for polyester thread).  A 90/14 topstitching needle is recommended, but I all I had was a 90/14 universal.  I used Bottom Line thread in the bobbin, and the biggest problem was visible holes on the back.

See the holes? Maybe using a topstitching needle will fix this?  Do you have any other suggestions?
I thought the silk thread looked the best on the back, partly because the color blended in well with the backing fabric, but also because of its light weight mistakes are harder to see.
Here, the feather itself is quilted with silk, the clamshells in the top right have Bottom Line in the bobbin, and the stippling in the upper right and bottom left are cotton. 
Here are some patterns I think I'll use: 
Pebbling:  It can be time consuming, but I really like how it fills in the gaps around other motifs.
I'm linking up to Leah Day's UFO Sunday.  Hopefully by next Sunday I'll have the back pieced!


  1. Ang,

    Your feathers look wonderful!! Keep practicing.

  2. Wow! You are improving by leaps and bounds! Bring your sample to the mini retreat, please.

    1. Thanks! Look forward to seeing you at the miniretreat!

  3. Your quilting skills look outstanding if these samples are any indication! Go for to.

  4. Your FMQ is so beautiful! Can't wait to see your quilt!

  5. Oh! Your skills are fine! First, chuck your coats and Clark thread in the trash. It's terrible! Their polyester is even worse!
    Mettler silk finish is great for single travel, but once you travel stitch too much it's not so great.
    Aurifil! Great thread for piecing.
    Superior Threads makes some of the best thread ever.
    For FMQ, I used either Isacord or PolyX in 40 wt. My LQS carries PolyX so mostly I use that. I've used the variegated threads too and had the same trouble as you with tension....until I changed my needle. I started using a Microtex needle (purple) and loved it so much they are all I use for FMQ now UNLESS I am using metallic thread, then, I use the metallic needles.
    Good luck with the variegated thread! Hope this helps you too as the v threads are gorgeous!

    1. Thanks for the ideas Jacob! I'll have to look for the Microtex needles, and try again with the variegated threads.

  6. What a great practice piece. I love it. The holes will probably disappear if you wash it. Big needles make big holes.

    1. I'd never thought of washing it. Since I usually make wallhangings instead of bed quilts, I don't wash them when I'm done. I wonder if blocking it will have the same effect. Thanks!

  7. As a non-quilting fan of the blog, my suggestion for dealing with the visible holes would be to take off your glasses! More seriously, I do really like the flowing leaves pattern. It is rather Hawaiian!

    1. An intriguing suggestion! Probably best tried after quilting, not during. Flowing leaves is one of my favorites too.

  8. If you find a solution for holes, let me know, washing it is the best advice I know of.

    I like metallic threads but I do prefer a metallic needle, it makes a real difference.

    I also like Coats and Clark Thread! I am working on a quilt with coats and clark right now and it's sewing like a dream. As far as looks, that just preference, but I do think it sews well.

    See you Thursday?