Many times finding the right thread, needle, and fabric combination is the key to experiencing non-frustrating machine quilting.
The sample of one of my new "Quilting Whimsy" digitized designs, above, was done on fine cotton fabric ("Gradations" by Caryl Bryer Fallert for Benartex) with #100 silk YLI thread and a #60 Schmetz Microtex Sharp needle.
However, when I decided to do one line of echo quilting with "Sparkle," a YLI thread that combines #100 silk with a strand of metallic, I switched to a #80 Topstitch needle, which has always handled threads that tend to fray or skip just fine. This time it did, but not as well as I would have liked.
Every so often a skipped stitch, oh no. A bit of gold metallic showed through to the backing, oh no. And worse, it would ball up behind the needle and fray to the point that I noticed no gold in the stitch at all, had to stop, re-thread, then continue, which resulted in.......frustration!
After doing some research, one of my students contacted me with the same problem and she went directly to the manufacturer of the thread, YLI. I also did the same, and the answer was something I would never have considered, a JERSEY ball point needle! Who knew! I thought they were for knits only, wrong.
Evidently the friction from going through a pierced hole in the cotton fabric, rather than a nice opening made by the ball point needle was fraying the thread. I bought some #80 SUK Schmetz Jersey ball point needles, put one in my machine, and gave the Sparkle thread a big workout.
It worked perfectly. None of the problems occurred. I did have to quilt just a bit slower, lowered the top tension more, and I took a slightly larger stitch than with plain silk thread. Sometimes it looked a little wobbly when going in directions away from myself, but all in all, very nice, definitely will use this again in a quilt and know I will have good results with the proper needle.
The thread itself is lovely. It isn't a full-on metallic, so for me blends into the quilt well, but shows well too. It is subtle bling, a touch of fairy dust on your quilt. It comes in gold or silver with various neutral silk threads.
The new issue of the AQS magazine Quilt Life has a good article about thread with comments by many in the industry. We do need to keep up on thread information so when we choose something that will enhance our work we can get it to work for us.
Keep quilting! Your work gets better every day.
So much fun to be reading your blog! What great tips you share so generously!
Thanks Jane! If a little info can save a lot of frustration, it is so worth posting it.
Bernina is recommending a ballpoint needle for all metallic threads on the 830. I found a 60 ballpoint needle made by Organ (or 65 - can't remember now) worked well with the sparkle.
Mercy, Actually my friend who first contacted me with this problem found the needle recommendation on some Bernina 830 info in a Webinar. Bernina and YLI share info so their machines and threads work well together. I will have to check out your needle too as I would prefer a smaller size if I can get away with it. Thanks for that tip!
Great post, Diane! I am keeping this in my notebook!
While at the Knoxville show I bought several different types of threads to try. Each night I am trying to spend 20-30 minutes machine quilting...
Your information just points out the importance of doing a sample before beginning a big project. Thanks for all the great information-I love reading your blog.
Yes it is important to work things out first. And purchasing new threads, fabrics, needles, batts, etc. at quilt shows is a great idea. You never know what is out there until you explore a little. Do your research about new things though, and find out how to best use them.
I also heard that Berninas might not do well with the Organ needles, as they are a tad longer than Schmetz, so be aware of that, maybe talk to your Bernina dealer/tech.
There is also some discussion about titanium needles and damage to bobbin cases, so investigate that as well. I tend to stick with my Schmetz and have no issues at all.
Fortunately we have the internet to get information and opinions, so it is fairly easy to check out products and learn how to use them correctly.
Been enjoying your blog ever since I found it. I do have a question that I hope you will address in the future. How do you prepare your quilt for the actual quilting process? Do you pin your quilt on a table? How do you make sure the backing and batting are stretched out enough so there will be no puckers on the back and front of the quilt? Sometimes everything is perfect and other times I find that I didn't get things quite as taunt as I should have and there is an area of puckers. Any suggestions on preparation of the quilt before quilting would be appreciated.
Hi-I use the titanium needles for machine embroidery---I do not believe that there has been any damage..but I will look into it..thanks for the information....
Diane,thank you for this information!I never paid any attention to Jersey ball point needles before, not to mention even thought of using them for quilting! :-)
Is there any special reason that you combine two different types of threads together? Can't that metallic be used on its own? This idea, threading two strands through one needle, has never occurred to me until now.
Thank you again for you time.
Sue, I will indeed discuss layering the quilt on a future post, thanks for the question.
Ming, the thread itself, "Sparkle" by YLI, already has two strands twisted together, the metallic and the silk, so it is very easy to use, as usual. But some quilters do use two different threads on sepaarate spools, and can put them through the tension discs, one on each side, and thread them correctly through one needle, but it is tricky and you'd have to get information from someone who is knowledgeable or try it yourself and see if you can make it work.
The threads would have to feed properly and at the same time, be threaded the same, and not get all tangled and twisted. Perhaps your sewing machine dealer could help you with this information. I've never done this and probably won't anytime soon, but it definitely is possible.
I misunderstood. I saw the two spools in the picture and got the wrong idea. Silly me! Thank you for the detailed explanation, really appreciate it!
Ming - not silly at all, especially since I could have easily put 3 spools in the photo to avoid any confusion.
Plus I was just teaching with someone who does use two spools all the time, and she explained to me how she does this, and the problems that can occur. I think it is very much an option for you to make your own combinations of threads for specialty looks, and our modern machines can handle them.
Diane, I love your book and your quilting is just exquisite. a beautiful work of art for sure.thanks for sharing your work with us and your expertise. Debbie Kelly in Warsaw,In http://somewhereinstitches.blogspot.com
Absolutely stunning! You are so incredibly talented and I love to admire everything you make.
By the way, I'm assuming you'll be checking out Superior's new silk thread...it's on an introductory special and I can't wait to get mine. Choosing colors isn't easy though!
Thanks for all of your wonderful information through your blog, website and book. You are definitely my inspiration to keep on practicing.
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