Selecting Thread for Machine Quilting

Why Machine Quilting Thread

Whether you are a Longarm quilter or quilt at your domestic machine, it is important to choose a thread designed for this type of work. Longarm machines operate at higher speeds than domestic machines. Also, stitching through the three sandwich layers of a quilt cause more wear and tear on thread than ordinary sewing. Fortunately thread manufacturers understand these demands and have designed thread for machine quilting.

Machine quilting thread can be found in both cotton and poly and is available from a number of manufacturers. Because of the larger volume of thread required in quilting a quilt, machine quilting thread is available on cones that hold 2500 yards or more. Although we may balk at the price of machine quilting thread on cones, we need to remember that they hold several times as much as a standard spool of thread. When compared to the price of the spool, this thread really does not cost that much more and often costs less per yard than spool thread. It is important to know that hand quilting thread should never be used on a Longarm or domestic machine as the glazing on the thread will gum up the machine.

Considerations for selecting quilting thread:

  1. It is designed for machine quilting
  2. Choose a fiber type
    1. Cotton – select long staple cotton for the least amount of linting
    2. Poly – usually is low lint
  3. The look wanted on the quilt
    1. Dull look to the thread or shiny look of the thread
    2. More visible – select thicker thread, less visible – select a thinner thread
  4. Color
    1. To blend with fabric color but show quilting texture, select a couple of shades lighter or darker rather than the exact color of the fabric.
    2. For contrast, select a totally different color than the fabric.

Angela Walters is a Longarm quilter and author of several books on quilting. In the video below from her blog, she answers the question, “What are your favorite threads?” As she notes in the video, these are her opinions and she is not promoting any particular product.


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“Quilter’s Night Before”

As we quickly approach the night before Christmas, you, too, may be working hard to christmas treecomplete a few last minute quilted gifts.  A member of my quilt club passed this along and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Quilter’s Night Before

by Brenda Groelz, Kathy Rockbugs, Marilyn Root, Cindy Swafford

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
The only one sleeping was Quilter’s dear spouse.
The Log Cabin stockings were almost completed,
“Just a few stitches left,” our sweet quilter repeated,
“Then I can hang them and head to off to finish
the pillows I’m making, fulfilling Mom’s wish
For something ‘quilty’ to put on her couch”,
as she pricked her poor finger, our quilter yelled, “Ouch!”
When from out in the kitchen there arose such a crashing,
she sprang from her work, and she dropped all her sashing.
Away to the doorway she flew like a plane,
wondering just what was happening and who she could blame.
When what to her wondering eyes should appear,
but Old Mrs Claus and her bag of quilt-gear….
With her elves bearing gifts, through the kitchen she came,
she directed and pointed and called them by name.
“Now Elna, now Pfaff, now Bernina and Viking,
the Hoffman and Mumm should be just to her liking.
To the sewing room – there, it’s just back of the hall,
now dash away, dash away, dash away all!”
“My Dear,” said The Claus (as she liked to be called),
“There really is no need to worry at all.
Your projects will all be completed this night,
I’m terribly sorry we gave you a fright.
Sit down. Have some tea. It’s relaxing, you’ll see.
My friends and I’ve come a long way to help Thee.”
She thought she was dreaming, our Dear Quilter did,
In fact she quite feared that she’d near flipped her lid!
But the flash of the needles and twist of the thread
soon gave her to know she had nothing to dread.
They spoke no more words, but went straight to their sewing.
How the work went so quickly she had no way of knowing.
The stitches, how tiny! The corners, how straight!
This Claus-woman’s talent was awfully great.
They finished the pillows, then started a quilt.
Before they all knew it, the whole thing was built!..
Now old Mrs. Claus, she knew quilters real well,
and she knew they’d need help on this night most of all
So she said to our quilter, “Just move over, dear,
I’ve brought my own needle. We’ll get done, never fear.
I told dear old Santa about what quilters do.
How they plan all these projects but have other work too.
So he taught me his magic for doing things fast.
There, that pillow’s done. Now this is the last.”
They tidied their thread snips, and picked up the scraps
and chased our dear quilters six cats from their laps.They left behind gingerbread (just to be nice)
and the whole house smelled sweetly of Christmas and spice.
As they scurried away with their thimbles still gleaming
dear Mrs. Claus paused, her cap ribbons streaming.
“Merry Christmas, my dear, now just have a ball!
Relax and enjoy. Happy Quilting to all!”

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Quick Easy Gift – “Magic Pillowcase”

gift boxDo you still need a quick easy gift for someone on your holiday giving list? Pillowcases make the perfect gift. Choose a novelty fabric that would please the recipient, or a holiday theme fabric, a coordinating fabric for the cuff and another that compliments both fabrics and you are ready to start.

This tutorial from Shabby Fabrics teaches you how to construct the pillowcase so that there are no exposed seams and the pillowcase edge is finished with an enclosed French seam. It you don’t want to take the time for the French seam, use your serger for a quick finish.

After making one pillowcase you will be hooked on this easy method and be on the lookout for interesting fabrics all year long to make an easy quick gift for someone special in your life.  All you need to remember is 27, 9, and 3.  That is 27″ for the body of the pillowcase, 9″ for the cuff, and 3″ for the trim.

Have fun!

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“No Detail is Small,” Doug Tompkins, Quilt Collector

As a quilter I spend time making sure my patches are cut well, pieced as accurately as possible and give attention to the choice of colors and arrangement of the blocks.  It is  these details, along with the quilting that make a quilt stand out.  I like Doug Tompkins’ credo, “No Detail is Small.”  It is important to pay attention to the details in fine quilting.

Amish quilt collector, owner of Espirit fashion company during the 1970-80’s, ecologist, minimalist, and one who appreciated the detailed workmanship of the Lancaster County, PA area quilters has died in a kayaking accident. Amish quilts from Mr. Tompkins’ collection hung in Espirit’s San Fransico headquarters during his tenure with Espirit where they stimulated and encouraged bright thinking in clothing design.

Follow this link to be inspired by more of Doug Tompkins’ life, thinking, and fascination with Lancaster County quilts.

Be encouraged to take a look at your work and apply Doug’s credo of “No Detail is Small.”


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Why Do You Quilt?

Each of us quilts for a different reason.  We enjoy working with fabric, we like to sew, we enjoy working with our hands, we like seeing all the pieces fall into place in a spectacular design, we enjoy the creative process, or . . . . . .   There is probably another reason we love quilting, too.  We enjoy giving a part of ourselves to others through the projects we make.

I think you will enjoy this video titled, “So God Made A Quilter.”  Yes, our projects do matter and do bless others.  “Sew,” keep on quilting.

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