Confessions: Random Thoughts on Thread and How to Make Your Quilter Love You

I should also add to that it's not only how to make your quilter love you, but how to avoid making your quilter cuss you out under their breath. But back to that in a minute.

I'm enjoying this little series and it seems you are too. Thank you again for the kind comments and emails. That's actually kinda how I got today's topic.

I actually got my other threads in that I ordered and updated my cubby. It's all pretty much the same, but I think I have a bit more of a well-rounded rainbow now. The new threads are the three the arrows are pointing to.

One of the questions or comments was what brand everyone was using. That was not why I wrote that post but I should note that what works in my machine may not work in yours. And what works in your machine may not work in mine. Threads are goofy like that. Seriously if you are having all sorts of issues with a project and it's a new thread you're trying, it may just be the thread.

I honestly found this thread, found I can use it for just about everything I need thread for (about 90% of what I do) and I quit looking. I'm sure there's other brands that would work and other colors to try, but this is what works for me and I like it simple. Don't fix what ain't broken. Plus you could spend a small fortune trying each and every thread available out there. It may not be the best solution, but it's what works for me.

So onto today's random thoughts on thread. These aren't anything hard or complex, but they're so simple they get overlooked and can drive long arm quilters insane.

The main reason we got on this topic was another quilter commenting about piecing threads. Specifically contrasting threads (her version was white thread with navy fabric). Please don't use super contrasting threads when piecing if you can help it. Sometimes you have to use what you have, like say in a scrappy quilt. You've got every color from white to black and everything in between - use what you can. My choice is a light tan/off white for most of my piecing.

But if you're piecing all dark fabrics together, use a gray or a brown or a darker thread. Granted your stitches aren't supposed to show from the front of the quilt, but it happens and it stands out when the thread doesn't match. It doesn't take much pull for threads to show sometimes.

Now, I'm guilty of this when I'm piecing bindings together or border pieces, but I'm usually on a tight deadline and don't honestly have the time to switch my threads every time. That's why I stick with a light tan. It works both ways. It's not too dark and not too light. It's like the Goldilocks of thread.

The alternate fiasco what happens if your threads are too dark (say black thread with white fabrics), it'll look like there is a pencil line or a chalk line (if you used a colored thread like red) that won't go away. This one shows up in the quilts I finish a lot and sadly it's just a seam or two on a really pretty intricate quilt that must've taken forever to piece and the only thing I can stare at is that unruly thread in the one seam. It's usually in a border or some really big area that makes it stand out even more.

Your safest colors to piece with are in the white to tan to gray tones. Keep it neutral and keep a small variety so you have what you need for anything that you may be working on.

What else drives us quilters absolutely batty? Bias edges and unlocked stitches. Your quilts are going to be handled a bunch during the piecing process and prior to quilting. They will get beat up whether you try to prevent it or not. The best thing you can do is lock the stitches especially at the ends of seams at the edges of the quilt. I honestly lock almost every seam that I can. It's just a good habit to get into (you never know what seam may end up at the edge of a quilt if there's no borders). How do you lock a seam, when you start and right before you stop each seam, take a couple reverse stitches and then keep on stitching. That's it.

Sometimes just being handled enough to be measured and then put on the quilt frame is enough for some edge seams to start to unravel and it's not pretty. If you can't lock stitches because your quilt will be trimmed down, like in paper piecing for example, keep reading and treat the edges like they are bias edges.

Also, your quilter will LOVE you if you have bias edges around your quilt and you "stay stitch" the edges. This is where you stitch about 1/8" from the edge of the quilt all the way around. It doesn't sound like much but it keeps the quilt from fraying and stretching out of square. It takes just a few extra minutes and the results will be worth it. Just keep the stitching inside the outer 1/4" so they don't show when you put on the binding. Bias is a four letter word for a reason. No joke.

And last but not least for my random thoughts on threads - please Please PLEASE DO NOT give your quilter a top with a hole in the seam. Don't hand it to me and say, "there's a hole in the top, it's okay I put a safety pin where it is and I'll fix it when I get it back." NEVER do this. It will almost send you quilter into a psychotic rage and yes it has happened to me more times than I care to admit. Outside I think (or I hope) I was smiling, but on the inside I could not think of enough four letter words in my brain. Just keeping it real here.

Here's what you may not know. My quilting machine can be going along all nice and dandy and it will inevitably find a hole whether you mention it or not. And if you don't mention it, I will find it the hard way after my machine will have stitched itself to your quilt. This is by far my worst nightmare that I have encountered. When the machine is stitched to the quilt, I have to take out the stitches without doing more damage to the quilt and try not to damage the machine. No machine = no quilting. Plus I have less room to work in and the machine is always in the way but I can't move it because it is literally stitched to the quilt. It can happen in just a few stitches and it can take half an hour to get it all undone. Or more. And it's a nightmare. Did I mention it only takes a few seconds usually to prevent this from happening? Please take the time to fix a hole if you know it's there.

I honestly know I have a picture of this somewhere and I will find it and share it soon. Or it'll happen again and I will take a picture then and show you what a nightmare it is. It's nasty and I don't like it at all. Plus it always makes me nervous that it'll screw up my machine and again, broken machine = no quilting.

So those are my random thoughts for the day. It's a bunch of little things but they all add up to big issues if not handled correctly for your quilter. If you have any questions, comment below and I will get back to you or you can always email me at rubybluequilts (at) gmail (dot) com.

More quilt pictures are coming and come back next week for another confession. What will be next? Backings, loading quilts onto the machine, something you have a question about... We shall see!


  1. Can I just say that I love you for writing and posting these? LOL Seriously though, this is such awesome info!

  2. keep the 'random' thoughts coming!


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