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Thread: Free Motion Quilting...What type of thread?

  1. #1
    Senior Member kimnkell's Avatar
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    Hello,
    I am free motion quilting a quilt for my daughter on my machine and am having problems with the thread getting knots in it and breaking all the time. The thread I have is a real cheapo type of thread but this is my first free motion quilting and really had no idea what kind of thread to use. Does anyone have any suggestions on what type of thread is the best?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Just-Lee's Avatar
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    Although I am new to FMQ-ing, I have had some of the same problems. There is more to those issues than just thread type... it depends on what your machine "likes", tension settings, hand vs. machine speed, etc. Do a search on here, as there have been many threads on this topic and other issues.

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    I like Superior's "SoFine" thread a lot. It is a polyester, but it feels like a cotton and quilts beautifully. I use it for both piecing and free motion quilting. I just finished a crib quilt today and I used a varigated 40wt Aurafil. Aurafil comes in both a 40w and a 50w, but I like the heavier 40wt version.

    Don't use cheap thread - it just isn't worth it. Most people like 100% cotton thread, but the SoFine is great stuff. I think varigated threads hide a lot of erors too!

    Pam

  4. #4
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    It could be your thread, it could also be your machine. Machines have 2 common bobbin set ups: Horizontal and Vertical. Most newer - not all - machines have a horizontal or 'drop in' bobbin. The thread has to turn a corner to form a stitch and on some machines it is almost impossible to FMQ on them. One noted for being unable to successfully FMQ with is the Brother Pacesetter PC-6500 (ask how I know) and there are others.

    A vertical bobbin machine uses a bobbin inserted into a bobbin case. The thread path is straight up from the bobbin. Some machines like a class 15, a featherweight or a Singer 301, have the bobbin loaded at the end of the machine, others like Pfaff have the bobbin loaded from the front of the machine.
    This is one of the many reasons most of us have several different machines!

    I hope you get it sorted out, I'm sure your quilt will be beautiful.

  5. #5
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    it could be anything or a combination of things. I suggest you change only one thing at a time to find out.

    First ... put a scrap quilt sandwich together - don't do your tests or practice on the quilt. 9x9" is a good size to practice on.

    Then change one thing at a time.

    Start with the thread. Get a good or decent quality machine thread (NOT a "hand quilting" thread). Make sure the machine is threaded properly. Try to get something that is a 50wt - which is a pretty basic weight thread. Make a new bobbin with this thread and make sure the bobbin is loaded properly.

    If you still have a problem, change the needle. Make sure you have the right size needle for the thread you are using. A good needle size for a 50wt thread is 70/10 - again it's a pretty basic size needle.

    If you still have a problem ... then come back here and tell us where the thread is breaking. Is it breaking before the needle but after the tension discs? Is it breaking before the tension discs? Also, let us know what kind of machine you have. And, where are the knots? Is the upper thread knotting or the bobbin thread??

    I would start with the thread, and then the needle. But try ONE thing first and rule it out before you move to the next 'fix'.

  6. #6
    Senior Member kimnkell's Avatar
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    Thank You all.. this is some very helpful information. I will try changing the thread and see how that goes.

  7. #7
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    good polyester embroidery thread works good on top and in the bobbin.

  8. #8
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    My babylock machine had the same problem with breaking when I used "machine quilting thread" sold at JoAnne's but worked fine with "all purpose thread" that was the same thread sewn at JoAnne's.

    I am newer to machine quilting and am going to a quilt show where I hope to buy a spool of a few different brands of more expensive thread and see which one my machine "likes."

    I would prefer to stick with cotton thread but the one I use now creates so much lint in my machine that I am considering crossing over to poly. thread.

  9. #9
    Senior Member kimnkell's Avatar
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    The thread that I am using is Spun Poly T40 Serge Quilt thread. I got it because it was 3.99 for 6000 yards. Is there a difference between serger thread and quilting thread.. I don't know much about it...

  10. #10
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    I would definitely try Machine Quilting Thread or an all purpose thread. Use some scraps and leftover batting and try a few different brands/types of thread. See what works before you jump into working on your quilt.

  11. #11
    Super Member azwendyg's Avatar
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    Also consider changing your needle. Not too long ago I was struggling with the same kind of issues, and finally changed out the needle. It was like a miracle! All my "thread" problems went away.

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    Diffently use the same tread in your bobbin as you use for quilting. I agree with making a sandwich with left over batting and fabric to try different treads. Better safe then sorry.Happy Quilting

  13. #13
    Senior Member kimnkell's Avatar
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    The needle size that I am using is a size 14bp... I thought I had bought an assorted pack of needles but looks like I bought 40 needles in this size....lol... Tried some new thread just now and it def. sews better and isn't knotting up but I'm having problems with it skipping stitches when I turn a corner while free motion quilting and then on the back of the quilt it is sorta loopy in spots and not all the time does it do this just some of the time. Any idea's what may be causing it? It was doing fine until my free motion foot broke and I bought another foot to use. I also put in a new needle at that time as well so I think I will change the needle now and see if that helps any.

  14. #14
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    Every machine is different you just have to try different threads with them.
    My new strait stitch did not like Connecting Threads but did like the Coats and Clarks machine quilting thread.
    My drop in bobbin machine is less picky and can use both with it.
    I prefer a drop in bobbin but the strait stitch has a horizontal that is a pain along with threading the machine. Its like going back to primitive times.

  15. #15
    Senior Member kimnkell's Avatar
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    Here's a link to what the stitches look like now since I have changed the needle to a size 11 and changed the thread in the bobbin and what I'm sewing with.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-152122-1.htm#4179878

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    I think all of the suggestions are excellent. As an FYI, I used inexpensive threads when I first learned to free-motion quilt. But I've learned that the FMQ just flows better with higher quality threads. Personally, I like Superior threads 40 & 50 wt 100% cottons, Aurifil's 40/50 wt and also YLI's silk. Better quality threads produced better quality results, and don't come with all the hassles that cheap thread come with. Well worth the extra money.

    SewCalGal
    www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

  17. #17
    Kas
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    What will help with tangling thread is to get a thread stand for the back of your machine. It gives the thread a longer space to relax before going through the tension discs.
    Outside of a dog, a book is Man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.-Groucho Marx

  18. #18
    Member SuperiorThreads's Avatar
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    It looks like your upper tension is too loose. Using "cheap" thread is really a mistake. There can be bumps along the thread, thick and thin areas in your thread which can cause tension problems and breaking problems. Don't ever use hand quilting thread or any thread that says "glaced, glazed or coated". These thread are not meant to go in machines and can gum up your bobbin area and needle. Here is a Home Machine Reference guide that might help you with tension, needle size, etc. http://www.superiorthreads.com/media..._HOME_9-11.pdf

    This really helps me when changing threads or having problems. Needle size, tension and delivery are three things to check.

    Ricci

  19. #19
    Super Member QultingaddictUK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperiorThreads
    Using "cheap" thread is really a mistake.
    Couldn't agree more, there is no such thing as a cheap thread as it works out so expensive in rotten stitches, bad tempers etc; etc; go for a decent thread you won't regret it.

    BTW I started using the "Superior" bottom line thread brilliant thread and so cheap as it goes on forever :thumbup:

  20. #20
    Super Member Doreen's Avatar
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    Listen to Ricci from Superior threads. Superior has their "try Me" specials. Go their website. Its a great way to try thread products.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimnkell
    Here's a link to what the stitches look like now since I have changed the needle to a size 11 and changed the thread in the bobbin and what I'm sewing with.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-152122-1.htm#4179878
    That kind of laddering can come when you move the fabric too fast on curves. Many/most of us have done the same thing when starting I would guess. You need to speed up your machine some and then concentrate on moving the fabric at a consistent speed. It is very very easy to speed up when doing curves! I've heard recommendations about quilting to some type of music to keep your rhythm constant. I find I sew best when listening to an audiobook!

    Pam

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