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Thread: Quilting Thread question

  1. #1
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    Good morning quilters.............I have a Bernina820 plus a smaller Bernina. When I free motion quilt or quilt with walking foot, I am just not pleased with the look of the stitches from machine quilting. I have tried wrapped poly from A&E, maxi-lock poly, 100% cotton Coats-n-Clarks, and even some 100% cotton thread art. Everything was either so messy to sew with or just seem thin. I am using quilting needles (not sharps for piecing) and have even tried a top-stitching needle for the quilting. I have adjusted both top and bottom tensions at various numbers, all still not looking the best. Tension is fine, it is the thread that I do not like.

    Now my latest try was yesterday's purchase of a Sulky 100% Viscose (made in Germany) and it turned out terrific. My only problem is that it splits and breaks thread at needle or within the uptake inside of machine. What a mess that was.

    So fellow quilters, may I ask for any and all suggestions? Should I be switching to a different needle? Should I be trying a different thread. Like so many on our Board, it amazes me of the helpfulness of everyone. Thank you so much and happy stitching all.


    PS: The machines work fine and have no problems (general maintenance twice a year). It is a thread appearance that I am displeased with.

  2. #2
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by All Thumbs
    When I free motion quilt or quilt with walking foot, I am just not pleased with the look of the stitches from machine quilting.
    And is this a new Bernina 820 (with BSR) or one of the older ones?

    eta:

  3. #3
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    Are you using a Metallica needle? This is a necessity with specialty threads, which wear down quickly with the friction of going thro the needle eye. The Metallica is specially designed for the more fragile and beautiful threads available today, and use the largest size, 90. Also, when fmq, I use a fine thread made for bobbins....available anywhere. It's thinner and somehow makes the stitching more even.
    Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    Try a bunch of different threads. Gutterman makes some very nice, thicker thread. Also Superior makes very nice quiltin thread. I have never had a complaint that the thread looks too thin. Not sure what you mean....if you want the thread to show up more, use a higher contrast color thread. And when quilting you can go over the motif more than once to get the look you want. You can do it any way you want to make it look how you want...remember...NO QUILT POLICE!! :-) Good luck!

  5. #5
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    Try sulky blendables, or Gutterman cotton, I have had good luck with those, You shouldn't need to mess with tension or stitch length as those are made by the speed of the machine, and speed of you hands. Is this your first attempt because it takes practice to get good and the stitching, you can't just start off with perfect stitching as we would all like to do. Just practice practice practice

  6. #6
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    I usually quilt on my long arm, but have been happy using Bottom Line, SO Fine and Aurifil when I quilt on my DSM. I like a bit thicker thread on my long arm, so my go-to thread is Permacore. As you go along, you will figure out what your machine likes the best. oh..and like everyone else says..practice practice practice. I sent all my practice pieces stuffed with tiny scraps I would not use to the local animal rescue. I didn't sign them, so the dogs are none the wiser..:-D

  7. #7
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    A BIG hearty thank you everyone!

    Yes, MTS, I am fortunate to have the new 820s with BSR (much to the disaster of my billfold!). Right after I got it, they had to replace the BSR spring with a heavy duty spring which came from the factory. Several in our area who got the same machine had this happen to theirs too.

    Thanks for the hint gramalama9; I was unaware of a Metallica needle. I will call the Bernina shop and see if they can send me some so I will not have to drive very far. In the meantime, I will insert a top-stitching needle since it has a larger and more round eye and see if that works.

    As for Gutterman threads, yes I use them exclusively but only for piecing. They seem to narrow for quilting. Perhaps I am trying to compare too much as if a piece was hand quilted.

    While I have been free motion quilting for a few years, I never have liked the appearance of the threads, even on my older drop-the-feed-dog method for meandering. Bottom Line, SO Fine, Aurifil and Permacore. Thanks for the suggestions. Next time I am at a shop, I will check them out.

    Now are we talking 100% cotton here or are these poly threads?

    Thanks again everyone.

  8. #8
    Super Member JNCT14's Avatar
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    Funny how the Bernina's work - I have an OLD 1280 that I love for precision work but could never get to FMQ properly.

    Got my Babylok Quilter's Pro and gave up on the Bernina. Went to my mom's house who was having trouble FMQing on HER Bernina (1120?) and had no problem. Why?

    Gutterman's thread was the only thing that came to mind so I switched to the Gutterman's on my Bernina. Worked fine - go figure.

    Although you are right - you do have to like the look of the FMQ as opposed to doing it by hand.

  9. #9
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by All Thumbs
    . Bottom Line, SO Fine, Aurifil and Permacore. Now are we talking 100% cotton here or are these poly threads?
    Permacore is not cotton. At least not 100%. Aurifil is cotton. I'm not sure about the other two. I'm not home (stuck in the airport in Denver). When I get home, I will check and let you know. (gotta love WiFi!)

  10. #10
    Kas
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    Quote Originally Posted by All Thumbs
    Thanks for the hint gramalama9; I was unaware of a Metallica needle. I will call the Bernina shop and see if they can send me some so I will not have to drive very far. In the meantime, I will insert a top-stitching needle since it has a larger and more round eye and see if that works.

    While I have been free motion quilting for a few years, I never have liked the appearance of the threads, even on my older drop-the-feed-dog method for meandering. Bottom Line, SO Fine, Aurifil and Permacore. Thanks for the suggestions. Next time I am at a shop, I will check them out.

    Now are we talking 100% cotton here or are these poly threads?

    Thanks again everyone.
    In the Superior line, I would not use Bottom Line or So Fine on the top. I would use King Tut or Rainbows. For the Rainbows you will be much happier with a metallic needle. You should be able to get those at Hobby Lobby, Joann, or Hancocks. I use Schmetz brand. I also like the Sulky 100% cotton 30 weight as well as Mettler 40 weight 100% cotton. With those I use a 75 or 90 quilting needle or the Microtex.

  11. #11
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    Oh my, thanks Kas! You have given me all the details about weight and everything--something I never have been sure about. There is a Hobby Lobby about ten miles away so one day I shall stop and see what they have. I am familiar with King Tut but not Rainbows.

    Say soccertxi, I am an old Coloradoan so please take a looksey as you fly west over the Rockies. I do so miss them. I am not too fond of that relatively new airport they have nowadays. It is too far from Denver proper in my opinion. The original airport dropped right down past the front range, over the highway and onto the tarmac. What a thrill that was too! lol Hope you have a smooth flight.

  12. #12
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    Attn: gramalama9, I tried my top-stitching needles and it worked like a charm. Thank you for letting me know I needed a different needle for the Sulky thread.

    And Dolphyngyrl, I will look for the Sulky blendables now that I have the stitch appearance I am desiring. What a bunch of great quilters we have on this Board. So much knowledge and, like my now deceased mother always said, share everything you know about sewing and never charge a penny for your abilities.

  13. #13
    Super Member QuiltnLady1's Avatar
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    If you look to grab Sulky Blendables, be aware that there are several weights -- the smaller the number the thicker the thread. If you use 12 weight on top you will need to lighten the tension and use a 100 or 110 needle. I love using the thicker threads since if I am going to go to the trouble of quilting something I want it to show up.

    Every machine has its quirks. My 35 yr old Elna will sew fine with any thread any weight -- including wooly nylon. My previous machine hated all varieties of Sulky, but would sew just about anything else. My current machine is OK with Sulky, but has fewer problems with poly and rayon than with cotton (any brand).

    For piecing, I frequently use titanium needles, but I have to watch what thread I use. For quilting, I use the Metallic needles as default, but if I don't have them the top stitch or jeans needles work as well (for years Jeans 90 was my default quilting needle).

    My advise is stitch a sample and see what works best.

  14. #14
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    Thank you QuiltLady1. Next trip I will pick up some various weight ones. I have had just about 3 kinds of needles all my life and never could figure out which one was the correct one for whatever project I was making. Guess that comes from being a garment seamstress most of life. lol

    Say, that snow in your photo looks very inviting. We are really hot and humid last couple days with no break for a few more days AND the Mighty Mo river is rising......:( Hope everyone gets out and away from it as the levies have breeched themselves already. I do not think they will hold this time around. Too many bager holes.

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