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Thread: Thready quilt backs

  1. #1
    Member nuevaquilter's Avatar
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    Thready quilt backs

    I guess this is a question for those of you who like to take photos of your WIPs.

    By the time I've been working on a quilt for a while, there are lots of threads all over the back. The bigger the quilt, the more it's been handled, the worse it is. If it's really bad, I'll put some Fray-Chek along the ravelling edges, but that's not a solution for an entire quilt.

    I have a modest little blog where I post photos of my quilting projects, mostly as a journal for myself (I'm not selling anything!). When I look at other blogs, the backs look nice and tidy. So my question is, am I really a messy quilter? Or do people spend hours snipping away the threads before photographing? Or can you Photoshop away the threads?

    I do trim away dark threads where they may show up behind light fabric. This is more of a vanity issue, I suppose!

  2. #2
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    Some fabrics fray worse then others for sure. I trim threads of on the back being careful not to pull them. I do this at my final pressing of the top.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sandrab64's Avatar
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    I trim threads on the back if there is large batch and any that might show through light fabric.
    Sandra B

  4. #4
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    I just made a quilt with lots of weird angles and bias edges. I starched the snot out of all the fabric before I cut any of it, and have no strings on the back. It's about half hand-dyes and half Moda Grunge, and neither fabric is fraying, so I think it's because of the starch.

  5. #5
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
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    Starch will definitely help.

  6. #6
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    I've tried to find work arounds to the thread issue since I absolutely hate the little buggers. Once I accidentally cut a top while trying to cut threads. What works for me is to use liberal amounts of starch before cutting, and handling the pieces/blocks as little as possible. I assemble tops in sections so only a few blocks are off my design wall at a time. After they're complete, they go back on the wall until it's time to put the whole thing together. It seems to really work for me.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I only have threads on the face of my quilts. I snip them off while quilting. Lint rollers are another solution.
    Another Phyllis
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  8. #8
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    Man, I am in the midst of this! Putting Talkin' Turkey together, and it's a mess. Each block has 70-ish pieces ("ish" bc part of the center is string-pieced), pieced sashings and then 4 rounds of pieced borders. I have the center together and the borders ready to go on.

    Honestly, I am embarrassed to give this to the LA. It's terrible.

  9. #9
    Super Member Teen's Avatar
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    I mentioned on another thread that snipping threads on the completed quilt top to prepare for sandwiching is the absolute worst part of quilting for me. I starch through the process and that may help but doesn't eradicate. I've learned to clip long threads or tangled threads and any threads near fabric that can be seen after quilting through the top. I use a lot of white tonal in my quilts so this has been an on-going struggle. ugh!
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  10. #10
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    I love Northcutt fabrics, but they are terrible at shedding. I only trim what will show after quilting.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by peaceandjoy View Post
    Man, I am in the midst of this! Putting Talkin' Turkey together, and it's a mess. Each block has 70-ish pieces ("ish" bc part of the center is string-pieced), pieced sashings and then 4 rounds of pieced borders. I have the center together and the borders ready to go on.

    Honestly, I am embarrassed to give this to the LA. It's terrible.
    You really should not give it to your long arm quilter without trimming all those loose threads. I've not had it happen to me, but I understand sometimes those loose untrimmed threads on the quilt back can get snagged up with the quilting thread and needle, causing a tear in the quilt top. Longarm needles are strong, and they stitch lightening fast, so I believe it. Mine stitches down flat flower heads on pins like they're not even there.

  12. #12
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    I use a lot of starch.

  13. #13
    Super Member Snooze2978's Avatar
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    I also starch my fabrics before cutting but have found some fray no matter what you do. I try to keep the threads at bay and will cut as many as I can before I put it onto the frame but some seems to hide from you until you can't get them the easy way. I read where you can get these little devils using a very tiny croquet hook from the top side. Its about the size of your needle when you hide your thread ends. Had to do this on the last quilt and it does work. I know the hole made by the hook will shrink when the quilt gets washed so wasn't too worried about it. The problem is trying to find a very small croquet hook which luckily I found at my local thrift shop.
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  14. #14
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    I use the auto thread cutter and that stops the thread tails on back as the thread ends are 1/4" long on back.
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  15. #15
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    Something that might help next time. Do you have a thread cutter on your machine?. Since I have had one, I don't have strings to deal with. Also shorten your stitch length . If you are sending it to a longarmer, Please trim. It is impossible to get the threads out of the way and when I quilt for people, I hate having to leave them in because the show badly especially if they are dark threads. also, if it is a pieced border, sew a stay stitch around the quilt. keeps those edges from coming apart.
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 04-04-2019 at 06:58 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  16. #16
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    I seem to get a lot more threads than other people, I think it is because I cut so closely to the grain of fabric. But I'm also a fanatic about pressing each seam and so do a lot of thread catching at the ironing board. Usually have a bit of a ball of thread/lint/what-evers at the end of the board.

    To second what Patchwork said about the stay stitching, it doesn't look like I'll have use of my friend's long arm this year -- I'm looking at other options because I already have a huge stack of unquilted tops. Anyway, I'm in the finishing stages of a scrap quit that I'm not really excited about just using it to keep busy and I am using three rows of 2.5" squares for the border. Although I usually don't bother, I figured I better add in a row of stay stitching along that outer edge, just within the seam allowance. Might be some time (ie, years!) before it's quilted down and I don't want to have to go back and fix all those little seams.

  17. #17
    Senior Member AudreyB's Avatar
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    Are you talking about the fabric raveling? Or about the thread tails from where you start and stop sewing? If the later, do you use a starter/ender tab? I find using one reduces the tread trimming dramatically.

    A starter tab is a small scrap of fabric that you start sewing on and then you add your fabric, as in the first piece of a chain stitch. When you trim off the starter tab, your string problem is gone. Then, add another scrap at the end for an ender tab...which now becomes a starter tab for your next seam.

    When using the starter/ender tabs, as in chain stitching, leave at least 4 stitches between your patches. This will give you a space to cut and also give a stitch or two to give a lock stitch to help the seam from separating.

    I hope this is clear. It's easier to show than to explain.
    AudreyB
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  18. #18
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    Oh, I won't give this to the LA as it is; it will have a lot of pressing and trimming to do first. Even so, I know that some of the frayed edges will have to stay as is. Should have starched more than I did as I was going.

  19. #19
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    My issue isn't threads from my machine but those from fraying fabric. I do spend a lot of time clipping, but, I am retired, have no physical issues to interfere, and quilt for my own pleasure and consider it part of the process.
    Alyce

  20. #20
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    I hate all those threads on the back of my pieced top. I use the leader & ender scrap of material and a smaller stitch length to help with the extra threads and I still get some, but not many. I trim the extra threads every time I iron a block. I admit that I am a fanatic about having a thread free back on my quilt top. It's much easier to quilt without having to deal with all those threads.

    Now if the fabric is unraveling, that is another issue. I bought one piece of fabric because I loved the color and didn't realize the weave was so loose. It gave me fits. I ended up having to sew a stabilizing wavy stitch within the 1/4 inch seam allowance every time I used that fabric in the top. I only sewed on the bad piece. I learned a lot in a few minutes. The wavy tighter seam stopped the raveling and took a little bit of extra time but not as much as trimming and retrimming every few minutes. I thought about trying my pinking shears and trimming the edges but was afraid the pinking action would take too much fabric off since it was already shredding. I didn't want to have to replace those bad pieces after the quilting had been done. Thank goodness, it was a small quilt. That's one of the reasons most of my quilts these days are sewn with batiks. The thread weave is so much tighter.

    Wish I had thought about the starch. I'll try that next time.

    Edited to add: I always sew a stabilizing seam around the outside edge of the quilt top if there are small pieces or a lot of pieced seams. It took one time of several of them pulling apart after I got it on my longarm for me to realize what was happening. Never again.
    Last edited by Barb in Louisiana; 04-04-2019 at 08:20 AM.
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  21. #21
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    I'm just wondering: for the people who seem to maul their fabric and make the seams unravel, wouldn't it be more efficient to wait till you have the top all pieced to trim the threads? A seam trimmed to 1/4" of the fabric is a lot more likely to become unsewn at the edge of the fabric than one that has a couple of inches left to dangle.
    Yes, starch would be a big help, and smaller stitches, too. Maybe a beginning sewist would benefit from leaving those long tails until they are sure they won't need to ease that seam, or stretch to fit, lol.

  22. #22
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    I guess I never gave it much thought. I don't use starch either. Good thing I LA my own quilts, and so far (knock on wood) I've not had a problem with around 60 quilts done.

    i do take my quilts outside and give them a good shake before I put them on the LA - to help knock off the loose threads. Maybe it helps that I prefer to use smaller pieces, so normally the only time I'm dealing with longer loose fray threads is when I'm putting on the binding.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

  23. #23
    Member nuevaquilter's Avatar
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    Aha! The ones bugging me the most are Bonnie Hunter quilts, too. All those little pieces!

  24. #24
    Member nuevaquilter's Avatar
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    Thanks to you and the others who recommended starch. I have been using it more and more. Four big cans of spray starch at Costco, or when I prewash, I dip the washed fabric in starch before ironing (oops, pressing!). I guess that I've been doing the right things, just keep trying not to handle the pieces too much and trim as I go.

  25. #25
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    Spent about an hour yesterday morning removing threads from the back of my latest throw quilt. Thread didn't come so much from the colorful printed quilt material as it did from the Kona Snow from Hobby Lobby that I had used. Now only the border print to add on and the top will be ready to sit and wait until I find the perfect backing,

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