The Free Motion Quilting Project: Machine Quilting Thread Test

Friday, January 8, 2016

Machine Quilting Thread Test

Are you ready for machine quilting? We've pieced block #1 and learned how to mark the quilting design, then basted the block, so today let's focus on machine quilting and learn some basics to get started on the right foot.

Machine Quilting Practice Exercise:

Using scraps from Block #1, cut a square of each color you're using in the quilt. For me this was 4 1/2 inch squares of Cherry, Nasturtium, Lemonade, and Cream. I pieced up the squares to create a 4 patch block:

Make 3 of these blocks. This is not for the Sunshine Surprise quilt. This is for practice and an experiment in thread color so you know what to expect if you use that thread on your quilt block.

Now watch the video to learn about the tools and settings I use for free motion quilting, and how to quilt Sharp Stippling over this little practice block:

Click Here to check out the Queen Supreme Kit which has all the tools I use for free motion quilting.

You can also find the three thread colors I experimented with: Brick, Pumpkin and Wild Iris right here.

Finally, I always forget to mention the needles I use for machine quilting. I use Schmetz Universal 80/12 needles, but this is something that WILL be different for everyone. Please use the needles that your machine likes best.

Now for the only rule on picking thread color - I always match the same color thread in the top and bobbin of the machine. So whatever color is going on the top needs to match with the color on the back of the quilt.

Otherwise you get these pesky little dots of color pulling up on the side of the quilt you don't want to see it. No matter how much you fiddle with your tension dial, this is not likely to disappear:

So just save your time and your sanity and use the same color thread in the top and bobbin of your machine!

As for the color I plan to use in my blocks - it's going to be white. I got into the habit of using white thread on medium to dark fabrics when I first started making quilting videos so you guys could see what I was doing. Then it became a habit. Then it became my style of quilting. I love using white thread!

I also like picking one color of thread and using it throughout a project. Changing thread colors is time consuming and it adds extra thread breaks to the project. I ended up with 2 of all blocks due to filming step outs so I may stitch an extra block with multiple colors just for fun, but my main block will be quilted with white thread over the whole thing.

Developing Your Quilting Opinion

As for the WHY I've made this decision - it's just my opinion that it will look good and be visible enough for you to see in the video. It may look terrible to you and that's okay. This is the nature of opinion.

I really want you to develop your opinion about thread color this year. This is something that I hear over and over - What thread should I use on this quilt?

This is SO subjective! Everyone is different and the colors we pick will always reflect our opinion on what looks good to us. The best way to develop your opinion is to try everything and to ask yourself with every practice block - do I like this?

Practice and Testing is NEVER a Waste of Time

When you stitch something out and you like it, most people tend to feel pleased. Yay! I love what I've stitched.

When you stitch something out and you hate it, most quilters feel disappointed. You may feel that your time, materials, and energy have all been wasted on a pointless project. Uggh! I hate those colors!

But it was not a waste! Figuring out what you DON'T like is just as important and beneficial as finding out what you DO like! When you try something you don't like, sit with it for a minute and ask yourself why you don't like it. Listen and try to discern exactly what you are feeling.

So often in the heat of disappointment we chuck the project in the trash and move on too quickly to learn from the experience. A failure is not a failure if you learn something from it, even if it's a lesson to never mix orange and purple again.

So take the time to piece up at least 3 of these practice 4 patch blocks and quilt Sharp Stippling over the surface with three different thread colors. Try two colors you think you may like and one color that seems crazy. Remember - it's not a waste of time if you learn something new!

Please share a picture of all your thread tests in the Block Party Facebook Group as well as your opinions on what looks best and why. I can't wait to see your stitching and learn what you like best!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

1 comment:

  1. This tip was quite enlightening to me. I like the idea of testing out thread colors. I just usually match so that my bad free motion is not visible. This year I will step out and let it show. I love your website and projects. Keep them coming!


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