Sunday, 16 November 2008

"All's Well That Ends Well"

"The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together."

Shakespeare puts this quote in the mouth of a minor character in All's Well That Ends Well. In Act IV, scene III of the play, a Florentine lord is discussing gain and loss in life. But textile artists are fond of the quote for other reasons.
Ending well can be daunting. I think its why we have so many UFO's. Beginning is easy. We generate great ideas and fabrics quickly come together into a top. But often we get stuck in the quilting part of the process. Machine quilting can be the answer to this problem. But sometimes machine quilters also get stuck.
Most machine quilting problems boil down to needles and thread. Using a Schmetz 100/16 Topstitch needle for free-motion quilting and changing it regularly, solves the needle problem. So let's talk about thread. Once again, there are so many different kinds of thread to choose from in various fibres, sizes and prices. Many claim to be perfect for machine quilting. How do you separate 'the good from the ill?' And why bother? Is there really all that much difference between threads.
Well, the short answer is, yes! Poor quality thread will shred, break and muck up your sewing machine. Machine quilting, especially free-motion quilting puts considerable strain on the thread. Pulling the quilt sandwich every which way under the needle can cause poor quality thread to shred or break. The ideal machine quilting thread needs to be strong. You can test the strength of your thread simply by breaking it. Wrap some thread around your index finger on both hands and pull it hard until it breaks. Do this with different spools of thread in your stash. Do it often enough and you will have a feel for the strength of the thread. Cheap and cheerful bargain-barrel over locker thread, for instance, will break very easily. Waxed hand-quilting thread, which you should never put on a sewing machine, might cut your fingers!
We want machine quilting thread to be able to glide easily through the needle and , of course, the thread path of the sewing machine. So it needs to be as lint free as possible. You can check the lint by simply holding thread up to the light or against a contrasting surface. The fuzz from linty thread will bung up your sewing machine. So will any coating that some manufacturers use to disguise the lint. Lint and any coating will end up under the thread plate and also in the tension disc plates. This causes lots of machine related problems.
Good thread is worth the bother. And the more you know about threads, the better equipped you'll be to distinguish the good from the ill.

1 comment:

samott said...

i have had no problems at all since i started using king tut threads,i love the colours, inparticulary the varigated threads and the needle advice is spot on .