Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Bobbin threads come in all kinds. Let's take the 'good' first. If you are keen to match fibres for piecing cotton fabrics, MasterPiece is perfect. MasterPiece is 100% extra-long staple Egyptian grown cotton in gorgeous shimmering colours. Being a fine weight it works well in the bobbin. You can wind your own from the spool or enjoy the convenience of pre-wounds in packs of 144, 72 or 12 bobbins.

For machine quilting there are other equally good choices. Bottom Line is a polyester thread designed specially for the bobbin, but it's also great for detail quilting, embroidery, applique and binding. It's a very fine smooth thread that comes in 50 colours. I prefer to use Bottom Line in the bobbin for machine quilting. I found, particularly in a heavily quilted or embroidered project, that cotton in the top and the bobbin made it stiff. But Bottom Line in the bobbin keeps even a very heavily quilted project soft and supple. The slick surface of this filament poly makes it a good choice to pair with specialty threads like metallics or heavy cotton threads because it won't grab or snag the top thread. Again Bottom Line comes in large spools that you can use to wind your own bobbins. It also comes in pre-wounds for ordinary and long-arm machines.
This heavily quilted project from the Superior Threads Seminar would have been stiff with cotton in the bobbin. Bottom Line kept it soft and supple.
Now for the 'bad and the ugly'. The more I learn about thread the less willing I am to run poor quality thread through the thread path on the top of the machine. Linty threads mess up the machine, threads that have coatings on them to get rid of the lint gunk up the machine, and weak threads will break and cause all sorts of tension problems. Since I care about my machine and my quilting projects, I now have a pile of threads that I'm no longer willing to risk running through the top of my machine. But it seems a waste to just throw them away.
The good news is that many of these poor quality threads will work fine in the bobbin. Bobbin thread doesn't have to go through the tension discs or the needle, this means that, as a rule, bobbin threads cause much less trouble than top threads. So for fun, less precious projects, I can use these up in the bobbin. For anything important, I'm sticking to the good stuff.


Trudi said...

I love Bottom Line, especially as a bobbin thread, but its good for and heiloom look for the top quilting too, because its so fine. If you are doing a quilting pattern with lots of back and forth like muscle quilting, there isn't a noticeable build up of thread where all the points meet. Almost the same effect as silk threads.

Denise Felton said...

Wonderful advice! I've scheduled a link to this post to go live on my blog tomorrow morning (Central USA time). I hope it brings you a few extra readers.