Whenever I show people a finished quilt where I’ve used metallic thread they invariably remark that they find it impossible to work with. I used to feel the same, wondering why the manufacturers made a product that simply didn’t work. Over the years I have picked up some useful tips and now the sparkly stuff holds no fears for me. Through trial and error I’ve found the best most reliable metallic thread to use is by Superior, simply called ‘Metallic’. It’s a little pricey but I think worth the extra few pennies. Having said that other makes can be made to behave if you follow these simple tips.
When stitching a common problem is the thread snapping because it’s ‘whipped’ itself undone and wound itself around the spool holder and snagged. To stop this happening simply place the reel in a tumbler behind the machine and tape an upside down safety pin on the back of your machine to act as an improvised thread guide, run the thread from the tumbler through the safety pin and then carry on as normal. If you are lucky enough to have a cone holder stand then use that.
Your tension should be set as low as you can get away with and still make a normal evenly balanced stitch. Everybody’s machine is different so this could be as low as 1 or you might have to turn it up to 3. Start at 2 and have a little practice with a scrap quilt sandwich. Your needle should be a 90/14 Topstitch. I’ve experimented with lots and this easily works the best.
If you intend to do a lot of metallic work it’s worth considering a product called ‘Sewers Aid’ which is a small bottle of lubricant. You run a bead of it across your reel of thread to allow it to soak through the fibres. This product has made the difference between completing a whole quilt top uninterrupted in metallic and having to stop two or three times because of thread breakage. It’s a small difference but I think worth it.
Bobbin thread is a little trickier. I’ve heard friends say that their machines don’t like different thread in the top and bottom. Personally I’ve had no problem using a cheap piecing thread in the bottom when using metallic. If you do have a temperamental machine you’ll simply have to experiment with what works best for you. Again Superior thread do a reel called ‘Bottom Line’ which works very well but adds to the expense.
Lastly, when you are stitching, respect the thread and go steady. It’s very easy, especially when doing free motion, to gradually increase your speed until you are hurtling across the quilt. Slow down and take your time.
If you follow the simple steps above I guarantee you will find using metallic thread a breeze.
Debbie J ~ Quilters Quarter Contributor