Archives for July 2015

What Machine do you use? Part 2

Perfectly formed stitches begin with an accurately placed spool of thread

Detail images:

In this blog post I am continuing the topic of why I use a regular sewing machine for quilting my quilts. In the first installment, I presented the many reasons why I choose to use a regular machine. Now it is time to begin several posts on how to use a regular sewing machine for quilting the layers of a quilt together.  

More than with any other task that you wish to perform on your sewing machine, you need to do everything possible to become partners with it to accomplish wonderfully formed stitches because the stitches are intended to be visible. The details that make the best possible environment for success that we will discuss include: the bobbin, a single hole stitch plate, and clean thread path, just to name a few.

Because we will use many different threads for machine quilting, including lightweight or specialty threads, we will begin by learning to install the spool of thread correctly to eliminate kinks that cause the thread to break. Before I learned this, I had no idea that I needed to consider how the thread was wound affects it’s placement on the machine. I learned this important advice from thread expert, “Mother Superior”, Heather Purcell of Superior Threads. The company has a very beneficial website teaching more about thread than you ever knew was even possible.

Here is Heather’s wisdom:

    It’s amazing how placing the spool on your machine the way the thread was intended to be unwound will solve problems such as breakage, uneven stitches, and improper thread tension. Spools come in two different styles: cross-wound and straight wound. Sewing machines often come with two separate spool pins, the vertical spool pin on the top and the horizontal spool pin that lays flat at the front of the machine. Look at your machine to see what thread delivery systems are available to you. Crosswound
    The cross-wound spools (often long and narrow) are intended to lay down on the horizontal spool pin. They are designed to unwind over the top of the spool while the spool stays stationary, usually fixed with a cap to keep it from sliding off.

Stacked Spool
    The straight wound spool is intended rotate on the vertical pin as the thread unwinds straight from the side of the spool and flows directly into the thread path without any waves or curls. You should place a felt pad under the spool to help it rotate freely. If your thread has been breaking, it may simply be that you have placed it incorrectly on your machine!

spool If used improperly, the thread unwinds in an unnatural way causing curls and kinks that can tighten and coil as they get closer to the needle. The thread breaks as the kink tries to feed through the eye of the needle. This is especially true with delicate threads such as metallic and soft polyesters.

Joanie’s TIP:

Did you know that many thread manufacturers have recently been using these handy spools that have a pop-up or pop-off cap? When you open it for the first time, be sure to release the cap that has secured the beginning of the thread. And when you finish using that spool, simply  pop the top, slip in the end and click to hold the loose end until you need it again. thread end from