Monday, March 25, 2019

Sewing with metallic thread

I recently overheard a person asking a shop employee if she could use metallic thread in the top and bobbin of her machine.  I couldn't help myself and jumped in to answer the question.  I wasn't sure that the shop employee had enough experience to giver a reliable answer (plus I'm a little bossy).  All right, I can hear all my close friends laughing now.  I can actually be outspoken and blurt out things from time to time.  Like, "Are those basting stitches?", or "How satisfying".  Inside jokes with some of my quilting friends (now).

Well back to my story.  I've used a lot of metallic threads over the years to both embellish and quilt.  They are finicky threads, to say the least.  You want the threads to show and they aren't suitable for seams.  I've found a couple of things that help, and I passed along some of these to the person in the store.

First, buy a good quality metallic thread.  Some of them fray quite badly, others work just fine.  My suggested thread is from Superior Threads.  It comes in several colors and comes in several sizes, including cones.  If you want use other brands, run the thread through your fingers.  If it feels gritty, it will probably shred and break.  If it feels smooth, you're in luck.

Second, use a metallica needle.  The eye is large and the groove is elongated and allows the thread to slip through without fraying.

Third, DON'T put metallic thread in both the top and the bobbin.  The two threads will act like scissors and you'll be cussing out your thread and project.  I guarantee it!  Use a lightweight thread, preferably 50 wt. that closely matches the color of the metallic thread.   Light gray for silver, light yellow for gold, for example.

Fourth, lengthen your stitch.  You can go easily to 3.0 instead of 2.4 and this will show off the thread much better.

Fifth, loosen the top tension.  Less resistance in the sewing machine guides will mean less tendency towards shredded thread.

Finally, place the spool on either an off machine stand or on an attachment to the machine.  Both of these will let the thread relax before it goes through the machine guides.  If you have a persnickety thread, you may also want to pull out a foot or so every now and then to get rid of any micro-shredding or twisting that might be happening.

The Thread Director

Some people suggest squirting the thread spool with a silicone thread conditioner, called "Sewer's Aid".  I do sometimes resort to this myself.  (Just make sure you don't reach for your fray check, which is an adhesive!  The bottles look very similar.)

I hope this helps you embellish and quilt with metallic thread.

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