Monday, August 13, 2007

My Thread of Thoughts!

I survived the barn raising, however not without consequences. Can you say exhausted?!? Talk about social stress! I think Jennifer thinks I'm a social control freak! lol I do take my perfectionism seriously! lol Once I get everything organized, I'll blog about the event.

In the meantime, I thought I would take the time to clarify my position on threads. It would appear that some fellow citizens of Blog Land are inquiring about my thread preference and what I base it on. Some have expressed concern for my unfavourable results with Essential thread.

First and foremost, it is my opinion that the choice of one's thread is a personal matter. As I have mentioned in a previous blog entry, it's what YOU are comfortable with. When I talk about the result of a thread, it is based on the machine I use, my personal preference, what I like and look for.

Here is what I look for in a thread for quilting:

- Smooth finish

- 100% natural fibers

- How it performs in my machine

- Availability of colours

- Thread weight - for piecing & machine quilting my preference is for 50 weight

- Price vs quality

For the longest time I used Coats & Clark to piece. At that time, it seemed that it was the only thread available and reasonably priced. Let's face it, Joann's often has 50% off sales and what better time to stock up! The results were acceptable. Of course, you have to understand that I didn't have anything to compare it too!

Once I became more comfortable with quilting, it dawned on me that despite my efforts to maintain the "natural fibers" content in my quilts, here I was using a poly/cotton blend. That's when I made the jump to test various cotton threads. Sometimes, when you don't step outside of the box, you never learn much. Out I went! ;o)

Each machine is different and will in turn handle various threads differently. For machine quilting, my Bernina 1090 just loves Mettler silk finish. I don't have to fiddle with the tension. I load it on and it's smooth quilting! Rarely do I have to fiddle to get the tension right!

Now, I have not used this thread for piecing and therefore cannot offer an opinion. I really don't know why. I think that it's clear in my mind that it's a machine quilting thread for me. However, I do know some quilters who use it and are pleased with the results. Again, it will vary with your machine.

My Bernina 1090 does not take as kindly to Coast & Clark 100% cotton thread for machine quilting. What I mean is that I require adjustments prior to getting on with my task. I can spend over 10 minutes fiddling with the tension in order to get it just right.

I have used this thread for piecing and found that it performed similarly to the Coats & Clark poly/cotton blend. The advantage was the fact that it's 100% cotton. At the time, Connecting Thread offered this brand, which was where the bulk of my purchases were made. It is only recently has Joann's offered a selection of colours, which are also part of their thread sale.

As for Essential Thread, yes it is not my preference for piecing. I do not find it to be a smooth finished thread. It's fuzzy!

Bernina 180E does not like it at all. As a matter of fact the "check upper thread" warning on my screen comes on more than I would like it too! For me, the upper thread breaks often. I did give a spool to a couple of people in the hopes that they will offer another opinion on this thread. Once my Pine Grove quilt is finished, I will no longer be using it. I have not tested it for machine quilting.

As pictured, I have a variegated spool that I did plan to machine quilt with it, however given my frustration, I may just pass my last spool to someone who may enjoy it more than I.

I will say that the price is certainly right, which is what attracted me at first. At $1.99 a spool with a variety of colours available, I was intrigued!

Ah Master Piece! My all time favourite at the moment. I'm in love! ;o) It performs exceptionally well on both my Berninas. I like the way the stitches bury themselves in the fabric. It is smooth and despite the fact that it's 50wt, it doesn't appear to be as thick as the other threads, which suggest that it is tightly woven.

It does come in a variety of colours, but not as many as Mettler. The price is not cheap. Superior Threads, who offer this line and many more, will have specials during quilt shows. That's when I stock up!

Please take the time to test the thread, you'll be amazed at YOUR results.

Gosh, this is a long entry. I hope I have clarified some questions. Please feel free to offer an opinion.

Thanks for stopping by!


Vicki W said...

Kudos to you for testing it yourself! I do agree that different machines like different threads. I have used the Mettler for piecing and it works great but my new favorite is also Masterpiece. It's an awesome thread!

Annie said...

I have yet to discover the best thread for my machines!!! I agree that it is a practice in patience!! But, I too battle on in hopes of finding the "perfect" thread!!!! Great topic for your blog............

Quilter Kathy said...

Great blog topic!
I have followed a similar path as yours - for quilting, my Brother loves Mettler silk finish and Sulky threads. It does not like Coats & Clark and Gutterman. For piecing, I mostly use Aurifil since it is a good quality thread and my machine likes it. I would use it more for quilting, but there is not a very enticing colour selection in stores here.
My machine is the boss of me in terms of what thread I can use!

Darlene said...

Loved this entry and you've made perfect sense! Thread is definitely a personal preference and so often that preference is dictated by what our sewing machines prefer. I do avoid poly/cotton threads and use 100% cotton for piecing and quilting.

Unknown said...

Thank you for listing all those threads and opinions. I like Superior Threads for machine quilting a lot. But I use Sulky as well.For piecing I use Gütermann, easy to get in Germany. I have to say that my Bernina doesn´t make much fuss about it likes or not. Only with golden thread. There Superior Thread in defitively the best. Take care.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I have yet to try the MasterPiece, I will, though. The Aurifil for me has been the most wonderful thread for piecing to come into my life in a long, long time!! I haven't used it for quilting yet, but I plan to give it a try! Still, after a full spool there's NO lint in the bobbin area, none.

Unknown said...

As I told you before I have never given this a thought, but now I will and the first is to see what I have. My machine is not very happy with the thread I am using now but that´s no wonder as it is a cheap one with no brand name ;) Thank you for this summary.

Anonymous said...

I use the Coats and Clarks 100% cotton larger spools/cone from Joann's on my Husqvarna Viking Quilt Designer for piecing and it works great. Guterman works as well without trouble.

I will keep an eye out for some other favoriets mentioned here.


Kim said...

I've had no problems with the Essentials thread on my Bernina, so I'm still using it for both piecing and quilting. I think you're right though--it's a matter of what your machine's happiest (and I think your needle may play a roll in that too). My quilt shop owner (and Harriet Hargreve) swear by the Presencia thread--I tried it and wasn't that impressed. I haven't tried the Superior Thread--at least I don't think I have. Sometimes color plays a big roll in my choice too. I noticed you mentioned the Superior burying itself in the fabric--is it 2-ply or 3-ply? Tons of people (even those who have commented here) love Aurifil, but Aurifil is a 2-ply and will break easier--eventually. So, for whatever that's worth . . . Anyway, I totally agree--it's all a matter of personal preference. Right now my Juki is giving me fits with a spool of blue YLI but I suspect it will be happy as can be with a different color/spool. Crazy, isn't it?! LOL!

Kathy in Seattle said...

I love the Masterpiece, too. The bobbin holds so much, i don't have to stop for ages. And you're right about the thread burying itself. I did a triple feathered star with 3/8 inch (finished) half square triangles in the center one, and i'm sure that one of the reasons it worked out was the fine gauge of the thread. I sew on a Bernina 180, too.

We spend lots of money on the machines, the fabric, the batting. Why use a bad thread? But i also agree, if your machine likes it, there are many threads for many users.

Kathy DB

QuiltMom said...

I really like the Mettler Silk finish thread for quilting but- alas -Fabricland in our area ( Alberta) is going out of it - I have bought a number of spools to stock up on it while it is 65 percent off. I use the Coats Clark large spools for piecing and my ELNA likes it well enough that I have no problems with it. I haven't seen Masterpiece thread here in Edmonton.
It really is how the thread works in your machine and how available ( and reasonably priced)the different threads are in your neck of the woods. Some friends have bought Essential Threads on line and seem pleased with the results and the cost. A friend had a Juki quilting machine and found it really hard to find any thread that would work in her quilting machine except invisible. She bought a BabyLock quilting machine and found she had no problems with thread. When the thread and the machine don't want to work together it is a major pain in the you know where!!!

What a good topic to share- Regards from a Western Canadian Quilter,

Clare said...

Interesting post and thanks for being a tester.

I hand quilt and the only thread available here is Coats and Clarke. The plain colours are fine - the multi-coloured threads aren't. For machine piecing I use 100% cotton. Any make I can get my hands on at a reasonable price. Machine is a basic model so it tends to like anything and everything. I love your tomato plant!

Joyce said...

I generally use Gutterman because that is what is available here. I have found Mettler and may give it a try. My machine works well with Gutterman so far.

swooze said...

Interesting post. I haven't branched out too much on threads so am always interested to hear others results.

Pam said...

Good post Carole. I was going to ask why you didn't like the Essential thread. I read somewhere that the Cotton wrapped Poly thread cut into the cotton fabric over time and cause tearing in the fabric. Now I'm sure I have quilts I used the Coats thread on years ago. I really like the Aurifil thread -- or should I say my machine really like Aurifil thread. I have a Pfaff.

Nan said...

What an excellent post! I thank you for talking about so many different threads. Master Piece I do not know, but all the others I have heard of, and some I have tried. I have been fascinated by the Essential thread, and have been wanting to try it, but I don't like the idea of it being fuzzy. Doesn't mean it's not a good thread, but I like smooth threads better.
You've got me thinking now!

Meredith said...

My experience with threads is you get what you pay for. I do use both Mettler and Masterpiece for piecing. Congrats on the barn raising.

Jeanne said...

I agree with you about thread being a very personal choice depending on your use, machine, expectations, etc.
I currently use YLI Select for my FW and YLI Heirloom for hand piecing.

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