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Choosing a thread color for quilting

by Barbara Evans
(Greer, SC, USA)

The front of my quilt is black and white with an accent of pink material. The back is bright pink. If I use white thread that would work fine for the front but not the back. What shade of thread would be good for the front and the back?


If you are really good at fine tuning your sewing machine tension, then use white in the needle and pink in the bobbin. But definitely use a practice quilt sandwich. Test all of the quilting motifs and patterns on it that you expect to use in the quilt. Note any tension adjustments that need to be made for the various patterns you intend to quilt.

For instance, on this Halloween quilt (below), my tension was fine everywhere except for the 'points' in the quilting pattern I wanted to use on the moon.

Halloween Cat quilt

Halloween Quilt, pieced and quilted by Julie Baird

Every time I reversed direction, the bobbin thread pulled up. I fiddled with the tension for a long time with no improvement. I ended up changing to another free motion fill pattern, for me, it wasn't worth any extra time for this quilt that would only be hung once a year.

Another alternative is to use monofilament thread in either the needle or the bobbin.

Monofilament in the needle... my first choice with your pink thread in the bobbin.

Because clear thread has some stretch to it, you'll need to reduce the needle tension.

On my Viking D1, I reduce by 2 whole numbers and then test to fine tune on a practice sandwich. If you're using an 80/12 needle, try moving down to a 70/10. It creates a smaller hole so there's less chance that the bobbin thread will come to the top. of the quilt.

Test your quilting designs on your practice quilt sandwich to fine tune.

One of the benefits of the clear thread in the needle is if your tension goes wonky during quilting, you'll see dots of the pink bobbin thread on the top of your quilt. You'll be able to adjust right when you see it, instead of half an hour later.

Monofilament in the bobbin... something I've used in the past.

You'll have to take care as you wind your bobbin. Go slow and only wind the bobbin about half full. Because the thread stretches, it's easy to overfill the bobbin. And if it's plastic, there's a tendency for the bobbin to 'pop' apart. (I've got my hand in the's happened to me more than once!)

Again, test your quilting motifs on your sandwich, fine-tuning your tension as needed.

The biggest drawback to using white thread in the needle and clear in the bobbin is if your tension goes awry, you'll have 'white dots' on the back of your quilt. You won't see them until you turn it over.

I hope this ideas are helpful to you.

Readers, do you have suggestions for our quilter? Please share them using the 'Comments' link just below.

Thank you.


Julie Baird

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