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Dark quilt backing with a white quilt top

A reader writes...

I'm quilting a quilt that has a very dark backing, but has some white areas on the quilt top. I'm not doing an all over design, but am doing a custom design in each block.

I use thread that is close to the color of the part I'm quilting, so I'll be using white thread in the white area. My problem is that I'm using a light weight batting and no matter how I set my tension, I will have dark thread poking up or white thread being pulled to the dark side. Should I use white thread in the bobbin and just let the quilt design show up in white on the back? This is a gift and I want it to look nice.

Wish there was a dye pen that I could color the white thread that pulls to the back. Maybe I should invent that! LOL

Here is a picture of the quilt showing the backing. I haven't started quilting the white area yet, but know from past quiltings that this is going to be a problem.

Julie replies...

First, THANK YOU for providing such complete information. I really appreciate it!

One of the worst things that can happen when we're machine quilting is that we worry about some aspect and then tense up because of the worry while we're quilting. It affects that quality of our work and sucks the joy out of the process.

Because of that and since you are already into the quilting of this gift, I would definitely use a white bobbin thread for those white patches in the top. Period. Without a second thought.

Yes. That quilting will show on the back.

So what?

It will be even. And consistent across the backing. And make sense to someone who looks at the back of the quilt.

But trust me. This is a gift. The giftee will more than likely be blown away by it and all the love that went into its making.

On the off chance that they're not?


Then that's THEIR PROBLEM. Not for YOU to worry about.

Coloring in tension boo-boos

Yep! I've done it with my trusty Micron pigma pen—if they're minor problems. Sometimes I'll go around a curve too fast, pull too hard and those pesky little bobbin thread dots pop to the top and give me the raspberry. Hate that!

From your information, though, you indicated that there's some tension issues from both the top and the back of the quilt. For future quilts, I would suggest some more testing.

Tension issues are so-o-o-o frustrating during the quilting of a quilt. Again, I'm looking to make the process as enjoyable as possible. I believe you quilt better when you're relaxed.

As I think about it, I'm wondering if perhaps your needle is a size too big?

Anyway, I hope this has helped you to make the best decision for you.

Readers, please chime in with your suggestions and experiences using the 'Comments' link down below. Thank you.


Julie Baird

Comments for Dark quilt backing with a white quilt top

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Color dots on quilt top from bobbin thread
by: Chris Heimburger

How do you eliminate those dots of color from bobbin thread that appear on the quilt top? I always adjust my bobbin using a towa gauge and today I’m getting dots! Is my needle too big? Thx for any help.

From the Editor: Hmmm. Towa gauge...are you on a long arm?

Yes, the needle could be too big for the thread, but I'm thinking first that the needle tension may be too high. If you can't adjust the needle tension, itself, I'm unfamiliar with the ins and outs of long-arming, then try skipping one of the needle thread tension guides and test.

On a domestic machine every guide adds a bit of tension. It seems logical that the same is true for a long arm.

And then, yes, try a smaller needle. If the needle is way oversized for the thread, that could definitely be a possibility, too.

I hope this helps.


Julie Baird

by: Wjahnen

Maybe use clear thread in the white areas

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