[Disclaimer: I by no means claim to be the authority on the subject. I consider Diane Gaudynski to be the Absolute Master in my free-motion quilting journey. Her books are invaluable if you are serious about free-motion quilting.]
I am learning just like everyone else, but I thought I would start by sharing with you a little about the threads I consider to be absolutely essential in my FREE-MOTION QUILTING thread box – Aurifil Mako 50 Cotton and YLI silk 100.
[I am including pictures of my various quilts. You only have to click on a particular picture to see more close-up shots of a particular quilt. I am also using the bullet point method in my presentations so that you can easily access the information at a glance.]
About the YLI Silk 100 threads and using them:
1. They have a very nice sheen about them, making your quilting look fanta-bulous, particularly on a wholecloth. Diane Gaudynski talks extensively about these threads in her book. Even if you aren’t ready to do the fancy free-motion quilting, use the silk to do some straight line quilting like the cross-hatching I have done in the quilt below (1/4″ apart). You will really like the effect:
2. More than likely, you would need to reduce the top tension when you are quilting with YLI Silk 100. For my Bernina 640E, it’s about 3 +/- 0.25.
3. The YLI Silk is perfect for micro-quilting. When I do micro-quilting, I can quilt as close as 1/16″ apart.
4. An example of quilting with YLI Silk 100.
5. YLI Silk 100 threads handle backtracking extremely well. The threads are so fine that thread build-up is virtually non-existent when you do backtracking.
6. My personal favorite color is 239 – that color is versatile on just about any fabric.
About Aurifil Mako 50 Cotton:
1. The Aurifil Mako 50 Cotton threads are my go-to threads. I piece with them. I quilt with them. I even use them for my everyday craft project and garment sewing. I am getting ready to try them for some hand applique. I just love them!
2. I like using Aurifil threads to mimic longarm quilting using my home machine. They are perfect for quilting that is not so dense, about 1/4″ apart for me.
3. An example of quilting with Aurifil Mako 50 Cotton:
5. With careful handling, the Aurifil handles backtracking well too. These circles have quite a bit of backtracking:
These are the combinations I have used for my favorite threads (Diane Gaudynski had mentioned the first two in her books):
1. TOP – YLI Silk, BOTTOM – Aurifil — when I want to do some dense quilting on the top, and don’t think that silk on the bottom as well justifies the occasion.
2. TOP – YLI Silk, BOTTOM – YLI Silk — when I am working on a show piece.
3. TOP – Aurifil, BOTTOM – Aurifil — Any quilting other than the very dense quilting I do with the silk.
1. If you aren’t satisfied with the look of your free-motion quilting, you might try switching to YLI Silk to start. The threads you use make a huge difference. Fine threads tend to not broadcast mistakes. I always have my students start learning free-motion quilting with quilt threads. Those who came to class with and were frustrated with their pre-quilted samples always marveled at the difference the silk threads made.
2. Don’t worry about quilting motifs if you are just starting. May I suggest you try to focus on the background quilting to make yourself practice on how to move the quilt sandwich? Your boo boos will blend in very nicely in the overall look of your background quilting no matter how many mistakes you make. My Heirloom Pillow project featured in Bernina’s Through the Needle (Issue 28) emphasizes this very concept – the main motif is done by machine embroidery, and the free-motion quilting part makes up the background quilting. Contact your local Bernina dealer for a magazine copy.
3. Once you are adept at moving your quilt using silk, you might try quilting with Aurifil. That was the path I took. I started with silk, and then move “up” to Aurifil. Same concept, except Aurifil threads are not as fine as the silk.
4. A tone-on-tone color scheme is ideal for masking any “boo boos” in the overall texture of free-motion quilting. Don’t stop just because you made a boo boo. Keep going – you will find that by the time you finish your project, you will find yourself being awed by the overall quilting!
5. The best piece of advice I have ever read is from Diane Gaudynski: don’t just practice, make a project. Do visit her site, and be inspired!
6. An addendum: In case your local quilt shop doesn’t carry these threads, you might check out www.redrockthreads.com. I have been happy with their service in the past.
I hope you have enjoyed these little tidbits. I welcome your comments sharing your experience with free-motion quilting! My non-quilting bloggy friends, I hope that this post hasn’t bored you to tears, and you have at least enjoyed the pictures.
Stay tuned for the next installment in the Thread Talk series. I will be sharing with you some thoughts on batting and books.