Last week, I began to discuss the topic of machine quilting thread. I explained that my goal with machine quilting is to create texture and that I like threads that blend almost invisibly with the fabrics in the quilt. I am also looking for good tension so that the stitches look great on both the front and the back. In the past, these criteria have been met by using invisible (monofilament) thread in the needle and a 50-weight cotton thread in the bobbin.
So why did I try some completely different threads on my quilt “Flourish on the Vine”? The story begins in Houston at the 2009 International Quilt Festival. My quilt Instruments of Praise had won first place for Innovative Appliqué and I was happily sharing it with viewers at the awards ceremony.
One of the viewers that night was Heather Purcell of Superior Threads, also known as Mother Superior, who invited me to stop by her booth later in the week. When I did, she asked me the very same question about the kind of thread I used for machine quilting. We talked and she inquired if I would consider trying some of her thread called The Bottom Line. B-b-but it’s polyester, I stammered.
Heather smiled patiently – she had obviously heard this all before. She challenged my bias against polyester thread and highlighted its many virtues. (See the video “Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob, Cotton versus Polyester Myth”.) She pointed out that her polyester threads were used and endorsed by such accomplished and well-respected quilters as Libby Lehman, Carol Bryer Fallert, and John Flynn. And then she gave me some thread!
“Flourish on the Vine” was already under way in the fall of 2009, and I had fabric swatches with me as I browsed the show in search of fabric. This allowed Heather to select a variety of shades that would work well with my color scheme. Try it, she urged, and then let me know what you think.
The thread sat there for over a year until it was finally time to begin machine quilting. I made a practice sandwich of my background fabrics, batting and backing and auditioned a variety of threads and needles.
I was impressed! The Bottom Line had great texture and perfect tension; with a 60/8 Microtex needle, I would be able to execute very fine, closely-spaced quilting stitches.
The quilting has now been completed and I am absolutely thrilled with the results. I would not hesitate to recommend The Bottom Line 60-weight polyester thread for machine quilting and will definitely continue to use it myself. Thank you Heather, for your generous gift and for challenging me to reach new heights. I tried it and I loved it!