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NEW!!! September 2001 Our most popular pattern yet.
Drawing with Thread: the Fine Art of Machine Quilting
Buy it in our Internet Store with Secure Credit Card shopping !!

Frequently Asked Questions About
Machine Quilting
Thread Questions
Answered by Caryl Bryer Fallert
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QUESTION:What thread do you use for your quilting?

Copyright 1997 Caryl Bryer Fallert - Cleared for Takeoff DetailANSWER: Actually I have used lots of different kinds of thread for my quilting. If I don't want the thread to show, I use invisible mono-filament. In the past I used YLI nylon. My new favorite is Sulky Invisible which is polyester monofilament rather than nylon. I understand that the polyester is supposed to be stronger and less likely to deteriorate over time. In the last three years I have really wanted the quilting to make a statement in many of my quilts, so I have been using #30 top-stitching thread in every color available. (Madiera Tanne #30 97 colors) This is available from Web of Thread 1-800-955-8185.

Recently I was given some rainbow varigated top stitching thread by a quilter from Germany and a second rainbow thread that comes in both the red-blue yellow spectrum and the cyan-magenta-yellow spectrum form another quilter in Japan. I have used this in several of my recent quilts, but have not found a source for it in the United States. The Copyright 1997 Caryl Bryer Fallert - Cleared For Take Off Backclosest I have come is Mettler Stick/Embroidery #30 which comes in a varigated rainbow that starts very dark navy and graduates through red and yellow. Coats and Clark also has avarigated rainbow jeans top stitching thread which is ok, but doesn't have much of a twist. Generally when I use top stitching thread on top I use regular sewing weight thread (#50) on the back. I try to more or less match the top color so I don't have to worry so much about little dots of bobbin thread showing on the top or little dots of top thread showing on the back. In the case of Cleared for Take-off, I used black fabric on the back of the quilt, and the back became a night time version of the front.



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QUESTION: When you are using nylon do you have problems with it snagging?

Answer: I have been using 100% cotton thread in most of my recent quilts, but ocasionally still use mono-filament. I have a real love-hate relationship with mono-filament. It gives me the visual effects I'm looking for, but has very bad habits. As my nylon is getting used up, I'm switching to Sulky invisible, which is polyester monofilament. It doesn't break as much a nylon, but still occasionally winds itself willfully around my machine parts, or jumps out of the tension springs, creating plastic hairballs on the underside of the quilt. Sometimes winding it on a bobbin first helps.

I agree about your machine.....If you have a 1090 (or any older model Bernina) don't ever trade it in. I think the 1090 is one of the best machines they ever made.

I'm not sure that the mono-filament behaves any better with any other brand of machine. It would be interesting in seeing a survey.

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QUESTION: I have heard a rumor that nylon thread is causing quilts to deteriorate. Is this true?

Recently a notice was posted to one of the online chat groups claiming that one of my quilts at the Museum of the American Quilters Society was showing signs of deterioriation in areas where nylon thread had been used. I talked with Victoria Faero the director of the Museum of the American Quilters Society. She says that there has been no deterioration whatever in any of their quilts including the ones using nylon thread. She thinks the rumor may have started when someone on the board said that since these products have only been on the market for a short time, we don't know what the long term effects will be.

Here is Vicotria's answer:

Our museum recently learned of misinformation included on the Net regarding a quilt made by Caryl Fallert which is in our collection. Our museum is proud to have among its collection four quilts created by Caryl. None shows deterioration caused by monofiliment thread. In addition, we have been traveling an exhibit of her work for the past two years. Each time the 30+ quilts have left our museum or arrived back, detailed inspections have been done as condition reports were completed, and no such deterioration has been noted. Any new fabrics, threads, or techniques used in the construction of quilts have the potential for resulting in future preservation and conservation challenges. We suspect that a comment about this general situation has been misunderstood or combined in error with a comment about Caryl's use of monofilament thread, and the circulating misinformation has been the result. We would appreciate anything you can do to help us assure quilters that the Caryl Fallert quilts in our collection are in excellent condition--and awaiting their viewing at MAQS! Victoria A. Faoro
Executive Director

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detail of Caryl's
reverse machine quilted
metalic bird
larger image
metalicbird.jpg (13333 bytes)
QUESTION:  I was wondering if you could help me? I have been fighting with my sewing machine all weekend trying to sew with Sliver Thread. The sliver keeps breaking after quilting by machine within 3 minutes.   I am using cotton batting and the bobbin has polyester thread in it. I am using a l4 Machine Quilting Needle.


Answer: The same exact thing happens to me, so I rarely use either metalic or rayon thread. I'm just "plain cotton Caryl". The people who are good at using these threads are Libby Lehman (book) and Ellen Anne Eddy (her website)   (her book). Both have books out, and both teach classes in which these threads are used. Maybe someday we'll meet as fellow students in one of these classes. You might also try a book by Maurine Noble, Elizabeth Hendrricks, Ursula Reikes  called Machine Quilting With Decorative Threads. and The Machine Embroidery Handbook : Designing Fabrics With Stitching, Manipulation, & Color by D. J. Bennett. In the mean time, when I feel that I absolutely must use metalic, I usually wind it on a bobbin and quilt from the reverse side. Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Good luck with your project.


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