Machine Quilting: Avoiding the Dreaded Nest

This time of year, I am “nest obsessed.” The birds are chirping outside my office window, and the robins especially are actively searching for blades of grass and small twigs to use in their nests. These architectural wonders may seem like random assortments of sticks, but actually have a real sense of order if you study them closely. There is always a methodical and intentional arrangement of materials, which is admirable if you consider that often two birds are creating each nest.

bird nest machine quilting
One of my artistic thread nests. Not the bad kind.

I have a small collection of nests that I have gathered on my walks in the woods near my house, and have even tried my hand at creating nests out of fabric (see Quilting Arts April/May 2011, p. 56) with great results.

However, there are some nests that I’d rather avoid, and those seem to appear on the backs of my quilts when I lose concentration or get sloppy. They have absolutely no sense of order and are the source of much frustration.

bird nest machine quilting
One of my gathered
bird's nests.

The dreaded nests are made of a tangle of bobbin thread, always happening when I am in a hurry and skip the first key step in machine quilting of pulling up the bobbin thread before taking the first stitch.

Pulling up the thread is simple, it is easy, and it is necessary. So why do I keep making this mistake?

Maybe if I review the short one-minute video that Pokey Bolton shared showing how to pull up the bobbin thread and avoid the dreaded mess on the back of a quilt I'll be a bit more successful in doing things right.

Or maybe I’ll just have to mount a photo of a thread nest in my line of vision behind my sewing machine. Whatever it takes!

How do you remember to do this one easy step before you begin to quilt? Tell me in the comments section below.

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2 thoughts on “Machine Quilting: Avoiding the Dreaded Nest

  1. Pulling the bobbin thread to the top helps as well as hanging on to the threads for the first two or three stitches but my big one is when I lift the presser foot(needle down) and turn the quilt for sharp angles like when quilting in diamonds and such on a long strip. I still haven’t figured out that one.