Choosing the Right Needle and Thread for Free Motion Machine Quilting

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See the difference between machine stitching a 50 weight cotton thread and an 80 weight polyester thread in this sample by Catherine.

I, like so many others, love Catherine Redford’s quilting videos so I am just tickled that I get to share a few of the things I’ve learned from her new DVD Modern Machine Quilting: Free Motion Stipples, Swirls, Feathers, and More. Catherine is such a great quilting teacher; this video is packed to the gills with information. With that in mind, right now I’m only going to share her helpful hints regarding quilting supplies to get started machine quilting, focusing on needles and thread.

Let’s kick things off by chatting about thread choice. Catherine suggests using a lightweight fine thread when free motion quilting. She prefers a 50 weight cotton thread because it has enough strength that it won’t break while sewing and it’s easy to keep the right tension so your stitches are even. In the sample above she uses a 50 weight cotton thread on one side with an 80 weight polyester thread on the other. Here you can see how the heavier thread shows off the stitching without detracting or confusing the color of the fabric, while the finer thread highlights the texture that’s created by the quilting. I love this combination of threads, and I think I’ll have to try it out pronto!

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Sharp needles are the best for all of your quilting tasks.

Now let’s talk needles. How often are you changing your sewing machine needle? Just when it breaks? Me too. Changing out the needle is something I always intend to do, but I am usually just too excited to start sewing once I take the cover off my machine. In fact, I’m quite honestly not sure what kind of needle I am using at the moment; if I was a betting woman, my money would be on a universal needle.

Here’s a fun fact for you that’s inspiring me to take the plunge and finally change out that needle–before it breaks. Once upon a time all needles were sharp, but all of that changed with the advent and mass production of knit fabrics. When sewing knits a ball-point needle is preferred because it allows the needle to pass between the threads of fabric. Universal needles were invented for the sewists who weren’t keen on changing out their sewing machine needles (guilty!). A sharp needle is best for quilting tasks and Catherine swears you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll see when you make the switch.

Here’s another fun fact for you: All of this information I’m sharing is from just the first few minutes of this video. That’s right! With all of that information in less than 8 minutes, imagine what you can learn in the next hour of this 68 minute DVD!

I’m sure I’ll be sharing more great tips and techniques from Catherine in the coming weeks and months, but if you want all of her amazing free motion quilting patterns and hints order your DVD copy of Modern Machine Quilting: Free Motion Stipples, Swirls, Feathers, and More or download the video so you can start watching today.

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P.S. How do you set up for success when machine quilting? Do you have a favorite type of thread or needle? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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Free-Motion Quilting, Machine Quilting, Quilting Daily Blog, Uncategorized

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