Quiltmaker is happy to partner with Sulky for the third in a five-part thread giveaway.
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Sulky’s Tips for Thread Success
By Patti Lee, Vice President of Consumer Relations, Sulky of America
The threads you use today are not your Grandma’s threads. In all probability, neither is your machine. The caveat we used to hear from every machine repairman was, “Don’t ever touch that dial.” They were talking about sewing machine tension.
It was with great trepidation that some of us (lucky enough to know several generations of machines) finally took the leap and twisted that dial! Eureka! Nothing exploded, the machine kept running, and if we did it right, it worked even better! Oh my!
The first time you try a specialty thread, you might think, “My machine is never going to work with this thinner (or heavier, or metallic, or specialty) thread.” Here are some things that can make all the difference when you start to venture into decorative stitching, quilting, computerized embroidery, embellishment and more.
1. Threads vary in weight. The “weight” of a thread is actually a length measurement that indicates a set weight of thread. For instance, if 1 gram of thread measures 40 meters, it is called a 40-weight thread. The lower the number, the heavier the thread.
And why should this matter?
2. All machines are factory-set for a particular weight of thread, and they are not all set the same. One brand may be set for 40 weight, another for 50 weight, and some may even be set for a very light 60 weight thread. And that’s brand new machines. Older machines are affected by wear and tear and whatever adjustments service people have made over the years.
3. All 40 weight threads are not created equal. Fiber content can change the diameter of the thread even if the weight remains the same. So that “factory setting” is for optimum conditions as the factory determined them. In the real world, we are going to use different threads, made of different fibers, even before we start getting into specialty threads.
4. Most of us sew with many kinds of threads, made from different fibers with different weights. If we’re sewing with a thread that is either heavier or lighter than the factory (or serviced) setting, then we will not be getting the optimum stitch quality.
To get the best quality stitch you may have to adjust your top tension. It’s okay, really. Just make a note of what your “normal” tension setting is, and when you’re done using the different thread, you can set it back. (Many newer machines reset themselves.)
5. Metallics—so pretty! Even a little can add so much elegance, sparkle or pizzazz to any project. With metallics you are likely to need to lower your top tension one or two numbers, because drag is created by the metallic fibers. This is not a bad thing—it’s just a different thread. Lowering the top tension and using the appropriate needle will make all the difference.
6. Flat Metallics – Like Sulky® Sliver™ or Sulky Holoshimmer™ can add even more drag because of their flatness and width. You will need to lower your top tension even more with flat metallics. (Set it back to normal when you’re done.)
7. With flat metallics, you also need to set the spool so that the thread comes off and stays as flat as possible to the tension system. On most machines this means putting the spool on a vertical spool pin with a felt pad underneath the spool.
8. Look at the flat thread on the spool, and visualize a roll of bathroom tissue. Imagine pulling it off the roll so that it stays flat and does not twist. That’s the goal, to avoid twisting flat threads.
Questions? Contact Patti Lee: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post marks Part 3 of a five-part giveaway.
Leave a comment below for your chance to win some luscious Sulky threads by midnight Friday, May 4. We’ll announce winners here next week.
Congratulations to the following winners whose comments were chosen at random: #185 Barbara Ostrander, #61 Erin Anheier, #169 Jenny Davidson and #51 Lynne Marini. Thanks to everyone who left a comment.
Watch for a future post in which Patti will cover needles and sewing with heavier thread.