Sulky’s Tips for Thread Success, Giveaway Part 4

Quiltmaker is happy to partner with Sulky for the fourth in a five-part thread giveaway. After reading Patti’s tips, please leave a comment for your chance to win.

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Sulky’s Tips for Thread Success

Part 2

By Patti Lee, Vice President of Consumer Relations, Sulky of America

logo Sulkys Tips for Thread Success, Giveaway Part 4

See Part 1 of Patti’s thread article here.

Part 2

9. What about sewing machine needles? Oh, so important! No matter what your sewing application is, there is a specific needle that will give you better results than any other needle.

needles Sulkys Tips for Thread Success, Giveaway Part 4

10. Most of the problems that occur with a quality thread are caused by using the wrong type or size of needle and/or unsuitable top tension. The thread needs room to pass without abrasion through the needle eye, and it needs appropriate top tension for its type and weight.

Try a different size needle

11.  Here’s a generality: Any 90/14 needle will work better with a metallic thread than an 80/12 (even an 80/12 metallic needle). However, many machines prefer a 90/14 topstitch, metallic or embroidery needle because those needles have both a longer eye and a longer groove to protect the thread.

Buy quality needles

12. Always buy top quality machine needles. If you are experiencing fraying or breaking threads, skipped stitches, puckering or stitch quality issues, change the needle (try one recommended above). Then, lower your top tension if necessary.

Adjust the top tension

13.  What if you’re working with heavier threads, like a 30-weight rayon, or a 12-weight cotton such as Sulky Cotton Blendables? Lower the top tension. It’s a movable dial for a reason!

 Sulkys Tips for Thread Success, Giveaway Part 4

Sulky Cotton Blendables



14.  Occasionally a particular machine likes a tighter top tension with heavier threads.  Truly, the dial is there for a reason.

PFAFF 150 expression Sulkys Tips for Thread Success, Giveaway Part 4

15.  Today we doing much more than sewing seams and mending. We’re embellishing, embroidering, quilting, stitching decoratively, free-motion stitching and more.  Machines are incredibly sophisticated, but you’re still in charge of the tension and the spool pin position. A machine that senses all of this is probably not far off, but in the meantime, we need to adjust that dial ourselves.

Many times people have said to me, “Oh, but my machine doesn’t like metallic (rayon, heavy, light, etc.) thread.” And then every person has learned what their machine was really asking them for: a different thread placement, an appropriate needle or a simple tension adjustment.

Those of us who sew know that machines have personalities, but from the least to the most expensive, every one of them should be able to handle specialty threads with these minor adjustments.

If you have thread questions, I’ll be glad to help you. Contact

This post marks Part 4 of a five-part giveaway. Leave a comment below for your chance to win some luscious Sulky threads by midnight Sunday, May 20. We’ll announce winners here.

Congratulations to our four winners whose comments were randomly chosen from all the great comments, #117 Laura G, #298 Kathleen Graas, #60 Carol Hydeman and #56 Janet F.

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email:
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380 Responses to Sulky’s Tips for Thread Success, Giveaway Part 4

  1. Kris Neary says:

    THanks for the information. I have learned to go by “fresh project, fresh needle”. Quality threads and needles really do make a difference!!

  2. Allison says:

    Great Info! Thanks!

  3. Heidi says:

    Good tips on threads and needles. So much more important now than ever with all the various weights and types of thread now available to use the correct needle with the right thread to get good results.

  4. MarciaW says:

    I may be late to the party – this is a good tutorial.

  5. Kathy Biciocchi says:

    Thanks for all of the useful information. I look forward to trying some Sulky thread soon.

  6. Michelle says:

    I appreciate the tips. I think rethreading my machine is the first most important step when sewing with a new thread and having any difficulty.

    I’d love to win some sulky thread. I have not used it yet, I’ve heard good thinks about it.

    Thank you for the opportunity.

  7. Donna Rowe says:

    Thanks for reinforcing what I have learned from Pat Welch, Suzy Seed and other Sulky personnel over the years. Your product is my first choice for every type of embellishment and quilting I do. Love the consistency and quality of the product.

  8. Donna W says:

    Thanks for the great information. Even though I may know the information, it is always great to have reminders

  9. Julia H says:

    This is great information to keep on hand. I forget just how important the right needle is!

  10. great post and advice! would love to win the threads!
    Cathy B pbprojecthope at yahoo dot com

  11. Carmen says:

    Thank you so much for the tips. I’m a beginning sewer/quilter and need advice like this!

  12. Lucille says:

    Thank you for sharing the information about thread weight and needle size. I really enjoy this site.

  13. Diantha Howard says:

    This article was very helpful. I have been hesitant to touch the tension on my machine. I love the Sulky Blendable threads and would love to use them in quilting.

  14. gwen betts says:

    I love the varigated and metalic threads. You can do a lot with just different colors. I love experimenting with the different colors.

  15. Cheri Williams says:

    Great article about using the right needle. The needle, thread and foot all make a big difference in the ease of using your machine to the max.

  16. Madeline says:

    I used to do alot of cross-stitching, and working with different threads requires different handling, so it figures that they need special handling when quilting, but they are worth it!

  17. Marlene Steimel says:

    I have a B.S. in textiles and the one thing I did not learn was thread weight and the relationship to size of the needle being used. (Of course that was over 30 years ago.) Thank you for teaching me some new tricks. I may now have more success with some of the more interesting threads you manufacture in my long-arm.

  18. Christi says:

    I love threads almost as much as I love fabrics. There are so many pretty ones these days. The rayons, with a sheen; the metalics with thier shinny brightness that bring the crow out in me; and the various cotton weights to add texture and depth to your project. What a feast for the sences. Oh please let me win!!!!!!!!

  19. Phyllis Su Melancon says:

    Thanks for all the information most is old hat for a 60 year old but I am told the more you read the more you retain so I am retaining.. I just love the internet and being able to have contact with so many sewing and quilting lovers as yourself.. Stay safe and blessed Phyllis SU

  20. Christine Black says:

    Thank you for the useful information. I’ve had my machine since August, and am still learning new things about it every time I sew with it. This information about the needles and thread types is a big help.

  21. Phyllis Good says:

    WOW. Great information. You are teaching me new ideas, which I love and appreciate, and I’ve been sewing almost 70 yrs already. New machine, new ideas, new friends. What could be better!! Thank you.


  22. Margaret says:

    All information you send us is always most helpful .

  23. Marlene says:

    Thank you for a great articles on needles! Also, I have begun learning needle turn applique and love Sulky thread!

  24. Debi T says:

    I love your beautiful threads. I wonder how my mom used only 1 needle for every thing and 1 thread. I have needles for everything! :)

  25. Rev. Diane Mettam says:

    Thanks for the information. I always swear my machine doesn’t like certain thread. Now I’ll take some extra time and try some of the things you suggested!

  26. Elaine says:

    As per usual, the information is oh-so-useful. Another tip that I am printing off as we “speak” to refer to as needed.

  27. you always have good information , especially for people who are not experts yet. i learn something new everytime i read this. thank you in advance

  28. Beth says:

    Great tips. I plan to use them in the near future to solve some problems I’ve been having. THANKS!

  29. Linda Fairbrother says:

    This is so helpful, thanks for the info.

  30. Karrie Smith says:

    Thanks for all this great information!! Thanks for the chance to win :)

  31. Beverly Forsyth says:

    Love Sulky threads. My quilt shop no longer carries Sulky and it is relatively hard to find the larger spools without traveling fifty or sixty miles, so my supply is dwindling. Would love to win one of these giveaways so I could have a great new supply. Thanks for the offer.

  32. beth daniels says:

    I did not know that you had to change the tension for the Sulky blendables, I am going to try these threads with my quilting projects and I am glad to have that advice coming from a well known sewer/quilter. I also like the information about the needles. I always try to remember to change my needles when they get worn or after a few projects. It makes the sewing machine work better.

  33. Stephanie Woodward says:

    Thanks for all the tips about thread and tension. I just love thread, and still have some of my moms with the wooden spools. Of course I wouldn’t dream of using these, but they are fun to have.

  34. Sharon Meyer says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share this very useful information. I always love to learn neat stuff that i can use. Now i know how to optimize my metallic thread use on my quilts. As you have shared info we all are already winners but to win would be devine. Happy Quilting to all.

  35. Ann Hill says:

    In using metallic threads with machine embroidery, I found that using a 90/14 needle on medium speed I had very little, if any, breakage. I did an entire 16 square quilt with this method

  36. Henriellen S. Kibler says:

    I do a lot of had sewing. It soothes the nerves and it gives me an excuse to sit in front of the TV, I just wish they would stop whispering on TV. That is so rude. Don’t they teach that any more? Of course it could be their scrips are so bad they don’t want any one to hear them. But back to THREADS. They are very important. Not only do they hold things together they give depth and light and contrasts to the project. Finding different shades of the same color can be very difficult. I find that Sulky gives me those shades that I need. Henri

  37. Millie says:

    Thanks for the great info..I teach high school sewing classes and any thing I can pass on to my students is always helpful. One never stops learning in order to be successful.

  38. Barbara Ostrander says:

    I always hesitate to adjust my machine- I’ll try to be braver.

  39. Nancy MacIntosh says:

    Excellent advise. I would add something that I have to remember to practice myself is To audition your thread for a Project. Not sure how many like me barrel into doing first and foremost but the practice reduces disappointment, frustration and starting over. Now if I could only practice what I preach. :)

  40. Shirley V says:

    Thanks for all the info. It was very helpful. I am new to quilting and am working on my first big project, a lap quilt. I would love to win some sulky thread. I have never tried this brand before, but the colours look awesome.

  41. Vicki Hill says:

    I appreciate the education that this series is providing everyone! Thanks again!

  42. Dorothy Reitsma says:

    Great information. I have started playing with the tension and have found my stitching is better even for a straight seam with regular thread. This information gives us confidence to play. Thanks

  43. kay suddeth says:

    This is excellent information. Thank you.

  44. Maryann Bremmer says:

    When I am having thread problems I will now think about adjusting tension. Thanks for the tips.

  45. Michele T says:

    Thanks for these great tips… I am going to put some to use and maybe I will alleviate some problems that I experience from time to time. This will be book marked for future reference!!

  46. connie says:

    I love Sulky Threads, would love to win. These helpful hints have been wonderful.

  47. Agnes says:

    Thes notes explain so many things that have happened to me and how to correct them. Thanks

  48. Donna says:

    Thanks for all the good info. I just set up my new embroidery machine yesterday and prepped some practice squares with Sulky iron on stabilizer today. Tomorrow I will start practicing on my new machine.

  49. Becky Scupin says:

    Thanks for the information. I love Sulky thread and stabelizers.

  50. Heather says:

    Sulky blendable threads are some of my favorites, so I’m happy for the chance to win any of their threads. Thank you for the great tips, too! :)

  51. Kathy Richards says:

    Have to tell you – I LOVE SULKY THREADS !!!! I so appreciate the info you have shared to make our sewing lives so much easier and rewarding. I love to watch the colorful stitches as I quilt or embroidery. Knowing the info you have given us makes my hobby much more enjoyable. Thanks!!

  52. Heather says:

    Thanks for the tips.

  53. Sharon Lichter says:

    I use my tension adjustment all the time. Thank you for the information.

  54. Judy Best says:

    Great tips and a reminder to use the right needle for the thread

  55. sylvia says:

    Also, if your machine has a horizontal and a vertical holder, put the metallics on the vertical holder, especially those pretty sparkly flat metallics. Makes a world of difference!

  56. Sandy says:

    Great tips for using the different threads and not be intimidated by them. Thanks

  57. Linda says:

    Thanks for the great information! I still haven’t learned my machines personality. I do however make sure to do a practice run on small piece of material I’m using. For me thats the best way I know to make any needed tension adjustments. This can take several practice runs to get everything right. Your information was very helpful, I greatly appreciate your taking the time to share with everyone.

  58. Linda Hulen says:

    Thank you for all the great information on needles and thread tension! There is always something new to learn.

  59. Beverly Rempel says:

    It’s nice to learn something new especially when I’ve been sewing for so many years now.

  60. Rosemary Trabucchi says:

    thanks so much, just the change to a 90/14 metallic needle made a big difference when using my Sulky metallics.

  61. Leanne says:

    Thanks! I’ve never had success with metallic thread. Now I’ll try again, with a different size and adjusting the top tension.


    Great tips. My problem is I’m always so anxious to get my quilt quilted I forget to take the time to adjust the tension .

  63. Maureen Ratcliff says:

    currently working on Baltimore Album quilt….sulky threads are the very best for my project. Have been quilting for many years but love all hints and helps from your site..learn something every day.thanks…

  64. Sonna Lea Hunsley says:

    It is fun to work with different threads and textures. Ideas are rolling.

  65. Lisa Socha says:

    Great info as always! Thanks Sulky.

  66. kathy f says:

    so glad I found this site. Lots of help and inspiration to be found here.

  67. Voni McCune says:

    Thanks for this information. I’ve always been afraid to mess with the tension. It really scares me. Maybe with this information, I will try again. I didn’t always sew with a 1/4″ seam, either, but I learned. I’m 64 years old and still learning. Thank you.

  68. Debbie Sylvest says:

    LOVE LOVE all the great info—Have had many problems with metalics will try again THANKS !

  69. Peggy Forbes says:

    I’ve been using Sulky thread for years and years! Their consistency is excellent!
    It’s been fun to watch how they have developed so many different kinds of threads. You can’t go wrong with Sulky.

    Thanks for the refresher course. Sometimes I get in a rut and don’t try new needles and things.

  70. Mary Mulcahey says:

    Great tips! I recently learned the hard way while attempting my first machine-quilted whole cloth quilt, that even with the right needle and tension, that needles can bend, even so slightly that you wouldn’t notice it, and cause really big problems.

  71. Patricia says:

    That was a good refresher course on the basics of thread and needle care. Thanks!

  72. Jean says:

    I guess we all stick with what we know works, but it’s time to experiment with all the beautiful threads out there. What a difference using the right needle with the right thread makes!

  73. big red says:

    I’m new to this and need all the infro I can read to learn the correct matching items. Thanks for sharing.

  74. Nancy Bonnette says:

    Such good information no matter how long you have been sewing it never hurts to read and pick up tricks and helps. We were taught to never ever touch the tension and I can tell you from experience that when I did years ago I usually was sorry!!~!~!

    Great tutorials

  75. barbour says:

    i had a problem with thread breaking while sewing. found out i was using wrong thread and needle.

  76. sharon says:

    thank you for the information, appreciate all the tips.

  77. Mabel Lancaster says:

    I love to read the tips. Some I already practice. Others are new to me, or I need to be reminded. But definitely the thread/needle/tension is really important.


  78. MrsR says:

    Thanks for the helpful advice. I do make tension adjustments as needed but am
    still nervous about it and looking for guidelines. I appreciate the info. Thanks for the chance to win your thread!

  79. S.L. Woodcock says:

    Great reminders to match threads, needles and machines. Thank you Sulky for a wonderful array of products.

  80. Deb in AZ says:

    Thank you for all the great tips. So wonderful for others to share knowledge and experience with us.

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