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.

*     *     *     *     *

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:
This entry was posted in Giveaways & Contests and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

380 Responses to Sulky’s Tips for Thread Success, Giveaway Part 4

  1. Liz says:

    I would love to try some Sulky threads. I have heard and read only good things about it. Blendables woud really make a quilt pop!

  2. Barbara says:

    Thanks for the great thread info!

  3. Kathleen Graas says:

    This is really valuable information. Thank you!

  4. kim kerschl says:

    WOW! Very informative and definitely worth a book mark to refer back to often!

  5. diane says:

    Appreciate all the tips!

  6. Bonnie Allison says:

    These are great tips! L

  7. Marlene Clausen says:

    Buy the cheapest nail polish you can find in very distinctive colors. Make a color chart for each size and type of needle, then “paint” the top of each needle its assigned color. When you buy a needle size or type you’ve never had before … time for a new color polish! Color every needle in the package at the same time. If you want/need to save used needles and can’t read those teenytiny numbers recruit a 10-year-old girl to assist w/the reading and painting and let her paint her fingernails and toenails any horrid color she wants as a thank you.

  8. Jacqui says:

    Great information and tips! I will definitly use your tips!

  9. Janet F. says:

    I have attended several sulky Seminars at our local quilt shop. It is good to have this info refreshed in my mind. Thank you.

  10. Mary Ann Wolf says:

    Thank you for the information and chance to win.

  11. Renea says:

    Thanks for the great info. And the great giveaway.

  12. Someday I’m going to sit down with my computer and read about thread and needle size. In the meantime, I’m too busy sewing. Thanks for the hints!

  13. Susan N. says:

    Thanks for the some good information. I have learned some things and can’t wait to try them out. Thanks for the opportunity to win some Sulky thread.

  14. Janet Pittman says:

    I use Sulky threads most of the time. I love them. Great tips. I was aware of some, had forgotten a few and some were new. Thanks.

  15. Nancy H says:

    I am so happy that I have bookmarked the Sulky page – when I have difficulty with my machine ( because it is often smarter than I) I refer quickly to the site and often the ansewr is right there in front of me…thanks!

  16. Grace says:

    thanks for the advice, I love to sew and need all the help I can get,
    thanks again

  17. Lynn D in NC says:

    Thank you for all the valuable information you are sharing. I’m learning something everyday.

  18. Ruth Clark says:

    Great information!

  19. Lin H. says:

    Now I am beginning to understand a little more about the right needle type and size.

  20. Gloria B says:

    Thank you for this information.

    I have bought boxes of 100 (and a good named brand) of needles for piecing and quilting as this means I always have a new one to hand and I mind less if I do break one. The tension information is really useful – I shall send this post on to a friend who is frightened of her machine!

  21. wanda says:

    Thanks for all the information about thread, needles, and tension. I have just started using Sulky thread and I love it. I would love to win more, thanks for the chance to win some Sulky thread.

  22. Marie says:

    Thank you so much for the information. Changing the needle and tension – who knew!

  23. Jackie Roisler says:

    wow, i truly learned from your series :) many years ago i had exactly this problem with metallics. ugh….tho i shall retry using your information.

  24. Roseann Chalker says:

    Even after all the years I have been sewing, I can always find something new to help me sew much better. Thanks for the tips on the metalic threads and which needles to use. I have struggled with this for some time and couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone I had asked. Thanks. I really appreciate it. Roseann Chalker

  25. Pauline S says:

    I have experimented with the tension dial and found that nothing exploded or broke! Just saying that I have learned that it is okay to move the dial and had much better results. I also love the “topstitch” needle.

  26. Mary Ferreter says:

    I loved all your tips. Some I know already, but others were, “Oh, that’s explains what was happening!”

  27. Denise C says:

    Appreciate the tips! I’m still navigating a new machine and this was helpful. Now I just need more time!

  28. I have used Sulky’s threads for embellisments on clothing and craft projects and found them to be very workable even when I use my serger. The information that is given though your Thread Success is outstanding and very helpful. It never hurts to refresh the use of different needles and threads with adjusting the tension when needed. Thank you for sharing and making this available to us.

  29. Connie German says:

    Thank you for all the great information!

  30. Liz Taylor says:

    Loved the article on thread tips. I followed the information given and I have been doing very well with my metallic thread now. Thank You again for the tips.
    Liz Taylor

  31. barb czarniecki says:

    thanks for the info! I have tried metallic threads but always end up mumbling to myself because they keep breaking! I thought 90/14 neeedles were for heavywieght material and thread- now I’ll try it with the metallic threads! Thanks again
    Barb C.

  32. Julie says:

    Thanks for all the tips. Every tip that can make my quilting experience a joy is welcome. Thanks for the chance to win.

  33. JACQUELYN G. says:

    The comments were very helpful, I have experienced the agony of using the wrong needle and breaking thread. Using these tips have made working with specialty threads a pleasure.

  34. Hafza says:

    Thank you for sharing such helpful information. I’m still learning to get to know my machine better…

  35. Teresa Heiselt says:

    I have tried a couple times working with metalic thread without success. When I read the part about using a 90/14 needle as opposed to a metalic 80/12, I will surely try again. I think after reading this, I just need to practice and play with needle sizes and tension. Thnak you.

  36. patty bretheim says:

    Thanks, so many great tips, I’m going to makee a copy and place it by my machine, so it is handy. Happy sewing to you, Patty B

  37. Kay Henningson says:

    Thank you so much for the information on needles and thread. It really helps.

  38. Cindy Garlotte says:

    I would love to win this Thread Give-A-Way,because my Dear wonderful Mother-In-Law who has Parkinsins just gave me a vintage embrodiery set of patterns this Mothers Day weekend,and I would really love to embrodiery the patterns on something special for her with this awesome thread. Thank-You,Cindy Garlotte

  39. connie says:

    thanks for the info on tension. every time I change thread it seems like I have to reset my tension and having a variety of different sized needles never hurts

  40. margaret says:

    I didn’t realize you could use the 90/14 for metallics. thanks for the tip.

  41. CathyC in Alberta says:

    Thanks for the info..I will be passing it on to a friend who has had nothing but problems with her newest sewing machine bought specifically for the quilting feature.
    A printable chart with the thread weight and needle size would be great. Along with a chart on which thread works best for which application.

  42. Laura Rodriguez says:

    I always forget to change my needle and use the same one forever, so thanks for the reminder!

  43. Diane Moomey says:

    Well that explains a lot of things. I am a self taught sewer, which I absolutely love to do. Now I know why the thread breaks for no apparent reason a times. I will be more careful. Thanks for the great info!!

    Thanks, Diane

  44. Diane Willis says:

    Sulky is really great thread. Would like to hear more about long arm quilting machine thread types. Thanks.

  45. Wezi says:

    Great advice. Would like a chart of thread sizes and needles to use with them.

  46. jane denny says:

    This is really helpful information–you’re never too old to learn something new!

  47. hmp says:

    Quilters should always be students. Thank you for the educational info.

  48. Paule-Marie says:

    Thank you for the informative article. My best friend is terrified about changing the setting on the tension dial. Then she gets frustrated when she doesn’t get the results she expected or wanted.

  49. Carrie Dunn says:

    Thanks for the info.. I feel like I can never learn enough about threads, needles and tension!

  50. Sandra Betts says:

    Thanks for the tips AND the thread giveaway.

  51. BuJean Jenkins says:

    Great information. Thanks so much for your expertise.

  52. Gwen Pattarnon says:

    I learned about using the appropriate needle the hard way! Wish I had this information at hand way back when, would have saved a lot of busted thread, tearing out of stitches and sometimes, ruined fabric! Ohhhh……

  53. Pam says:

    Thanks for the info. It will come in handy in the future.

  54. Janice says:

    I use different needle types and sizes for sewing, quilting and embroidery. I have found heavier weight thread requires a bigger needle eye to slide through and not break.
    Another tip is with metallic thread and some other difficult thread is to use a thread stand to give thread a longer space to unwind and flow smoothly into the needle.

  55. Suzan Johnson says:

    Great information. I think I will need to read this several times so it stick in the gray matter!

  56. LJ says:

    I’m always looking for tips and tricks; thank you.

  57. Didnt know you needed to do a tension check whwn changing needles

  58. Donna says:

    Thank you. I missed the earlier tips. If you haven’t already done so, I would love to know more about the differences in threads (rayon vs poly vs cotton) and types of applications for each. Which hold up best for decorating children’s quilts and clothing that may be laundered often and even require bleaching? I would love to win some of the Sulky threads, especially the blendable/varigated ones.

  59. Cheryl Sandrone says:

    Wow that is really a lot of needed information. I am just learning to use my new machine & all the information about needles, thread and tension has been greatly appreciated. I am going to try it tonight.

  60. Liz K says:

    Holy cow! There’s so much to know about threads, needles, tension, etc. I sometimes take if for this for granted and just assume my machine will adjust as needed. I’m lazy that way. ;-)

  61. Deb Haan says:

    I love the blendable threads; they add the perfect touch for my quilts…making them a work of art! Use Sulky Blendable threads with your specialty stitches on your machine to quilt, instead of stitching in the ditch, for added interest to your quilt. Deb

  62. Thank you so much for all the information about needles and thread and tension, I did not know some of it.

  63. Terre Clark says:

    Thank you for the information about needles, thread, and tension. Very helpful.

  64. Barbara Adams says:

    Good info I never think of lowering the top tension, but it is understandable it would need to be adjusted witht the heavier thread. I always use Smetz needles when I embroidery. Thet do the best job for me. Thanks for the good info

  65. Cindy Watkins says:

    I am a beginning quilter, so the information is very helpful.

  66. Nancy says:

    I think over the years I have finally learned about the importance of needles vs thread. It has taken me some time to figure it out, but your article is so helpful, and hopefully will clue others in sooner than it took me!!

  67. Dianne McFarlane says:

    Great article on threads…super hints….I am a lover of Schmetz Sharps, and I aleways use the needles in my machine…my favorite is size 11 for stretch knits…I just love it for everything…

    Haven’t tried the Sulky Threads…can’t find them in my area…Would LOVE to try them…

  68. Cheryl Fumerton says:

    I have just tried the Sulky variegated thread on a project and love it. Because of the colour variation, it almost disappeared. Awesome results.

  69. Kate9998 says:

    Good to know that the dials on the machine are meant to be adjusted. Years ago when I first started to sew I remember being told “do not adjust the tension”. We’ve come a long way baby! Very interesting article.

  70. Dianne W says:

    I went to a class after I bought my Baby Lock several years ago and was advised to just use metallic needles because of the shape of the eye and that the thread wouldn’t shred. Since then I have always used a 90/14 metallic needle and have very few problems.

  71. Would love to win Sulky thread. :o )

  72. Dorothy Ransom says:

    I make a lot of quilts and have gotten into the habit of using one thread and one needle type. Maybe I’ll try doing some different projects with this infomation.

  73. Margaret B says:

    Thanks for the chance to win Sulky thread.

  74. MarciaW says:

    This series of Sulky tips will be a good reference for the future. Any chance that they can be pulled together into one pdf for download once the series is all posted? Thanks for the information.

  75. Eva Martin says:

    I never realized I had so many choices with threads and needles. Where have I been?
    Thanks for all of the info. I certainly will use it

  76. Mary Chevalier says:

    Thanks for the great info ,can never have to much.Would love to be the owner of some Sulky Thread.

  77. Vivian Oaks says:

    Thanks for the info on different types of thread and tensions. And a special thank-you for a chance to win some of that great Sulky thread!!

  78. Gina Williams says:

    After several futile attempts using metallic threads, I gave up. The recommendations presented here encouraged me to give it another go. Thanks (and wish me luck!!)

  79. Joan Wendt says:

    I’ll take all the info. I can. Learning about threads/needles/tension is so impt. Thanks for the help! Joan

  80. Wendy says:

    I always forget what needle is best for certain fabrics. I should make myself a handy chart with your helpful info. Thanks!

  81. Kathy h says:

    Thanks for the information to help use those special threads. I love the look of them but had been having trouble using them.

  82. Carol Johnson says:

    Thanks for the great tips!!!!

  83. Charlene Arnold says:

    Truthfully, I am afraid of my machine. Its happy the way it is and I haven’t changed the settings. Thanks for the info — so much common sense. The eye of the needle matters! (duh, as my son would say) I will try to be less afraid of my machine and be more adventurous with it.

  84. Marion says:

    Great information. Always wondered why metallic would not work for me. Now I know.

  85. Carol Vickers says:

    Thanks for the great tips. Love those blendables!!!!

  86. Mary L says:

    Enjoyed information regarding tension. I usually have a problem in that area and will play a little more with it in the future. Thanks for the great information.

  87. Colleen Natarelli says:

    Thanks so much for all of the helpful information. As a fairly new quilter I hadn’t realized the importance of needle size etc. Would love the opportunity to try out the Sulky thread!!

  88. I have an old Singer 5522 that has served me well for over 20 years. I have always used Schmetz needles, as I seem to have the best luck with them, and I can usually find a full assortment of sizes and needs. I have also found that the quality of thread can really be an issue. I have stopped buying thread from the “sale bins” and use good quality cotton, cotton blend or specialty threads. I always adjust tension on scrap fabric before I sew with a new type of thread. Thanks for the good advice.

  89. barbara says:

    thanks for the giveaway would love to try that thread

  90. Jacquie says:

    I have always had trouble with metallic thread and didn’t know how to correct it. I am anxious to try the tips you gave. Thank you.

  91. Julie A. B. says:

    This is so exciting, usually I make traditional quilts,which I love to make. I am currently starting an art quilt. And I will gladly use this important information for this project and all others to follow. Sulky Threads are spectacular. Thank-you. Julie A.B.

  92. Shar says:

    Since my new sewing machine stresses using the right needle with the right thread with the right fabric….this information has become more meaningful to me and more helpful for a sewer returning after many years. Sewing has really changed since I last had the time to sew for myself and others. Sites like these are great.

  93. Mary Sawyers says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful information. I am sure it will help me to be more proficient with my sewing and quilting, and keep me from getting frustrated when I am sewing. I know it will be better for my making clothes for my grandchildren. Thanks again.

  94. To us that are novices – just quilting for almost 2 years these types of helpful hints will make better quilters of us and will help to keep us as quilters (not quit because of frustrations). Thanks.

  95. Jeans says:

    So much to learn about threads and machines! Thanks!!

  96. Mitzi Frazier says:

    I used to love to sew, but as I grew older found it hard to find the time to do it. Now that I am retired I am beginning to sew again. Sewing items have changed and I was having a hard time catching up with the new methods. Your tips have helped me to catch up. Thank you.

  97. Carol Hinkle says:

    Great info! Thanks for the tips.

  98. Elaine says:

    Thanks for information as I have been hesitant to try metallic thread because of what friends have shared with me about their experience. Will keep the information for future reference.

  99. Sandy Mathews says:

    Thanks for the information. I remember to change the needles but do not think about the tension and so this was very helpful and I learned something new.

  100. Pat Foglesong says:

    Thanks for all the very useful information. I’d like to try using a metallic thread on a project and maybe with the information you provided, I won’t be afraid to try it. Thanks for the giveaway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>