Before I bought my longarm machine I have to admit I knew nothing about thread, although I was not aware of this shortcoming! Basically I bought whatever was in the local shop if it was the right colour. Now I realise there is so much more to it than that and I have loved finding out and learning all about it and it seems a near endless journey.
When I quilted the first quilt of mine on my longarm machine I wanted to use seven colours and, having just bought the machine, I couldn't really afford to splurge on thread. I was recommended Glide which I had never heard of before. I thought that when I had some more money that I would get some different thread and whilst I have bought and used other thread over the years after nearly 5 years Glide thread makes up the majority of thread on my shelves.
Glide is a 40wt trilobal polyester, that comes in so many lovely colours and is an economical buy on either 1000m or 5000m cones. It is perfect to use on the Handi Quilter longarm machines as the top thread and in the bobbin if you wind your own.
For at a glance identification the 40wt has a grey cone and the 60wt has a black one. And you see that lip on the bottom? It comes down so that you can wind the thread around it and pop it back to keep the thread in place - that really appeals to me. When you are using the cone do make sure that the bottom collar is popped back into place otherwise the thread can snag on it and break.
Initially I was concerned about how shiny it was and it does look shiny on the cone but, when you quilt with it, the well defined stitches only have a mid sheen which I really like and it looks great under lights if your quilt is going to hang on a wall as opposed to a bed.
WHAT IS THREAD WEIGHT?
Basically it's a system of classifying how thick thread is. There are several systems in use but the most common is weigh, wt - which can range from 12wt upto 100wt.
The number comes from how many metres of thread it takes to weigh 1kg:
if 12 metres of thread weighs 1kg it is 12wt
if 100 metres of thread weighs 1kg it is 100wt
so the thicker the thread, the less required to weigh a kg and the lower the weight.
This is a very simplistic explanation and there are other factors involved.
WHEN WOULD I USE 40WT OR 60WT?
I am someone who likes to see the stitches in my quilting and so would choose 40wt for the majorty of my quilts but sometimes you want the texture quilting can give you but without the quilting taking main stage.
This is all down to personal preference but good questions to ask yourself are:
1. How visible do I want my stitching to be?
Sometimes the piecing of a quilt is the real star of the show but you want to quilt for stability and texture and this is a good time to switch to a finer thread.
Sometimes there are lots of colours in a quilt and you do not want the thread to overpower the lighter colours but you don't want to have numerous thread changes.
Since the introduction of Glide 60wt thread I have offered it to my customer for both of these reasons. The quilt below was quilted using Glide 60wt in Cool Grey 3 and the thread worked across all the colours without demanding attention!
2. How dense is the quilting going to be?
If you would like to quilt densely but still want to be able to snuggle in your quilt then one option is to change to a finer thread.
3. What is the scale of quilting going to be?
Whilst this could be included in the density of quilting above it is worth mentioning stitch length here. Glide 40wt gives the most lovely well defined stitches at a stitch length between 9-12 spi but if you take the stitches any smaller than this it looses that nice look. This is a good reason to test all the threads that you want to use on a project with the fabric from the project and at the settings that you want to use.
On the piece below I did stitch test at 11 spi and it was lovely but when I increased the stitch length up to 15 spi it is not so nice!
HOW SHOULD I SET UP MY LONGARM MACHINE WHEN USING GLIDE?
For many years I only ever used a size 16 needle with Glide 40wt but knew that many other people used size 18. I still stick predominantly to size 16 but if I find I am having problems then changing up to size 18 is an option, so try both and see what works for you.
Ordinarily the finer the thread the smaller the needle so the recommendation for Glide 60wt is a size 14 needle, however I find that a size 16 needles works just fine, but again if I was having problems I would think about trying a size 14 to see if it solved them.
I only required a slight change to the tension between the two threads. When I swapped from 40wt to 60wt I loosened the tension by 10 minutes, ie the little dot on the black tension dial went from the half past position to the 20 past position. or looking at the easy dial tension on screen it went from 80 to 76. But remember that these figures are for my machine only as they are not calibrated units. It is always good to keep a notebook and pen handy and write down the different settings so you have something to refer back to - it will save you sooo much time in the future!
SAMPLES OF 40WT AND 60WT
Below you will see some samples I have stitched out:
Thread Glide 40wt and 60wt in Cool Grey 3
Bobbin Decobob in Dove Grey
Fabric Kona Cotton in Charcoal
Backing Makower extra wide 100% cotton fabric
Wadding Sew Simple Super Soft Cotton White
Needle Size 16
Quilted On Amara with Pro-Stitcher
Design 1 Denali 4 by Anne Bright in PS Library
Design 2 4387 Feathers Illusion Block 1 by One Song needle Arts in PS Library
|Glide 40wt at 11spi|
|Glide 60wt at 11spi|
|Glide 40wt at 14spi|
|Glide 60wt at 14spi|
CAN I USE GLIDE 40WT AND 60WT ON OTHER MACHINES?
Absolutely! I use Glide 40wt on both my domestic sewing machine and overlocker.
Domestic Sewing Machine
I often finish my binding by machine and will use Glide 40wt on the top to get a nice stitch on the front of my binding
It also works well in the bobbin if you are top stitcing an item that you want to see both sides of.
I use Glide 60wt on my machine for both the top thread and in the bobbin. I find the finer thread really helps my piecing, especially when using solid fabrics. It gives a neater crease on the seam and less visible holes.
In fact I never piece with any thread thicker than 60wt these days and only use three colours: off white, mid grey and a darker grey. I find that Glide 60wt in Linen, Cool Grey 3 and Sterling can fulfill nearly all my piecing requirements and I have recently used them for dressmaking, because they were what was on the machine and the results were great.
I use Glide 40wt on my overlocker with great results and if I don't have 4 cones of the same colour I mix and match. The photos below show 4 different blues that I used on my overlocker and got such a lovely variegated effect!
On both of my machines I do not have to change the tension or needle when I go between 40wt and 60wt.
WHAT COLOURS DOES IT COME IN?
Did I mention it comes in lots of colours?! You can get a lovely shade card that has actual thread in it so that you can really see the colours available.
And here they all are at the Festival of Quilts last year ...
I have to say that there is always a lots of temptation to buy some more thread when I am working with Pinhole Quilting!