I used 12wt Aurifil thread to do some straight line quilting on my Juki TL-2200QVP Mini (think TL-2010) this week, and I wanted to share a few tips today.
First and foremost, I started with a new needle. I used an 80/12 needle and my needle threader worked just fine. If you are having to thread it yourself or your needle threader is having difficulty, going with a larger needle might be a good choice for you.
Then I wound a bobbin of the same thread color but in 50wt (I’ll talk more about that in a bit) and created a quilt sandwich of the same fabric that I was going to be quilting to test my stitches.
This is the top of my test quilt sandwich. The top fabric is a Cotton + Steel / Rifle Paper Co. Wonderland canvas (Magic Forest), the batting is Quilter’s Dream Dream Green, and the backing fabric is a Cotton + Steel / Rifle Paper Co. Wonderland cotton lawn (City Toile). As you can hopefully see I tried out different stitch lengths and settled on using 3 for my stitch length. From the top, all looks well.
The back tells a different story, to say the least! It was obvious from the first stitches that my default tension settings were not going to work. Just look at all that 12wt thread pulled through and made into a rat’s nest on the back!
I slowly increased the tension setting for my top thread and stitched a little bit. As you can see at the bottom in the image above, things quickly got better. I kept dialing up the top tension until I was satisfied. For me, that meant a top tension setting of about 2.75.
Even if you have my exact machine, you will likely find a different tension setting for your combination of fabric and batting.
As you can see in the detail photos of the quilted panels, taking the time to work out the settings before hand was worthwhile! I typically like to use the same thread (weight and color) on the top and in the bobbin, but for 12wt thread, I have found it easier to balance the tension with the thicker thread when it is on only one side. That’s not to say you couldn’t try it on top AND in the bobbin – but be sure to test out what you plan to do in advance!
Also, my older machine would not quilt or sew or stitch with anything other than 50wt on top. For that machine, I was able to successfully quilt with 12wt thread in the bobbin and 50wt on top. It’s called “bobbin work” and I just quilted upside down (the quilt backing facing up). So don’t be discouraged if your machine is finicky and doesn’t like a heavy weight thread on top – give it a try in the bobbin!
So just what the heck was I up to? I made a set of quilted panels and shipped them off to my friend Renee from Quilts of a Feather, and she is going to turn these quilted panels into a Weekender bag to gift to our friend Afton from Quilting Mod as a diaper bag.
This isn’t a surprise: Afton gave us the fabric to use, so that means I didn’t have to treat it as secret sewing!
I quilted the main bag panels with a 1″ spaced crosshatch so as not to take away too much from the fun print.
The bottom bag panel was quilted with a 1/2″ grid, the top panel with a 1″ grid that was then filled in with one angled/diagonal set of lines, and the pocket panels were all near matchstick quilted horizontally (somewhere between 1/4- and 1/8-inch spaced apart lines).
And just to round everything out, here is what the back of the panels look like. The pockets are all backed in cotton lawn, and the main bag panels, top, and bottom are backed in more canvas.
Have you ever quilted with 12wt thread? Do you have any questions that I did not address here?
**Post update** When I woke up this morning, I wanted to mention that I did have more lint accumulation than I normally experience with Aurifil thread. The issue honestly could have been needle size (going up one size larger might have greatly reduced this for me), and over all it wasn’t a problem that lead to thread breakage or difficulty… I would just highly recommend a thorough cleaning with each bobbin change. Between quilting (dust from the batting) and the thread, it was definitely worth the few extra moments to clean out my bobbin area and up top by my needle fairly frequently.
I have even free motion quilted with 12wt Aurifil and am enjoying experimenting with the different thread weights and how they look on different substrates (like canvas).
I will be linking up with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday (the link up opens on Tuesday, July 18th).