As promised, what follows is part two in this set of blog posts featuring info I found on machine stitching with specialty threads as applied during the creation of “Bright Delight”.
Now that we’re armed with the knowledge of the characteristics of specialty threads and have rule #1* firmly in mind, we’re ready to get on with the business of sewing with metallics.
Regardless of how the specialty thread is wound on the spool (cross wound or stacked), both types feed best from the vertical spindle**.
Modifying the thread path from spindle to the first thread guide of the sewing machine is a key factor in controlling the natural curl of specialty threads.
Instead of purchasing a specialty thread stand attachment for my Bernina***, this is what I came up with after much consideration, research and trial & error. It works beautifully and didn’t cost me a cent.
With the specialty thread now safely and gently guided through the machine, here are a few more tips, tools and settings to further facilitate successful stitching:
- Reduce upper thread tension (lower number) and increase stitch length – sew on sample fabric and adjust as needed. (suggested settings – #2 tension and #3 stitch length)
- Suggested foot – wide toed embroidery foot as it will accommodate both straight and decorative stitches. (#20 Bernina foot)
- Use only a Metallic or Topstitch needle as both have larger eyes and accommodate the special needs of these threads. (I prefer a Schmetz 90/14 Metallic needle as it has a polished eye which prevents snags specific to metallic thread)
- Use a fine, light weight ‘bobbin’ thread or plain, smooth polyester thread (not cotton!), or even a metallic thread in the bobbin. (I used the ‘bad’ skinny spool metallic thread as mentioned in part 1 in the bobbin which added an extra sparkle to the back of the quilt)
- Practice settings on sample fabric, adjust as needed and Sew Slow! (I used the ‘half-speed’ setting for starters to get the hand of it)
Now, go forth and work with those metallic threads!
*Rule #1 is to Sew Slow.
**Yes, this goes against the norm of pairing cross wound spools with the horizontal spindle and stacked spools with the vertical spindle.
*** While there are a variety of specialty thread stand attachments available for most sewing machines, I opted to forgo the investment of one for the time being.