Thursday, June 24, 2021

Thread, Tension & Free Motion Mavericks

Welcome to week 337 of Free Motion Mavericks. Here is a short update of what's going on with Version 2.0.

Thread & Tension 

Whether I've wanted to or not, I've learned a lot of things making my son's Version 2.0 quilt. At the beginning it was math - the hard way, and now it's quilting with black batting, choosing the thread and making sure that my thread tension is good. 

Back and front of stitching-in-the-ditch


I was really hoping that I could use the same colour of thread for the back, but still have the front thread match the fabric. As you probably know, that's not always easy to do. I believe that this is the first time that I've worried so much about my thread colours and tension on a quilt. Since the quilt is made up of solid fabrics, the quilting will show, no matter what. It's just a matter of how much.

Struggling with the tension

Working on the back thread

In my last post about this quilt, I was wondering if I should use heavy or light thread. Well, I made it easy on myself...I am using mostly cotton, and essentially what I have on hand. I did pick up more dark bobbin thread but when I tried out the dark thread with the light top thread, there was no way that my tension was going to be perfect - so I've opted for a lighter more pinkish bobbin thread to go with the beige and red top threads.

Quilt sandwich ready to be quilted
So far, it's worked out fine. I started stitching-in-the-ditch of the red thread on top and the pinkish thread in the bobbin. That was the photos on top. My backing is made up of two different darker colours - maroon and burgundy. I sampled both of them on my quilt sandwich and it will be fine.

It's been a long time since I worked on a very large quilt. I do love free motion quilting (FMQ) but it is more of a challenge with a large quilt. The two long red strips have now been stitching-in-the-ditch. I'll get the other two small ones done and then start on the other colours. I will run out of the pinkish bobbin thread so back to the store I'll go. 

My FMQ set up for a large quilt

This is my set up for FMQ this quilt. I have a table on one side and a chair on the other to hold the weight of the quilt when necessary. I also moved a couple of my art pieces on the wall since they keep getting bumped around. Thanks for sharing the beginning of this FMQ journey.

What I learned
  • It's good to want to get the tension right but I'm now going to stop worrying about my thread. It will be fine as long as I don't go too fast...which will be difficult to do on such a large quilt!
  • I'm looking forward to finding designs in my books and online. I already have quilt sandwiches ready for practicing 😊
  • Thanks to the readers who left me some ideas on the thread and what to do about the cable design around the border. I will try to enlarge the pattern and maybe even see if I can add a little something to it - echoing?. There's lots of time for that since it's likely the last thing that I'll FMQ.
Related links
Linking parties
I'll be linking up to some great linking parties, so why not check them out. This will also be my One Monthly Goal (OMG) post since my goal for June was to sandwich the quilt. Well that's done!

Free Motion Mavericks

It's now time to celebrate all things quilty - from hand quilting to quilting with super duper computers! We've been following Frédérique as she works on her Drunkard Path quilt. What a little beauty! I love the minimal but effective FMQ that she has done. If you didn't catch her finish, check it out!

You'll want to check out the whole thing, but this
picture with details is lovely!

Now it's our turn!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. Your 2.0 quilt is so cool, Andree! It's hard to tell from the photos, but are you sure that it was definitely bobbin thread you were seeing in the "bad tension" photos and not just black batting fibers in the needle holes? I've found that sometimes a cotton thread is "grabby" with the batting fibers and can pull it up in the needle holes as stitches are formed, and that would be more noticeable with black batting. When that has happened to me, switching to a slick thread like a polyester (Glide, Isacord) or even a monofilament like MonoPoly. It sounds like you've found a solution that is working for you now, though. I'm looking forward to watching you quilt this one!

    1. Thanks so much for the advice Rebecca. I thought of that but since it wasn't showing up when I changed thread colour, it might not have been the issue (or the whole issue). I do want to invest in some Glide thread - everyone seems to rave about it. Thanks for dropping by and linking up! Have fun playing on your new baby :-)

  2. I love all your attention to detail, and then just figuring out a way to make it work. One of the keys for a lot of longarmers, and I think it translates to domestic machines, is to use a strong light poly in the bottom - bottomline is an example, that makes it a bit easier. That being said, it is a big quilt and you do what you need to make it work! Glide and Floriani are both "lubricated" so I think that is why people get good results for quilting/embroidery with it.

    1. Thanks for the advice Kathleen. I have used bottomline successfully but I would have had to be more organised since I only have three different colours and they wouldn't have worked. Since so many quilters are using Glide, I think that the next time I order online, I'll include a few colours in my order to try it out. Thanks!

  3. Good luck with your quilting! Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and congrats on your finish.

    1. Thanks so much Patty - and thanks for hosting!

  4. You are making progress. Thanks for explaining all the hurdles you overcame and your process. Good information. And thanks again, for joining the linky party at Small Squilts and Doll Quilts, Judy

    1. Thanks so much for hosting Judy. I hope that readers will learn something but to be honest, it's the best record that I have for what I did for each project since most of what I do I won't remember lol!


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