I gave my threads lecture at the Ben Franklin Quilt Fest in Oconomowoc last fall. I’ve been giving this talk for quite a few years, and am always learning and updating the information I share. While speaking, I was made aware of two new products I wanted to try.
Product #1 – Aurifil Nylon Monofilament Thread
Over the years I’ve done quite a bit of testing and researching the different threads on the market. When I first began quilting with invisible thread, the only option on the market was nylon and I didn’t have much success (in fact, I had one disaster that took me 5 nights to rip out!). I must admit that invisible thread is not my favorite choice for quilting because it’s meant not to show. With all the gorgeous threads on the market, and my love for thread, I like to see the thread in most of my projects.
But, sometimes I truly don’t want the thread to show. So when the polyester invisibles came out, I gave them a try. I liked them better because they didn’t seem to stretch as much as the nylon. One of the companies that makes a polyester version stated on their website that “nylon gets brittle and yellows with age” – and I took them at their word. Well, Aurifil has come out with a new nylon invisible thread.
At Ben Franklin quilt fest, when Terrie told us all about Aurifil nylon, I was surprised because I thought everyone knew that “polyester invisible was better”. I was a bit skeptical because of my past experiences. But I really like Aurifil cotton threads, so I’m thinking they must have a good reason for choosing to make their version of invisible thread in nylon. They don’t say much about it on their website. In fact this was their description: “Aurifil Monofilament is 100% nylon and made in Italy. It is a zero thread breakage product with a smoother finish. Available in both Clear and Smoke shades”. (http://www.aurifil.com/products/monofilament)
I couldn’t find any internet sites that did unbiased comparison testing of these products, but I recently stumbled upon an Australian blog that gave the Aurifil monofilament rave reviews: https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/aurifil/aurifil-invisible-thread-monofilament-stitches-with-ease/. This site recommended another blogger who had tested it under high heat with an iron. She stated it survived the test with flying colors. Read about her test and comments here: http://quokkaquilts.com/aurifil-abuse-mythbusting/
I decided to do some stitching tests of my own. I tried two different nylon invisibles, and two different polyester invisibles. Here they each are – taped to a piece of paper:
The thicknesses were quite different, but to my surprise, they all performed about the same. Each of them needed to have the tension lowered, even for machine guided stitching. When free motion quilting, the Aurifil needed to have the tension lowered the most. I felt the look and feel was comparable between all of them. I used them to do free motion quilting on a large wallhanging I was working on and, I felt they all sewed well and gave me a look I was pleased with, once the tension was adjusted. This was eye opening. Now I’m not sure which is best. Perhaps they’re all good (please note, I did not do intense, conclusive testing – just a bit of playing ).
At this point I decided to contact an expert. Diane Guadynski is an amazing, prizewinning quilter and also a dear friend. She was the first free motion quilter I ever took a class from (and one of the best!), and at that time she was using nylon invisible. So, I recently emailed her with my questions and here are some of her thoughts (used with her permission):
“I used it (nylon) in all my work for years, and I did heat set things, used quilts on beds, washed and dried them and it stayed clear and flexible, not brittle or yellow and didn’t break.” … “I haven’t used invisible thread for a long time, just here and there as needed.” She said that after a while she began “using silk thread top and bobbin, with a new set of things to worry about!”
“Truly I think a majority of the problems that came about from nylon thread were due to incorrect use in the machine – wrong tension primarily, threading problems, and wrong bobbin thread, wrong bobbin tension.
Another interesting thing about invisible threads, all types, is that some machines like one brand or nylon v. poly, and it’s good to try another type if your machine doesn’t work well with it. Getting that perfect combo of bobbin thread and invisible is tricky but once you find what your machine likes you can relax and it should work fine.”
Her final comment: “I hope people realize that it’s more demanding than any opaque threads (well, except metallic, eeeeek).”
Thank you so much Diane!
If you like to use invisible thread in your quilts with good results, or you have tried this new thread from Aurifil, please share you thoughts with a comment at the end of this post.
Product #2 – Chrome Needles
When the titanium coated sewing machine needles first came out, I had to try them. I liked them, but didn’t notice a huge difference between them and the old fashioned needles I was use to. Plus, they are more expensive. At Quilt Fest, Terrie (I’m learning a lot from her!) shared that Floriani has come out with a chrome plated needle made by Schmetz.
You can read all about them and watch a video here: http://www.florianisoftware.com/products/Floriani-Chrome-Needles/
I’ve purchased them and I’m anxious to give them a try. I’ll share my thoughts in a future post. Have you used them? What is your opinion? Please let us know by commenting on this post!
One thing to note: even though these needles are made by Schmetz, they are available exclusively through Floriani.
Upcoming Event – for your information!
I’ll be teaching at the National Quilting Association Show this Summer in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’ve been a member of NQA for years, and have had many quilts in their shows, but never was able to attend myself. So, I’m really looking forward to being a part of this year’s show. For all the information click here, and for a listing of all the classes click here!