Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Finding the Right Tension for Decorative Thread

I just got my first spool of GlaMore Thread from Wonderfil.  It's twelve weight rayon with one twist of metallic.  It's an amazing decorative thread, but I knew finding the right tension was going to be a challenge.

The first thing I do when working with a new thread is put in a brand new needle of the type the manufacturer recommends.  For fussy threads I like to use topstitch needles.  Since this thread was a 12 weight, I went with a 100 size needle instead of a 90.  I didn't want to put the same thread in the bobbin, so I chose a 50 weight cotton thread from Aurifil in black.  Once I was sure that my machine was set up correctly and the thread went through the needle smoothly, it was time to play with tension.

When determining the best tension for a thread I like to stitch curves.  You can see more tension issues on curves than you can on straights.  I started by stitching at the standard machine setting on my machine 5.25.  You can see below that there was bottom thread poking up.  So I lowered the tension to 4.5 and it got a little better.  I knew I was going in the right direction.  If it had gotten works I would have made the tension higher instead.

Here is the back of that sample.  It looks good for the most part.  I now knew that 4.5 was fairly close to the correct tension and it was time for fine tuning.

Here you can see what I did for fine tuning.  I stitched at 4, 4.25, 4.5, and 4.75 in succession and with the same formation.  A curl and then some spiky points.  This will tell me about tension.  Make sure to mark the sections with a fabric marker so you know which tension is which!  I've forgotten and had to start over.  

Next, I pulled the fabric out of the machine and really looked at the tension to see which was best.  It looked to be 4.5.

The last step is to test the thread on the actual materials you're using for your quilt.  I found that the quilt I used this thread on had a different batting in it and liked a slightly different setting.  The sample best tension was 4.5.  The best tension on my actual quilt was 4.0.  This is an important part of the process too.

So....I know you're wondering what I actually used this thread for.  Stay tuned because for now it's secret sewing.  I will tell you however that I had NO TROUBLE with snags or snarls and that it worked like a dream.  I see many more colors of this thread in my future!

I hope you get to quilt today!

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