Quilting with Metallic Threads

Posted by on May 7, 2014

Because quilts should have a little “Bling!”


Metallic thread comes in all colors, many different strengths, smooth and rough textures and soft and wire like properties. To find a metallic thread that will run well on a long arm…

  • Break the thread with your hands to see if it’s tough.
  • Run it between your fingers to see if it’s smooth or if you can feel the windings on the thread. Smooth is better.
  • If you can find a softer, less wire-like metallic it will behave better when going through the thread guides.

The next few educational tips should help you use metallic threads on your long arm machine.

  1. Choose a less dense batting so you won’t build heat in the needle. (Metallics are usually heat sensitive threads.) I use poly, even for my competition quilts.
  2. Choose a high speed needle that is slim lined so it won’t build heat stitching. Some machine companies offer a needle especially for metallic threads and it has to do with the sculpture of the needle.
  3. Always use netting on the spool or cone so the thread will feed smoothly.
  4. Metallics run best if the bobbin thread is a normal soft thread.
  5. Sew your quilt together with normal threads but decorate with the metallics, as the longevity of a normal sewing thread is much longer.
  6. Loosen up on your top tensions so that you do not stretch the metallic thread and cause a stretched thin area, as it will cause breakage when quilting.
  7. When pulling your thread out, as you would when you stop and start, caution on stretching—try to help the thread come down and through the needle by grabbing the thread right after the take up lever and working the thread down toward the needle slowly and carefully.
  8. Use about a 10 stitch per inch selection as the stitch is a little larger and reflects light a bit more, making your work a little sparklier!
  9. Test the thread, sewing every direction before you commit to an entire quilting project so that you are sure it has no issues concerning directional sewing.
  10. If you are building heat in your needle, stop every so often and let the needle cool.

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