by Dawn Cavanaugh
Adding sparkle to your quilts with Metallic threads from Superior is easy on an APQS quilting machine. Some simple adjustments will make quilting with these fun threads easy.
First, begin with a new needle (MR 4.0 or #18 or #19 works great.) Metallic threads are not as rugged as normal quilting thread, and will benefit from a little TLC. Check to make sure that your thread guides do not have notches or grooves in them because the metallic thread will easily shred and break if caught by one. Simply grasp the thread above and below each thread guide, and floss the guide by moving the thread around the inside of the guide. If the thread catches on a notch, order a new thread guide from APQS. In the meantime, loosen the screw on the offending thread guide and rotate the guide 180 degrees, then tighten the screw. Re-positioning the guide will make the metallic thread rub on a different spot away from the notch, so that you can begin quilting right away.
If using a spool, mount the spool on a horizontal spool holder for best performance. Adjust the white spool end caps so that the spool spins freely, but doesn't shift easily between the two end caps. Experiment with whether the spool spins more freely with the thread coming off the top of the spool, or feeding off the bottom.
Friction from the needle increases with metallic threads, so slow down somewhat to keep the needle cool as you sew.
Be sure to loosen the top tension when using metallic thread, sometimes a lot, depending on your initial setting. You'll typically also need to loosen the bobbin case tension as well. Choose a bobbin thread that is smooth, such as Superior's Bottom Line or So Fine! #50 thread. The tiny fibers on cotton thread in the bobbin tend to grab the metallic thread, causing excess breakage.
Finally, to have invisible starts and stops with metallic thread, leave a generous tail of thread when you begin and end the stitching line. Thread these tails on to a quilting needle, and bury the tails into the quilt layers using a traditional hand quilting knot. This keeps your quilt back looking neat and your decorative stitching looking professional.