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Spotlite: 6 tips for quilting with metallic thread on a longarm machine


Welcome back to this week’s exploration of WonderFil Specialty Threads Spotlite, a shiny, sparkly thread. Yesterday I talked about 6 tips for using Spotlite on a domestic machine, and what to keep in mind for successful quilting every time.

I’m moving along to quilting on my longarm and sharing tips for trouble-free stitching when using Spotlite.

Use WonderFil's metallic thread, Spotlite for beautiful stitching and shiny thread that makes this quilt sparkle.
Free motion quilting with WonderFil’s metallic thread, Spotlite MT8858, Dark Gold


1. Thread Path

Sometimes it's necessary to skip one of the holes in the 3-hole thread guide to keep the thread running smoothly.
Skip a hole in the thread path.


Using metallic thread can require some extra care. Threading the machine is the first step. Just above the tension discs on my longarm machine is a 3 hole thread guide. I generally thread through only 2 of these guides.

I prefer to use the larger cones of 1093yds [1000m] on my longarm, but have been known to use the small 164yds [150m] spools for the color I have in my stash. Because the machine stitches at a much faster rate than my domestic machine, I almost always use WonderFil’s Wonderguard wraps to keep the thread coming off the spool smoothly. If one wrap isn’t enough, I’ll double them up to wrap around the larger cones.

WonderFil Spotlite #8852 Champagne, #6602 Light Gold, #8858 Dark Gold
WonderFil Spotlite #8852 Champagne, #6602 Light Gold, #8858 Dark Gold


2. Needles

Spotlight is a wrapped thread. The metallic strands are wrapped around a rayon core. To keep the thread from shredding, use a needle with a larger eye. I mostly use the size 18 longarm needle for smooth stitching.

3. Bobbin Thread

DecoBob is available in size L and M and class 15 prewound bobbins as well as larger spools.
DecoBob is available in size L and M and class 15 prewound bobbins as well as larger spools.


Using a finer thread in the bobbin is a very good idea. WonderFil’s DecoBob is an 80wt cottonized polyester thread and is ideal for these purposes. This fine thread that helps to reduce any bulk when the two threads wrap within the fabric, it removes the possibility of any tension issues.

DecoBob is available in 3 sizes of prewound bobbins. Class 15 and sizes L and M will fit most sizes of domestic and longarm sewing machines. The thread is also available in 2 sizes of spools.

A finer thread, DecoBob is perfect for your bobbin thread.
A finer thread, DecoBob is perfect for your bobbin thread.


4. Sewing Speed

Just because our longarm machines stitch at a high speed, doesn’t mean we have to use a million stitches to the minute! I have a variety of polyester threads that are designed to work on a high speed longarm. I can work really fast and not have any shredding issues. Spotlite and other specialty threads are not designed that way, so be prepared to slow down. Each machine is different and you’ll need to experiment to see what works best for you.

5. Stitch Length

When we sew slowly, we tend to shorten our stitch length. I prefer to use the regulated stitch control on my machine and set my machine at 10-11 stitches to the inch or even longer at 9-10 spi.

If your stitch length is set too short, the metallic strands are required to fold and bend too tight. This causes tension issues and possible thread shredding and breaking.

The longer stitch length also allows the shine to show! The light doesn’t reflect as much when you use a short stitch length.

WonderFil's metallic thread, Spotlite. MT8858 Dark Gold
WonderFil’s metallic thread, Spotlite. MT8858 Dark Gold


6. Tension

Before you start stitching a project, always do a tension test. Use a small fabric sandwich using the same fabrics as in your quilt and stitch. Use the same speed and stitch length as you plan to use on your quilt. Make sure you stitch straight lines and corners as well as curves. Feel the underside and turn the work over to have a peek at how the stitches look. This is where many quilters will give up!

Don’t give up! Adjust your needle and bobbin tensions. If it looks like the bobbin thread is pulling the needle thread to the back of the quilt, you may need to loosen the bobbin tension. If you’re seeing a lot of bobbin thread on top of the quilt, loosen the needle tension.

WonderFil's Dark Gold MT8858 Spotlite shines in simple quilted feathers.
WonderFil’s Dark Gold MT8858 Spotlite shines in simple quilted feathers.


So far, we had a look at 6 tips for using WondnerFil’s Spotlite thread on a domestic and a longarm machine. Join me the rest of the week as I show off more projects and give a few more little tips, tricks and information about how to quilt and work with Spotlite thread.


This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: Spotlite: 6 tips for quilting with metallic thread on a domestic machine

Go to part 3: Quilting with metallic and polyester threads paired for strength and shine


Allison has an Education degree from University of Winnipeg and many years’ experience teaching aquatics. Allison began teaching sewing and quilting while working at a sewing machine dealer in Calgary, Alberta. She also owned her own fabric store and sewing school for 6 years where she had the wonderful opportunity to teach a wide variety of classes to many sewers, young and old. She now has a studio and classroom in her home and does customer quilts and well as longarm machine rentals. She is a National Handi Quilter Educator. Allison teaches in her studio, locally and in North America. Allison has a very, very supportive husband, 2 daughters and granddaughter close by.

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