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Working with Metallic Thread

by Christine Baker

Lucy’s tips

As I said yesterday, I’m not an expert in working with metallic thread, so I asked Lucy Garvin from WonderFil if she had any tips that I could share with you. Here’s what she sent me:

1) I find that with metallics, the problem most people have is a feeding issue – how the thread feeds off the spool on their machine. The small spools on a horizontal spool pin will always cause problems as the thread wants to ‘jump’ off the spool. Doesn’t matter who makes it, it’s the nature of the thread. Put it on an upright spool pin or even better, take it off the machine completely and put it on a thread stand.

2) If you find that the metallic is starting to twist, try flipping the thread spool over. Sometimes it’s that simple. Other things you can try:

  • move the thread stand away from the machine to give the thread room to relax
  • Loosely wrap a WonderGuard around the spool. You want the thread to flow freely, not bind it with the wrap. When you put the wrap on, pull a bit of the thread and notice which direction it’s coming off the spool. The first edge that you put down, needs to be facing the same direction that the thread is going.

3) Loosen the top tension. Depending on your machine, this may be a little or a lot.

4) Sew at a moderate speed.

5) Use a fine polyester, like DecoBob, in the bobbin

6) Use a 90/14 metallic or topstitch needle. (I prefer a topstitch)

7) On some machines, skipping the last thread guide before the needle helps to prevent shredding. (Having used many brands of machines, there are some machines that you just can’t do this with.)

8) When quilting, use for wall quilts and art quilts.

9) Don’t use a horizontal spool pin. For optimum results with the 400m reels, use on a vertical spool pin or on the horizontal pin of a Thread Tamer™. For optimum results with the 2000m cones, use of a Thread Tamer™ and Wonder Guard™ – both by WonderFil is strongly recommended.

The Thread Tamer™

When Lucy mentioned the Thread Tamer™ in her email I had to check it out and it looks amazing! I have just a regular thread stand which works fine for general sewing and machine quilting. But, the Thread Tamer™ would have been awesome to use last month when I was couching with multiple threads – maybe I’ll have to ask for one for Christmas!

Thread Tamer by WonderFil

Multi-task thread stand that holds spools for couching, cording, vertical and perpendicular drawing. Comes with an extension.

Online videos

Before I try using these new threads I always like to do some research to make sure that my experience (and yours) is a positive one. Lucy has produced many instructional videos for WonderFil threads. I suggest you check them out, especially the ones that deal with using the Spotlite threads and WonderGuard thread wraps.

Spotlite – Introduction – YouTube

Introduction to Spotlite – WonderFil’s 40 wt metallic thread Website: Facebook: Twitter: @wonderfilthread

Spotlite – Decorative Stitching – YouTube

How to do decorative stitching with Spotlite: 40 wt metallic thread Website: Facebook: Twitter: @wonderfilthread

Time for some practice stitching

Now that we have researched and watched the videos, we need to try the metallic threads in our sewing machines. We need to make the necessary adjustments to the tension in order for the stitches to look their best. Follow Lucy’s tips to thread your machine and wrap your spool of thread. Then, use a scrap of fabric to test some different stitches. When I did a straight stitch, the tension looked fine, but once I tried something a little more complex, I could easily see that my top tension was too high as the DecoBob was being pulled through to the top.

Testing the tension

Testing the tension

I adjusted the top tension down to “2” and this solved the problem.

adjusting the tension

adjusting the tension

Try some different stitches

The more complex the stitch, the more beautiful the Spotlite thread appeared as you can see in this picture. I rarely wish that I had a machine with a bigger selection of decorative stitches, but today is one of those days! I encourage you use the Spotlite thread to try a new stitch that you have never used before – I’m sure you will be amazed!

Decorative stitches using Spotlite thread

Decorative stitches using Spotlite thread

Even my free motion quilting looks awesome with this thread and so far I’ve not had the thread break even once! 

Free motion quilting with Spotlite

Free motion quilting with Spotlite

Decorative thread homework for tonight

Now that we have worked out the kinks when working with metallic thread, keep practicing with your Spotlite thread and try out a multitude of your decorative stitches. Tomorrow we’re going to start working on our project for this week – a Christmas wall hanging featuring decorative stitching with Spotlite thread.



Fred September 13, 2015 - 2:26 am

Great tuto, thanks. I would like to try one day!

Diane Sinclair Meigs January 25, 2015 - 9:40 am

Love your designs and inspiration on all aspects on machine sewing and embroidery. Beautifully done.Thank you


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