I received an interesting question this week about how to solve the spotty effect that happens when the bobbin thread pulls up to the top, or the top thread pulls through to the back, when you are quilting.
I know some people like to make this happen deliberately when they are thread painting as it can add an extra highlight colour but, for other people, it can be very frustrating when quilting.
I’ve been trolling the Internet and just thought I would ask you as I can’t find the answer that I need. I am using Aurifil 50w thread for quilting an all cotton quilt, batting as well. I am using a red thread on top and a white on the back. No matter how much I adjust the tension in both the top and bobbin I’m either getting a red dot of fabric thru the back or a white dot of fabric thru to the front. I’ve changed to the finest needle I have which is a 60/8, thinking that by creating a smaller hole this might help. Can I ask please, what needle size you would normally recommend with this thread weight? Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks and regards, Kim
Our advise was:
Longarm Quilters call the phenomena that you are talking about “Freckling”.
It happens because two very strong contrasting colours are used. When quilting, the machine is being forced to work in manner that does not allow the needle to penetrate the fabric to pull up the bobbin thread before the machine (or in this case the quilt) has been moved.
Ideally the needle & bobbin thread should form a lock in the middle, between the layers being stitched, but because of the way we move the machine head (or quilt top) this does not always happen perfectly when quilting.
If the machine was stationery, and the feed dogs were moving the fabric under the foot in a controlled manner, as happens for general sewing, there would be less freckling but there is still no guarantee if 2 very strongly contrasting threads are used.
A different needle will not make a difference. The only way to reduce the freckling is to compromise with the thread colour to reduce the contrast between the colour of the thread in the needle & bobbin. Try a softer red & a creamier “white’ to reduce the contrast.
And the happy result was:
Jenny thanks so much for your email. It is the strong contrast that’s doing it! Strong red and plain white!
I’ll experiment with some other colours and see if I can’t find a compromise. I really do appreciate you taking the time to answer my email. I was completely frustrated and knew it wasn’t the thread or machine.
Now I get to go and buy some more Aurifil lol.
Have a great day, Kim
The solution to my “freckle” quilting above would have been to use a solid coloured thread in the bobbin that was in the same colour family as the variegated thread.
I know that If I can twist the needle & bobbin threads together, and they blend rather than shout out, any freckling in the stitching will be less obvious and the colour more consistent over the entire quilt.
This twisting trick works for highly contrasting solid thread colours as well. If you must use a different colour in needle and bobbin then find a compromise with the threads that allows them to meld together to form a new colour that will sit well on the quilt.
Of course it is sometimes also necessary to adjust the needle or bobbin tension to loosen, or tighten, one of the threads but that is answer for another time.
We plan to make “the answer your question” post a regular feature so do send us a question and we will see if we can help.
No guarantees but we will do our best.