I’m writing from the depths of thread shred hell and have accumulated what I call “thread shred cred(entials)”. Right after my last post on how well my work with metallic wrapped silk thread was going, it started shredding. At that point I had put in at least 4 shred-free hours when all of a sudden the wheels fell off and I was shredding thread every 4 inches.
How could that happen? It was sudden and dramatic. I have spent well over 20 hours meticulously working through this and still don’t have a solid answer. I even went to the Ultimate Authority on Quilting with a domestic sit down machine, Diane Gaudynski, my hero. She gave me some great tips and referred me to Ann Fahl’s book, Working with Metallics, which I do not have yet. OK, there’s your first clue-someone wrote a whole book on working with metallics! This may be minutia to some of you, but for those of you who work with metallics, I’ll be detailed about my set up and what seemed to work. I am working with cotton backing and squares, but inadvertently chose a poly/cotton blend for my sashing and borders. I have double batted with a layer of Orient and a layer of wool and I spray basted my quilt sandwich together with 505.
I am using YLI “Sparkle” which is a 100wt silk thread wrapped with a metallic strand-it’s so luscious! Sparkle is like a twinkle, a wink, on your quilt. It’s subtle but impactful. My bobbin thread is a Tire silk with a Japanese label so I don’t know anything about it-it feels a little heavier than a 100 wt.
All the shredding is coming from the top thread. See that little imperfection in the right hand side of the photo below? Of course in theory that could have happened as it threaded through my machine-I saw it early in the thread path through the machine.I have tried or done all of the following:
-I started out using Superior Titanium coated “topstitch” needles-had 4 shred-free hours with this until things inexplicably changed.
-Tried “jersey” type needles-Diane Gaudynski had great success with these while using Sparkle thread.
-Tried both of the above type needles in size 70 and 80, even tried a 90 topstitch.
-Opened new packages of each of the above needles. I know that sometimes an entire pack of needles can be bad-wanna ask me how I know??
-Tried various tension settings both bobbin and top-my tension is dead on perfect.
-Tried 2 different delivery systems for my top thread: thread stand and horizontal orientation on my machine (thread is straight wound).
-Tried bypassing one or two of the tensioning points on my machine.
-Even changed machines: went from my Bernina 185 to my Bernina 153.
I even took the cover off of the side of my machine so that I could see the entire thread path and look for any premature signs of shredding. At one point I heard an ominous klunk and this is what I found. Guess there’s a reason why that cover is there, huh? I changed each one of these parameters one at a time in order to isolate the issue. Bottom line, I am not totally sure, but I suspect that my spool of Sparkle has some defects.
I also think that the poly/cotton fabric for the sashing/borders has something to do with it. It pops every time a needle hits it-ick. I wonder if that scratchy poly is playing havoc with the delicate metallic wrap on the Sparkle. To be clear, I have worked with Sparkle before and had NO problems-it’s not the thread type per se, but perhaps this particular spool. This was supposed to be my carefree quilt; I was going to put those blocks together and romp across the surface, strewing feathers in my path. This has all been very frustrating and time consuming at a time when I have many deadlines coming up and I need to get work out the door-isn’t that the way it always is? But I am learning a lot about thread shred! Meanwhile, the Sierras are dry as a bone so there has been zero skiing this year. My poor little ski boots are lonely, sniff, sniff. It does keep me at my machine though, giggle!
Despite all this trauma, I love the way this quilt is turning out and I’m having great fun…when I’m not shredding.