Monday, February 15, 2016

Is invisible thread a cop out?

I fully planned to not use invisible thread on the blue abstract quilt. I seem to use invisible thread a lot. I picked a light medium blue to do the cross hatching in the blue "windowpane" areas and after doing a few sections decided I did not like the look. I wanted the individual blue blocks to maintain their values for the overall look of the gradations. So I ripped out the quilting and decided to use invisible thread.

Why do I feel bad about using invisible thread? Seems it is frowned upon by many, many quilters. I think a lot of quilters have a hard time with it and do not like it for that reason. I have been using it for years and love using it. I do know not to use it in a baby quilt due to the dangers of it wrapping around a small finger or toe. I use YLI's nylon invisible thread. It is what is is used by the famous machine heirloom quilter Harriet Hargrave.

So I re-quilted the first section and this is how it looks. It looks so much better than the blue thread. It adds the texture without the thread changing the color values of the blocks which I did not want to do.  As you can see my quilting is not perfect! That will not really show once this quilt is washed and blocked.  The grid quilting really makes the black overlays pop. You can see all the batting fuzz on the black fabric. Sometimes a quilt seems to get uglier before it is done being quilted.

Of course to add insult to injury most of my marks rubbed off and now I have to use painters tape to mark the lines. Here is a section taped and ready to quilt. I have to tape 4 times to get all the lines.
  • Along the block diagonals one way
  • Along the diagonals the other way
  • In between the diagonals once way 
  • In between the diagonal the other way

I decided rather than turning the quilt a billion times to hop over the black shapes and quilt along straight lines next to the tape. This is easier. Still a section takes a while to complete. At least my neck is not hurting today.

Of course I am having second thoughts about how I am quilting it and using invisible thread once again.  Although I try to tell myself that this is such a strong design that it does not matter how I quilt it as long as it does not distract from the design. But then I am the queen of second guessing....

I have been having this thread discussion with my friend Sheila aka Idaho Beauty. In fact she wrote about this in her blog today.

I used nothing but invisible thread in the quilt I made for my MIL for Christmas. I got a lot of compliments from friends in the development and no one noticed it was invisible thread.

What do you think about invisible thread? Is it a cop out?

So now the question is whether to quilt the black sections with black tread or smoke colored invisible thread...another decision... I am beginning to think my thread choice is based on my mood for the day.

Thanks for reading. Back to listening to Copland's Appalachian Spring while quilting.



  1. Your quilting looks great! I think you made the right choice. Even tho I love the look of quilting with cotton thread, I often default to invisible monofilament because of the distraction factor - except for bed/functional quilts. I'm always afraid the slippery invisible thread wouldn't hold up to repeated washings.

  2. Thanks for the link back to my blog. It's always helpful to "talk" these things out with someone besides our self. I think it is a good way to stumble upon solutions - and they don't have to be suggested by the other person. I too learned to use invisible thread through Harriet Hargrave's book and classes with Diane Gaudinsky who taught Heirloom Machine quilting. I had reached that stage in my quilting life when I realized I'd never get the quilts I wanted to make done if I didn't learn how to machine quilt, yet I didn't want the look of machine quilting that was usually the norm where the thread showed up so much. I wanted the look and texture of hand quilting where with rare exceptions, the thread matched the fabric, blending right in and that is exactly what the invisible thread could give me.

    I too have never had a problem with it running through my machine - even use it in the bobbin (although getting it wound on the bobbin is sometimes tricky). Kay, I've used it through the needle with cotton thread in the bobbin on bed size and lap quilts, ones that I have machine washed a lot over the years and the quilting is holding up fine. If anything, it's the cotton thread that may weaken and break even with it in both the top and bottom. Today's monofilament threads, if you buy the good quality like Chris has mentioned, is lovely to work with compared with what was available back in the 70's or even 80's. I wouldn't use it on everything, but there's definitely a place for it in my thread box.

    As for why it got the bad reputation for being a cop out - perhaps because so many of us used it at one time primarily because it hid our stitches that we were somewhat embarrassed by. What do you have to hide, ladies? Aren't your stitches straight and even? lol


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