January 22, 2016

Auditioning the Thread

I learned a painful lesson on quilt 52.

I mounted the quilt on the longarm and got busy stitching.  The thread colours I considered for this project were black, red, and pale green.  I selected the green because I didn't want the stitching to detract from the points on the star blocks, and I was sure it would "fade" into the poppy print.

Well, folks, I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  After making the first pass across the top, and starting back on the second pass, the thread broke.

Thank GOD.

When using groovy boards (as I was in this case), you stand behind the machine - and you really don't see the first pass very well from that position because it's hidden behind the top leader bar. So when the thread broke, I walked around to the front and saw what was happening:

(click the photo to see a larger image)
Far from "fading" into the poppies, that thread was obscuring them! 

I was just SICK.

This quilt is for my friend Anna - who loves poppies.  The poppies are the whole point to this quilt, and that light green thread was just overpowering them.

When I selected that thread, I pulled a foot-long strand off the spool and laid it across the quilt - one strand in a single line.  It looked pretty good that way.  What I SHOULD have done is what you see below:

Laying about a yard of thread down, and swirling it around and over the prints allows you to see what is really going to happen, especially with the stippling stitching pattern.

So, OK - what does red thread look like?
It does a better job of fading on the poppy print, but it's still VERY visible, and it SCREAMS on top of the black and green. This quilt is about the poppies, not the stitching.  So let's look at the black:
The black is pronounced on the green background, but fades well into the poppies and becomes all but invisible on the black.  I don't want the quilting stitches to draw a lot of attention, so looks to me like the black thread is the best option.  Even so - hm...  I'm reconsidering how to quilt this.  In lieu of the stippling groovy board, this one might be better done in free-motion.  If I do that, I can use the black thread and simply omit quilting in the green blocks altogether.

So, yeah.  A painful lesson.  I had no choice but to pick out the quilting I'd done so far.  I couldn't keep going with the green, it was wrecking Anna's quilt!  Oh... painful.  It took 25 minutes to do the quilting, just over 4 hours to pick it out.  Fortunately, the fabric is high-quality cotton calico.  There are no marks left on it after the unpicking.

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