Shulamit Ron contributes and manages our blog. Shulamit was Born in Kishinev, former USSR. Immigrated to Israel in 1972. She graduated Architecture and Town Planning, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa

Shulamit started quilting in 1984 after accidentally discovering two quilting books in a bookstore. She served on the Board of the Israel Quilters’ Association (2000) and as a Chairperson (2001), participated in group exhibitions in Israel and worldwide, held several solo exhibitions, and published in books and magazines.

Shulamit’s work is based on original designs, influenced by the art and archaeology of Israel and the Middle East. Her work involves a lot of hand embroidery and embellishment. She has made several Ark curtains and Torah mantles for synagogues of the Progressive and Conservative Judaism movements in Israel.

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As a quilter, my interest in threads is very specific and actually relatively limited. I use the sewing machine for piecing (patchwork),appliqué and quilting. Embroidery I usually do by hand. So when I evaluate thread, I look at how it performs with straight stitches for piecing, satin and buttonhole stitches (for appliqué) and straight freehand stitching for quilting. I use the same stitches to test sewing machines.

When I was introduced to Madeira threads, I ran a standard test of straight, satin and buttonhole stitches on several varieties of thread:Lana, Cotona, rayon, metallics, and some novelty threads. All the threads were tested on the same piece of fabric with the same stabilizer. I did use the appropriate type and size of needle for every thread type.

Piecing   

I fell in love with Cotona No, 50. It is an absolute dream to piece with. It is thin and strong and has a huge color selection. Personally the color selection was not a factor for me, as I tend to piece with a limited number of colors – usually cream, tan and dark gray.

Appliqué

Most threads behaved beautifully. The biggest surprise was the Lana and the thicker metallics. They all worked exceptionally well. The only thread to cause me grief was the silver metallic (red frame in the picture). It broke several times and was in general very temperamental.Interestingly, the similar gold color thread behaved very well. I liked Cotona very much for the narrow satin stitch, as it provides a nice smooth finish with a slight sheen, and the color selection is exceptional. The metallics, Lana and multicolored threads were great for buttonhole stitching.

Quilting

I focused my testing on the Cotona family – No. 30, No. 50 and No. 80. All are great threads for quilting and can be used also in the bobbin,although cotton bobbinfill is a good option as well. #50 is the most versatile and has a large selection of colors, including beautiful variegated threads. It is thin enough to work well in designs with backtracking and thread build-up,and has a nice unobtrusive presence.

The following sample I quilted with Cotona No.50.

Cotona No. 30 is a bit thicker and therefore more visible, although if you are looking for quilting panache, I would go for a more flamboyant thread. #80 is wonderful for busy background designs where you want to see the texture but not the thread. It’s only drawback is the limited color palette.

The following sample was quilted with the three thicknesses.No.80 was used in the background; No.30 in the contour of the heart and No.50 in the pebble fill inside the heart.

Going to Town

Finally I took a pile of threads and simply played withthem, both on the machine and by hand, doing some extreme quilting andembroidery on a small piece. The result speaks for itself.

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Cotona No.4 and Decora No.6 are threads for decorative seaming.  Therefore,  it is  recommended to use those threads only with overlock machines and threw the gripper/hook, shown in the picture.
Those threads can only be stitched out of the bobbins, the technique is called bobbinwork. In this technique you stitch from the back side of the fabric, as the threads is in the bobbin. In the top needle there is normal thread, or bobbin thread.
The pictures show embroidery done using this technique.    
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Frosted Matt is a true matte finish polyester embroidery thread. It contains a ceramic ingredient that provides extreme color fastness, making it extremely resistant to fading from sunlight. This general use embroidery thread from Madeira, runs like either of Madeira’s general use 40 weight threads: Classic Rayon or Polyneon.
However, Frosted Matt has some very unique properties. While it runs like any 40 weight thread, its matte finish gives embroidery great clarity, making it great for fine lettering and it can withstand commercial laundering similar to our 100% polyester Polyneon.
Helpful Hints
  1. Frosted Matt is a 40 weight thread, but slightly thinner than a normal #40 weight so it is recommended when filling in large areas that you adjust the density.
  2. For best results digitizing for Frosted Matt, set the punch parameter to 3.5 or .35 to maximum 4.0 or .40 stitch density.
  3. A #65/9 or #75/11 needle is recommended.
  4. Frosted Matt has great clarity to it when embroidered due to its matte finish, making it ideal for fine lettering.
  5. Frosted Matt behaves the same as Madeira’s 100% polyester Polyneon thread when laundered. It can hold up to bleach so long as the amount added does not exceed 20 grams per liter of water. This means it can withstand commercial laundering. Its wash water should not exceed 140 ̊F. When dry cleaning, any solvent except Trichloroethylene can be used.
 
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Don’t be afraid of using metallic threads for embroidery and decorative effects. They may be more sophisticated and technical than Viscose, Polyneon or Cotton standard yarns as their construction is more complicated. However, they are easy to use if you follow the following recommendations:
  • When using metallised threads, embroidery should not be too dense. Embroidery programs should consequently be digitized or changed accordingly
  • We recommend reducing the embroidery machine speed, in order to prevent thread breaks and to achieve an even embroidery
  • We recommend reducing the thread tension. A high tension may cause problems with metallised threads
  • Change the embroidery needles before you start embroidering with metallised threads. Choose a suitable needle with a large eye. If in doubt, it is better to use a larger eye needle rather than a small one.   Click here to learn more about Madeira’s needles
  • Due to their complex structure, metallic threads may not unwind as softly as standard Rayon or Polyester embroidery threads. We recommend using the cone net (Art. No. 9464), to ensure steady unwinding from the reel.
 
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MADEIRA’s Smoking gathering thread is a special product. Embroidery with SMOKING is performed using a special bobbin thread, which reacts to heat at a lower temperature than the fabric. The embroidered item is then subjected to heat. The thread shrinks while the fabric does not, casing the fabric to picker in a controlled way. The effects are beautiful and limitless, depending on the stitches and fabrics that are used. Backing is not necessary. No special needles are needed, and shrink embroidery can be sewn on any type of embroidery machine.
The SMOKING thread shrinks when exposed to heat. About 30% when exposed to the correct temperature. A regular household iron is perfect for this purpose. A streamer would also work well.
The fabric that is used is also an important factor. Lighter weight fabrics, such as satin, cotton sheeting, organdie, organza and chiffon, work best – the lighter the fabric, the more the embroidery will pucker. Be creative with this product — now is the time to let your creative spirit soar, try using fun fabrics like lace or lame! Stick with simple designs that consist mostly of run stitches and have a lot of negative space. Keep in mind that any area that is not stitched will puff up once the embroidery shrinks. Areas where the stitching is close together will pucker more.
Once the design is sewn out, remove it from the machine. Up until this point, it will look just like regular embroidery. Now for the fun part: In order to make the embroidery shrink, or puff up, the thread will need to be exposed to heat. So, now is the time to get out your iron or your steamer. Set your iron to the highest temperature that your fabric can tolerate. To prepare the fabric for shrinking, turn it over to the wrong side, bobbin side up. With a light hand, draw the iron over the fabric slowly. You will see the thread begin to shrink and the fabric pucker up. Do not use a heavy hand. Pressing the iron heavily will result in a wrinkled effect. Run the iron over the fabric as many times as you wish in order to get the desired effect. Once the desired effect has been achieved, turn your embroidery over, and VOILA!
Click here for purchasing the SMOKING thread.
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  MADEIRA Glamour is a heavy-weight metallic thread. Essentially it has a polyester main thread, twined with two strands of a metallic thread. This is a beautiful thread with a lot of presence and sparkle. (Glamour No. 8: Art. No. 9804; Glamour No. 12: Art No.9806)
The obvious use of this thread is for machine embroidery, but since my personal interest is in quilting, I will demonstrate here how I use it for raw-edge machine appliqué.
Raw Edge Machine Appliqué
Due to its thickness (No. 12), Glamour is effective in a single buttonhole stitch and has even more spunk in a multi-pass buttonhole stitch. Another option is to use satin stitch.
Thread Color
For design purposes, it is important to notice the color of the main thread and the color of the metallic strands.
To simplify the explanations, I use the following notation: If the thread has a black main thread with a gold metallic, I call it black/gold. If it has a white main thread with a silver metallic, I call it white/silver. If it has an orange main thread with gold and red metallic, I call it orange/gold+red When choosing the thread, I always consider the color of my appliqué fabric:
  • Matching color, just adding some sparkle – matching the color of the main thread to the appliqué. For example, red/yellow appliqué with orange/gold thread (this sample shows Glamour No. 12, color No. 3026: Peach).
  • Matching main thread color to the background and metallic color to the appliqué. For example, red appliqué on black background with black/red thread (this sample shows Glamour No. 12, color No. 3115: Dark Red).
  • Contrasting color – contrasting the color of the thread to the appliqué. E.g., red appliqué with green/gold thread (this sample shows Glamour No. 12, color No. 3257: Avocado).
Practical Tips
Use 100 #16 topstitch or the special MADEIRA Metallic needles. (Art No.9451)
Use a stabilizer. MADEIRA Cotton Soft tear-away stabilizer (Art. 9436) was used in all my samples.
Use a thin bobbin thread – I use the bobbin-fill thread by MADEIRA.
Reduce the top tension. I cannot provide specific recommendations as it is very particular to the brand and condition of your machine. Do test and find the tension that is best for you.
Sew slowly! This thread is temperamental and at high machine speeds the metallic thread may break. Always keep an eye on the thread near the needle – if you don’t see the metallic sparkle – you might be sewing with the solid polyester thread only.
When you stop to cut thread, I recommend cutting off the last 10 cm of the top thread – due to the way a sewing machine works, this section has already gone back and forth through the needle several times and might be weakened.
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Monolon is a transparent polyamide thread. Transparent thread is ideally suited for quilting, when you want to achieve texture without visible color, which is especially important when quilting over patterned fabrics. It is also very useful for quilting patchwork quilts in the ditch, as there are usually contrasting colors across patches and no single thread color would work over a whole quilt.
Piecing the block To test the thread, I started with a single patchwork block. I pieced the block using the Madeira COTONA No. 50 both as the top thread and in the bobbin. The thread worked beautifully and is perfect for piecing due to its thinness.
Quilting I then sandwiched the block with cotton batting and backing. For quilting I used a Microtex needle, polyester Bobbinfil thread, and the MONOLON as the top thread. The bobbin thread I fed through the bobbin case little finger, which slightly increases the bobbin thread tension. This is required because Bobbinfil is rather thin. I also lowered the top thread tension to “2” on my Bernina. Other machines have different settings, so you would need the best setting for you. First I quilted in the ditch using a walking foot. It was a very smooth and pleasing experience. Then I changed to my free motion foot and quilted the background in a variation of Mctavishing. Well, I tried… Here the transparency of the thread became a problem as it was very hard to see the quilted lines and to bounce off them or to backtrack accurately. I took a picture of the back of the block to show the magnitude of the issue. I do have very bad eyesight, and combined with working in the evening with artificial lighting, the problem was probably aggravated. For me, this is not acceptable quality of work
This would be my only complaint – personally I find it hard to free-motion quilt without seeing the quilting lines. This is an inherent conflict of interest, which makes Monolon my favorite for stitch-in-the-ditch and straight stitch designs, but less ideal for free-motion. Experienced machine quilters tell that they started quilting with transparent thread because of its very forgiving nature. Using the bicycle metaphor they called the transparent thread “training wheels”. MONOLON is the perfect “training wheels”. It simply disappears in the background and thus is extremely forgiving of novice mistakes.
The thread behaves beautifully in sewing – I hardly felt any difference between quilting with MONOLON and a cotton thread. It is also well behaved when coming off the spool – it doesn’t tangle and does not require a protective net casing that is often used with other transparent threads. MONOLON thread is transparent. Thread is slightly shiny when used on dark fabrics, and therefore not really invisible.
MONOLON comes in “clear” color which is appropriate for light colored fabrics and “smoke” (dark gray, Art. No. 9663) which works well on dark fabrics.
Click here for Additional information and tips, published in the MONOLON product description
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