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My Quantum Leap live online class on Saturday was TERRIFIC! During the class, one of my students asked about using variegated thread for quilting. I shared with her some of the benefits and the pitfalls -- in this post I'll share my answer with all of you!
Variegated thread -- thread that includes a variety of colors -- can do several things when used for quilting. interestingly, depending on the surrounding fabric, they may be completely opposite.
Quilted over a busy print, variegated thread can blend in and hide. This is great for allover quilting where the quilting doesn't coordinate with the piecing.
Quilted over a solid fabric, variegated thread can show off the quilting. And, when there are a variety of colors of fabric, a variegated thread can pull together the fabric colors, unifying the overall quilt design. This is what happens in the sample quilt I make in the Free-Motion Mastery in a Month book. Here's the full quilt:
And here's one block. Before quilting:
After quilting with variegated thread. See how the thread colors
pick up the fabric colors? This really pulls together the whole quilt.
Variegated thread can play tricks on you, however.
This photo illustrates two things to watch out for:
1) A variegated thread can disappear in places. If you're going to quilt with variegated thread over a solid color fabric where it will be seen, make sure that every color in the thread is different from the underlying fabric color. Otherwise, portions of the thread will disappear, leaving "holes" in your quilting. In the example above, the thread is turquoise, coral and white. All the colors show up against the dark blue fabric in the middle. But the coral portions of thread disappear over the red fabric on the right -- see the "empty" space in the middle of the flower? And, the turquoise portions of thread disappear over the turquoise fabric on the left.
2) A variegated thread can appear to change color. When parts of the thread blend into a matching background fabric, only the remaining colors are visible. So, over the red fabric on the right, the thread appears turquoise. And, over the turquoise fabric on the left, the thread appears red.
I love quilting with variegated threads! They are available in many colors from a variety of manufacturers. Some of my favorites are King Tut (a 40-weight cotton thread) and Fantastico (a 40-weight trilobal polyester thread) from Superior Threads. Try some on your next quilt!
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