Many Ways With Walking-Foot Quilting

Despite the fact that it typically takes longer than free-motion quilting, I usually prefer to quilt with my walking foot.

I’ve been working on samples for a class on walking-foot quilting I’ll be teaching later this year.. Some of these samples confirmed my previous preference for Superior brand threads, and for polyester threads particularly.

This sample was done with a famous brand of cotton quilting thread. The stitches with this thread did NOT want to sink into the quilt sandwich. They came loose at every opportunity. That was a particular problem because of the number of stops and starts in the design. I generally have good luck using the lock stitch on my machine at the beginning and end of each section, but this thread just popped right back out. Ugh.

This background was quilted with Superior Bottom Line in both the bobbin and the needle. That combination did its usual great job of showing the lines without making the thread stand out. I often use this pattern as background for fusible applique, so that’s what I did with this example. After all, what else was I going to do with that orphan block from which I cut the circle?

Then I just made a bunch of straight lines with various threads and stitches. I expect this is what most people will want to do.

There are a lot of fun quilting threads out there. So far I’ve been happiest with polyester for a number of reasons, but I also have some King Tut (cotton) that works quite well.

What’s your favorite thread for machine quilting? Maybe I’ll find something new!

10 thoughts on “Many Ways With Walking-Foot Quilting

    • That thread might have worked if I had been willing to fool with it. A different bobbin thread or a tension adjustment might have helped. Or, instead of using the lock stitch I could have pulled the threads through to the back, tied a knot by hand, and then buried the ends. I’ve done all those in the past, but life is short and so is my patience, so if a thread doesn’t work I move on.

  1. This balance between thread and needle types used along with the loft and type of batting…and the fabric content of the darn thing being quilted makes a big difference in outcome, doesn’t it?
    HA! I am surprised at you finding out the standard ‘cotton is best’ for quilting thread in the ‘walking foot quilting’ application is not panning out to be quite true. Sometimes it’s fun to play around with these ‘balances’ other times it just gets in the way of having a project progress in a timely manner.
    I noticed quite by accident, that machine quilting with the walking foot on my latest ‘experimental piece’ yielded great results with the ‘Premium Sulky 40 wt Rayon’ I used as the top thread with a basic Gutterman 100% polyester in the bobbin. I was just interested in using a shiny varigated thread for that ‘experiment’.
    Your findings validate my ‘rogue’ use of a non-cotton based thread! Thanks, Zippy.

  2. Oh how I wish I could do your course. I am quite new to walking foot quilting, but am quickly becoming a fan.
    I confess that I often just use ordinary dressmaking thread when doing walking foot quilting. It’s a case of needs must as I do not have ready access to a store that stocks speciality thread. I have a good range of colours in Seralon dressmaking threads.
    I have found that Gutterman’s Sulky thread worked nicely, as does Mettler’s Silk Finish. Both are 100 per cent cotton and I have used these for machine quilting special quilts. (I am a bit nervous of polyester as it may disintegrate in years to come. I learnt during one of the museum preservation courses I did that natural fibres last a lot longer than synthetic ones.)

  3. Favorite thread when I want the quilting to sing: Magnifico by Superior Threads
    Favorite thread when I want it to disappear: Bottom Line or MicroQuilter, both by Superior Threads
    Favorite thread when I need it to be background: So Fine, by Superior

    I have a harder time with King Tut, although I do like it and have used it a lot, because as you noted, it’s thicker and sits on top. It’s one of those mandatory-to-tie-off threads, as it’s too thick to just backstitch (shows too much). If I’m doing a fancy quilt, I will also tie off my threads, and although I’m getting faster at it, I am not a fan but a self-threading needle does help the process.

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