What threads can I use with my APQS machine?
Threads are like candy to the longarm quilter’s soul. There are so many colors, sizes, textures and styles to choose from. But how do you know which ones will work well in your APQS longarm quilting machine?
The short answer is that if you pick good quality thread you can run just about anything your heart desires. Keep in mind that in a longarm quilting machine the thread has a very long path to take before it ever gets to the eye of the needle. Then, once it enters the eye, it has to pass through the eye multiple times before it every gets to become a stitch. Good quality threads will put up with that abuse, while poorer quality threads will snap and break when asked to travel along such a long path.
One way to discover if you are using a good quality thread is to pull it between your fingers and try to break it. If you can break it with just a small amount of pressure, it doesn’t have the tensile strength you will need for your longarm machine. Remember that you are going to be sewing at a high rate of speed in moving in 360 degrees across the surface of your quilt. By choosing a good quality thread you will have an easier time setting tension on the machine and experience less thread breaks.
As you move your hand down the thread, look for any lumps and bumps or fuzz balls on the thread. Those lumps and bumps will start to tear at the fibers of the thread as it moves through the eye of your needle increasing the risk of thread breaks. Choose a thread that looks smooth and clean.
I like using Polyester thread in my APQS Millie. I have both matte finish and threads with a sheen depending on the look I’m after on my quilt. If you haven’t taken a second look at polyester threads lately, do so! They are amazing and have come a long way from the polyester threads of yesteryear. For a better sense of how the new polyester threads have changed and why they are finding a large following these days, don’t miss this great article .
For those who are cotton purists, seek out cotton thread that is labeled as “extra long staple.” The staple refers to the length of cotton fiber the thread is made from. An “extra long staple” is thread made with very long fibers, which gives the cotton thread extra strength and makes it easier to use in your longarm. Remember that cotton thread will kick off more lint than a manmade fiber so you may need to clean out the bobbin area a bit more often.
Of course, don’t stop there! There are so many lovely threads to choose from the thread candy store. Grab some and play to find out what looks you love. Don’t miss the incredible variegated threads available today. Selecting colors when using a variegated thread can be challenging. Take a look at this article for help on selecting just the right color. Some more fragile threads may require you to thread the machine slightly differently. Some may require you to lower your tension settings. Others may need you to slow down a bit because they are more finicky.
Above all, keep in mind that good quality thread may cost a bit more but in the long run but it is worth it! Remember this when you are given a bag of thread from Aunt Martha that has been cooking in her attic for years and years. Just because you were gifted thread it doesn’t mean you have to use it. Those old wooden spools full of old thread would look better on display than in your quilt top!
For more information on the different ways to thread your APQS longarm machine, be sure to watch this video. If you are having thread breaks and would like some help discovering what may be the cause, read over this article from our blog. You may also like to ask questions about threads over in our forums or, call your local dealer for more info.
We want you to play with all the beautiful, yummy threads on the market today. Don’t feel limited but do choose good thread so you can focus on your quilting design to express your quilty dreams!