I love figuring things out. I like the problem-solving aspects of sewing. I like making things work, using materials and techniques in new ways to achieve a desired result. I like it when ideas swirl in my brain. My brain has been pretty quiet the past few years, with not too much swirling going on. But I had an idea for a quilt I’m working on, and I tried it, and it worked! It feels good 🙂
Machine embroidery finds its way into much of my work, both garments and quilt, and sometimes in new and unusual ways. I particularly like using machine-embroidered free-standing lace on my quilts. These are designs that have been specifically digitized to be stitched on a water-soluble substrate, then, when the substrate is dissolved, the threadwork remains. Not every design can be used like this. Well, any design can be stitched on water-soluble stabilizer, but when the stabilizer is dissolved, all that will remain is a wad of thread! FSL designs have a great deal of supportive stitching, and retain their shape when the stabilizer is removed. I’m quite partial to Zundt FSL designs, and all of the samples below are from Zundt.
With free-standing lace, the back of the design will be visible as well as the front. When I attach the lace as an edging or insert on my quilts, the back of the lace can be seen on the back of the quilt. And the back is half the quilt! I want the back to be pretty.
This is lace from the first quilt on which I used FSL (free-standing lace). Here’s the front…
Pretty, right? But here’s the back…
Yuck, I used white bobbin thread, and it definitely detracts from the look. (My quilting tension, with dark blue thread in the needle and white thread in the bobbin, on a white backing, leaves a lot to be desired, as well! But this was one of my first show quilts.)
Using the same or matching color thread in the needle and bobbin solves the problem. Front…
With silver and light gray, I was able to use only light gray thread in the bobbin with good effect. Front…
I almost always use Superior Threads Bottom Line thread in the bobbin for machine embroidery. It’s the perfect weight, it creates no lint, and it comes in lots of colors, so I can match the bobbin thread pretty closely to the top thread.
Here’s another sample, front…
…and back. I changed bobbin thread, using light gray for the silver metallic sections, and purple for the rest.
Okay, now let’s say I’m using a lace design with lots of colors, and I can’t use the same bobbin thread for the whole design without having the back look ugly. And let’s say that I’m making edging for a big quilt, and need to stitch this design 80 or 90 times! That’s a lot of bobbin changes. But we do what we need to do! And that’s what I did for the lace on Gloria’s Garden.
You can see on the back that I changed a lot of bobbins!
Here’s the back of that section, which I stitched with green bobbin thread.
Yuck, right?! Not pretty at all! So….(here’s where the idea comes in!)…I thought, why can’t I use monofilament in the bobbin? I’ve used monofilament in the bobbin for quilting, although not often, and it works just fine. So I wound a bobbin, stitched out some designs, and…
Wow! Look at that back!
It’ll be great for my quilt! The monofilament bobbin thread even makes the front look better, I think. I used Superior MonoPoly Reduced Sheen Clear. It stitched beautifully on my 15-needle commercial machine. I haven’t tried it on a home combo machine, but I have no reason to think that it wouldn’t work well. I like to dissolve away all the stabilizer in my lace so it has a nice soft hand. The final product with MonoPpoly is just a bit stiffer than if it were stitched with Bottom Line, but not much. An added benefit is that you can wind a LOT of monofilament on a bobbin! I think I’ll do it this way a lot!
Now I know that I’m probably the only person in the world who makes FSL to edge large quilts! But many of you make bookmarks and Christmas ornaments and small FSL items. This technique would be great for that! Try it and let me know if you like it!