Prevent Thread Shedding

Nothing is more beautiful than a colorful quilt right? And variegated thread such as King Tut or Fantastico can add so much color and dimension. I know, inwardly you groan because you may have had problems with this type of thread breaking and/or shredding. As you know there is nothing worse than sewing along and the thread keeps breaking! We’ve all been there and it’s a huge waste of time not to mention the frustration! Many people shy away from variegated thread because of its frailty and tendency to shred. So let’s see if we can do to solve some of these problems.


Problems With Inferior Thread

There are a couple of problems that will result from using an inferior thread. First, most cheaply made thread will be too thick which leaves the quilt looking thready and uneven. Secondly, cheap thread is too fibrous leaving lint every where, which we all know is a longarm quilters nightmare and well…the list of problems just continues to grow. Believe me when I say that I have tried a myriad of brands having been told that theirs was by far the best thing since sliced bread; guaranteed not to break or shred. Needless to say they stretched the truth. So in my search for top quality variegated thread I found Superior Threads to have the highest quality thread for a fair price. Both King Tut and Fantastico have been exactly what I was looking for and I have been exclusively with Superior Threads for all my thread needs (along with other sewing needs as well).

Tricks of the Trade

In working with variegated thread and having gone through the same frustrations, we at Making Quilts have found a few tricks that have helped us. None of these suggestions are fool proof but at least they can be a place to start.


  • On most, if not all, longarm machines there are thread guides that have three or more holes that you normally weave the thread down, up and then down again. Try only threading through the middle hole. This takes some of the tension off the thread.
  • The tension on both the top and bobbin thread should be quite a bit looser than with other threads. Even if you are not using the variegated thread in the bobbin, the tension still has to be looser so it doesn’t break (or cut) the top thread.
  • Start with a new needle and check your machine for any barbs that may cause shredding and/or breaking.
  • I have also found that backing off the tension of the quilt so there’s a shallow drape helps to keep this type of thread from breaking and/or shredding.

Once you get used to working with these threads you’ll open up a whole new world for your quilting! I know you will love the look that variegated threads can bring to any quilt.

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