Open Line Friday–Threads, Meandering and More

Spools of threadGood Morning, Quilters!

Welcome to Open Line Friday!  A day where EVERYONE asks and EVERYONE answers…This is a forum and we now have nearly 6500 people with yards and yards of quilting experience to answer YOUR questions!


I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s debate about the merits of Meandering and Stippling…(Read more HERE)…

I think the Number One Rule of Quilting is:  If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!   If meandering works for you, by all means stitch the stipple!  However, if you’re in the other camp…find something that does work for you!

On that note…


Let’s start this discussion with the premise:  If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

If you are not having any tension problems, then don’t worry how your thread is wound or if you’re using a vertical or horizontal pin.  On the other hand, if you occasionally have tension problems, you may want to consider a thread stand.

Thread.LKennedy001Let’s back up a bit.  Thread can either be cross-wound or straight wound (also known as stacked or parallel wind).  The top two photos of Sulky and Aurifil thread are cross-wound threads.  You can see the angle of the threads on the spool.

On the other hand, some threads are straight wound.  The thread is wound parallel to the base of the thread.  The King Tut by Superior thread pictured below is an example of a straight wound thread.

In general…The Rule is….Straight Wind threads should be placed on a vertical pin, while Cross wound thread should sit on a horizontal pin. 

However, there are exceptions…If your cross wound thread is on a cone, it won’t fit on a horizontal pin and therefore, place it on a vertical pin or a cone holder.

Spools of threadHere’s what works for me…

Many years ago, I purchased this heavy metal thread stand and I put all my thread on it.  (No rules to remember)  Even “cranky” threads like metallic do better on a thread stand. They have more time to unwind and relax before crossing the tension discs.  (Read more about Thread Delivery from Superior Thread’s Education Articles HERE.)

Many people use a large coffee mug or a mason jar.  I use a coffee mug when I’m at a retreat.  At home, I prefer how the thread is elevated before it hits the machine in this method.

Spools of thread


Meander No More:  The Webinar

Just to explain, I use the term “meander” in this case to refer to people who feel lost about how to begin free motion quilting

Several people have asked if the webinar will be recorded…The answer is YES!  It will be recorded and offered at a later date if you can’t make the Wednesday, March 18 at 12:00 CST…(don’t you like how I worked that in to Open Line Friday Q & A!)

Meander No More

Meander No More: Learn to Free Motion Quilt With Confidence


How do YOU handle thread delivery?

What works for YOU?

Any Questions?

We’d love to hear!


PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, share or pin with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

33 thoughts on “Open Line Friday–Threads, Meandering and More

  1. I’ve used the metal thread stand for years and absolutely love the results. Since I have two machines set up at all times, I have two thread stands. I’ve even tied a small piece of decorative ribbon at the base of the tall post to help identify the stand as mine, and I bring it with me to classes and retreats.

  2. Mostly I use the thread holder on my machines, BUT I do have the metal stand too, for the same reason you bought it. Sometimes it’s needed! Mostly I find it isn’t unless I’m using a cone thread on my regular sewing machine then it is needed

  3. Hi Lori, I too, use the heavy thread stand and love it. I first purchased the plastic one, what a mistake. Moved all over the place etc. But the heavy metal one is perfect. I used to have to adjust my tensions quite a lot with different threads, but don’t have to very much now. I found my metallic thread worked really well. I moved the stand a little bit away from my machine and worked even better. The same goes with my invisible thread. Thanks again for all your help in everything. You have helped and encouraged me a lot with my free motion quilting….Claudia

  4. This is a subject in which I am totally lost..No one has mentioned it, ever, since I joined a guild 4 years ago this month and learned to quilt from them, online and books.. I thought those big fat spools are for serger machines.. I need to reread the above, Lori, word for word and study it well. I have too many why questions.. LOL Maybe this will clear up some problems I have had. Thanks !!

    • Marta, check out the link above to the Superior Thread education video. I attended a seminar they did at Quilt Fest last year and found it very helpful.

      • This is sort of changing the subject but I was wondering …when I was a kid, my dad and my uncles would rub their heads with one hand and pat their tummy with the other hand, Not all the adults could do it and not all of us (me !) kids could do it either. It was always great fun whether it could be done or not… Are the sewers of stippling and meandering folks who CAN rub their head and pat their tummy and vice versa?
        I crossed my lines within 8 inches of trying stippling and meandering !!! Just curious!!

  5. Thaks for asking this question. I got in the habit of using a thread stand when using industrial machines. Now I still use the stand and large cones of thread. I do use the machine thread holder for smaller spools however. My thread stands are the lightweight plastic variety. Now that I think about it I am going to add easy washers and or nuts to the stand to improve the stability. This discussion may have answered a problem I had a few years back with invisible thread in the machine holder. I will not try it with the thread stand located a bit behind the machine so it has time to straighten out! Thanks for the idea Claudia. Ellen

  6. I am always learning stuff from you that I never even thought of questioning…I bought a thread stand only because I was going through thread like crazy and bought the bigger cones. So use that now…old Bernie only had one way to put on thread and I used it for 30 plus years. New Bernie has both Horizontal and Vertical. I’ll pay attention to windings from now on. 🙂
    On our meandering…I think it was you that pinned that hand all created by tiny and big stippling….I have to admit that was pretty awesome! 🙂 I can enjoy someone elses!

  7. Hmmm….I have a stand for cones but it’s PLASTIC, flimsy and annoying as all heck. Never thought of using a mug to hold the cones. Just wondering, what brand of thread/cone stand do you all like? Thanks for your generosity!

  8. I too have a metal stand, but I wish it were easier to use. I like to see with the top of my machine closed, but can’t with a thread stand. Not sure how to get around that other than leave the top up, I guess. The same with using the vertical thread pin–top has to stay up. I usually find that the horizontal pin works for most all thread if I use a large disc in front of the spool. Think I’ll go play with the metal holder to see if I can use it easier.

  9. I learned a thread tip years ago (can’t remember where, exactly, possibly at a Harriet Hargrave machine quilting class): put the spool in a juice glass behind your sewing machine towards the motor end. Make a thread guide by taping a safety pin to the back of the machine above the glass with the bottom (spring) end of the pin showing above the top of the machine. Bring the end of the thread from the spool through the “thread guide” and continue threading your machine as usual. I like this method for springy cross wound threads like invisible thread or metallic thread.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for sewing with Sulky Sliver so it lies flat on the quilt’s surface? It always seems to twist on me so it doesn’t sparkle the way I would expect. Thanks!


    • Twist–Did you try it on the opposite spool–vertical v. horizontal?

      Some people think changing the end of the spool that goes onto the spool first can make a difference. I haven’t tried it though.

  10. I had a metal thread stand, but the base and the rod would not stay together. I bought a plastic one (Superior’s) that is weighted at the bottom, has pins that can change for both horizontal and vertical usage, as well as pieces that allow you to use a bobbin as a thread source, and I like it a lot! The only issue is that the pieces that come with it need something to hold them in place, so that they don’t fall off and get lost. I came up with a rubber scissor point protector to fit on the end, and that is working well.

  11. I have both the heavy metal thread holder and the lighter plastic one from Superior Threads. I use both as I have 3 machines set up in my quilting room. I found the plastic one moved around if it had a regular sized spool on it. I contacted ST company and told them the holder was too light and they needed to look into making the base heavier. They thanked me for my input and that was it. Am waiting to see if they heeded my advice. Yay, right! At any rate, I am looking into gluing something on the underside of that plastic holder to make it heavier and more stable. I will see what my husband suggests, but the washer method glued on may be the way to go…as long as I can find some heavy ones, or even one big heavy one. You are right, it does take the guessing out of which spool holder to use on my machine or which way to have it feed off that holder.

  12. Lori, what do you mean you use a coffee mug with regard to thread? Thank you so much for all you teach us with your blog.

  13. I always use my thread stand for sewing and quilting. However, when winding a bobbin, I use the pins on the top of my machine (a Bernina), as I find thread on the bobbin isn’t wound tight enough from the thread stand.

  14. I purchased a WOODEN threadstand from a quilter’s woodworking husband from ebay. It is so lovely. I thought I might paint it some day, but love the look of natural wood. It is heavy and doesn’t wobble. It has 2 plastic discs at the top of it to guide the thread . I place it just to the right of the back of my machine and am ever so happy to learn from this posting that what I discovered about good tension was discussed here. Thanks for sharing everyone!! Roxanna

  15. Hi Lori & Ladies, Please forgive my ignorance but I am hoping to join the webinair on March 18th but living in the UK I am comletley lost re time zones. I looked up what time EST would be but then it referred me to EDT and now you have mentioned CST!!!! Please help. I think the time would be about 5pm in the UK but would like to make sure. Thanks for all of the wonderful tips, my spool sampler is coming along nicely 🙂

    • Hi Nicola,

      I’m so thrilled that you will be joining us! Your question made me laugh out loud because the publisher, FWMedia is in New York and we have already had a bit of confusion about the time… I used CST–because that’s Minnesota time. I am still unsure what time to tell you, because we do a “time change” this Sunday…”Day Light Savings time…”. Please check in next week to confirm the times…

  16. With cones I use a metal stand. Did buy the standard ones, base disc and rod with hook at top. And they would fall over…then I saw an advertisement for a pretty thread stand all in metal, with a flower – an actual work of art. Since it was pricey, I put it on my Christmas list – and my sister gave it to me. It doesn’t tip over and the cone flower is nice, It weighs a couple pounds, and it holds a spare cone of thread. His website is paulsmetalpetals,com – it appears he is now doing a lot more decorative items for garden as well. I’ve never met the man nor his quilter wife. I no longer worry about the cone holder falling over – but I did have to reposition it so my young grandson is not intrigued…

  17. I LUV my thread pole holder. It’s heavily weighted on bottom & tall thin pole to guide my threads. Even my machine with it’s open/closed lid gets in the act. I CLOSE it [why let dust settle in the top] . Cone threads have been my favorite choice for all stitching. Also as a crochet doily maker I use the stand to hold my thread [that’s right use both crochet #10 bedspread weight AND Coats & Clark THREAD together] to add color to a plain white doily. Black thread will only come out GREY.. but purple adds a pretty shade to the doily.

  18. I Put all my thread on the coneholder that clicks on my Bernina 440QE, and it gets pilled of the cone from the top, unles it starts to twist. In that case I treat it like the metalic thread, and let it run of the spool horizontaly, so it won’t twist and knot and eventualy break.

  19. Wow, Am I the only person using a coffee mug as a cone holder. I Pull the thread up into the threader on my Bernina and it has about the same tension as if I was using the vertical spool holders on the machine. The difference is I often have spools that jump off the pins on the machine, something they can not do in the coffee mug. A side note is to use a deeper coffee mug. My favorite is a pottery mug that is wider at the bottom than the top and a little deeper than the average pottery mugs I buy. Because the thread pulls straight up I haven’t had any problems with the cone or the mug moving around.

  20. Hi Lori. Just a short note. I’m recuperating from the worst case of pneumonia I’ve ever had and was snowed in (NJ) and couldn’t get to the hospital. I was able to turn on my computer after 8 days and saw the ad for your “Meandering” class. I signed up and closed the computer. So looking forward to it. I never read your Bio and was surprised to read you have 6 kids. You look so young. Time to rest “see” you on the 18th.

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