Open Line Friday. Quilting on Prints

FMQ.Thread.LKennedyGood Morning, Quilters!

Today is Open Line Friday…Everyone Asks, Everyone Answers!  Please chime in with YOUR responses–we have a lot of  combined quilting experience–so please tell us YOUR thoughts!

No question is too small.


This week, our friend Gertrude asked this question:

How do you make quilting show on printed fabrics?  (Think Kaffe Fassett)


Just give me an excuse to think about Kaffe Fassett

(BTW–His name rhymes with “Safe Asset”).

Let’s break the question into two parts:  thread choice and motif choice.


Here’s a little sample I did using Kaffe Fassett fabrics, two solids, and a variety of threads.

Row one: Sulky Rayon 40 wt

Row two:  Sulky Cotton 30 wt Blendables

Row three:  Sulky Poly Deco 40 wt Polyester

Row four:  Sulky Cotton 30 wt Blendables

FMQ.Thread.LKennedyHeavier threads show up better on all the fabrics.

Color contrast shows up best.

Quilting shows up more on solid fabrics.



Simple and larger free motion quilting motifs work best on printed fabrics.

Save complex motifs for solid or near solid fabrics.

FMQ.Thread.LKennedyPlan the free motion quilting while you are planning the quilt if you want to add complex free motion quilting motifs.



I’ve also received a few questions about Sulky thread and whether it is okay to use non-cotton threads in our quilts.

I have bee using Sulky Rayon threads for free motion quilting my quilts for almost 15 years and love the sheen and beautiful colors.  They wash beautifully and wear well over time.  Rayon is not strong enough for constructing seams, but it is perfect for quilting!

Almost all of the tutorials and quilts seen on The Inbox Jaunt are stitched with Sulky 40 wt Rayon…however, I just discovered Sulky’s 30 wt Rayon…even heavier!  I will be buying more of this great thread!

Sulky has a newly designed website.  It is fabulous!   Education, inspiration and you can purchase thread directly.   Check out their Featured Artist this week… someone you know pretty well!

(FYI-I have received samples of thread from Sulky, but no other remuneration.)


Please let us know YOUR ideas on prints, quilt motifs, thread, doodling, pens, tulips, gardening, movies…

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!

39 thoughts on “Open Line Friday. Quilting on Prints

  1. Lori, thanks a ton. This is very helpful. I should send you a photo of the quilt I was needing help with. You have given me confidence that I was on the right track. Also the info regarding thread is timely. It’s all part of the total package! Thank you!
    Oh, and thanks for telling people how to pronounce Kaffe’s name 😉

    • Send Lori a photo and maybe she’ll post it so we can all chime in!

      (And I mangle Kaffe’s name all the time, sheesh. Thanks.)

  2. I just started experimenting with two contrasting threads in the needle at the same time. On a black and white quilt, the black thread shows up on the white parts and the white on the black. Pretty amazing….

  3. Great info! I, too, have been a Sulky 40wt user for years and have had wonderful results in both appearance and wear-ability. I busy/print fabrics and piecing I try to maintain a larger motif stitched evenly (generally E2E, unless there’s borders that lend themselves to a separate motif). The goal is a nice “texture” once the quilt is washed, which will give a new look/dimension to the project. On occasion, I have done more complex designs that are new to me using the busy-ness of the fabric to somewhat hide the “practice” stitching but still giving me a great texture finish. AND we can’t forget that the backing may be a more plain fabric that will show off the stitching beautifully!!!!

  4. Great info and thank you, was in a bit of quandary about threads! And thank you for helping pronounce Kaffe’s name, a bit of a mystery!

  5. Thank you for sharing the information about threads! I am going to explore Sulky threads today. threads make such a difference in quilting! I look forward to your blog every morning!

  6. Lori, if I use King Tut 40 wt. for quilting, can I use Bottom Line 60 wt. in the bobbin, or should I stick with a 50 wt. thread in the bobbin?

  7. Thank you, Lori, for this post. I am fond of large floral prints (like tulips or sunflowers) and have made some quilt tops with sizable blocks of the prints (which is the only way to show the large prints) (with other elements of complementing fabrics, of course). Now I am not at all sure how to quilt this. I could follow the lines of the flowers, but that would be too complicated. I could just do straight lines but that might be boring. I could do an edge-to-edge design with floral themes but that might conflict with the print. Any ideas? (BTW the fabrics I used were large tulips from Bernatex Tulip Festival and Harvest Sunflowers from Timeless Treasures).
    BTW I love your quilting design on Kaffe Fasset fabrics.

  8. I love the look of sulky threads but find the thread often breaks while quilting. Are there any suggestions to fix this?

    • Try changing the needle? I had issues with thread shredding before I broke. I don’t know if I got faulty needles or what. Last quilt this happened on, I changed the needle, kept everything else the same and then it was fine.

  9. What would we do without you, Lori. There are other quilting rock stars too, but you are one of the most generous and patient. Thank you for walking us slowly through this. YES I am still busy with the 92 year old twins. They are a handful. And having a baby shower this week-end (I have been given a few duties) for my oldest daughter.
    I save all of your posts. Some I print out. I basically have your blog on my toolbar, okay?
    I set up my old White machine that is a freemotion monster.
    I play a little when I feel like it. I can do this stuff.
    Thanks for everything you share. It is greatly appreciated❤️

  10. It’s great to see the side-by-side pictures of the different threads. It’s helpful for beginners like me. Sometimes I like the solid color fabric to pop with the quilting, other times I’d rather be more subtle so the eye is drawn to both the print and the solid and they’re not competing with one another.

  11. Lovely, informative post, as usual! Are you going to have a tutorial for those cute little doodle flowers soon? I love them!

    • Carol, your quilt shouldn’t fall apart. Although I wouldn’t use sulky Rayon for making a garment or a shopping bag, you should be fine with the quilts you have already made, I use Sulky 60 wt. PolyLite for piecing. You still get that nice thin seam and the strength to hold everything together.

  12. I have been reluctant to branch out into variety of threads..How do you know which size needle to use with any particular thread? Is the thread what indicates which needle to use or the fabric? I recently made my husband a throw quilt for his time on the sofa. I used a pre- printed panel and lots of borders til it was the best size for me to still handle on my own machine instead of sending it out to be quilted. One the six borders was a flannel that looked like leather at a distance. I used a wide strip of flannel for the binding and free motioned all around in it, in a design to match the barbed wire fence and the country road in the printed panel. My thread was just 100% cotton. The throw will get heavy usage and I am wondering if the cotton thread was less than the best choice. Any advice for next time? Son and son-in-law want one too..Thanks…

    • Martha, I’ve found that a Top Stitch needle works well with almost all thread weights. I’m not sure why there was a specialty needle for top stitching, but it is designed with a groove for the thread that accommodates most threads. Makes it easy to make thread changes without changing the needle.

      • Thank you..I will certainly try that. Our Wed sewing group is having an applique swap block with the theme of Autumn. My assignment is to make 12 blocks with an acorn design. I really wanted to use some large diameter thread for the 6 inch tops of the acorns. Now I will practice with the needle you suggested. Thanks again.

  13. I can’t get over the HUGE difference when you look at the unstitched block and then after you free motioned on it. Looks like a TOTALLY different piece. The unstitched block looks pretty blah, but after you stitched on it – KAPOW. It took on a fabulous life of its own.

    Thanks for using all the various thread types so we can decide which look we prefer. You think of every possible way to make our lives easier.

    Tavette – S. Fla.

  14. Thanks Lori. I love your site. You offer a wealth of information especially for us newbies. I’m struggling with my Bernina 830 and the BSR attachment. Lots of skipped stitches,and thread breakage. I’ve changed needles, tension and tried various threads. Still not thrilled with the results. Any owners out there?

    • Poly, check with your Bernina dealer. I had the same problem and discovered that there is a stronger replacement spring for the BSR which solves the skipped stitch problem. Try increasing bobbin tension and loosening top tension. Use a large eye needle (top stitch, quilting or embroidery). Hope this helps. Yes, I’m also hopping this morning!

  15. Your talent just never ceases to amaze me! You are a wealth of information Lori. I just love your blog and your new book will be awesome!!! Love those birds!!

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