Choosing a Bobbin Thread for Free Motion Quilting

Nora's Rose Quilt, FMQGood Morning, Quilters!

It was a very rainy day in Minnesota yesterday which meant two things:  I had a lot of “indoor time” AND it was a low-energy day.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not terrible creative on rainy, dark days…

However, I still had enough energy to stitch, so I finished this little quilt that I started months ago.  The Nora’s Rose motif was already completed in the center and the grid was started…I just needed to stitch all the “pop” filler lines–perfect work for a low energy day…repetitive lines, not a lot of concentration involved.Nora's Rose Quilt, FMQ

One of the most frequent questions I receive is…“Why do use different threads in the top and the bobbin?”

The conventional wisdom is to use the same thread top and bobbin for the best tension.  This rule works great for conventional sewing, but not so well when you are using decorative or heavy weight threads.


First of all, decorative threads are often heavier–which means they won’t travel very far in the bobbin.

Second, decorative threads can be (not always) more expensive–so it’s more cost-effective to use cotton in the bobbin.

Third, many decorative threads (like Rayon) are slippery which means they don’t knot as well.


Most of the time, my choice for a bobbin thread is Aurifil 50 wt cotton.  It is a great all-purpose thread for piecing and appliqué, and it is a great bobbin thread.

I like it because it is very strong and lint free–it’s an extra long staple cotton thread.  Because it is a medium to light weight thread it goes a long way in the bobbin.

I recommend you try different threads (brands and fibers) to see what works best for you and your sewing machine.

Cotton and polyester are the most commonly used fibers for the bobbin, though many people also like nylon or polyester invisible threads.  (I have not had much luck with invisible threads.)Nora's Rose Quilt, FMQADJUSTING TENSION

Whenever you free motion quilt, you will likely need to adjust your tension even if you have the same thread in the top and the bobbin.

Make friends with your sewing machine manual and all the tension dials on your machine!Nora's Rose Quilt, FMQNORA’S ROSE MINI QUILT

This little quilt contains several motifs you might recognize…I stitched all of these motifs on the Craftsy Video

They are also available as FREE step-by-step tutorials–Can YOU name any of them?

Nora’s Rose

Grid Pop


The Wide Leaf–Craftsy video only

Straight Line Quilting

What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?


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 Pin, Share, Tweet or re-blog with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!


21 thoughts on “Choosing a Bobbin Thread for Free Motion Quilting

  1. Lovely synthesis of stitches! Nora’s Rose is one of my favorites♥ Rainy days are for binding, silly. :O) Enjoy the rain–pretty soon it will be snow!

  2. I love the way you incorporated your name and date in your boarder quilting, classy! Todays rainy day will be filled with transferring applique designs on my chosen fabrics. I love rainy days…just not to many in a row 🙂

  3. I have had great success with Aurifil thread in the bobbin also, but seem to fall back on my Connecting Threads Essential Pro poly, which is a 70 wt., for consistent stitching on all my machines. The price is awesome, the color range-very good, the lint factor-extremely low, stitch formation is excellent whether using cotton, poly, rayon or metallics for the top thread. Minimal tension adjustment, with any of the mentioned threads, to achieve perfect balance.
    Love that little stitchery and the rose pattern is definitely one of my faves!!!!!!

  4. It was a rainy or should I say cloudy day here too in NC. We got the rain after dark but I finished a UFO and quilted the square flower in the squares. I think it turned out quite well. I used DMC 30 wgt cotton and DMC 50 wgy cotton in the bobbin. It worked well. Only broke once as with my rayon threads it breaks more often.,

    June N.

  5. I’ve had a lot of practice keeping busy on a rainy day this summer! I like to buzz around in the morning between the two sewing machines and the work stations, then after lunch, plug in a movie, snuggle up on the couch, and get some handwork done. Am really enjoying your Craftsy class.

  6. Along with lots of rain also which is unreal for Wyo! we didn’t even get out of the 50’s! 45 degrees here last night and supposed to be lower tonight…I haven’t even picked a tomato yet so don’t even think about it Mother Nature. Michele Duffy said the “S” word…naughty!!!!!!
    I skipped right downstairs and fired up the sewing room. I had to finish up some gifts I felt I was behind on and they are ready to be run down the canyon to mail…yay! Today I’m finally going to start quilting my wonky wishes star quilt…at least for most of the day and dreaming up some baby blankets in the mean time. Have you made any?? !!! I love love making baby stuff.
    I use aurifil 50 in my bobbins also…have a bunch filled ready to quilt. 🙂

  7. I love rainy days as it gives me permission to not do much. Unfortunately, we don’t have many rainy days in ND. I just returned from spending 11 days driving thru MN on the quilt shop hop and seeing lots of great sight; road construction was a common but not well-liked sight. There were 2 rainy/cloudy days on our travels and we spent time…in quilt shops.

  8. Love rainy days for the same reasons already mentioned- and I love the sound of thunder. Yesterday I worked at my sewing machine with the back door open so that I could listen to the storm while I worked. Unfortunately, the rain on Monday night brought seepage in the basement and I was forced by Mother Nature to spend time washing the floor when I would have preferred to be doing – well, anything else!

    I really like how the grid in this design works and plan to try it.

  9. I wish I could remember how I spend rainy days. I live in North Central California (think major water shortage), and your talk of rain storms is making me so jealous. I’m on the verge of trying my hand (and/or feet) at rain dancing. I do love reading your blog on any kind of day.

  10. I use Superior Threads Bottom Line in my bobbin for free motion quilting. Since it’s a 60 weight thread I seem to have less trouble with it showing through on top – so you don’t need to match the top & bottom threads. A bonus is that you get a lot more thread on the bobbin and you run out of thread less frequently! I have a basic set of colors that blend well with most backings. Sometimes it’s nice to curl up with a book on a rainy day!

  11. I salivate every time I see your quilting, Lori. Gorgeous lil’ quilt. Would love to see some quilting examples where 50wt bobbin is used with differing weight top threads. Especially interested in the thicker 12wt look. I’ve tried searching the net…but to no avail. All I can find are several inch straight link examples on non-quilted fabric. BTW….would love to know what top thread weight / type did you use with this lovely “Nora’s Rose” quilt?

    • Q: What top thread weight & type….did you use to quilt this most lovely “Nora’s Rose” quilt? Please & Thank-you!

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