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!


Dots and Daisies-a Fun Free Motion (or Long Arm) Quilt Tutorial

Dots and Daisies, Free Motion QuiltingGood Morning, Quilters, Doodlers and Gardeners!

It was a beautiful weekend and I enjoyed a bit of outdoor family time.

The good news…

The garden is blooming in spite of my neglect!  The Daisies are gone, but there are sunflowers, coneflowers and dahlias.  I would like to plant more fall blooming flowers.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  (Don’t forget I live in the tundra–Zone 3-4!)

Today’s tutorial is garden-inspired and doodle-inspired.

I often doodle an old motif (like Dots and Dashes)  and try to add a new spin to it.


This motif is stitched in several passes:  

  • Stitch alternate rows of large and small Dots and Dashes.
  • Stitch the left side of every Daisy on a rows with small Dots.
  • Stitch the right side of the Daisies to mirror image the left side.
  • Repeat for every row of small Dots

This will make more sense when you follow the diagrams below.


Begin by drawing three parallel lines.  (In the sample below, the lines are one inch apart.)

Stitch rows of Dots and Dashes, spacing the Dots approximately two inches apart.  Alternate rows of large and small Dots.

Dots and Daisies, Free Motion QuiltingThe Daisies will only be added to the rows with the small Dots.

Begin stitching next to the straight line and halfway between two small Dots.

Stitch a half petal and stop.

Dots and Daisies, Free Motion Quilting


Add two full petals.
Dots and Daisies, Free Motion QuiltingStitch a half petal then stitch down 1-2 stitches to begin the petal of the next Daisy.

Dots and Daisies, Free Motion QuiltingContinue stitch the left side of all the Daisies until you reach the bottom of the row.  Then stitch around the bottom and begin stitching the right side of each Daisy by mirror imaging the left side.

Dots and Daisies, Free Motion Quilting


Dots and Daisies, Free Motion QuiltingThis seems a bit complicated until you doodle it.

This would make a really fun border or background fill on any quilt.  The bold pattern would show up well even on printed fabrics and on pieced quilting.  Give it a try!


Thank you to all who have signed up for my Craftsy class:  Divide and Conquer–Creative Quilting for Any Space

(Available for $10 off HERE for for followers of The Inbox Jaunt)

The class is doing extremely well and has received all five-star reviews!  

I hope YOU are watching and working on the Challenge at the end of the video???

Hope YOU are soaking up summer…it goes so quickly!


NOTE-This tutorial was stitched on my BERNINA 770QE (without a stitch regulator) using Aurifil cotton (50 wt) in the bobbin and Superior Threads, Magnifico polyester on top (40 wt).  Adjust your tension to get a perfect stitch!!!

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, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!