bobbin play placement tips ~

MarveLes Art StudiosBlogs, Tutorial 6 Comments

hi everyone~

this post is about some very simple {commonsense} placement tips i use for stitching from the backside of a quilt, using a very thick thread {such as razzle dazzle} which is something like a 12 weight thread. {i’m kinda guessing here}.  but ~ it’s a very thick, large thread, and it never goes in the eye of the needle, {at least not in a domestic sewing machine}.  it is best for stitching by winding it on the bobbin, which is why it’s called “bobbin play.”  this happens to be free motion… but it works wonderfully with good ol plain stitching {such as an embellishment around the cuff of a denim jacket} click the link to see more on this jacket… or just search “bobbin play” in the search box on the right hand side of the blog for LOTS and lots more ideas and inspiration!

or more random, such as in this quilt, detail from my desert blooms quilt seen below:

sooo. back to the log cabin quilt!  by way of background, my quilt top is batted, and a backing is in place, which is known as the “quilt sandwich” and i’m ready to quilt my long cabin rose table topper quilt, which i posted about here.

below is my basic ‘cabin rose’ block.  

notice i have pins around the border of the block.  that’s my way of marking off the block, in a temporary manner, without having to stitch around it.  stitching is also an option you could do, by stitching “in the ditch” around all the blocks, through all three layers of your quilt sandwich. {but i didn’t do that this time}.

notice my elaborate marking system here?!   i have a simple white-headed pin stuck through the middle of the navy blue center of the cabin rose.  this marks the place where i have decided to begin my bobbin quilting… and making a decision on where you want to begin, is a very important one, because i wanted to start in the middle of the block not on the edge, or in the seam {which you could also do}. but you would still want to know where the seams are, so mark them with a pin, or with a stitching line {in the ditch}.  the choice is yours!

after all ~ you are the CEO {creative executive officer} of your sewing machine, sewing life, and sewing studio!!  {yay!}

i’ve flipped my quilt over, to the backside. {below}  now it’s time to mark that center of the rose, which i do using my favorite chalk marking tool, the “sewline” marking pen with white chalk. it’s easy to remove, too.  all i do is lightly scrub it with a piece of scrap batting {or even my sleeve!}

notice you can see the backs of the pins, marking the square of the cabin rose block, from the backside, and i’ve lightly sketched a perimeter line with my chalk pen, too, so you can see it better. the scissors point to the center of the rose block… you see the white dot marking the center, which is where i begin stitching.  

note: i don’t mind if my stitching lines cross over into the other blocks… this is merely a “guide” to follow {not a hard rule!}:

i always begin by tying off first.  if i don’t, then the front of my quilt is going to be very messy with a nest of threads, stitched all over each other… and i won’t see it because i’m stitching from the back side of the quilt… and this is not a fun surprise!  so take the time to tie off.  because this is a metallic thread, it has many multi-ply strands, and is somewhat fragile, so it’s best to tie it off, and bring that heavy thread to the back of the quilt, before stitching begins:

to tie off, i hold the top thread in my left hand, and sink the needle, {using the hand wheel}, taking one stitch, and with the top thread still in my hand, i pull until the thick thread pops to the surface.  i do this gently…

below: it’s the loop closest to you that you want to pull.  if you pull the other side of the loop… you start to unwind your bobbin, wasting precious thread wound on your bobbin.  in case you’re wondering, bobbin thread takes alot of room on the bobbin, and you don’t want to run out until you’ve finished the block you’re stitching.

{and i have more posts on tying off here and hints and tips on bobbin play here!

below: a picture of my 830 machine’s bobbin, loaded with the silver metallic razzle dazzle thread.  i’ve used an awl to point to a white silver dot, which tells me that i’ve loosened my bobbin tension… {four clicks to the left on a bernina 830 machine}… no matter what kind of machine you own, loosening a bobbin case is a MUST for bobbin play. {and if you don’t know how, ask your dealer}.  for many people, i recommend buying a secondary bobbin case, having it specially and {accurately} loosened, and keeping it marked {just for bobbin play} so you know that is ALL you will use it for!  

side note: just so ya know, because i own a bernina 830, i no longer need to use/buy a secondary bobbin case… because it is so easily adjustable on the new 830 series. {therefore the picture of how it looks} but i did have a secondary, loosened bobbin case for all of my older machines.

one of the best tips i share for most kinds of straight stitching, free motion quilting, or bobbin play? buy a straight stitch stitching plate!  it keeps your stitches more stable, and produces a beautiful stitch! {without any of those “wobbly-looking” stitches}

i also tie off when i am finished.  i lift up the presser foot, and pull on the top thread, making a loop with my left forefinger, and then sink the needle again, and gently pull until the metallic thread pops to the back {or in this case, the top side as it’s facing me}:

{keep the presser foot in the ‘up’ position}

pull the loop until there’s enough length to be able to thread it through a large needle…

i do like to first tie a little slip knot, using both the top and bobbin thread, before i eventually sink the threads into the batting:

trim the thread ends:


there ya go!  hope you enjoyed my demonstration!

thanks for being here!


Comments 6

  1. Thank you Leslie, I learned I wasn't tieing off correctly, very good tutorial and clear, I got it now!

  2. I don't get all of your technical stuff but I sure do like the way it looks. Love the denim embellishment. xox

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