TO CLIP THOSE LOOSE THREADS OR NOT?

Not to dishonor Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be”, but as quilters our question is more likely to be “to clip those loose threads or not?” We all know they can make a mess if just allowed to hang on the back of the quilt top.

This is my take on loose threads, and you don’t have to agree, but I am rarely bothered enough by those threads to take time to clip them off.

You either gasp in horror at this point or break out laughing.

TO CLIP THOSE LOOSE THREADS OR NOT?

I am aware they can make a huge mess, and if I am not careful as I sew, a good portion of them end up in the seam and show up on the front of the quilt.  Sheesh….now they really do need clipped, right?

FirsT:

I rarely use white or any other light color for a quilt background – because I know this about myself. The first quilt I ever made with a white background I learned the hard way about not clipping those threads because I had it completely basted and in the frame for hand quilting and gasp…. I could see the darker threads.  Many hours later, I had un-basted the quilt sandwich and clipped all those threads.  Then to put it all back together……Ugh….

Second:

If it is a scrap quilt, I use that as a chance to use up all those colored, partial spools and bobbins of leftover thread that probably don’t match much of the fabric in the current quilt top. See another post: https://indianaquilter40.com/thread-fabric-should-they-match/

By now you are either so horrified you stop reading, or you are rolling on the floor laughing because you do the same thing.

Bonnie Hunter quote: Decide for yourself what matters to you and what doesn't.
Source: Quiltville

Third:

I decided long ago that I was more concerned about accurate cutting and piecing than about always matching the thread to the fabric, or clipping all those nasty loose hanging threads that appear on the back of my quilt top.

I am careful to take the time to pull them back out of the way when sewing the seams and since I usually use darker background fabrics it is rarely noticed if I choose to ignore the clipping step.

Quilters, whether you are a beginner or very advanced in your quilt making exactly what part of the quilting process is priority is up to you.  No one is going to die if we do a shortcut on our quilts.  Yes, they should be well made, but some things are not worth the time.

I refuse to stress about loose hanging threads on the back of a top that once it is quilted will never show up anyway.  So now you know my awful secret…

Summary:

To clip those loose threads or not? I encourage you to make your quilts, your sewing process, and your priorities while quilting your very own. Only you can decide what causes you stress while sewing or quilting, and if ignoring some small irritant is right for you.

Photo of cupboard full of quilts with the words - live. laugh. love...quilt!
Source: Quiltville

Have a wonderful day of quilting.

Another thought about clipping threads:

https://forum.missouriquiltco.com/forum/we-don-t-know-much-but-we-know-quilters/quilting-questions/57736-clipping-threads-on-back-of-a-quilt-top

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

THREAD & FABRIC – SHOULD THEY MATCH?

Clip art -  thread and needle

Should the thread and fabric match? I have been asked this so many times, especially by beginning quilters.  We were taught in a sewing class taken back in the dark ages that the thread and fabric should match. And honestly, if I am sewing clothing, I want the thread to match. However, we are talking quilting here.

Should the fabric and thread colors match? Does it really matter? I decided years ago that it was more important to me to cut and sew accurately, then be concerned about matching thread color for piecing the pattern.

Here’s my take on matching threads to fabric (and remember this is simply my opinion) – it depends on what part of the quilting process I am working on.…

If I am piecing, I do not care what color of thread that is being used.  Oh, the scandal!!  Every time I changed fabric colors, I would have to change the thread and bobbin. In my mind that is such a waste of time, and I would rather be happily sewing.

Container with many spools of different colors of thread.
Partial spools of beautifully colored threads

Your quilt is about you, and only you can decide what steps in the quilt making process are priority to you.  You will need too decide what you are willing or not to do. I know I am in the minority on the subject, and I am comfortable with that.  I really notice this each fall when a group of us get together every September in Maine to quilt for several days – I am the only one who does not spend time matching the thread to the fabric.  Clearly it is not a priority for me, but a high one for the others.

However, when I am piecing a planned top with purchased fabric for that project, I try to find some neutral color and use that for the entire top. 

Right now, I am trying to clean out my scrap bins – how would I even begin to match the fabrics and threads?  I already feel my head starting to hurt. When I am piecing with scraps, I use it as an excuse to use up all those partial spools and bobbins of odd colors. 

Plastic tub of 2.5" scrap strips of fabric
2.5″ strips all cut and ready to sew
Plastic tub of 3" fabric squares.
3″ squares cut and ready to sew

This is the biggest reason I rarely use white as a background fabric – combined with the use of many different colors of thread, there are all the loose hanging threads. I just make sure they are at the back when I am sewing those seams. (See other post: https://indianaquilter40.com/to-clip-those-loose-threads-or-not/)

Other quilters’ thoughts about this issue:

https://www.generations-quilt-patterns.com/what-color-quilting-thread-should-i-use-for-piecing.html

https://www.quiltersworld.com/basics.php#Thread

This is a good time to address sewing thread – buy the best you can afford.  My own mistakes showed me a long time ago that usually the store brand is not quality which lead to frustration as I sewed (knots and shredding) and it did not hold up to use. The other issue was that some of the color was not set right, and it bled through the quilt top after the first washing.

I do match the thread if I am doing applique, or a binding. Why? Because I want to see the design, not obvious stitches.  For both applique and bindings, I usually like to use a thread that matches the background because it seems to blend in better. This is also how I end up with partial spools and bobbins of various colors.

I personally use Coats & Clark machine thread because the color range is fantastic, and it holds up well for both hand and machine sewing.

There is also the budget issue, after all I have spent money on quality thread, and I can’t see letting it just sit in a cupboard unused.  My goal is to use the fabric up until it is gone (those glorious scraps need a home, right?) so I personally want to have the same attitude about the thread.  

Now I am going to really be controversial (!!) with the next comment.  Once I discovered thread adapters (I bought mine at JoAnn’s) I went to using neutral serger threads for much of my sewing. I still buy quality, but the cost is so much less than buying the same amount of thread on regular spools. My grandma told me that the only thread colors I would ever need were black, gray, light brown, white, and navy and those are the colors I buy in serger threads because they really are versatile and neutral.  Only you can decide if this option works for you, but I have done it for well over 30 years with very satisfactory results.

Thread adapter with 4 spools of serger thread.
Thread adapter and serger thread
Four spools of serger thread.

Only you can decide if matching threads for piecing is a stress or a joy to you. 

Remember that quilting should make you happy.  If you are distracted or stressed by some part of the quilting process that does not matter once the quilt is finished, then maybe it just is not worth it. My grandma would say “don’t stress the small stuff”.

Quilt block with saying "Decide for yourself what matters to you and what doesn't"
Source: Quiltville

Quilting folks, please comment – do you match your fabrics and thread?