The Great Disappearing Variegated Thread Mystery

Believe it or not, the stitching you can see waving across the top of this block (especially visible over the red fabric) continues its journey over the blue fabric.

You can’t see it?

Nope, neither can I.

That’s because the top thread in my machine is variegated.

I’d noticed this phenomenon in previous quilts but didn’t focus on it until I heard a comment from a long-arm quilter who called variegated thread “the most invisible thread you can use.”

Strange, isn’t it, that something supposedly designed for maximum visibility (or so it seems to me) actually disappears.

On reflection, I think there’s a gardening analogy here. When I first started laying out flower gardens, I had a tendency (because I like so many different plants) to buy just one or two of this or that.

Then I’d sit back to watch the show—and not see much of what I’d planted.

That’s when I discovered a basic law of flower garden design—much better to plant twenty of the same plant, and keep the variety small than to buy twenty different plants.

It’s the visual impact thing.

That’s why variegated thread disappears. There’s not enough of any single color to have an impact on the surface of a quilt. Looks good on a spool but really, that’s about it.

I’m going to use up what I have left in my thread stash because one of the basic laws of quilting is that you never waste anything. But from now on, it’s single colors all the way.

One thought on “The Great Disappearing Variegated Thread Mystery”

  1. I guess it’s more likely to happen when you “match” the thread to the colors in your top and it’s a thinner thread. I had a quilt with a black background (multicolored/scrappy 9-patches ’cause that’s how I roll), and I used a multicolored variegated thread to quilt it. I think the thread was thicker than normal, but it really “popped” and, to my mind, made the quilt. Kind of a happy accident.

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