I’ve played a bit with bobbin work over the years, and have even taught a few classes on this fun technique.
Recently we held a small challenge in our ThreadBenders group entitled “Thread Bending”. The idea was to make a small whole cloth quilt using stitching only – no piecing or appliqué.
A while back I’d begun a class sample to show the students in my Open Lab class how to stitch from the back of a layered quilt sandwich, directly on the motifs in a fabric with a large print. My back was covered with beautiful butterflies.
I decided this would be a great piece for the challenge. By placing a decorative thread in the bobbin, and changing it for each portion of the motif, lovely butterflies appeared on the front.
Once the decorative outlines of the butterflies were stitched, I turned the quilt to the front, filled in more of each butterfly with free-motion stitching in thinner, bright colored threads, added my own funky flower, and then quilted with echoing and spiraling.
I have learned over the years that red quilts are difficult to photograph – and this quilt was no exception. The colors are as bright and cheery as you can see in the detail photographs, but the intensity of the red background overpowers the background stitching, so I toned down the intensity to allow the quilting to show in the full view above. I hope you get the idea 😁.
If you decide you want to play around with bobbin work I highly recommend making a sample sandwich to experiment on, as getting the tension correct takes a bit of fiddling.
Purchasing a separate bobbin case for the non-drop-in bobbin machines can be very helpful. Mark it for bobbin work, and feel free to adjust the tension to get the right look on the quilt top. Sometimes I skip the tension spring on the bobbin altogether.
Drop-in bobbin machines are a little trickier. Begin by threading as usual and checking the top often. If the thicker threads don’t work, try not putting them through the spring and see what happens.