Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bottom Line Thread




 Let me begin by thanking so many of you who stopped by to offer suggestions a couple of weeks ago as I was pondering the colour and contrast balance of my Fresh Fields quilt. The general consensus was that a little more green as well as a greater sprinkling of navy would be beneficial - thank you!

In several places I had seen Bottom Line thread by Superior Threads recommended for the fine hand stitching of English Paper Piecing. I have been happy using Gutermann 100% polyester thread but my curiosity prompted me to order some Bottom Line thread - maybe it really is noticeably better - only one way to find out for myself.




I also ordered a Bottom Line thread colour chart for future reference - aren't the colours gorgeous!




Bottom Line thread on the left, Gutermann on the right, both 100% polyester. As promised, the Bottom Line is definitely finer, smoother, silkier and I really wanted to love it but I'm undecided. The Bottom Line is so fine and slippery that I find it a little more difficult to use - harder to thread the needle, comes unthreaded more easily and can fray into its two component strands at the ends and catches on rough skin. 

Another point which surprised me was that it isn't quite as strong as the Gutermann. Bottom Line thread is also slightly elastic/stretchy, in fact it reminds me a little of the clear nylon thread I have used for some sewing tasks, feeling like a cross between the nylon and a regular polyester thread.




Over the weekend I sewed a couple of my epp flowers together using Bottom Line and the stitches are slightly less visible than when using the Gutermann. I found the seams do however very slightly "give" if pulled due to the touch of elasticity in the thread.

 I also trialled two slightly different whip stitch techniques, one shown here by Lori Holt and another detailed here by John'aLee of The Scrappy Appleyard. Each of these techniques does produce a finish where the stitches are less visible from the top. However I found both techniques more time consuming and again the completed seams aren't quite as tight/firm as with traditional whip stitching.

In my online readings on Sunday I stumbled across a recommendation not to use a hot iron for an extended time on work made using Bottom Line thread as the heat can soften the thread. Now I know a quilt is unlikely to ever require extended hot ironing/pressing but it added to my uneasiness. I wonder about the longevity of Bottom Line thread*, especially in our harsh Australian climate.

In the end I've decided I quite like the charm of small, neat hand stitching and don't mind it being just visible, somehow it seems more authentic to me. I also prefer the tactile features of "real" Gutermann thread and the steadfastness of the completed work. It seems I shall return to using traditional whip stitching with a very fine needle and Gutermann polyester thread, just as I had been doing until my curiosity sent me on an adventurous detour.


Flowers from the last two weeks


If anyone has an experience to share of Bottom Line thread which can convince me to reconsider I'd love to hear from you. Otherwise, I may be looking for Australian or two who would like to be the new owners of some Bottom Line threads and a colourful thread chart.....



*** Since writing this post I have been made aware of, and am now very happily sewing my epp with, the new Gutermann Extra Fine thread which seems to me to be the perfect epp thread. It has all the qualities I appreciate about Gutermann Sew All thread but is finer - a brilliant thread. Here is my blog post comparing Gutermann Extra Fine, Bottom Line and regular Gutermann Sew All thread.

* Todd Purcell of Superior Threads reassures me that "since Bottom Line thread is a polyester thread (synthetic fibres) it will last a long, long time. Synthetic threads that aren't exposed to direct sunlight, or high levels of humidity don't experience degradation nearly as fast as natural fibres, such as cotton thread. We don't have a specific timeline such as 100 years, but we are confident that our synthetic threads will last generations."



Sharing at Work In Progress Wednesday, Fabric Frenzy Friday, In Hand ( an epp link up).




33 comments:

ozzypip said...

Hi Karen
Love to see the work of a fellow Australian... gotta get our voices out there. I haven't had any experience with bottom line thread at all. Tend to use Guterman but also use others... can't think of the name.. sorry brain dead atm. Where abouts in Australia are you? Ilm in Central Qld. We are getting some lovely rain at the moment... much needed as its so dry

Julie said...

Wow - this is going to be one beautiful quilt. Thread wise, I think better to be safe than sorry, sew with what you know, perhaps try Bottom Line thread on a smaller item - pin cushion maybe and see how it lasts.

Patchwork and Play said...

What an interesting comparison Karen. Thanks for your honesty! I'll be looking for new thread to EPP - now I'll just go straight for the Gutermann.

Ruth said...

Thansk for the tip - I have stitches that are really visible to me in my latest Hexie project - I didn't use Gutermanm but have in my kit. Never occurred to me to try a different thread.

ally said...

Your quilt is looking gorgeous - I like the idea of a bit more navy too

My hexie quilt is hopelessly stalled - will have to start again when we come back

I'm envious of your super neat stitching
x

✿ chica said...

Karen, teus trabalhos são lindos sempre! beijos, lindo dia! chica

Kymberly said...

Really interesting comparison. I haven't tried EPP yet, but I know that for hand quilting there's a wax you draw your thread through. I think it's supposed to make it a little stronger and fray less so you might want to look into that.

Mary Huey said...

Interesting comments, Karen. Here in the states, lots of quilters are raving about Aurifil threads -- have only used them for machine quilting myself but perhaps I'll give it a try with my EPP? I'm currently using Mettler cotton for all the reasons you use the Guterman poly.

Teresa at thirdfloorquilts.com said...

Wow. You have given this a lot of thought - enjoyed reading your research. I use Bottom Line as a bobbin thread only. I think you are right, it is too thin for much else.

Alison said...

All of your hexie flowers are so gorgeous! :)

Lisa Gordon said...

This is looking so beautiful, Karen!
Thanks for the comparison on Gutermann versus Bottom Line. I have always used Gutermann, but will definitely be looking at Bottom Line.

Happy day to you!

the momma said...

I have been eagerly awaiting this post! Thank-you so much for your thoughtful comparison and thorough notes on the subject (you just saved me some $$ :-)
The gutermann thread ~ I thought I remembered you telling me it was 60 wt (or am I making that up?) all I have found is a 40 wt.(sometimes called 'sew all') From the looks of those 2 threads together, though, yours might just be 40. Any clue?
Your flowers are looking so, so lovely!!
~ Tracy

the momma said...

Mary ~ I adore Aurifil thread - BUT, for hand sewing, it's just awful. Awful!

Dirk Rosin said...

Hei Karen , kjempe flotte bilder, så fargerik!

DeborahGun said...

Great comparison - thank you! I need to show it to my husband to prove to him why I spend so much money on Gutermann thread!

Kathy@KayakQuilting said...

Oh my, those hexies are gorgeous! I really must give them another try. I use Bottomline thread in my bobbin for machine quilting and had nevertheless thought to use it for hand sewing. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Beth said...

The quilt is going to be gorgeous Karen. I love all of those thread colors!

geanina said...

This is looking so beautiful! :)

Marsha Cooper said...

I'm stuck on hexies right now.
I'm on another project right now that I hope I can finish up by the end of tomorrow.
I'm itching to get back to the hexies and start making some individual flowers as well.

hydeeannsews said...

well at least now you know. =)
your flowers are looking so lovely! and I agree about the charm of the handstitching showing just enough.

Karen @ Pieces of Contentment said...

Hi Tracy, the Momma,
I'm pleased this post has been helpful for you. My rolls of Gutermann don’t state the wt so I can’t help you there. They aren’t super fine like some cheaper poly, but they are strong and nice and smooth. The Bottom Line 60wt is much finer but has the other issues I’ve detailed. Seems several quilters use Bottom Line as a bobbin thread for their machine sewing.

Karen @ Pieces of Contentment said...

Hi Mary Huey,
I use Mettler silk finish for my machine quilting - buying from the US (Fat Quarter Shop in a box of five rolls). I’m really happy with it for it’s strength and finish. Another commenter said she finds the Aurifil awful for hand sewing - I have some thicker Aurifil which I am planning to use in hand quilting on my Peaceful Night epp - when I reach that stage.. In several places I’ve heard polyester thread recommended for epp. I guess what matters is that we are happy with the strength and finish of any particular thread for the job.

Suzanne said...

Love the fresh colours of your hexies!

Michelle said...

The colors you have chosen are so light and refreshing.

Linda R said...

I had no idea there was that big a difference in threads. Your work looks beautiful my friend.

Hugs~

Little Island Quilting said...

I recently did a fmq workshop with Philippa Naylor (Google her for amazing quilting skills) and she said her personal preference was Bottom Line in both the top and bottom - it was her 'go to' thread. I haven't tried it yet but I am intrigued enough after what she said.

safieh said...

First of all, this is a beautiful quilt! I can't wait to see it finished. Also, thank you for the review! I think we often overlook thread, I know I do, but it is important to know what you are using and why. I personally have been using a lot of the Gutermann polyester, but am going to be switching to trying Aurifil cotton in my machine. I will try to remember to blog about the differences! Thanks again!

Lindsey said...

Karen, I am seriously in love with your hexies! They are so charming! I can't wait to see how they turn out! Thanks for the thread review!

Would love for you to stop by tomorrow and link this up to Fabric Frenzy Friday!
-Lindsey
Fabric Frenzy Friday

Nikki said...

I'm loving those beautiful colours in your quilt Karen.

Diane Wagner said...

I, too, bought Bottom Line (60 wt Poly/2-ply) based on recommendations by quilters. I found it to fray and break a lot so I only use it in my bobbin. I believe it's because Bottom Line is only 2-ply. My favorite 60 wt cotton is Presencia which is a 3-ply. I use it for all my piecing and hand-stitching. The Gutterman that I tested appears to also be a 3-ply which might explain why it's a bit more stable than Bottom Line.

Kim said...

This is such an enlightening post both by you and the other quilters' thoughts, thank you. I must say, I do love the colour sample sheet...AND...I must say again, that this hexie quilt of yours is just gorgeous. Every hexie exudes tranquility!!

Leanne Parsons said...

Your new flowers are just as lovely as the ones you made already. Thanks for the thread comparison. I'm a Gutterman 100% polyester user too, but I've wondered about other threads. I think I'll stick with what I know.

Jane said...

I love your colour choices.
And thanks for such an informative post, I'm totally new to EPP and still trying to figure it all out.

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