Tips for Variegated Threads

Variegated Threads:

Yummy colors, fabulous combinations of colors.....So wonderful....

free motion quilting with variegated thread

In theory anyway. I have a love/hate relationship with these beautiful threads. They entice me from the thread rack and I am hard pressed to turn away without a few spools in my basket. And they are more expensive!

free motion quilting with variegated thread

But they can be tricky to work with. Backtracking over previous stitching rarely happens in the same color as the previous stitching.

Finding the right bobbin thread is difficult. I prefer to match the bobbin thread to the quilt top, which was easy in the case of my Poured Out 2 quilt as it was all one color for the variegated thread area. If you use the same thread top and bottom, it is unlikely that the colors will be the same more than half the time. Granted, we want our tensions set so that we don't see pops of color from the bobbin on the top (or vice versa) but with a thin batt or highly contrasting colors it is fairly inevitable.

freemotionquilting with variegated thread

I have heard that winding a bobbin back onto another bobbin will help get the colors to line up top and bottom. Then you pull the starting threads until the colors line up before stitching.

free motion feathers

Since I had Poured Out 2 laid out for the above pictures, I went ahead and took a shot of the back of the water section. Fun feathers!

free motion feathers

Variegated colors can look great on contrasting colors like the black of Poured Out 2 and on the brown of my fall wall hanging at the top. They can also help unify a multicolored quilt with the multicolored thread. But then sometimes it decides to play peekaboo with you! It can be too dark and too light all on the same fabric or on different parts of a quilt, like in the picture below. I may be redoing this part of a customer quilt with a solid colored thread. (Yes, I am a bit of a perfectionist.)

free motion quilting around applique

So, what to do?

  • Choose either a variegated thread that will contrast with most of the top's color(s) or will blend with all of them.
  • Choose quilting designs with as little backtracking as possible
  • Look for subtle tone on tone threads for a unifying effect.
  • Use a bobbin thread that matches the dominant colors of the thread, or the dominant color of the top's fabric(s), use monopoly, or experiment with rewinding bobbins to get the threads to line up.
  • Remind yourself that sometimes variegated thread looks better on the spool than in your quilt!
How about you? Do you love these threads? Have any tips for us?

I'm linking this post with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday and with Leah Day's Free Motion Friday. Go and visit these two great link parties and see what other quilters are up to.


  1. I totally agree! The spools/sm. cones on my shelves seem to hang around a lot longer than they should. Gorgeous/enticing in the store and hard to figure out at home. The ones I find myself using are, as you suggest, dominantly light or dark but not both or the finish is a bit peculiar. I just purchased another spool.....couldn't live w/o it!.....we'll see when/where it get used! Great subject to discuss!! Hugs......

  2. Love what you are doing Amy, I was curious to see how and where you DH put your camera to record your sewing... I would love to do some recording too, but have difficulty with the camera.

    1. Thanks Joan. Ah… what was formerly known as the boob cam. That should tell you pretty much where it was located before we cobbled together a new camera mount. The set up has changed a bit since we moved my sewing stuff into the ‘studio’, but I’ll work on a post to show what we’ve done. It is all very simple and cheap.

  3. I cant see the point of them for embroidery....but they look gorgeous for quilting with ! Love your quilting ! I really must do some more quilting now : )

  4. When visiting blogs, i always look for a very nice content like yours .  Homepage

  5. Watch and Download world's famous Turkish action drama Kurulus Osman Season 3 in English on link below
    Kurulus Osman Season 3

    Kurulus Osman Season 3 Episode 1
    On link below
    Kurulus Osman Season 3 Episode 1

    Crypto trading course
    Crypto quantum leap

    YouTube course
    Be a professional YouTuber and start your carrier
    Tube Mastery and Monetization by matt