Monday, January 09, 2012

Have you ever been challenged by monofilament?

Monofilament is clear thread, similar to a light weight fishing line that is a perfect solution when you need to add stitching but don't want the thread to be prominent. I personally love MonoPoly by Superior, it's a strong, matte, polyester thread that comes in clear for light to medium colors of fabric and smoke to be used with medium to dark colors.

Monofilament can be technically challenging when sewing if you don't make a few tension adjustments to your machine and adjust how your spool unwinds.

The biggest problem: Tangling and breaking. When you slow down or stop sewing and the tension is let up on monofilament, because of its natural elastic springy nature, it keeps unwinding and spins around the back of the spool, causing the thread to break.

Using a thread stand helps but, as soon as the tension is off (ie slowing down or stopping) the thread tends to spin around the spindle either above or (worse) below the spool. Snap!

Solution: place the spool in a bowl next to the thread stand and run the monofilament up through the top hook of the stand and then over to the machine.

Use a thread guide on your thread spindle to help control that active thread.

Second problem: Tight thread tension. Monofilament, like metallic thread, requires a looser tension setting on the machine. 

Solution part 1: Loosen the top thread tension, the lower the number the lower the tension.

When I first started quilting 20+ years ago, it was not recommended to put monofilament in your bobbin as well as the top. I can no longer remember exactly why, but I've never had a problem, maybe the quality of the thread is a lot better now. Also some machines are just finicky about thread, if your machine has issues, try something like Bottom Line in the bobbin. 

Solution part 2: Loosen the tension on the bobbin case. Make a quarter turn on the top larger screw, usually counter clockwise. I guess that depends on how you're holding the bobbin, for mine if the thread is on the left side, it's counter clockwise. 

It's easy to check if it's looser by letting your bobbin dangle when holding the thread. It should drop down a little bit. If you are afraid to mess with the tension screw on your bobbin case, buy another spare and mark it with a dot of fingernail polish.

Lastly I recommend using a top stitch needle, my favorites are the titanium ones.

Following these easy steps you should never have problems stitching with monofilament.


  1. This is great! I've all but stopped using monofilament because of the way it springs back, tangles on the thread spindle and generally makes my life miserable. Thanks so much@

  2. Fantastic advice, thankyou.. I'll have another go at using the mono I have..

  3. Judy this was really, REALLY helpful. Thank you so much!

  4. It sounds counter-intuitive (took ages to occur to me way back), but it doesn't matter whether you hold the bobbin-case with the opening to the right or to the left. Left (for the tension screw) remains left and right right.
    Love your work,

  5. After reading your wonderful post, I just may have to give it another try, I just figured I'm not monofilament or metalic thread worthy yet!!

  6. Thanks Judy, this is very helpful, some great tips. Now if I can remember them when I need them.

  7. Much of this could be avoided by purchasing the thread on a cone. This way the spool doesn't spin causing all your problems.

    I have purchased wonderthread in the million mile commercial cone and had just about no problems with it.

  8. Good to know Anne! I'll have to look into large cones.

  9. great post, Judy. great photos too.


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