Quilting Threads - How To Choose What's Right For You!

We're spoilt for choice and bombarded with information and opinions, so how do we choose the right quilting thread for us? Let's investigate!

Today's blog post is inspired by an innocent question asked from a newbie quilter in a Facebook group I follow. She asked which thread was the best to use for quilting, and I kid you not comments came swooping in left, right and centre, and battle lines were drawn even between people on the same side.

Rotary cutters were thrust into the air and war cries could be heard. William Wallace would have been proud of this uprising, and I had visions of this young girl running for the hills and considering decoupage instead. ;)

Reading through the colourful comments got me thinking. What is the right thread for quilting and piecing? I mean some of the comments had me doubting my own choices and I've been using these threads for years (obviously I didn't get the memo!).

Now, I'm not a qualified master thread specialist (totally fake job description there), but I do know which threads work best for me.  I thought it was time to investigate this controversial quilting notion a little more, and compare the standard recommendations with the threads I use and love.

I've put together my findings for piecing, domestic machine quilting and hand quilting threads! And there's no affiliation or product selling here - the standard recommendations and my own honest reasons for loving particular threads, might help you decide which thread is right for you.

Piecing Threads:

It's recommended we use a 100% cotton 50wt thread for piecing our quilting projects, so all the Aurofil lovers out there - you got the memo! It's available in different weights and spool sizes and an array of beautiful colours for all your quilting needs.

However, I use Rasant Thread. It's a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester and I use it for a number of reasons:

  • it's easy for me to source, and it arrives in the mail the next day.
  • it's affordable (I use a lot of thread).
  • it was recommended to me by the man who services my machines. He claimed it produces less lint, and machines using this thread were a lot cleaner than those using other brands.
  • the blended thread is more flexible and perfect for free motion quilting.
  • all three of my machines love it.
  • I've had good results and none of my quilts have fallen apart.

Would I use this thread if I wasn't getting good results? Absolutely not, I'd try another brand, but in all the years I've used it I've had no problems, nor have I noticed any inconsistencies in its quality and none of my machines have struggled to sew with it. It would be considered a middle of the road thread I guess, but that's how I roll - more money for fabric, yarn and cookies, right?

Some quilters prefer an off white, cream or light grey thread for piecing to hide their stitches.  I prefer white.

Whatever brand or colour you choose, just make sure you use the same thread weight in both your bobbin and your needle.

Domestic Machine Quilting Threads:

The most popular threads for domestic machine quilting are cotton, rayon and metallic threads. It's recommended to use a 40wt thread so the quilting isn't heavy and doesn't overpower the overall design and look of the quilt.

My choice of quilting thread is going to incite a hoard of thread warriors, but I use Hemingworth Embroidery Thread which is a 40wt poly thread - what can I say, I'm a rebel! Here's just a few reasons why:

  • I love the sheen this thread brings to a quilt.
  • It quilts smoothly, especially during free motion quilting.
  • It creates subtle quilting, not heavy, overpowering stitching.
  • It doesn't snag or break.
  • It comes in 300 amazing colours and there's a range of variegated threads.
  • A spool lasts forever, and it has a protective cap to keep the dust away.
  • It's strong enough to cope with quilt wear and tear and constant washing.

I've used this thread my entire quilting journey except for a few rolls of Gutermann Sulky Thread which I also loved but can no longer source.

Hand Quilting Threads:

For hand quilting it's recommended you use a 28wt cotton thread that is smooth and fine and strong and durable. It needs to be able to withstand the stress of pulling and stretching as you hand quilt and it should glide through the fabric without tangling.

There are conditioners available to help your thread glide through the three layers easily, and to remove any static from the thread.

I hand quilted a lot in the early days, so I do have a large collection of Guttermann Hand Quilting Thread which was all that was available to me at the time (pre internet shopping days!). It is a thick thread and it does take a little time to get used to, but the results are worth it.

Another popular option is embroidery floss. This thread has six strands and you can choose how many strands you wish to quilt with. It does add some nice texture to a quilt and really emphasises the blocks you are working on.

There are many brands of embroidery floss and I have a large stash of DMC threads which I would use purely because I have them to use - your brand choice may be influenced by colour or sheen or availability.

I'm in no way trying to force my opinions on you about thread. My hope was to give you some things to think about while your selecting the right thread for you.

Take the time to talk to the salesperson at your sewing machine centre - I've found them to be brutally honest about all quilting notions and machines. Take a few threads home with you and decide for yourself what you expect from the thread and whether it delivers.

For me right now, the threads I use work efficiently, the results are great, I can source them easily and I'm happy with my choices. Don't let anyone sway you from yours. :)

Thread choice does not make one quilter better than another, but to be the best you, you must do you! Don't be influenced by the loudest voices!

Happy quilting :)
email signature

No comments

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my blog. I love hearing from you so thank you for taking the time to leave me a message. 😊