If you’ve read our Five Quilting Techniques to Practice During Your Next Project article or our article about Basic Quilting Practices for Beginners then you have probably gleaned that thread choice when quilting is just as important as fabric selection and pattern placement. A common misconception about choosing thread is that the color is the most important aspect to consider. However, much more goes into thread selection than that.
The best way to choose the right thread for an upcoming project is to learn the basic properties of thread including weight, thickness, fiber, and finish. There is a wide variety of thread types out there and, depending on your next quilting project, it would do you well to know the difference between the types so you can choose the best.
All Purpose Thread
All purpose thread is the go-to thread for most sewing projects including those made by hand and those that are machine made. In addition to its ability to be used for handmade quilting projects and machine made quilting projects, all purpose thread can also be used with the majority of fabrics available on the market including lightweight and heavyweight fabric. More times than not, all purpose thread is made of polyester or cotton and can be used for making seams, edging, stitching, quilting, and more. The only times you wouldn’t want to use all-purpose thread is when you’re working with a very thin or delicate fabric, like silk, or extremely durable fabric, like denim or canvas.
Clear thread, often called monofilament or continuous filament, resembles fishing line and should be used when you want your stitches or seams to be invisible. Clear thread varies by weight and, depending on what your quilting project is and the type of fabric you are using, you’ll want to choose the correct weight. Clear thread can be used for quilting just like all purpose thread and the nylon base of clear thread means it will withstand pulling, stretching, and high tension. The quilting market offers clear thread in two types – clear and smokey – and you’ll want to use clear thread when quilting lighter fabrics and smokey thread when quilting with darker fabrics. Clear thread can be used by hand or with a quilting machine; however, if you are using it with a machine then we recommend using a thread net and a metal sewing needle.
Embroidery Thread & Floss
Embroidery thread and embroidery floss are also suitable threads to use in quilting projects and these two types are often made from a variety of fibers with rayon being the most popular because of its durability, affordability, and high sheen. In recent years, polyester embroidery thread and embroidery floss has made a come up in the quilting market because it holds onto color better than rayon fiber does. What’s the difference between embroidery thread and embroidery floss? Embroidery thread is made of a single strand and often comes on a spool while embroidery floss is made of six separated strands that are wound into a loose circle that can be divided depending on the thickness you want your stitch to be. Embroidery thread made of rayon should be used on lightweight fabrics while embroidery thread made of polyester is better used on heavyweight fabrics. If you’re quilting by hand then embroidery floss will be your best choice.
If you are lucky enough to have an industrial quilting machine at home then you’ll want to use industrial thread on your quilting projects. The term “industrial thread” is a two-fold term. In one sense, it refers to the durability of the thread itself and, in another sense, it refers to the amount of thread you get per spool. Industrial thread is meant to be used in instances where your yield is high and your quilting project requires a large amount of thread to complete. Industrial thread is some of the highest quality, most durable, and longest lasting thread on the market. And its ability to be used on various fabrics, from chiffon to leather, makes it a good choice for quilting projects that are using more lightweight fabrics and more heavyweight fabrics in tandem to create quilts that have various textures and dimensions.
Quilting thread, as its name reflects, is a fabulous thread to use for handmade and machine made quilting projects. What makes quilting thread stand out from other thread types is that it is processed differently to be suitable for quilting projects where the thread will be pulled, washed, dried, and touched on a daily basis. Quilting thread is also mercerized which means that it is treated with a solution to increase its strength and improve the longevity of its color. It is also treated to reduce lint output and to allow it to glide smoothly through fabric to decrease the possibility of damaging fabric while quilting. Quilting thread can be used for both hand quilting and machine quilting projects making it the best choice when your end goal is to produce a high-quality, long-lasting quilt.
As a good rule of thumb, especially if you’re in a pinch and need to use a thread you already have for a quilting project, all purpose polyester thread works very well for all quilting projects. However, when you have the ability to choose and purchase all of your thread prior to starting your project, knowing details surrounding the various types of thread available on the market will help you to make an educated decision based on the types of fabric you are piecing, the colors you are using, and the various use cases your finished quilting product will be put through.
At Quilt Quarters, we are fully stocked on multiple varieties of thread including all purpose thread, quilting thread, embroidery thread, and have a wide variety of colors to choose from. Stop into our location at 9840 N. Michigan Road in Carmel, IN to shop our selection today or give us a call at (317) 757-8340 to speak to a member of our team today. Our store associates are happy to help answer any questions you may have, check inventory, and help you find exactly what you need to complete your next quilting project with ease.