The boom in quilting as a hobby and craft has caused manufacturers to produce a huge variety of threads. Yet you’ll find there is such a wide selection of thread that choosing the correct thread for your quilting project can leave you scratching your head in puzzlement. You’ll find an array of choices, whether you shop at a brick and mortar store on the internet. This article will shed some light on the confusing selection of threads for quilting.
Thread for quilting falls broadly into two categories- sewing thread and thread for embellishing. Let’s discuss sewing thread first, as it is the most commonly used, especially for quilting projects. Sewing thread can be purchased in several different weights and fibers. Weights of thread can range from 28 to 60. Thread for quilting needs to be strong and to stand the test of time, so generally, you will want to choose a thread in the range of a 40 weight. Thread in the 28 weight range is most commonly used for embellishment, while 50 weight would be used for piecing. You can easily find the weight of the thread you are considering by reading the label. You may see a number like this: 40/2. The first number is the weight of the thread, the second the number of plies. In this example, the thread is a 40 weight of two plies.
Thread for quilting is most often made from cotton, rayon, polyester, metallic, or plastic. The metallic and plastic thread will be used for embellishments and specialty stitches only. Cotton thread is common, and often it is mercerized. This is a process where the fiber has been made to swell and straighten out repeatedly, which removes any tendency towards fuzziness and makes for a very high luster thread. Cotton thread is available in 30 to 60 weight.
Rayon thread is also highly lustrous, and the polyester thread has a colorfast, non-shrinkable finish. The metallic thread choices are going to be a bit more difficult to sew with and are not for beginners, though they make for stunningly beautiful finished quilting projects. Some brands that quilters might want to look for include the old favorite Coats and Clark, Guterman, which is a popular alternative known for its strength and ease of use (try it for hand quilting), Madeira rayon thread, which is strong enough to use to embroider on denim or leather, and Mettler, which comes in several different fibers.
It is often not a good idea to attempt to use up old sewing thread, which tends to degenerate on the spool. Unreel a bit and pull on it. If the thread snaps, it will also snap when you put it in your sewing machine. With the wide variety of quilting thread and its relatively low cost, there’s no reason not to just buy new thread when you need a different color. You’ll save a fortune in frustration alone.
Some manufacturers also produce special threads for embellishing, and you can find these at your local quilting store. If you like to quilt by hand, you can use embroidery floss, available in a multitude of color and fiber. Learning about the different kinds of threads can enhance your love of the craft of quilting.