What thread should I use? How do I decide?

It’s all so confusing.  How do you decide what thread to choose?

“All Purpose Thread” implies that it’s good for ALL purposes, right?  Wrong.  There really is no one size fits all thread. All Purpose Thread may be OK for a wider range of purposes than other (specialty threads)–or maybe not.

QUALITY COUNTS!

Real quilters only use cotton thread, right? Wrong!  Historically…20, 30, 40+ years ago, women primarily used cotton threads for quilt making because that was the best product available at the time.  The very early (old) poly threads were not very good quality (same with most old polyester fabrics).  Those old poly threads either did not hold up over time or they were so “hard” they might damage the quilt.  Therefore cotton was the best (only good) choice at that time.  But fast forward 20 – 40 years and look at what technology has given us!  Just look at the gorgeous poly fabrics that are available now.  There are so many that are very high quality and simply gorgeous.  The same goes for poly threads.  It is perfectly fine to use poly threads as long as you choose a good quality thread that is appropriate to the task you are performing.

To determine what thread to use in your project, you need to ask yourself some questions:
  • What sort of project are you sewing?
  • Piecing a quilt top?
  • Heirloom sewing?
  • Applique?
  • Garment construction?
  • Craft or home dec projects?
  • Quilting?
  • Surface embellishment?

Quilt Top Piecing

Personally, I use and recommend a good quality 60wt or 50wt cotton thread for quilt piecing.  I like 50wt Presencia, 60wt Presencia and 50wt Masterpiece.

I prefer cotton over polyester because I don’t have to concern myself with checking my iron temperature every time I press. I like nice flat, crisp seams when I piece so use a HOT iron.  When the fabric content and the thread content are the same, they can withstand the same heat.

If you like using polyester for piecing (like 60wt Bottom Line or 50wt So Fine), that’s perfectly fine.  HOWEVER, if you choose to use polyester for piecing you MUST BE CAREFUL when applying direct heat to the seam.  An iron set at high heat (Cotton) can melt right through polyester.

Heirloom Sewing

I recommend 60wt Presencia.

Appliqué by Hand or Machine

I like  50wt Presencia, 60wt Presencia or 60wt Bottom Line.
For folk style applique where you hand blanket-stitch around the outside edge, I recommend taking a look at Perle Cotton. The weight of perle cotton you choose will depend upon how you want your finished project to look.  If you want a “heavier” thread look, choose the “lower” number weight (i.e., a size 8 perle cotton is heavier than size 16 perle cotton).

Garment, Craft & Home Dec Construction

Here, you must carefully consider the fabric content and weight and about the function/stress put on the seams of the item.

For example, if you are sewing denim or fleece that will be worn or the seams may experience stress from pulling or wear, you probably do NOT want to use a light weight cotton or poly thread.  The thicker the fabric, the heavier thread you will want to use.  For denims and fleece I like So Fine.  If you are surface embellishing denim or fleece, you can use just about any thread you choose that will provide the look you want.

For construction of garments and projects using light weight fabrics, I generally use  50wt Presencia, 60wt Presencia or 60wt Bottom Line.

Quilting and Surface Embellishment

For quilting, you may choose whatever thread you wish based upon your own personal preferences and the look you wish to achieve.

Using “invisible” threads such as Monopoly keeps the focus away from the thread and puts it strictly on the design itself.  Sew Art is a nylon and there are known cautions about using nylon (may yellow, become brittle, etc.) but I know many people who have used it successfully for years.  Monopoly is polyester and does not have these issues, but it is shiny and catches the light. So you must consider the qualities of the thread with regard to your project needs and then decide which product you prefer.

A fine (light weight) thread like 60wt Presencia or 60wt Bottom Line will tend to “blend” into the background placing the emphasis on the quilting design (rather than the thread used to create the design).

Using heavier threads such as King Tut, Art Studio Colors, Living Colors and LAVA will change the focus to the “threads” used to create the design.

Embellishment thread such as Razzle Dazzle is not meant to go through your machine needle.  Please do not attempt to use Razzle Dazzle in the top.  Razzle Dazzle is gorgeous when couched on to the surface of your project.  Or, use it in your machine bobbin.

HELPFUL HINT: BEFORE you start your project, always test your “selected” thread on a sample swatch of the same fabric you are going to use in your project.  This will help you identify any potential issues or special considerations before you are invested in having to make that thread work no matter what.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.