How to Find the Best Thread for Quilting

How to Find the Best Thread for Quilting

I think quilting is such a popular hobby because it allows us to make gifts for the people we love.  These are gifts they will treasure for decades.  I know from experience what receiving the gift of a quilt feels like since my grandma made me two quilts by hand.  I use and treasure them both to this day. 

If quilting is a part of your life, or if you plan for it to be, then you need to pick out the best quilting materials.  In this article, we are going to walk through the steps of how to find the best thread for quilting those amazing blankets you have on your project board.  So, get ready to find what you need and begin building a family treasure in no time.

Five Features of Thread to Consider

Before you purchase a spool of thread from your local craft store, take some time to think about your project, and what features you need from the thread you select.  Understanding which features will make your project look great is the key to selecting the best thread for quilting.  So, without further ado, let’s talk about those features now.

Color

This feature is entirely up to you and is relevant to the color or colors you have selected for your quilt pattern.  You can choose a thread color that blends into the quilt squares’ main color(s), or conversely, you can choose a thread color that stands out from the quilt squares’ main color(s).  Either option is fine. Just be sure to choose something attractive to your eye.

Material

Thread is made from several different types of material, and each type works best in different crafting situations. Let’s look at three of the most common types of thread material to learn what they do best and why you might choose one over another depending on your project.

Cotton

Cotton is strong, soft, and does not have a lot of stretchiness, so if you are working on a project that needs to hold its shape, you should use this type of thread.  This is also a great material to use if you happen to be a speedy quilter since it can withstand friction and the heat it can create.  

Polyester 

If your project needs to move a little once it is complete, you should use this type of thread.  A polyester thread is great for sewing together clothes and other items that need some stretch.  Plus, this thread doesn’t produce a lot of lint as it runs through a sewing needle, which is great for keeping a sewing machine clean.

Silk

This type of thread will work for any project but is especially suited for dainty items such as lingerie.  While this may cause you to think it is also dainty and therefore weak, this is not the case.  Silk may not be as strong as cotton, but it is still very durable with a slight bit of elasticity.

Process

This particular feature refers to how you plan to use the thread.  If you plan to quilt on a machine, you will need a different type of thread than if you plan to quilt by hand.  If you are a hand quilter, you need to look for a specifically labeled “quilting” thread.  This type of thread has a coating on it that helps it work through hand-sewn material.  

It is important to note that sewing machines cannot handle this type of thread; the special coating will rub off and eventually build up on the machine gears causing them to stop working properly.  Use non-quilting thread on sewing machines, even if you are planning to quilt.

Weight & Ply 

These two features are paired together because they are typically listed together on the thread information label. You’ll find these two together in fraction form. Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you need to be a mathematician to figure out how to select and use weight and ply. Let’s use an example to explain how this fraction form works.

Suppose you find a spool of thread that says it is a 50/2.  The number 50 refers to the weight of the yarn, while the number 2 refers to the ply (number of thread strands) of the yarn.  The higher the weight number is, the thinner the thread is; whereas, the higher the ply number is, the stronger the thread is.  This means that the thread is 50 weight and the ply is 2.  In layman’s terms, this means that the thread is thin but strong.  

While the fraction form is common for listing thread weight, it can also be listed as denier, Gunze count system, and tex.  Here is a breakdown of each type of listing:

  • Denier refers to the weight of the thread when it is measured in grams of 9,000 meters.  A 120-denier thread weighs 120 grams for every 9,000 meters of length.  In this type of listing, the larger the number, the heavier the thread.
  • Gunze Count System (aka Number System) is a type of listing developed in Japan to identify thin threads.  It is not necessarily a system for determining the thread weight, but it does help sewists know which thread is thin and which is thick.  An example of how these system lists numbers is: “No. 50” or “#50”.  The smaller the number listed, the heavier the thread.
  • Tex refers to the weight of the thread when it is measured in grams of 1,000 meters.  A tex 25 thread weighs 25 grams for every 1,000 meters of length.  In this type of listing, the larger the number, the heavier the thread.

Product Recommendations

Now that we have covered the five main features to consider when looking for a quilting thread, we can begin to look at some amazing options on the market.  The products recommended in this section have all been gathered using the following criteria:

  • Color: The products recommended should come in a wide range of colors so that every quilter will find the perfect match for their projects.
  • Customer Reviews: The products recommended should have at least a 4-star review.
  • Versatility: Recommended products should be versatile in how they can be used.  They should also feature different weights and lengths.

Aurifil Christa Quilt Colors Thread Kit

Italian-made and delicately designed are two definitions of this thread that should have quilters scrambling for a few spools.  Fortunately, with this kit, you won’t have to limit yourself when it comes to color.  Enjoy practicing on your quilting projects with all the lovely colors included.

Measurement Details

50 weight cotton thread

1,422 yards in each spool

Pros

  • Includes 12 different colors
  • The kit is designed by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts
  • As of the writing of this article, customers have given this kit a 4.9-star rating
  • Customers are raving about how this thread does not produce much lint

Cons

  • Some customers have had issues with the thread breaking too easily
  • It is an expensive kit (over $100)

BlesSew Store Polyester Threads

With this set of threads, you will have every color you could need.  If, however, you need some other colors, you can opt for their balance, comfort, and loyalty sets.  Not only does this set offer color variety, but it also offers project versatility since it can be used in hand and machine quilting. 

Measurement Details

No thread weight listed

1,000 yards in each spool

Pros

  • Available in multiple colors and sets
  • Reasonably priced (under $30)
  • As of the writing of this article, customers have given this kit a 4.5-star rating

Cons

  • Some customers have had issues with the thread shredding and breaking

Gutermann Machine Quilting Thread

This company is known for producing inexpensive but high-quality threads.  The thread has a beautiful sheen and is available in a wide range of colors and sizes to suit every quilter’s needs.

Gutermann Machine Quilting Thread 875 yd. Stormy Grey -- CreateForLess

Measurement Details

50 weight cotton thread

800 meters in each spool

3,000 meters in each cone

Pros

  • Reasonably priced (under $30)
  • Available in a wide variety of colors
  • Available in spool and cone sizes

Cons

  • No customer reviews are available

Gutermann Hand Quilting Thread

If you are a quilter who prefers to do everything by hand, then this is the thread you need.  You can be sure it is high-quality, and it won’t ruin your crafting budget since it is made by Gutermann.  You can also be sure you’ll find every color you need for all your quilting or hand sewing projects.

Measurement Details

40 weight and 3 ply cotton thread

200 meters in each spool

Pros

  • Reasonably priced (under $10)
  • Available in a wide variety of colors

Cons

  • No customer reviews are available

New Brothread Store Mercerized Cotton Threads

If you need a versatile thread, then look no further than this set.  It has been designed for use in embroidery, sewing, and quilting.  Plus, it has all the colors you could ever want.  If this set doesn’t have the color you need, try the company’s set of bright colors, pastel colors, variegated colors, neutral colors, or a set of black and white spools.

Measurement Details

30 weight and 3 ply cotton thread

600 meters in each spool

Pros

  • Available in a wide variety of colors and sets
  • Reasonably priced (under $50)
  • As of the writing of this article, customers have given this kit a 4.8-star rating
  • Customers are raving about how beautiful the colors of the thread are
  • Customers have commented on how well the thread works for all their crafting projects

Cons

  • Some customers have had issues with the thread breaking in their sewing machines

Mettler Silk Finish Cotton Thread

Here is another popular name-brand quilting thread.  You can rely on Mettler to produce a strong thread that resists breaking.  This particular product from Mettler is made from mercerized cotton, so it is strong but silky – the perfect combination to use in both hand and machine quilting.

Measurement Details

50 weight cotton thread

547 yards in each spool

Pros

  • Available in a wide variety of colors
  • Reasonably priced (under $10)
  • While not all the colors have been reviewed by customers, the colors that have been reviewed have been given a 5-star rating

Cons

  • None

FAQs

Question: Should Thread Conditioner be Used When Quilting?

Answer: While it is not a requirement that quilters use thread conditioners, it is a big help.  This stuff does reduce knots, tangles, and breakage.  It also eliminates static cling.  These are some great reasons to invest in thread conditioners for all your sewing projects.
If you are interested in getting some as you begin working on your quilt, try Taylor Seville Thread Magic.  It has great reviews and is famous for how easy it is to use.

Question: Does Needle Size Play an Important Role in Selecting the Right Type of Thread?

Answer: While needle size plays an important role in the sewing process, it should not affect your decision on which type of thread is best for your project.  You should select the thread based on your project alone and then select a needle to fit the thread.  
The best way to match a needle to a thread type is to get a needle with an eye that is 40% larger than the diameter of the thread.  If you test out a needle with the thread you have selected, and your machine is skipping stitches, you may need to get a needle that is one size larger.

Question: Is It Okay to Use Old Thread?

Answer: Manufacturing processes have developed so much over the past twenty years that most of the thread produced today should be able to last for up to fifty years.  However, this is not the case for thread produced before these manufacturing processes were developed and implemented.  
If you have a spool of the old thread and are wondering if it is still usable, you need to do a quick test before threading it onto your sewing machine.  Take a foot-long piece of the thread in question and pull it until it separates.  If the thread snaps, then it is still usable; however, if the thread separates smoothly as a cotton ball pulls apart, it is not usable.

In Conclusion

Comparing and contrasting quilting threads has inspired me to be creative this winter.  I also know that I prefer New Brothread Store Mercerized Cotton Threads for any future quilting projects.  Hopefully, this article has also inspired you to get out your quilting gear and buy a few fat quarters to start a project this winter. 

Now that you have all the information for how to find the best quilting thread, you should have no issues getting started.  Once you have all your quilting supplies together and have a pattern selected, let Craft & Stitch assist you in finding a great sewing machine for all your sewing projects.  We love assisting crafters as they search for crafting tools and materials.  Every article is designed to make crafting fun and frustration-free.  

Resource Citations

Suzy Quilts

Teach You How to Sew

Superior Threads

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