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Thread: Another stupid question: What's quilting thread?

  1. #1
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    Another stupid question: What's quilting thread?

    The quilt I made by hand when I was 10 has come undone because the quilting is essentially running stitch, so if a thread breaks anywhere the Whole Row just unravels. So the next one I did I quilted backstitch. That quilt worked well. Is there actually any reason not to backstitch, apart from speed?

    But now I've watched a few hand quilting tutorials, and it looks like the running stitch is correct. I've raked my brains for what the secret is, and it seems to be: extra thick thread. Is that right? I just used normal sewing cotton - no wonder it snapped!

    What sort of things (apart from colour) should I look for in a good quilting thread?

    And in terms of colour, if I am trying to stitch-in-the-ditch inconspicuously between patches of all colours, what's the best colour for not showing in general - light or dark?
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 04-24-2019 at 03:03 PM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  2. #2
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    To answer your first question I use quilting thread which is thicker than regular sewing thread. I buy a good quality brand.

    For the second questions I would say maybe a light gray would be a good choice in the fabrics are all different colors.
    I've never sewn in the ditch when quilting by hand but I know people do.
    Hope this helps.

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    Thanks. What brands are recommended?

  4. #4
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I only use Coats & Clark's quilting thread. Works great for me. If I don't have the right color/shade I just use off white.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

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    One other thing about hand quilting---when quilting straight lines, don't quilt long, long, long straight lines, because those can break when the quilt is used in bed when the person under the quilt rolls from side to side and stretches the quilt. Instead of quilting long, long lines, switch directions periodically, or switch which lines of thread you are quilting, at intervals, and come back to quilt another section of the long, long line of quilting.

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    I've seen it advised to only use 12" of thread at a time when hand quilting; I thought that was to prevent tangling, but maybe it also has to do with minimizing the damage if a stitch should break and the whole row come out.

    I like to use the threads that are designed for hand quilting; they seem thicker and stronger than piecing thread. I have used Gutermann hand quilting thread and like it, and am now trying out the Superior Threads brand of hand quilting thread, called 'Treasure,' and it feels very similar to the Gutermann. I've been using Aurifil 24 wt. on a quilt currently, because of the color selection, but I don't care for it. The thread frays, making it harder to thread the needle, and it always breaks off from where I have it anchored at the eye before I'm done with it.

    Another thing to consider is the amount of quilting. A quilt that is adequately quilted is less likely to have stitches breaking, I would think.
    Last edited by joe'smom; 04-24-2019 at 07:01 PM.
    Lisa

  7. #7
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    Another color that sort of disappears is what Coats & Clark calls "smoke"

    I think of it as the color of Easter egg dye when all the colors are dumped together. Sort of a medium greenish gray - or grayish green.

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    Thanks, that's helpful advice everyone.

    Another thing I've heard is that the ends of the thread should be at the edges of the quilt where possible - is that correct? It doesn't sound possible if the threads are 12"! Isn't it also more likely to come undone at the knots, if they pop through?

  9. #9
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    Are you talking just about hand quilting? I like coats and Clark glacé for hand quilting but have used other threads too. I bury the knots wherever the thread ends. My quilts aren’t very old but so far no thread has broken. I have one large one about 10 years old I use and wash and dry in the machines and it is still fine.
    Alyce

  10. #10
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    Standard sewing thread is 50 wt. Hand quilting thread (and what I use on the LA as well) is 40 wt. Thread is thinner the larger the number so the smaller the number, the thicker the thread. I do like the glazed thread for hand quilting. It's is about the same as running the thread through wax to strengthen it. I use Superior thread for the LA quilting. If I waxed it I could use it for hand quilting as well.

    As far as color goes, the standard rule has always been slightly darker is better than lighter in color. So, if I have a quilt with lots of colors I usually go with whatever the darker fabric is or use a varigated thread. I hope all this information helps.
    --- Jean

    jdquilts123.blogspot.com

  11. #11
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    As long as you bury your threads with a knot it doesn't matter where you end a line of thread.

  12. #12
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    My preferred brand of hand quilting thread is Valdani. It may be easier for you to find in the UK. https://www.valdani.com/wtb_stores/UK/

    This thread is a 35 weight.

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    Super Member luvstoquilt's Avatar
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    I usually use YLI but also love Valdani and Coats and Clark.
    "You must do the thing you think you cannot do"....E. Roosevelt

    Sharon
    Yorkville, IL

  14. #14
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    When hand quilting, I use a thread about 36 inches long - but I only work with about 18 inches of it at a time.

    I take a stitch - "center" the thread lengths, and then use only "half" of it going in one direction and bury that end.

    Then I go back, thread the other tail, and sew in the opposite direction. Then I only have two ends to deal with, instead of four.

  15. #15
    Super Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    Just never use a "hand quilting" thread in your sewing machine. You won't get a good stitch, and you may damage your hook.
    Annette in Utah

  16. #16
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nanna-up-north View Post
    Standard sewing thread is 50 wt. Hand quilting thread (and what I use on the LA as well) is 40 wt. Thread is thinner the larger the number so the smaller the number, the thicker the thread. I do like the glazed thread for hand quilting. It's is about the same as running the thread through wax to strengthen it. I use Superior thread for the LA quilting. If I waxed it I could use it for hand quilting as well.

    As far as color goes, the standard rule has always been slightly darker is better than lighter in color. So, if I have a quilt with lots of colors I usually go with whatever the darker fabric is or use a varigated thread. I hope all this information helps.
    Hand quilting thread feels a lot thicker to me than 40 wt. I don't know what weight it is though.

  17. #17
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    Hand quilting thread feels a lot thicker because they put a coating on it for strength. It's stiffer but does really well for hand quilting. Regular 40 wt thread doesn't have that coating so it's softer.
    --- Jean

    jdquilts123.blogspot.com

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    That's a good idea! Is burying it tying it off? I'm gonna have to find some Youtube videos...

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    Also, if I'm sewing round squares, I'd have to go round squares to double back and I could end up with isolated bits left to so if I'm not careful. I can think of lots of patterns that might work, if a straight line is a bad idea. Are right angle turns OK, and would a simple zigzag be best?

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    I've been hand quilting long enough that I'm comfortable thinking that I've never had a problem with thread breaking with use. Once in awhile I've used regular sewing thread with no problem. Perhaps the "secret" is in the tension that's being put on the thread while quilting. It should be a bit snug but not tight. I don't knot at the end of the thread either. Just backstitch and run the rest between the layers for about the length of the needle and cut the tail as the needle comes back up. If it's wrong, it seems to work for me!

  22. #22
    Super Member JENNR8R's Avatar
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    I've always used YLI hand quilting thread. There is a hugh difference in it vs. cotton piecing thread.

    https://ylicorp.com/products/hand-qu...nt=35460110798

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    First (and I think most important) the only stupid question is the one not asked. We all learn from any questions asked. There is 'special' thread designed for hand quilting. It will be marked as 'HAND QUILTING'. As a safety point, I always put a quick knot every foot or so. I have had a whole line unravel and I was not happy. I would rather not be totally correct than have that happen again. Reminder - it is your quilt, you are making it and you get to make the rules!

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    Thanks for that link! They have lots of nice colors!

    Quote Originally Posted by JENNR8R View Post
    I've always used YLI hand quilting thread. There is a hugh difference in it vs. cotton piecing thread.

    https://ylicorp.com/products/hand-qu...nt=35460110798
    Lisa

  25. #25
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SophieHatter View Post
    That's a good idea! Is burying it tying it off? I'm gonna have to find some Youtube videos...
    Burying it is not the same thing as tying off. I usually make a quilter's knot, then gently tug the knot through the fabric so it sits in the batting.

    You say this is a quilt you made when you were 10. I'm not going to presume what age you are now, but I will suggest that maybe you used cotton thread, and it's old and maybe has rotted? That is not uncommon with cotton thread. If you use polyester thread you won't have that problem.

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