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Thread: Applique thread

  1. #1
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    Applique thread

    Hi, I'm new to the board and I'm not sure I'm doing this right. My question is what thread should I be using for applique. I've been a quilter for 10 years, but haven't done any applique. I've been told to use silk thread, but the Clover silk thread I'm using seems to fray in the middle as I'm using it. I'm tempted to go back to plain cotton. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    You can use any thread you are comfortable with, so long as your stitches don't show. Lots of quilters like using 60 weight cotton thread. Use a color to match the applique.

    Janet

  3. #3
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    Welcome to the board, Ro V.

    I've been quilting for about 15 years and sewing for 50+. So, I have lots of thread..... 100% cotton, cotton/polyester blends, 100% polyester, and silk. I do love appliqueing with silk because it glides through the fabric so easily but I use cotton or cotton/polyester at times, too. I try to stay away from 100% poly because the thread is so much stronger than the fabric and I've heard that it can cut the fabric over time. I've seen that happen on really old quilts that got used and washed a lot.

    I think the color of thread you use is more important than using only silk. I have so much thread that I can match the color of the applique piece perfectly and the thread just seems to disappear.... that's really important to me. I don't want those stitches to show and distract from the applique piece. The quilt in my avatar is all appliqued and most of the thread I used is 100% cotton..... because it matched the pieces. I may use 20 or 30 different colors of thread.

    I'm sure you will get lots of others giving their opinion.... and this post is just mine. So, experiment with your applique, wash it a lot, and decide for yourself....... and happy quilting.

    Nanna

  4. #4
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    i use beige silk thread for all of my applique. the thread does not show. welcome to the board.
    Nancy in western NY
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  5. #5
    Super Member franc36's Avatar
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    I just started doing appliqué this year; but have done quite a lot of appliqué. When I started, I used whatever thread I had that matched. When I discovered silk thread and a very thin needle, I couldn't believe what a difference it made for me. Now I use only silk thread. I'd say, use whatever works for you.

  6. #6
    Super Member mermaid's Avatar
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    Nanna-up-north said " I try to stay away from 100% poly because the thread is so much stronger than the fabric and I've heard that it can cut the fabric over time. I've seen that happen on really old quilts that got used and washed a lot." This statement kinda puzzled me cause I didn't think poly thread had been around for a terribly long time? Maybe it was the fabric dyes that weakened the fabric? Or stitches were too tight or needle too large? Does anyone know what could make that happen? I've done applique w/poly thread because it is strong, but I'd hate to have my quilts someday start to deteriorate because of it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    I'll chime in here with another vote for "use whatever thread you've got that matches the color of the applique". I stay away from purely synthetic threads as well, mostly because I don't like the way they handle. I also found when using silk or rayon thread I got fraying and breakage, but that may be due to my technique more than thread properties!

    Alison

  8. #8
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    if your silk thread is fraying it is caused from the wrong needle or too long of pieces- you should use about 18" of thread on your needle- and a needle with a round eye helps- but it could just be the needle is too tiny- use a bit larger needle-and shorter thread length's and you probably will not have fraying problems-
    i do alot of applique & love silk threads- but do use other threads too- the color is the deciding factor- i do have a good selection of silk colors though- when i can that's what i use most.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  9. #9
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I use cotton and silk. Sometimes I use the same color as the fabric and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I use black thread and outline a project and have it stand out and it really looks pretty. Or I'll use a different color. It depends on the project. Sometimes I'll use a lemon yellow when it's more of a soft yellow and make it stand out. I like the thread to stand out sometimes. I do a lot of hand work on the applique and want my handwork to show sometimes and so what's necessary to make it stand out. Other times I don't want it to stand out at all. It depends on the applique I'm working on. So you have to decide for yourself. I use cotton all the time because I have a trillion spools of cotton and not to many spools of silk.
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  10. #10
    Super Member Onebyone's Avatar
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    I use to use whatever thread that I had the color to match. I splurged and bought a silk thread set and it made all the difference in my stitching. I will not use any other thread for hand applique now. I bought the set from Connecting Threads the YLI gift pack.

  11. #11
    Super Member nanna-up-north's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mermaid View Post
    Nanna-up-north said " I try to stay away from 100% poly because the thread is so much stronger than the fabric and I've heard that it can cut the fabric over time. I've seen that happen on really old quilts that got used and washed a lot." This statement kinda puzzled me cause I didn't think poly thread had been around for a terribly long time? Maybe it was the fabric dyes that weakened the fabric? Or stitches were too tight or needle too large? Does anyone know what could make that happen? I've done applique w/poly thread because it is strong, but I'd hate to have my quilts someday start to deteriorate because of it.
    I guess I should have said 'how old' the quilt is that I have with thread but fabric torn at the stitching lines. That quilt was made by my DH's aunt around 1940 and I'm not sure it is polyester thread.... not even sure that polyester thread was available to sewers at that time. And, I could cut out some of the thread and give it a flame test to see if it is man-made fiber but don't want to do any more damage to the quilt.

    I did check the Clothide (I think that's correct) site about their thread information and found this quote:

    Fiber: Try to match thread fiber to fabric fiber. Cotton fabric should be sewn with cotton thread; polyester or manmade fiber should be sewn with polyester thread. If possible, don't sew natural fibers with polyester thread. Polyester fiber is stronger than most natural thread, so over time, the stronger polyester thread can break the weaker cotton fiber of the fabric. For quilting, look for thread labeled "machine quilting" or "hand quilting."

    So, polyester thread is available to all of us today.... I just don't buy any of it for quilting due to its strength. It is still okay for polyester fabric.... but I don't buy any of that....don't like the feel. There are still plenty of those iron-strong quilts made back in the 1960's from polyester knits..... really don't like those but I hear they are warm and wear like nothing else.

    Nanna

  12. #12
    Super Member Knitette's Avatar
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    Hello and welcome to the board. I do a lot of raw-edge appliqué and as the others have said, it's up to you what you use and what effect you're trying to achieve.
    Some like their appliqué to blend in, so use a cotton that exactly matches their piece. Others like a little emphasis on their hard work so use a rayon or polyester.
    There are whole articles about what thread to use - some will tell you cotton, some silk and some will say rayon.... Others believe that a trilobal polyester is better than rayon if you like a sheen on your work.
    Possibly not the definitive answer you were hoping for, but happy appliquéing!
    Lang may yer lum reek. (I'm a knitter - hence - 'Knit-ette'. Confuses a lot of people!)

  13. #13
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    Part of the problem with some of the older quilts, is that they were made from used clothing. In many cases, that fabric was already quite worn, thus weaker than the thread, to begin with.
    Neesie


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  14. #14
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    I use cotton and silk. Sometimes I use the same color as the fabric and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I use black thread and outline a project and have it stand out and it really looks pretty. Or I'll use a different color. It depends on the project. Sometimes I'll use a lemon yellow when it's more of a soft yellow and make it stand out. I like the thread to stand out sometimes. I do a lot of hand work on the applique and want my handwork to show sometimes and so what's necessary to make it stand out. Other times I don't want it to stand out at all. It depends on the applique I'm working on. So you have to decide for yourself. I use cotton all the time because I have a trillion spools of cotton and not to many spools of silk.
    Totally agree with this. You can use any type of thread and any color you like. And I don't buy into the philosophy that polyester thread cuts fabrics. JMHO.
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  15. #15
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I did some online research awhile ago on threads and found that silk thread (at least sometimes) deteriorates faster than other thread. One quilter said that she had appliqued a quilt seven years previously, had used both silk and cotton thread, and was having to repair all the patches she had sewn with the silk thread.

  16. #16
    Senior Member humbird's Avatar
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    I do a fair amount of applique, and I use 60 w cotton thread, in an off white/lt. tan. I use the ladder stitch, and my stitches don't show.

  17. #17
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I usually hand stitch appliques on and I have used DMC thread 2-3 strands.
    Another Phyllis
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  18. #18
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    I really like Aurifil because it's cotton and only 2 ply so it blends in well with the applique. I was taught to use cotton and was told about this thread being good for it and since I use it more for piecing than any other thread I tried it and it works so well. Very strong thread; lots of colors to chose from
    Judy

  19. #19
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    I mostly use cotton thread, often the embroidery weight(60) and the brand I have most of is DMC. I have used silk, and find the few colors I have blend with just about everything. I also have used Mettler 50 weight as that is the thread I have the most colors of.

  20. #20
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    You did not say what type of applique you are doing. Hand or machine, raw edged or turned? My fav is raw edged and decorative stitches and using fusible to hold it all in place. I go through my stash of thread and pick what ever I think will look best. Love the machine embroidery thread for this - it shines!

    I know how to do hand applique - but like others on here - getting the arthritis in the old hands. But, remember, there's no stress on the applique like there is on seams in clothing. Your quilt, your call. We are all "artists" here so be creative.

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