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Quilting with Cotton or Polyester

Quilting with Cotton or Polyester

Old 10-28-2018, 09:13 PM
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Default Quilting with Cotton or Polyester

I have seen where many quilters use polyester and say that it is soft like cotton when sewing, depending on the brand and size of thread. One famous quilter claims the only reason why people quilt with cotton is habit. Another quilter explains that polyester is lower lint and doesn’t break as often as cotton.

I recently quilted with 60 weight polyester in a well-known brand and it seemed stiffer than quilting with cotton.

What are your thoughts and experiences.
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Old 10-28-2018, 11:00 PM
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What brand? Also, were you using the same batting and quilting to the same density as when you quilted with cotton thread? And what was the brand and weight of cotton thread?

I have found dense quilting with Glide 40 weight thread to be much softer than equivalently dense quilting with King Tut cotton on w&n batting. I have also found dense quilting with 60 weight Bottom Line poly to be soft.

I just can’t understand, based on my experience, how poly could end up stiffer than cotton.

Last edited by Prism99; 10-28-2018 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 10-29-2018, 06:58 AM
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When the poly fabrics first came out many quilters embraced them for the shine, the bright colors and the lack of ironing. I used blends and designed/made a number of quilts with and for them.

I mostly work in planned scrap projects now and have worked to eliminate the poly blends from my stash for a variety of reasons. One is that the polys tend to be very slippery, I already say that fabric is treacherous. Another is that I use a very hot iron, typically set on linen and I've had scorching or other problems with a high poly content. Third was my greatest quilting disaster, I had designed a quilt in a very mature set of colors in grey/silver, maroon and dark blue with bits of white. The maroon fabric had been prewashed but something was wrong in the manufacturing process and the dye just did not set. The bits of white turned into baby pink but some of it was a poly blend and those stayed bright white (which almost made me swear to always use poly blend white)... Gloom and despair! I posted a picture of the offending fabric in another thread, here:
https://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f...c-t299860.html

In quilts where I had mixed textiles, the poly pieces typically held up about the same as the cotton, typically wearing a bit thinner but staying whole, I would have some piling occasionally. BTW, I've never had issues with quality rayon mixed in with my cottons, avoid the thin stuff.

Final thought, one charity I made quilts for preferred poly for the homeless as it drys faster and holds up to rough use. I don't find much polyester double knit at the thrift stores any more but I found an awesome piece years ago that I used for the back of my "ugly tie quilt" which was a crazy quilt made mostly from textured pieces of 1970s big wide bold neckties. That was a tremendous huge leopard print, I think from the 70s... don't know what on earth it would have been intended for, maybe some sort of big bell bottomed suit for Huggy Bear (Starsky & Hutch). While some of the finer pieces of the quilt have shredded, that back will withstand a nuclear attack!
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Old 10-29-2018, 07:24 AM
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Do you mean thread for quilting? Leah Day likes Isacord polyester for free motion quilting so I tried it and I like it too. I use whatever thread works in my machine.
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Old 10-29-2018, 09:29 AM
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I definitely prefer poly threads over cotton threads. But I quilt on a LA so my reasons are probably different than many others. My LA speed is much faster than a DSM so a cotton thread will produce much more lint than in a domestic.
There are many more choices with Poly threads from 100 wt which is as fine as silk all the way up to 12 wt (which is the heaviest I can run through my top side. I can run 8 wt if I load it in the bobbin).
Like Prism, I find a poly thread allows more drape with dense quilting. I love the shine of a poly along with the intense colors.
There are many quilt purists out there who don't want any synthetics in their quilts at all. (although it is pretty hard to find cotton batting with no scrim and even if you do, the recommend minimum quilting distance is 2"). So many shun poly threads for that reason.
There is also the old wives tale about poly thread "cutting" through the cotton fibers of the quilt over time. Which is not true at all with today's wonderful polyester threads. But that doesn't mean you can ignore weight, ply, etc. You may need to experiment with some different polyester threads.
I have used Isacord, Glide and Invisifil all with great success. I have quilted very densely and still had great drape but didn't need it as the items were wall hangings.
I think batting will impact the drape more than the thread used for quilting will, unless you have laid down so much thread it was more akin to thread painting than quilting.
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Old 10-29-2018, 03:22 PM
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I use C&C quilting thread most of the time and it works great for me.
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Old 10-29-2018, 07:34 PM
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If you are referring to quilting then yes I do use polyester thread for all the reasons previously mentioned. However when piecing I use cotton, I was taught that if you are working with cotton fabric then your thread should be cotton as well. Polyester thread is stronger and definitely less lint than the cotton. If the color I need I only happen to have in cotton when I am quilting I will use it, just have to clean out the bobbin area more frequently.
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Old 10-30-2018, 03:55 AM
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if i am piecing on my janome, any brand of 50wt cotton works just fine.
if i am piecing on either of my brothers, i use YLI 50wt cotton.
i never use polyester for piecing.

since i have oobledy-googobs of 50wt cotton thread, that's where i start when looking for the right color(s) for quilting.
if i can't find what i need among my cottons, i go through my polyester embroidery threads.

i recently purchased some 30wt rayon embroidery thread.
just a few colors to experiment with when embroidering or quilting.
i will play with it soon for embroidering some stars.
like ... today.
not sure when i'll get around to testing for quilting.
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Old 10-30-2018, 07:05 AM
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I mostly use cotton from Connecting Thread. I think it is low lint and a good weight for my machine. That said I will use ploy thread if I need a certain color. I find no difference between the two.
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Old 10-30-2018, 08:07 PM
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Like a few others, I quilt on a LA and first choice is always going to be a poly--it plays nicer in the machine, no lint, can use a thinner thread so that the texture is obvious without the thread overwhelming the piecing. I will use cotton if requested, but not a fan. For piecing I use both, as long as it's a fine thread. But I'll have to fess up--for stitching the binding to the back, I prefer C & C cotton wrapped poly--it doesn't twist and sews so smooth.
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