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Thread: A Thread about Thread

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2018

    A Thread about Thread

    Hi all! Can you please help this newbie and school me about thread! Currently I am using Aurifil 50/2 cotton for piecing and quilting. I like it. I like it because I have no problems while using it. I honestly don't know the difference in using cotton over poly or why I should choose one over the other.

    I've been lucky enough to come across a used Baby Lock LA. It came with some cones. I'm not sure what would be the best thread to use on the LA. I was looking into Superior Threads So Fine which I see is polyester.

    Any suggestions?? Is it ok to use poly on cotton fabric? Is it ok to piece with cotton but quilt with poly?
    Please share what I should know about Thread. Please share your favorite and why.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 05-03-2019 at 05:15 PM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  2. #2
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Northern Michigan
    Blog Entries
    Yes it is ok to quilt with polyester and piece with cotton. Many longarm Quilters use polyester thread- cotton tends to break easily with the high speed of the longarm machine. Superior Threads have some great ( free) charts and information to teach you about different threads, needles, when to use what and what needles work for what Threads. They are a great resource. Spend some time browsing their information and sign up for their newsletter and tutorials. You can learn a lot and they are great for troubleshooting too.
    I piece a lot with polyester and even silk threads. You can quilt with invisible thread too. Superior threads carries a great Aurifil invisible thread that quilts up great, and holds up over time too.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  3. #3
    Super Member BSKTLOFR-QUILTER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Cascade, Co
    I am a stickler for cotton thread. On my LA I use King Tutt and Aurifil after a lot of trial and error. I have been told I can use any type of thread on my LA but I find KT and Aurifil both work best with the tension. As for piecing I use cotton and poly. I'm still trying out all of them. I guess it's a learning curve and it's whatever works best for you. There is no hard fast rule. You need to take into consideration the type of batting you use on each project with thread and tension. (And we think this is fun!!!). Ditto to CKCowl's comments.

  4. #4
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Mableton, GA
    I started out with all cotton thread but have branched out to polyester like Glide and Isacord for quilting. I use cotton for piecing, any brand, including coats and clark. If my machine likes it, and I find a good color, then I like it too.

  5. #5
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I piece with Bottom Line (a very thin poly) because I like that there's no lint, the thread takes up very little space in the seam, and I can put a lot of it on the bobbin. (I use it on top too.) I use many different types of poly threads on the longarm too, because there's less lint and the threads are strong. However, experiment and use what you like.

  6. #6
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Blog Entries
    I use cotton or a cotton/poly blend to piece with--both top and bobbin. I bind with Coats all-purpose when I sew down the back--it doesn't tangle or break as easily as others, especially cotton. In the long arm I use almost exclusively SoFine #50--it's thin enough, comes in lots of colors, and works well in my Gammill. But I will when it works with the quilt use Permacore, Glide, Marathon's trilobal, and a couple that I use up on charity cause I don't like the way it runs in my machine--too linty, more breaks,too thick to do much intense quilting, etc--King Tut, YLI cotton. Get a cone of each brand you are interested in and try them out.

  7. #7
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    The best way to learn about threads is to experiment with lots of different kinds. But some basics about thread weights and sizes are the higher the number the finer the thread. 100 wt silk is super fine and there are 100 wt polyesters too like Superior Microquilter and Wonderfil's Invisifil. The lower the weight number the heavier the thread. So an 8 wt is usually a perle cotton most commonly used for hand work. It is way too heavy to run through the top of any machine but can be wound onto a bobbin to do bobbin work. The second number, if given or applicable indicates how many plys are in the thread. So in your case of aurifil 50/2 that means the thread is a 50 wt but only 2 plys. So it is finer than a 50/3 cotton but also weaker.

    I will often use numerous types and weights of threads in a single quilt. My go to piecing combination is aurifil 50/2 in the top and Superior bottom line poly which is 60wt 2 ply in the bobbin. I only piece with a single color. I have a light beige/taupe for lights and a dark charcoal for darks. If I am piecing a light to a dark I stick with my light neutral combo. As long as your tension is good and your stitch length short enough, the light thread used in piecing doesn't show. My friend who makes many top winning show quilts pieces exclusively with Wonderfil Deco Bob which is an 80 wt 2 ply. It is super fine and her peicing is impeccable and her blocks are perfectly flat because the thread is taking up so little space in the seam.

    When it comes to quilting the sky is the limit. Don't limit yourself to only a few types/weights of threads. Consider what look you are going for and what the application is as well as what kind of quilt (a utility quilt that will be used a lot and laundered a lot as opposed to a quilt that won't be so heavily used or a wall hanging). For example of application; for SITD (stitch in the ditch) I may use a monofilament thread like Superior's Monopoly (a polyester) or Glide's Essence (a nylon) or I may use Invisifil. These threads are super fine and slipping out of the ditch is camouflaged because the thread is so fine. If I am doing a very dense background fill I turn to Invisifil again. Because this thread is so fine the buildup of back tracking doesn't show and it sinks right down into the fabric and mimics the color of the fabric or just adds a subtle hint of color if you are using a contrasting thread color.

    For a lot of my general quilting I use a 40 wt trilobal polyester. Mostly Glide brand but I have also used Isacord and Metro Embroidery thread. These are all 40 wt trilobal polys and are very shiny and strong. I quilt on longarm so I normally don't use cotton for quilting just because of all the lint. But if the color/look is just right for the quilt I won't hesitate to use a cotton. I have used YLI, King Tut and Connecting threads cotton. They all worked just fine for me but I did find the King Tut to produce the least amount of lint. In my LA bobbin I use, almost exclusively, magnaglide prewound bobbins. Magnaglide comes in two weights. A 60 wt is in their bulk boxes and comes in limited color selection. The magnaglide delights are sold in little jars of 10 bobbins and loaded with the 40wt. glide. I will run the magnaglide with any kind of thread in the top.

    Then there are all the fancy decorative threads, many of which can be run through a longarm. They can be much fussier but can really add a lot of visual interest. Metallics and holographic thread and heavier weights like 12 wt cottons, rayons or combos. These are normally used in art quilts, show quilts or wall hangings. Here is a link to a wall hanging I did that has many of the threads I have mentioned above used in it. https://www.quiltingboard.com/pictures-f5/quan-yin-show-quilt-t297585.html

    Superior offers "try me" mini cones for a lot of their threads (they may offer it for all of their threads). The price is discounted but you can't select what color. This is a good way to try several different types of threads. Metro is also very economical. https://metroemb.com/store/index.php?route=common/home When I attend large national quilt shows I usually pick up threads at these. Often at the shows they offer specials like buy so many get one free.

    I would be remiss not to mention that with thread education comes needle education. You need to use the correct size needle for the type of thread you are using.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    I use thin poly in my bobbin for all sewing. I change out the top thread to whatever I want to use. The thread type doesn't matter, only the thread quality. Right now I am loving the Wonderfil brand.

  9. #9
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Southern California
    You can piece and quilt with both poly and cotton. Superior threads are amazing. Just get good quality threads
    Brother (XL-3500i, CV3550, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D), Juki MO-2000QVP, Handiquilter Avante

  10. #10
    Super Member Ariannaquilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    in the sticks of PA
    I too piece with cotton thread but quilt with polyester thread. I had never heard about cotton breaking more easily until years after I had been quilting. However once I got my LA mostly because of lint I tried the polyester thread my machine loves it and I have less problems. More than likely had I not had the issues that I did I probably would have continued with cotton after all some quilts that are 100 years old were made with cotton.
    Always be true to yourself!

  11. #11
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Heart of Colorado's majestic mountains!
    Superior Thread has an amaging amount of educational materials available online. They also have thread samplers from time to time that give an opportunity to try different threads. I have a notebook with batting samples and thread samples that I use as a reference when selecting batting and thread for a quilt. All the samples are made with cotton fabric for the top and bottom of quilt sandwiches since all the quilts I make are good quality cotton fabrics. This does take awhile to do but I think it is worth the effort. It is amazing the different effects batting and thread choices make in your quilts.

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