There’s a lot of different quilting threads out there and it isn’t always as simple as “cotton or polyester”. Both material and thread weight make a huge difference in the appearance of your quilting, so we’re going to take a closer look at what threads you should consider depending on the look and style of the quilting you want to achieve.
1. Invisible Quilting, Stitch in The Ditch, Trapunto, & Micro Quilting
You’ll want to choose a specialty thread when you don’t want your quilting to show. Many quilters will reach for a monofilament thread, you know, the thread that resembles fishing wire and comes in clear and smoke. However, these threads still show up under bright lights and can cause your quilts to feel stiff and inflexible, especially with dense stitching.
Quilting done with monopoly thread.
Instead, we suggest this 100wt cottonized polyester thread called InvisaFil. This super-fine thread blends incredibly well in the fabric simply by choosing a basic neutral color. You don’t even need to match the color very closely. We used a light grey shade of InvisaFil on this quilt, and ask you can see, it blends across every color.
Longarm quilting with InvisaFil thread.
Because the thread is so small, it doesn’t take up a lot of extra space in the fabric. That means you can get away with doing a lot of dense quilting or micro quilting and your fabric will still stay soft and flexible. Even quilting this densely with a regular medium 40 or 50wt thread would make your fabric stiff as a board, so choosing a finer thread like InvisaFil will greatly improve the look and feel of your quilts. It also means that when doing a technique like stitch in the ditch, you only need to worry about “stitching in the neighbourhood”. Afterall, even if you fall out of the ditch, the thread won’t even show up anyway.
Stitch in the ditch using InvisaFil thread.
2. Hand Quilting & Big Stitch Hand Quilting
Quilting by hand takes a whole lot of time and patience, so you want to choose the best thread for the job so as not to make the task more difficult than it needs to be. A cotton thread has a good amount of friction to it that your stitching won’t easily slide out. We love Konfetti and Tutti 50wt long staple Egyptian cotton for this reason. As a bonus, these threads have been double gassed, a process that removes 80% of the lint from the surface of the thread. This process is repeated a second time, resulting in an incredibly low lint thread that not only looks clean and professional, but glides through the fabric with ease.
If you’re doing big stitch hand quilting, you’ll want to choose a larger thread that shows up a lot more. One of the options you can go with are these 12wt long staple Egyptian cotton threads called Spagetti and Fruitti. These are thicker threads that will stand out boldly against the fabric, and like Konfetti and Tutti, have also been double gassed to achieve a super low lint finish.
If 12wt isn’t bold enough for your quilt, you can reach for an 8wt thread. Eleganza is a double gassed perle cotton thread that is even thicker than Spagetti and Fruitti. Many stitchers use this thread for hand embroidery, however it’s also the perfect choice for big stitch hand quilting. But if you’re really going for a thread that likes to show off, you don’t need to settle for anything less than Dazzle. This gorgeous 8wt thread is a glossy rayon wound with 1 single strand of metallic, giving it a hint of sparkle. This reflective thread is perfecting for adding a glitz to your big stitch hand quilting without compromise!
3. English Paper Piecing & Turned Appliqué
English paper piecing is a time consuming, but extremely worthwhile technique that is sure to add a lot of intricate beauty to your finished quilt pattern. Because this technique requires small stitches by hand, you’ll want to choose a small thread that blends into your fabric so it doesn’t show. InvisaFil 100wt thread is once again the best choice. Because this super fine thread takes up so little space in the fabric, your EPP pieces will sit tighter together, and the thread will basically vanish in the fabric where it won’t be seen.
If you tend to pull a lot on your thread, or if you have arthritis in your hands or struggle with small, slippery threads, then you can also use DecoBob 80wt as an alternative choice. This thread is only slightly thicker than InvisaFil but still does a great job hiding in the fabric and is a little easier to hand stitch with.
Both of these threads are also fantastic choices for turned appliqué for the same reasons. Your appliqué pieces will sit flatter and the thread will hide significantly better than if done with a regular medium weight thread. Simply choosing these specialty threads for these techniques will make a huge difference in the look of your turned appliqué.
4. Decorative Machine Quilting
Do you want your quilting to stand out? Sometimes a regular quilting thread simply won’t cut it. Let’s take a look at FabuLux, a gorgeous 40wt trilobal polyester thread that has a soft and shiny finish. Most threads you’ll come across are round in shape, however a trilobal polyester thread is actually triangular in shape. The flat sides of this thread help to reflect light from its surface, giving it a glossy look that helps it to stand out on your quilt. This thread comes in 5 bold neon colors and 35 variegated colors. If you want a high contrast look to your quilting, you can choose one of the bolder colors. If you want a more subtle look, then matching the colors to your fabric will give your quilting a simple soft gloss.
But sometimes you just need to go bolder. A heavy 12wt thread is actually the thickest thread you can fit through the eye of your sewing machine needle. Spagetti and Fruitti 12wt double gassed Egyptian cotton threads are quality, low lint options that love to stand out from the fabric and add a great texture to your quilting.
Or you can make your quilting really stand out with Accent, a 12wt 100% rayon thread. Or GlaMore, a 12wt rayon thread woven with a single strand of metallic for that pop of sparkle. While these threads aren’t sturdy enough for edge to edge quilting on quilts that will be used, they are perfect for outlining, doing decorative quilting in smaller patches, or for any kind of quilting, including edge to edge, on art quilts or wall hung quilts.
Longarm quilting with GlaMore thread.
5. Regular Machine & Longarm Quilting
If you need a reliable thread that can be used for regular machine quilting or on the longarm, we always recommend choosing a quality thread that will treat your machine right. Afterall, many people will invest thousands of dollars on a high quality machine, then go on to feed it low quality thread.
Konfetti and Tutti are our recommended medium weight 50wt cotton thread lines as they have been double gassed for a beautifully low lint finish. This will greatly reduce the lint build up in your machine, meaning you won’t need to clean it or take it in for servicing as frequently. The thread is also totally free of glue or residues that are sometimes applied to threads to give the illusion of a lower lint thread, however these residues can gum up your machine and can be even more difficult to clean out than regular lint. A quality cotton thread like Konfetti and Tutti will help keep your machine healthy and running smoothly.
Quilting with Tutti 50wt variegated cotton thread.
If you prefer quilting with polyester thread, then Master Quilter is your reliable workhorse. This 40wt cottonized polyester has been treated so that it has a matte finish with no stretch, making it easy to quilt with. This is the thread line we recommend to anyone new to longarming or anyone looking for an easy, reliable thread line they can count on to get the job done right. This thread is also completely lint free, making it a quality choice for any machine.
Master Quilter on a longarm machine.
And for those who love the way polyester thread stitches on the machine but want the look of a cotton, meet Ultima. This 40wt thread has a polyester core that’s been wrapped with cotton on the outside, giving it the strength and ease of polyester with a cotton look. Ultima is the cleanest wrapped quilting thread on the market and offers reliability at an affordable price point.
Quilting with Ultima thread.