Saturday, April 18, 2009

Threads and Fibers

HAPPY SATURDAY EVERYONE - I was recently inspired by my friend Kristie who was asking me my opinion on thread choices for sewing and quilting. I did a little investigating by looking at my thread rack to see if there was any rhyme or reason as to why I used any particular thread. Here's what I came up with...

The funny thing about thread (or for any quilting/sewing supply question) is that everyone you ask will give you a different answer.

When I first started quilting I subscribed to the philosophy, if I'm using 100% cotton fabrics then I should use 100% cotton thread. That seemed to make sense. I made several small table runners and mats only to find out that after numerous washings the squares started to slowly come apart from the cotton breaking down. I sure wish I'd known that earlier because I bought a whole lot of cotton thread sets that I now use only for things that I know won't get washed very often. I suppose if you plan on hand washing everything with little detergent, cotton would be just fine. You can find it anywhere and it is the least expensive in my experience.

Connecting Threads has a great line of 100% cotton thread for only $1.99 a spool. I think I bought every color they made when they first introduced it.

The only other problem I've found with 100% cotton thread is that it tends to create a lot of lint in your machine. I always keep a can of spray air next to my machine to spray out the bobbin case and sewing surface. You will see the build up especially if you use the 100% cotton in your bobbin spool. Some people will use a 100% cotton thread for topside quilting and use a matching polyester blend in the bobbin to cut down on lint.

Mettler makes a nice 100% cotton silk-finish merc. thread that you can find for around $6.00. This is a much stronger thread which will produce little lint. It works well for everyday piecing and projects.

Gutermann makes a nice 100% polyester thread. This thread has a nice shiny finish for embellishing and quilting. I don't normally use it for straight stitch piecing because if you don't have your tension set just right, the stitches will be loose. When you steam your seams open the thread might show.

For every-day sewing and quilt making I use a Coats & Clark all purpose thread that has a 37% cotton and 63% polyester ratio. It's actually mercerized cotton with a polyester core making it stronger and more durable. It comes in all sorts of colors and is available in most any department stores. Probably the main reason why I like this thread so much is because they have it stocked in Stewart's Department Store which is just a short walk down the street from me. It will also stand up to washing better.

Of course I'm sure that some will gasp at the mere mention that I wash my quilts when needed. I've got kids and spills/stains happen! Most of the quilts and projects I make have function, with the exception of a few favorites I won't use. Those special quilts are displayed on racks in my sewing room.

What do you all think? What type of thread do you use/prefer? Please share.


  1. Good Afternoon Ryan - I too, bought every color of Connecting Threads; used the can air for cleaning out the lint; took machine to have cleaned and he said DO NOT USE CAN air until you have cleaned the lint out with a brush. He showed me a picture of the insides where all the lint was and said I was lucky it did not catch on fire. I also started investigating thread and found that Alex Anderson endorse "Masterpiece" thread and I absolutely love it as it does not lint up. I buy the 3000 yd cones for about $22.00 each and they last forever, plus you get a lot more on your spools. I usually just buy the beige and gray for all my piecing. I have started using the King Tut variegated for the quilting. Just my two "scents" worth from a great gramms in NC.

  2. I two second the comment about no can air on your sewing machine. It does build up inside the machine. use a small hose on your vacuum cleaner and suck out the lint.

    I like cotton (top), cotton (middle), cotton (back) for my quilts. I like to piece with superior or Aurifil thread. They both can be on the pricey side, but I find little to no lint in my bobbin. To me it is worth every penny.
    I find Coats and Clarks to be linty and it breaks on me. I even find big knots in the thread. You can just look at the spool and see all the link on it. All that lint is going to get in your machine.

    I use cotton batting all the time and never had any problems with it breaking down on me. I use Warm and Natural. I find that the binding on my quilt is going to break down before the batting.


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