Thread Tips

Thread plays  a very important role in the overall look of a quilt. It’s so important, in fact, that when we publish quilts in the magazine we ask our contributors to let us know what type they’ve used in their featured work. For example, in our Jawdropper for the July/August 2017 issue of MQU Pat Blair used Glide and Superior longarm threads.

The White Night ©Pat Blair, MQU's July/August 2017 Jawdropper
The White Night ©Pat Blair, MQU’s July/August 2017 Jawdropper


Detail from The White Night ©Pat Blair, MQU's July/August 2017 Jawdropper
Detail from The White Night ©Pat Blair, MQU’s July/August 2017 Jawdropper

Thread is a great chameleon, and is utilized to create a variety of looks. It  can be subtle, and yield quilted designs that are only noticeable because of the texture and dimension they create. It can also be used to highlight or emphasize various parts of a design. As machine embroidery or thread painting it can be the star of the show!

Every issue of MQU includes helpful information related to various threads and how to use them. Here are some of our top tips for thread selection and use:

  • Skinny thread, small needle; fat thread, big needle. In other words, the larger the diameter of the thread, the bigger needle you need to use.
  • If you tend to quilt with short, tiny stitches, skinny thread is a wonderful choice. If you tend to quilt long stitches, heavier thread will generally be more attractive.
  • Matching the color of the bobbin thread to the top thread color reduces the chance of tension issues showing.
  • Always test your thread tension on a matching quilt sandwich using the exact thread, fabric, and batting combination you’re using on your quilt. This saves time in the end!
  • Take into consideration how your quilt will be used. A quilt that will be used and frequently washed will require stronger thread than one that will always be hung on a wall.
  • Generally speaking, using matching thread or a lighter shade than your fabric will give a more aesthetically pleasing end result. That said, there are certainly times when the impact of a darker, more noticeable line is essential to the success of a composition.

Next time you look at any quilt, whether it’s in person, online, or in MQU, take a closer look at what thread was used and the effect it produced. It might just inspire you to use thread in a new way!


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