Thread - a boring subject if ever there was one. Let me start by saying that I am, by no means, a thread expert! There are so many questions that arise about thread, and so many misconceptions, that I thought it was worth writing about. I am just going to tell you about some of the thread that we carry, what I use it for, and why I use it. I know there are a million different types of thread on the market and COLORS - oh the colors! You could spend a fortune and never have the right color! Talk about counter candy...
Here are some of the threads that I like to use:
You may notice a common "thread" here (groan). All of them are shades of beige and brown. Truthfully, I don't use a lot of colors. There doesn't seem to be much need for a lot of colors in the types of things I do.
Lets start on the left. The big cone and the spool in front of it are both Signature 40 weight cotton thread in a color called Mother Goose. Why it is called that is beyond me. It is a great color that magically seems to pick up any color that is near it. Our quilters have used it on many quilts that have a wide range of colors. I even had them use it on a blue and cream quilt of mine. It looks great! We use this brand of thread almost exclusively on our Longarm machine, and many people like to buy the smaller spools for machine quilting on their home machines. A 40 weight thread is a little stronger and a good choice for quilting. We only use 100% cotton for quilting on cotton fabric. There are stories around that polyester in you thread will eventually cut through cotton. I am here to tell you that it is TRUE! One of my instructors quilted her children's baby quilts with a cotton/poly thread and it eventually ripped right through the quilt. This is in our lifetime, so you will not want to use it on an heirloom quilt - which, of course, all of your quilts will be!
The next spool and cone are Aurifil 50 weight cotton thread. Aurifil is a fabulous thread for piecing. I also use it for quilting smaller projects. 90% of the Aurifil I buy is color 2310 - light beige. I use it for all my piecing. Aurifil is a long staple thread. So, what the heck does that mean? Staple refers to the length of the fibers in the thread. Inexpensive thread has shorter staple fibers which means they are fuzzier and they mess up your machine. They are not as strong as long staple threads, either. You really do get what you pay for, but even then, looks can be deceiving. Nice long staple thread is finer, even though it is stronger, and you will find that if you compare the amount of thread on a spool of Aurifil with the amount of thread on a similar looking spool of some of the other brands, that there is a whole lot more thread. When you start comparing you will find that even though Aurifil is twice the price, there is about twice as much thread on each spool as Gutterman and Mettler. Large Aurifil spools have 1450 yards compared to 876 and 547, and the small spools have 220 yards compared to 110 & 164. Don't be tricked - Aurifil is your best deal for price and quality. I should get paid for this! Another reason to use cotton thread is that it shrinks at the same rate as your fabric. You don't want a baggy quilt, do you?
The next spool in my picture - that whitish one is water soluble thread. This thread can be great for specific uses, but be careful - keep it in a plastic bag away from your other thread and label it. It looks a lot like regular thread and you do NOT want to accidentally piece your quilt with this!
Now to the pyramid. The thread on top is YLI Cotton Hand Quilting Thread. I use it for a lot of my hand work- not just quilting. I use it for hand finishing my bindings and, yes, I use it for my English Paper Piecing projects. I like it because it is a little stronger and heavier than Aurifil, and because it is treated with beeswax or something, it doesn't twist and knot as much. Since it is 100% cotton, I know it will be alright for my cotton fabric in the long term.
Lastly, on the bottom of the pyramid are the only two colors of YLI silk that I buy - light taupe and dark taupe (or brown color 235 and beige color 242). I ONLY use silk for applique. I know some people have used it in the top of their machines for machine applique, too. What is nice about silk in these colors is that the silk is kind of translucent, so it picks up whatever color you are using in on (in the unlikely event that your stitches even show). So, why only applique, you ask. Some people are saying you must use it for English Paper Piecing. Seriously??? Have you ever seen an antique crazy quilt with silks and other fabrics? What is the first fabric to shatter? Yes, the silk. Why would you piece with that? At least applique would be easy for your heirs to repair. Besides it is so fine it is hard to keep in your needle, and if you are like me you can barely see the stuff.
Some other thoughts - GET RID OF GRAMA'S THREAD! Unless you are displaying it in a glass jar because it looks so quaint on the wooden spools. Old thread gets brittle and breaks. If you have thread that is more than 5 years old, throw it away, or save it for basting or make birds nests out of it. Sure, you have nothing else to do, right? Throw it out!
Nylon or other see-through threads. I used to use these for quilting - but, isn't nylon like polyester? Besides, it gleams in the light and looks kind of weird. It also melts if you press it - fun! Stick with cotton. If your quilting is that bad, we have people for that. Have you seen mine? Ask my staff about my lack of skill in that department. Thank God for my people!
Well, I hope I haven't totally bored you to death. I would do a post on needles, which are really boring, but I couldn't stay awake during the needle class at market. Z-z-z-z-z.
Hope this answers some questions.
Thought for the day: Don't do anything without a clear reason for doing it!