As quilters, we face decisions about the fabrics, batting and thread we use. Let’s talk about thread.
In this photo, the top is Bottom Line, towards the middle and lower area is So Fine, the very bottom is just a mixture of whatever miscellaneous cones I have.
It can make a difference in so many ways. What I’m going to share today is just my opinion. I haven’t tried every thread out there.
In this photo, th top spool holder has all Signature 100% cotton threads. The top half of the bottom spool holder is more Signature 100% cottons and then some cotton/poly cones near the bottom.
Some machines prefer one thread over another. My Berninas and my APQS Millennium will sew beautifully with any thread I stick on them If you have a machine that is picky, then the most important decision you can make is to choose a thread that makes your machine happy. Like with everything else, I’m a thread junkie!
In this photo, the top is King Tut, towards the bottom of the top spool holder is Signature variegated. The bottom holder has Masterpiece near the top, then some Highlights and Rainbows, then some more Signature variegateds.
Most of the threads shown in the photos are threads I use on the longarm, and not threads I use for piecing.
When choosing a thread, here are some options to consider:
Weight: Superior Threads has a very informative article on weight here. Instead of trying to give you my thoughts, please go read the Superior article.
Think about when you’re making a block. There may be a spot where 4 (or more) seams come together. That’s a top and bobbin thread for each seam so with 4 seams, that’s 8 thicknesses of thread and that can make a difference if using a thicker than necessary thread. The extra thickness of all the thread can be enough to cause your points to be off or your centers not to line up perfectly.
Content: There’s 100% poly, a blend of cotton/poly, poly wrapped cotton, 100% cotton and I’m sure there are more. I read often of quilters who use poly thread for piecing and if it works for them, that’s fine but I do not find it acceptable for piecing. Any time poly thread is cut, it tends to unravel back a few stitches. When I was doing machine quilting for others, it was often a struggle with tops that had been pieced using poly thread because where stitches had been cut across (any stitches that are done and then cut — long strips that are then re-cut or half square triangles that are squared, etc.), those stitches pull out when the top was loaded and a little tension put on the top. I do not recommend poly thread for piecing.
I use 100% cotton, usually Superior MasterPiece but I also like Aurifil and Mettler.
Color: For piecing, I mostly use an eggshell color unless using very dark fabrics and then I’ll use dark gray or black, depending on the fabrics. I don’t try to match every thread to the fabric I’m using.
Lint: Some threads have more or less lint than others. A lot depends on whether the thread is made from a regular, long or extra long staple cotton. Superior also has an article on thread quality that is interesting and informative. I’ve found that no threads are lint-free and any of the better threads (Superior, Mettler, Aurifil) produce about the same amount of lint when sewing.
I have not used the Essential threads from Connecting Threads so nothing I’ve said here is taking that thread into consideration. Like with most anything else, somem have reported loving it and some have reported not loving it.
What threads are your favorites for piecing and for quilting?
For piecing, I used Mettler exclusively for the first five years. Then I gave Aufifil a whirl and I really like it. It’s a big thinner which makes my seams lay nicely and the bobbins hold a bit more. I don’t do a lot of quilting, so I’ll use whatever is handy in the color I need – but always cotton!
typos, typos – it’s a BIT thinner
I never notice typos . . but you’ve probably noticed that because I have so many of my own.
Aurifil is my favorite and I use it for everything…piecing and quilting. Mettler is my second favorite. I haven’t used Superior but I will look for it and see if my machine likes it. I like 100% cotton everything…fabric, thread, batting, etc.
Kathy E. says
My favorite piecing thread is So Fine. It is a thin thread but a tad stronger than Masterpiece. LOVE IT! I keep about 5 basic, neutral colors (from light to dark) in stock, but a medium beige is what I use most often.
For quilting I use whatever is in the right color and weight. My Gammill will work with most anything.
Kat in Tamale Land
I love Aurifil 50-wt & Masterpiece for piecing. I recently bought some Essential thread and intend to try that out as soon as my monster Masterpiece spool is done. Aurifil works very well for machine quilting too. I tried Superior’s Nature Colors for machine quilting and I *love it*. The thread is so fine and strong, the quilting looks unbelievable i.e. I can’t believe I quilted it! 🙂
katie z. says
Let’s be honest… I use Coats and Clark 100% cotton when it’s on sale for 50% off. I can’t afford to be collect thread in addition to everything else, so I’ve never tried the others. I have used Essential thread as well, but found that the thread is extremely hit or miss – some spools break constantly and can’t be used for hand or machine quilting, and others are beautiful and never snap.
How much thread do you HAVE?! That thread stash just makes me swoon.
After using, GASP, Coats and Clarks Machine Quilting and Crafts thread for years…my Pfaff has decided that it hates it! I had to use all cotton thread for a project and picked up some 50 wtAuriful for that. My machine loves it! I balked at the price at first, but spool size I bought has a lot more thread on it than you think! I know have to figure out where else to get it locally, though, as my favorite quilt shop just closed. I would hate to have to buy it online….
Kari in UT says
I use Coats and Clark 100% Cotton, but its basically because that is what is available in my price. I consider myself a basic beginner when it comes to quilts and have never really knew that there was a difference when it comes to thread. I will have to expand my boundaries.
How old can thread get before you should not consider using it?
Judy D in AZ says
I have tried only a few brands of thread. My old Bernina is not a fussy girl. I keep several shades of neutral thread on hand from the Cotton Club which I buy online. It is listed on their site under miscellaneous threads. It is thin which is great for flat seams and it is one of the lowest lint threads I have tried. I have not had any complaints from the woman who quilts my tops about it giving problems when the top is taut.
I also like DMC thread. It is hard to find but it is also very thin and a low lint thread.
My favorite right now is Masterpiece. My Bernina loves it and because it’s so fine, I don’t have to change my bobbin as often. I use a light gray for my piecing. I also like Aurifil thread. I make a lot of small blocks and the fine thread really helps with accuracy.
I would also like to hear your opinion on thread age. I keep my thread forever, just like lots of spices. I suspect thread lasts longer than spices.
Judy C in NC says
I am a Masterpiece thread person all the way – with just a little Aurifil thrown in because I have some on hand. Piecing is all done with either Bisque or Granite colors and I buy cone sizes. As for Connecting Threads thread – proceed with caution. Yes, the price is right, however, my Bernina repairmant said that I had so much lint built up in my machine that it could easily have caught fire – and I have my machine serviced every four to six months. I had received some as a gift and was trying to use it up – guess I am frugal but not with thread any longer. Never again – my Bernina only wants Masterpiece. Judy C
I used to piece with Mettler, then Auriful and Masterpiece, but when I discovered Presencia 60wt 3 ply cotton, I knew I’d found my piecing thread. That’s all I will use now.
As for quilting, I use a variety of threads, but my top two favorites are Superior Threads So Fine and Isacord embroidery thread.
Love Masterpiece and Aurofil. Never had a problem with either.
I use Aurifil for piecing – it seems thinner and lasts a long time – especially the bobbin! I have a short arm frame set up and prefer Aurifil in the bobbin – again it lasts longer. For the top, I’m still experimenting and learning. My machine seems to have definate likes and dislikes, but then again it could be the inexperienced operator!
I’m seriously envious of your machine quilting thread Judy! Superiors long arm threads are my favorites, and right now I’m in luv with their “LAVA”. I use So-Fine in the bobbin all the time now. I used to use Bottom Line when it first came on the scene, but I really prefer the So-Fine. I wish I could keep my long arm thread out like you do, but they get dusty near our wood stove and the long arm area in the living room. It’s probably a good thing as I would be tempted to fill every “peg” on the thread rack with my favorite colors. I also like King Tut. I did try the Essential Pro long arm thread, and it ran well on the long arm, but it is very fine thread and didn’t show up well on the fabric. I think it would nice for backtracking feathers though. Have you tried the Fil-Tec Glide threads at all? I love your thread stash!
Barbara Sindlinger says
Wow- I thought I had a lot of thread but you have waaaayyy more than me.
I really love all Superior threads but I will buy others if the colors are better for my project.
I use Coats and Clarks thread which I can afford that.
You have alot of thread and colors.
I sold sewing machines for a long time. We always recommended certain thread for certain projects. Now I saw buy the best you can afford. Same way with batting. I use the Connecting Threads and love them. I like them for hand piecing and also for applique. BUT it is what I can afford. Also we have nothing available other than online in my area. Hey if you like it and it works there is no bad choice.
For quilting I use sew fine in the bobbin and usually in the top as well. When I want a little more definition, I use a heavier cotton thread. My millennium doesn’t give me a problem, no matter what thread I use. I used to be a cotton thread snob, thinking the quilting had to be with cotton but fell for sew fine, first for bobbin thread because so much fits on the bobbin and the colors are great. I used five cones of cashew the first year it came out. None of it was on a quilt for me though. I don’t do so many customer quilts anymore so my colors are more diverse. For piecing, I have been using masterpiece for awhile. I got cones of it and I don’t really think the price was so bad when I figure I don’t have to go buy small spools all the time. I tried using sew fine one day when I was doing some paper piecing. My machine liked it but I melted some of the stitches away when I pressed my seams. I won’t be using that for piecing again.
I’ve been using Mettler cotton 50 wt to piece and either King Tut or YLI 40wt to machine quilt. I did piece and quilt one small quilt with 100 wt. silk thread, and I loved using it, but it’s so expensive that I would need a reason to justify it. I’m going to try the 60 wt. Presencia per CJ’s recommendation.
I started with Coats and Clarks Star, but that lints so badly that my bobbin race couldn’t make it through a whole bobbin before I needed to de-lint. I’m using the partial spools left over for piecing (when the color matches) until I run out of it. I donated a bunch of new spools to a crafter’s group that rehabilitates disabled folks.
LOVE reading about what everyone uses! My HQ16 seems to work well with everything I’ve tried so far. I love Superior Threads. I like Essentials from Connecting threads-great colors, but they seem to be a tad more linty. I’m diligent about keeping my machines clean so it’s not been a problem for me.
I recently tried C.Threads new Quilter Pro thread and liked it for quilting. I’m still experimenting with Lava and Highlights and the other Poly’s (I was scared of them) –I know crazy!
I agree that Superior Threads have great articles on threads. You can also watch 5-6 minute clips from their School of Threadology on Utube-access from their website, I learned a lot just from watching them.
For piecing I use Aurafil or SoFine in neutral colors pretty much same as you mentioned you use.
I’m in deep thread envy of your thread stash. 🙂
Mary D says
I love Masterpiece for piecing in bisque, great fine thread that doesn’t add any bulk. Then for machine quilting I use Signature 100% Cotton, my machine likes it and I have less issues with it.
I use lots of the Essential thread. I occasionally have trouble with it breaking when I’m machine quilting (not piecing) and solved that problem by switching to a size 90/14 needle instead of the 80/12 that I typically use. And it’s hard to beat the price for long staple cotton thread.
I want to clarify that when I said machine quilting, I mean on my New Home (now know as Janome) Memory Craft 8000. I don’t have a longarm machine.
Kathie L. says
I sure can’t believe how much thread you have!!! My absolutely favorite combination on the longarm is bottom line in the bobbin and King tut.
What a wonderful post, thank you so much for taking the time to write it.
I use plain old Coats & Clark to piece and my trusty 1933 Singer 15 is not at all fussy. If I have a fairly full bobbin of Superior left over I will use that up to piece.
I have had issues with some batches YLI having variations in thickness causing breakage. Never had a problem with King Tut or Superior.
I am still pretty new at longarming but have found that Essential coton threads from Connecting Threads to be ok for piecing but don’t like it for my longarm. It breaks a little too easily and way too much lint. However, I have done several quilts now using the new Essential pro thread for my longarm and my machine loves it. And you can’t beat the price. If you do try it, let us know how you like it. I only wish the color selection was better.
Deb S. says
I only use Essential Thread from Connecting Threads. I used to use Aurifil and Mettler but they linted up so much I decided to give the Essentials a try. I love them! Very little lint, no problems with breaking threads and the price is great.
Becky Ball says
Piecing – Masterpiece or Aurifil
LA Quilting favorite – So Fine, with Filtec bobbin or Bottom line bobbin
Thread cabinet full of – C&C, Essentials, sulky, mettler, etc – they only are used when for some reason I need to match a color, such as sewing on boy scout badges, binding, etc. DH made the case so that the cones fit whenever I get rid of all the spools. Probably not in my lifetime.
For the last 25 yrs Ive used coats clark in grey, white, tan,, nothing else in the box anymore. Its used for both quilting and piecing.
Coats and Clark. I excitedly bought special bobbin thread and some other namebrand I’ve seen on-line not too long ago, and it was a total waste. It broke every few stitches and was super annoying. So it is Coats and Clark for me!
Off the subject but….do you have a link to a beginner knit or crochet pattern for a pair of socks. They can just be straight without heel if that is possible.
Thanks Paula In KY
Classic Socks for the Family is the booklet I’ve used for years.
I do use Essential thread from Connecting Threads for piecing and while I do use a variety of threads on the longarm, I probably use more Permacore than anything else.
I forgot about Permacore. Reasonably priced and so many colors!
For piecing, I like Masterpiece and Aurifil. For quilting, I like Superior (top and bobbin – Lava is my favorite for tops), YLI variegated, and Robison Anton.
My favorite piecing thread is Presencia, but I have about a 10 year supply of Masterpiece since closing the business. I have some King Tut for machine quilting, but also like Sulky Blendables with Bottom Line in the bobbin for either one. I would like to try Aurifil one day, I hear good things about it.
Becky R says
Presencia is very nice thread.
I started off with Mettler when I first started quilting 10 years ago, then switched to Aurifil about 5 years ago., but have switched to Precensia (last year) because the Aurifil started breaking on me. i think thread gets old. I sew with a color that looks like khaki. I use it for all piecing except very darks and then I use a dark grey. It is wonderful, thin and not much lint.
Donita Q says
I used to use Coats & Clark cotton until I learned how bad it is for my machine. When I would take it in to get serviced it looked like I had lost a piece of batting inside the machine! I was told it is poor quality cotton and heavy on lint production. I have tried almost all of the others listed above. The decrase in lint production was dramatic compared to C&C cotton. My favorites are Presencia and Aurifil. But, after reading above I am anxious to try Essential.
I really like Presencia and Aurifil and find I can load the bobbin and it will last a long, long time. I used to use (and still will, when I run out of expensive stuff) Star threat by Coats & Clark and had no problems with it. I liked the nice, big spools and the price is right. I’m a bit of a fanatic about cleaning out the lint so perhaps that is why I never had a problem. I totally agree about using finer thread to avoid so much build-up. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.
When I started quilting 26 years ago, there was not the selection that is available now. I sewed on a Kenmore for years and used Coats and Clark with no problem. Then when I got my Bernina 7 years ago, I was told that I could use any kind of thread. I’ve used the C & C and been happy with the results. I also like Connecting Threads for machine quilting on my Bernina. I do clean out the bobbin case regularly, but really have not noticed a big difference even when I use Gutterman or Mettler on occasion. I think you have to go with what works for you and your machine. Every machine is different and will pretty much let you know when it’s not happy.
Mel Meister says
My quilt dealer really pushes Aurafil. I bought one of the big spools and until that darn spool was done, I had lint flying EVERYWHERE! Lint in the bobbin case, link accumulating on the needle and needle “parts”, boatloads of lint under the throat plate.. etc. I cannot understand why anyone uses that thread. I have had horrible results with it! My dealer tried to say that I must have had a “lemon” spool, but I will not buy it again.
I use Mettler 100% cotton most of the time, just using neutrals like you do. On the rare occasion I need a colored thread, I do grab one of my Isacords (poly embroidery thread)so I don’t have to buy a spool I will only use once.
I like Mettler poly, Masterpiece, Aurifil, Robin Anton(?) for piecing. I started using Thread Art thread for some of my quilting, and I really like it, both the cotton and poly. It is a good price, and is even, and stitches up nicely. I am surprised no one else mentioned it. Has anyone tried it, and liked it? The colors are limited, but they are fine. I would say, med. lint. Between Essentials, and Superior. I use Essentials, I find it to be linty, but quilts up nice-so far. Just bought some Sulky Blendables to try, when JoAnn’s had their sale. Of course, I like everything Superior puts out. I mostly buy small spools, but should start buying big ones. I like to see what I use first, and if I go through 2-3 sm. spools, save a few bucks, and decide to get more, then buy a big spool. I would guess I have almost as much as you, but in 3 sm. spool colors, for now. I have a bad thread habit too. I want them ALL.
I love the 3 ply 60 wt cotton thread from Presencia. I don’t like 2-ply threads because I feel the thread splits easier. And I love the thin but strong quality of the 60wt. You can also use it for microstippling. There is very few lint from this thread, I even find myself forgetting to clean the bobbinaerea since I use this thread.
I use Aurifil light grey for lights and dark grey for darks when piecing. I have used masterpiece for piecing, and it works well. For quilting, I have ventured only as far as cottons-Not because I am a purist, but they work well and come in every color I have needed so far. I did discover that some of the thinner threads I was using for quilting (masterpiece, and Aurifil) in the bobbin would not hold up to the tug of war mathes that my children were having.
Amy (NW WI) says
Thank you for this post. Very informative! The disclaimer that ‘all being stated is only your opinion’ really isn’t needed (in MY opinion). Not having much knowledge in thread myself, I found your shared information and the comments from others extremely helpful!
Mary Lea says
This is a very helpful posting. For pieceing I use Aurfil and Connecting Threads. I really like the Aurfil but not the biggest fan of CT. It is thicker and gives off more lint. As far as my longarm I am using So Fine only. I tried changing to King Tut and had tension problems. Once I get more experience I will try other threads on the longarm
Thanks for you information.
For piecing I use some Connecting Threads, Superior, and YLI’s Soft Touch. The last two are much thinner and I tend to use those for smaller blocks or for blocks with lots of seams. I use Connecting Threads most often as the bobbin thread while quilting on my domestic machine.
Very interesting and informative article Judy, and it has been neat to read everyone’s comments. I have used Coat & Clark with no problem but have now been using Bottom Line and So Fine and really like them. Superior is a great site with great info and I want to try the King Tut.
I use Connecting threads (100% cotton) for piecing and for applique. I do a lot of applique (with the blanket stitiching) and connecting threads comes in tons of colors at a reasonable price. The one draw back is it does build up lint but I clean my machine often so that isn’t a problem.
For my mid-arm its 100% cotton Signature … and that is the only thread it will use. I have tried them all and now just stick with what works.
And I have no where near the amount of thread that you do … but then again I don’t quilt for others.
I’m new to quilting, but very enthusiastic about learning. I feel overwhelmed by all the different threads available, and the pros and cons of each. It seems that for every thread there is a conflicting view. I’ll just do what everyone else seemed to do – trial and error and hope I can find my favorite. Wow, I have never seen so much thread – ever!
Cindy B says
I like all threads and when I find a sale on any good brands I buy some. I use Connecting Threads Essentials the most, cotton and the poly cones. My favorite is silk thread to use for free motion quilting.
I used to use Aurifil 50 exclusively for piecing, but have now added MasterPiece by Superior. I have always used neutrals for piecing, mostly in the grey family. I use any Superior thread for DMS quilting. If I have a problem with a bad spool, Bob will replace it. He guarantees his thread. My new favorite for quilting is King Tut, but I like any of the variegated Superior threads.
My thread stash might not be as large as yours, but I have a healthy collection. I told my daughter that I have fortune in thread. In other words, if anything happens to me, don’t toss the thread!
Beth in AZ says
I’m a Masterpiece girl all the way for piecing. I have some on order now that I’m desperate for! I have been using up dibs and dabs of all sorts of thread. For quilting I usually use Permacore. My local shop has it in all sorts of colors and its very resonable. I also use So Fine, King Tut, Superior and even a stray spool of Valdani ( think that kinda dates me..I have not seen any of that for a few yrs!)
For the first 3 yrs I used Mettler and liked it. But then I tried Masterpiece and really like it. So that is all I’ve used for the past year. I use King Tut on my Nolting Pro and Isacord when I embroider. And like you I piece with off white or gray.
Darlene S says
For piecing , I use Masterpiece and Aurifil mostly. I also have some old Mettler small spools of various colors that I’m trying to use up when the colors match. I don’t have the storage room to keep the old and new thread. For quilting, I love King Tut, Lava, and also use Signature, YLI and Permacore. Judy, what type of thread (cone) holder is that you have? It looks custom. How many cones does one hold. My collection looks like a beginner’s box compared to yours, but I’m going to KC in the Spring to stock up!! 🙂 Dar in MO
I have been using Connecting Threads Essential Threads to piece and do some machine quilting. I also use Gutterman 100% cotton and poly threads for piecing but more essential threads lately. I haven’t had problems with essential threads at all. I also have a small supply of 50wt cotton thread from Long Creek Mills to machine quilt with — it’s rather nice but a bit heavier than most 50wt cottons that i’ve used/seen from others — wonder why that is.