Manufacturers continually make improvements to quilting threads, and the number and types of thread now available to quilters is overwhelming. Machine quilters who have also quilted by hand notice immediately that thread does not perform the same way in machine quilting as it does in hand quilting. Thread for machine quilting needs to be stronger to withstand the rigors of being run through machinery without fraying or breaking.
100 Percent Cotton Thread
Many quilters are very loyal to 100 percent mercerized cotton thread. Experts recommend cotton especially for beginners because it is easy to work with and less likely to break with machine quilting. YLI Select is one of the threads designed to eliminate the fuzz and the lint many threads leave in your machine. Madera Cotona 80 is recommended for its softness and matte finish.
Some quilters like polyester thread for its softness. Some quilters favor Superior Poly Quilter 30 wt Spun Poly Quilting Thread due to its extra strength and ability to maintain softness. Experts suggest reducing upper machine tension when using this thread.
Quilters use invisible thread when they do not want thread to show in their designs. These threads come in nylon and polyester. Many quilters find nylon thread tends to break during machine quilting. Some believe polyester thread also holds up longer than nylon after being quilted and does not deteriorate over time. Monofilament thread, which is another name for invisible thread, works best if it feels like hair, not fishing line. It should be marked .004.
The idea of top stitching is that you can see it, so many quilters use a color that contrasts with the colors in the quilt. Rainbow thread is made by numerous manufacturers. Some rainbow threads contain all the colors of the color wheel, one after the other, while others have only a few colors, such as yellows-oranges-reds or red-white-blue.
Many quilters complain that metallic thread breaks too easily. To avoid this, first check the instructions to see what size and type of needle should be used. Many times a different thread is also recommended for the bobbin. If instructions on the thread are unclear, ask a quilt store professional for advice. Then, on a practice piece of quilting, stitch and adjust the machine tension slightly until you get a stitch you like that doesn't pull and isn't too loose.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is an award-winning writer in the Washington, DC area. She writes nationally for newspapers, magazines and websites on topics including careers, education, women, marketing, advertising and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.