When shopping for your quilting thread color, be sure to bring cuttings of the fabrics you are using in your quilt with you.  I must also say that it is important to be very careful about purchasing threads online from a distributor that does not have a color chart or a well known brand name in which you can search for the color chart online.  I made the mistake of purchasing a beading thread on ebay which arrived at my home in a color nothing like the photo they posted.

     Ok, so here is the process of how I chose my quilting thread.  I had purchased three different varigated threads while on different shopping trips and at different stages in the process of designing and making my mother’s quilt and I couldn’t decide which to use.  Varigated threads are TERRIFIC and I can’t get enough of them.  Anyway, I’m sure all of you know that after staring at the same colors and design for hours you start to lose an objective perspective.  I laid out my quilt top, and unravelled each thread and placed them on the quilt top.  I flattened the thread down with my hand and took a photo.  There is definitely something helpful about viewing your work through a photo.  It reduces the area you are viewing and it makes the colors stand out differently and can bring that objective perspective which every designer needs.  The next time you are stuck deciding on a fabric, a thread, a design choice, a binding…you name it..take a photo or two and view them on your computer.  It truly helps give a different view and may even bring about an idea you would never have thought of!
AuraQuilts.com Sting Ray Thread Test Quilt November 2009
AuraQuilts.com Sting Ray Thread Test Quilt November 2009

After viewing the threads in the photo I decided I liked my King Tut “Peacock” thread the best.  This is the spool located on the left in the photo above.  I wanted to make sure it would look the same quilted as it did just laying on top of the fabric.  So, I took scrap pieces of fabric from the quilt and pieces them together to make a small quilt top approximately 12″ x 24″.    I layered with a small piece of Quilter’s Dream Request batting and a small piece of the turquoise flannel which I am using as the backing of the quilt.  This is a great thing to do with any new project you are working on.   It not only works as a practice piece for warming up for free motion but it also is great as a form of testing your threads and quilting patterns.  I was also looking forward to testing out how the flannel would react to quilting as I had only used cotton quilting fabric as a backing before.Audra Kearney Quilt Thread Free Motion Test November 2009

Not only do the samples and photos help you in your process but it also builds the foundation for a quilt journal which I will discuss in a post soon.  I hope this helps!Thanks for reading and Happy Quilting!-Audra at AuraQuilts.com

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One thought on “How to choose your quilting thread color

  • Audra, I’m new to your site but enjoy reading your posts as you progress in your quilting knowledge. I’ve been a quilter for 30+ years and owned my own quilt shop in CA for 2 years (until I had to sell it for a move out of state for my husbands career change). I read your post on thread selection for quilts and noticed you left out information about the different TYPES of thread.

    Many new quilters do not know that COTTON fabric requires COTTON thread for your quilt. If you use a POLYESTER or a MONOFILLIMENT (Plastic) thread on a COTTON quilt it may end up cutting the threads of your fabric, causing small holes.

    Most quilts are made out of COTTON fabric, however, scrap quilts may include scraps of POLYESTER or a MIXED fiber.
    POLYESTER quilts need to be sewn and quilted with POLYESTER thread. Itl hold up against the stronger POLYESTER fibers of the fabric. POLYESTER is not the traditional fabric in quiltmaking because it has the ability to “pill” or form small balls of fibers on the top of your quilt.

    MONOFILLIMENT threads are used for topstiching (quilting) and should never be used to piece a quilt. This type of thread can almost be invisable but it will also become brittle over time, especially if the quilt is used frequently. Sunshine that fiters onto your quilt may also cause your MONOFILLIMENT thread to turn YELLOw. (This could also happen if your quilt is exposed to Flourencent lighting.) This obviously could interfere with your quilt design and the appearance of your quilt.

    Rule of thumb for choosing thread for your quilts is to use COTTON thread with COTTON fabric; POLY thread with POLY fabric, and MONOFILLIMENT thread on wall hangings (or quilts) that will not have any sunlight or Flourencent lighting hitting it, or will not be handled.

    Bobbin threads are USUALLY the same as your top thread, however, if your quilting stitch is not as smooth as you’d like it to be, a heavier thread can be wound into the bobbin and may resolve your issue. It does not have to be much heavier, but just enough to carry the topstich to the bottom layer. MONOFILLIMENT thread may need a COTTON thread in the bobbin. Different weight threads may need to have bobbin tension adjusted. If this is done I recommend the starting point be marked with a marker so the tension can be returned to it’s orignial point when you are done. It’s always a good idea to practice your topstitching on scrap layers of your Top, Batting and Backing.

    I hope this information, along with the information you’ve already provided, will help new quilters in making their works of HEART last many lifetimes!

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