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Quilting with silk thread

by Gerrie
(Happy Valley, OR)

100 wt YLI Silk Thread on hand dyed pima cotton

100 wt YLI Silk Thread on hand dyed pima cotton

What are some tips when using silk thread (100 weight)?

My thread keeps breaking and the needle gets very hot.


One of my favorite threads to quilt with! It creates a subtle luster in my stitches. Because it's so thin, backtracking when quilting feathers is possible without the design looking 'thready'.

It's not difficult to quilt with, but there are a few things to tweak for easy quilting.

Needle Size

Use a 60/8 Microtex Sharp needle. The eye of the needle is just the right size for this fine thread.

Once in awhile, it takes me a bit to 'settle in' to free motion quilting and I'll break several of these needles before I find my quilting groove. (Buy these needles on sale when you can find them, that helps!)

If you find your thread is shredding, move to the next size larger needle. If you are breaking too many needles, again, move to the next larger size.

Specialty Throatplate

Install a straight stitch throatplate--it's the one with the small round hole in it. Your needle can't push the quilt sandwich through the hole. You get a better stitch quality with it, in my humble opinion.

Bobbin Alternatives

For the bobbin thread, you can choose to use the same silk, but silk is pricey. To reduce the cost, I've used Superior Threads' Bottom Line, a 60 wt polyester and Aurifil's 50 wt 100% cotton, both with great results.

Some quilters have reported getting a waxy like substance in their bobbin case after quilting for a long time with the silk in the bobbin. If it happens to you, simply clean it out with a Q-Tip being careful not to leave any stray cotton fibers behind.


Pay attention to your a bit of quilting on a practice sandwich made from the fabrics in your quilt. It doesn't have to be big or neat or beautiful.

Practice some of the patterns you'll use in your quilting and fine-tune your tension. Because the thread is so fine, you may need to tweak(increase) your tension just a tad.

Straight or Crosswound

Take a look at your spool or cone. If the thread looks like it's stacked horizontally use the vertical spool pin on your sewing machine. Stacked or straight-wound thread is meant to unspool off the side.

If your thread is cross-wound on the spool or cone, it is meant to come off the top. You can use a metal thread stand (the plastic creates too much of its own static electricity) or use your machine's horizontal spool pin so that the thread feeds off the top end (which is now horizontal) and to the left.

Saving Money

Silk is much more expensive than cotton, but did you know that YLI winds their silk on 200m spools (about $6/ea) as well as 1000m cones (about $19/ea). If you bought 1000m worth of spools you'd spend about $30...that's a lot extra...especially if you've got a lot of quilting to do.

I hope you enjoy quilting with silk thread as much as I do. It's so much fun to work with!


Julie Baird

P.S. I apologize for the huge delay in responding. I had a software problem with my hosting company and had over 150 questions appear. I'm slowly working my way through the backlog. Please accept my apology.

Comments for Quilting with silk thread

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silk thread
by: gloria

Have you checked Dianne Gaudinsky's website.?
She is a marvelous Quilter who uses silk thread to quilt with.

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