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Thread weight

by Carol
(Nova Scotia, Canada)

The area I'm in is so rural there are no varieties of thread. The only kind I have available is Coats and Clark. In cotton thread they have machine quilting (30 wt) and all purpose (35 wt).

I've spoken to other quilters and it appears few folks do their own quilting. They send it out to long arm people. That's why there is limited thread available.

I do "folk art" type quilts so I'm using tons of colours to get the "feel" I want.

I am a novice but I'm also a painter, so I like doing picture quilts.

My question, is there anything wrong with my thread?

Other than being linty, I'm happy with it for both putting the quilt together and for the actual quilting itself. When my husband and I travel to the U.S. I am able to find some finer threads.

What would be the danger of combining my 30 wt with a 50 wt?


If you are happy with the results you are getting now, then no, there is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with the thread you are using.

That said, if you are creating pictorial quilts, you have a whole world of thread choices to discover to add even more visual texture to your quilts.

And I'm not just talking cotton thread. There is wool/polyester thread called Burmilana (by Madeira) that is wonderful for fur and fuzzy edges, metallics and hologram threads to add sparkle for rain and snow, fine silks to slightly change the cast of a color and add many dizzying choices!

If you have the opportunity to visit a larger regional or national quilt show, I strongly urge you to go. Check the show's vendor list to see the thread companies that will be there. And talk to them. They are a veritable fountain of information!

Mixing different threads together

As for using a 50 wt and a 30 wt together, the most important things to remember are:

  • Choose a needle size to match the thread; choose a needle type to match the fabric, and...

  • Be prepared to adjust and test your sewing machine tension on a sample made from the same materials as are in your quilt. Sewing machines are engineered to sew with a balanced tension with a 50-60wt thread in both the needle and the bobbin. Different thread weights means tension adjustment.

As you do more piecing, I think you'll find a thinner, 50wt cotton thread more satisfactory. Aurifil or Masterpiece will leave less lint in your machine (as you've already noticed). You'll be able to get more thread on the bobbin resulting in fewer stops to wind more bobbins.

Finally, the finer thread takes up less room in the seam allowance, making your piecing even more accurate.

Don't forget mail order as a source of thread. Many these days offer free shipping either periodically or on purchases over a certain dollar amount. I am a huge proponent of supporting your local quilt store whenever you can, but if you can't find what you want, you have to look elsewhere.

One final comment, if I may...

...I am so glad you are quilting your own quilts!

The quilt magazines are full of ads for long and mid-arm quilting much so that it seems as if the only way you can quilt a quilt is on one of those fancy/costly machines.

But you know better!

You CAN quilt on your home machine!

There is something so-o-o-o satisfying about completing a quilt and knowing that every single bit of it was wrought by your own hands. It's an amazing feeling and I know you understand it!

I'd love to see your work. Don't forget you can share it on our "Share Your Quilts" page.

Good luck to you. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.


Julie Baird

Comments for Thread weight

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Thread weight
by: Carol

I'm the "Carol" who submitted the question and I thank you for your help. This is the third question I've submitted in the last month (being a newbie). I've been searching the internet for over two years and Generations has been the first one who has answered all of my questions promptly and with "support" of my efforts. I feel I have moved forwards in leaps and bounds. My heartfelt thanks to you all.

Quilting Your Own Quilts
by: Elaine DeFoor

Julie is so right. I like my quilts to be completely done by me. There is something so rewarding about it. Have fun and good luck.

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