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What weight of machine quilting thread should I use?

A reader asks...

What quilting thread weight should be used when long arm quilting?

What weight should be used for piecing?

Julie replies

I am not a long arm quilter, but I would imagine that pretty much anything you can put through a needle, you can quilt with on a long arm machine. You would need to make adjustments to fine-tune the tension depending on the combination of needle and bobbin threads, just like on a home sewing machine.

You may also need to change the needle to a larger or smaller size depending on the chosen threads.

I've seen quilts long arm quilted with monofilament which is very fine (.004mm), to regular quilting cottons (like the 50 wt Aurifil, polyesters and rayons and all those fru-fru princess threads that make us drool.

Honestly, I think the sky's the limit, as long as you can make it work in your machine. And that will take some testing.

For piecing...

...personally I like to use a 50 wt or finer cotton. Superior Threads makes Masterpiece for piecing. Aurifil and Prescenia also make quality 50 wt, 100% cotton piecing threads. Superior's and Prescenia's 50 wt cotton threads are 3 ply.

Aurifil is a 2 ply. The extra ply is supposed to make the thread stronger. Personally, I do not find a difference

I also will use Superior Thread's Bottom Line, a 60 wt polyester for piecing.

Many have written that they fear that the polyester thread is too strong for cotton quilting fabrics and it will cut the fabric when stressed. The result would be a seam that can't be re-stitched.

However, I've been sewing longer than I've been able to cross the street by myself and have never experienced this problem in either the clothing or the quilts I've made.

I love Bottom Line because it it very fine so it takes up less room in my seam allowance and I feel my piecing is more accurate. The fact that there is way less lint than the cotton threads is another plus.

So for machine quilting, whatever you can pass through the needle and balance the tension is good.

For machine piecing, look for a 50 wt or finer quality thread.

Thank you for your question.

Readers, we'd love to hear what you think...just use the 'comment' link found below. Thank you!


Julie Baird

Comments for What weight of machine quilting thread should I use?

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Piecing Thread
by: Cathy Smith

I am piecing a quilt that I am using 60 wt. polyester thread Bottom Line from Superior Threads. This is the first time I used this thread and I really like because it is smooth and no dust like you get from the cotton thread. I am also sewing a binding on by hand and I am using it also. Hope it works for that too. Much easier to work with because it does not tangle as much as cotton thread does.

From the Editor: I'm glad you're enjoying Bottom's one of my favorites for both piecing and quilting, too!

~ Julie

What weight of machine quilting thread.
by: Anonymous


I'm a long arm quilter and yes, the sky is the limit on what thread to use. It depends on the look you are after.

I use Superior's Bottom Line to outline applique and for dense background fills.

I love Rainbows, So Fine, Metallics, Isacord, Rheingold, Glide, King Tut etc.

I almost always use So Fine in my bobbin regardless of which thread I use on top.

Also, you can go to and they have lists and tutorials about thread. Very informative.

Have fun and experiment :)

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