a Quilting Thread Review

Has it really been five years since I wrote about thread.  It has!  Our mail-order longarm quilting services have brought thread to the forefront of my mind again.  Let's talk thread!

All Purpose Quilting

Over the years I've experimented with many types of thread.  Like everyone I'm looking to balance price and quality.  In 2013 I started sewing with Connecting Threads thread, an amazingly affordable cotton thread.  I used it for piecing and quilting until I became concerned with durability.  I found that the quilting stitches were snapping on our home quilts, which we use and wash frequently.  The quilting tension on these quilts was correct, so I could only conclude that the thread was not very durable.  


Gradually I've become an Aurifil 50 wt thread convert for piecing and quilting.  I resisted (because of all the hype), but now I have to agree that this lightweight thread is quite ideal for our craft.  It isn't cheap, but it's also not that expensive if you consider the amount of yardage on a big spool.  I guess you get what you pay for.  Since thread is what is holding our quilts together, it's a place worth investing.  

I also discovered Aurifil 80 wt thread for hand sewing recently, on the advice of a quilty friend.  My applique stitches are easy to hide with this whisper thin thread.  I like it!

Longarm Quilting

Choosing a thread is an important decision for a longarm quilter.  When we bought our machine we purchased a starter thread kit with an assortment of threads recommended by the machine manufacturer. We wanted to test and decide what we preferred before investing in any one brand.  Naturally I wanted to try Aurifil, but it was not included in the kit.  I contacted Aurifil who sent a cone of 50 wt and of Aurifil Forty3, their new thread designed for longarming.

thread tests.jpg

Before I share my thoughts on these threads, let's acknowledge that I am not a longarm expert.  I did speak to an expert (not affiliated with a thread company) who says she can make any longarm thread work on her machine.  She said that getting the tension right is really about expertise.  That said, she recommends polyester threads for beginners and uses polyester threads most in her business.

Here is my experience:


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My Longarm Thread Choice

I really though I'd end up using Aurifil, but we're going to go with So Fine thread.  So Fine is the only 50 wt thread I've tested which is appropriate for longarming.  I suspect that what we love about Aurifil 50 wt for home quilting is a combination of its weight and quality.  So Fine has both. 

I prefer the look of So Fine's thinner stitches as compared to 40 wt threads.  They allow the quilting to blend into the quilt more than the 40 wt threads.  In addition, we don't have any breakage or difficulty setting the tension with So Fine.  I also like that it is mid priced - not so cheap as to make me worry and not so expensive as to drive up cost.  

Choosing So Fine means choosing polyester thread.  There is a longstanding debate among quilters about cotton verses polyester thread.  Some worry that polyester threads will cut through cotton quilt fabrics, and, indeed, this was a problem with the polyester threads manufactured in the 70's and 80's. 

I found several sources explaining that this is no longer an issue with today's more advanced polyester threads - at least the quality ones.  This Quilting Myths article by Superior Threads is helpful, as is this article.  It's also nice to know that two well-respected longarmers, Leah Day and Angela Walters, both use polyester thread for longarming.  In fact, I just noticed today that Angela Walters uses So Fine thread!  Well, there you go!

assorted thread cones

Currently, I plan to continue using Aurifil cotton thread for my piecing as I like the idea of using natural fibers when possible.  Longarming makes different demands on thread than a regular sewing machine.  I'll invest in So Fine thread for longarming with the aim of delivering highly durable, well-tensioned quilts to my customers with the thin, 50 wt stitch popular with modern quilters.

Questions?  Suggestions?  I definitely have more to learn.  Don't be shy!  

p.s.  If you're interested in trying So Fine thread, Superior Threads has a sale on the trial sizes of all their threads right now.

Rachel Hauser15 Comments