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How To Choose The Right Thread For Your Quilting Project

Quilting is possibly one of the best and the most creative ways to spend some time with yourself, don’t you agree?

Some people take up quilting as a hobby, others make it into a profession. From generations, our grandmothers and their grandmothers have made quilts for newlyweds and newborns, as a form of blessing and happiness.

Many of us use store-bought quilts these days, but the hand-sewn ones we get from our loved ones are still precious to us.

Creativity and skill are what matters the most in quilting, but it is also important that we have an adequate amount of knowledge of quilting tools. We need to be absolutely sure that we are choosing and using the best tools suitable for making quilts.

Choosing the Right Thread for Quilting

Of all the tools and items that we need for quilting, i.e. the right needles, patches of clothes, cutting mats and rotary cutters, the right type of thread doesn’t sound so special.

But, actually, it is of the utmost importance that you choose the right type of threads for your quilting project. Otherwise, your whole project will fall apart at the seams and all your efforts will go to waste.

Your threads are going to hold the whole quilt together. It needs to be strong and long-lasting, but also of good quality, so that the sewing doesn’t stand out from the fabric. So, what thread to use in quilting? To answer this question, we need to first know the types of threads that are available in the market for you to choose from.

1. Cotton Thread

Cotton thread is the most versatile thread available, perfect for a number of projects. They can be both coarse and fine, or contain a silk finish. Cotton thread is mostly used in sewing clothes that will be regularly washed and pressed.

These threads can withstand a tremendous amount of heat, which means that you can iron them for as long as you want to, as many times as needed.

Cotton thread glides through fabric very easily, but they can also be trusted to hold two pieces of fabric together. This makes cotton fabric perfect for basting and gathering fabric in a quilt.

2. Polyester Thread

You can use polyester thread on almost any fabric, both by hand or by machine. This thread is extremely strong, and won’t break under pressure. It won’t break even when the thread is being stretched, or when you are using it to hold large pieces of fabric together.

Besides, polyester thread is usually bright and has a vivid color, and can be great if you use it to make a design or a text on your quilt. Polyester thread also has silicon or a wax finish so that it is easy to use this thread with coarse or thick fabric.

3. Silk Thread

Silk threads are fine, bright and leave a vivid image on your fabric. Although strong, this is not the right thread for heavy-duty quilting. You can use silk threads if you are making a relatively smaller quilt or a baby quilt.

The bright colors are perfect for making simple embroidery designs or texts on quilts, but they are too expensive to use in bulk in basting fabrics together in a quilt.

4. Heavy-duty Thread

Heavy-duty threads are also made from polyester, but they are extremely bulky and will add to the weight of the quilt. This kind of thread is strong but rarely used in sewing garments because of their weight, and would only make your quilt heavier.

5. Wool Thread

Wool thread is bulky and thick, but not very heavy. They can be used in quilting if you want your stitches to be prominent and visible. Wool thread is extremely strong and needs a larger needle to work with, but they will look good on the topstitching on quilts.

6. Cotton-Poly Thread

This is a polyester thread wrapped around with cotton thread on the outside, sometimes known as an all-purpose thread.

This is a cotton and polyester blend that you can use in any kind of sewing project, as well as in a quilt. Keeping a few of these cotton-poly threads at home means you are ready for any kind of sewing, quilting and repairing jobs.

7. Metallic Thread

Metallic thread is made from metals, and available in three colors: silver, gold and copper. This kind of threads are used more in machine embroidery, but can be also used in sewing quilts with machines.

Qualities to Look for in Thread

You need to consider a few factors when choosing the right thread for quilting: thread weight, color, durability, etc.


Quilts are made from three different layers of fabric, the middle one thicker than the rest two. They are usually quite heavy, even without the added weight of the thread used. If you use a heavy and bulky thread such as wool or cotton-poly blend, it will add to the already heavy quilt, and make it heavier.

Understanding thread weight could take some background knowledge. The lower the number on a thread brand, the heavier it is going to be. For example, a 50-weight thread is actually lighter than a 40-weight thread. The 40-weight thread will also be more prominent in your fabric than the 50-weight thread.


The color options are also important. With cotton and wool thread, you only get the basic color options, steady and lasting. However, if you want some vivid coloring, you need to choose polyester or silk threads.


Most threads are durable, but for quilting, you need something that can withstand multiple washing and ironing. Wool thread can start becoming a little dishevelled with use and washes, but cotton and polyester thread will hold fast.

Which is the Right Thread for Quilting?

To be accurate, you will need different kind of threads for the different parts of a quilt, one for sewing the edges of the top fabrics, one for binding the quilt together, one if you are using a machine and another one if you are making your quilt by hand.

  • Cotton thread is perfect for finishing off every individual piece of fabric for the top part of the quilt. You can use a 50-weight cotton thread for sewing the edges of the top fabrics, and also for sewing the individual pieces together. A 50-weight cotton thread is neither too heavy nor too fine, but just the perfect thread for the job.
  • Binding your quilt means to sew a separate piece of long fabric around the edges so that the inside stitches don’t come out later. For this step, you can also use a 50-weight cotton thread.
  • If you are using an embroidery machine, you can use a 40-weight cotton thread. The 40-weight cotton thread is better than the 50-weight cotton thread as it is heavier and more suitable for machine piercing.
  • If you are using an embroidery machine to make free-hand designs on your quilt, you need a heavier and more prominent thread, like a lower number cotton thread. This thread, if you choose a color completely in contrast with or lighter than your fabric, will perfectly create a sewing patterned design on your blanket. Besides cotton, you can also use polyester, cotton-poly blend, or a monofilament thread as well.
  • If you are quilting by hand, the best thread for you will be the 28-weight cotton thread. This thread is sturdy and heavy, and can withstand any type of pulling and stretching, as is normal when hand stitching.
  • If you want to place appliques on your quilt, you need something extremely fine and lightweight, such as cotton thread over 50-weight. You can find cotton thread from 10-weight to 800-weight in the market, and the higher the number on the thread, the finer it is, the better it is for appliqueing. Another great thread for applique is silk, which is natural and lightweight, but also very fine.

Final Words

In short, the perfect thread for quilting is cotton. There are many different weight counts in cotton to choose from, from a 10-weight count to a 500-weight count.

You can choose from them for the different parts of quilting, or you can choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. The main factor is that the thread used in quilting should be sturdy and lasting, and won’t give you any trouble for many years to come.

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