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  1. #1
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    Default How to chose the quilting thread

    I did search for this topic, as I am sure it must be addressed somewhere, but did not find it, so please bear with me. I have machine quilted a few baby quilts and one queen sized quilt. The baby quilts I did stitch in the ditch with the thread I had sewn the quilt with. I know that's not the best way, but it was quick and I had matching thread. The queen was a Row by Row and each block was quilted in a style that matched the theme of that block. I did use quilting thread on it but had some issues with tension and things.

    The quilt I have now is a possibility for stitch in the ditch but I don't really want to do that. How do I choose the correct weight of thread? I know my machine does not like a thread that is too heavy or thick. For example, I cannot run 2 threads through the needle and get it to sew evenly, but I can my old one. So I think a thinner quilting thread would work better than a heavy one. How do you tell what the weight is and do I just have to buy various spools to test? I will be near a quilt shop next week so I could go in and pick some up. My other choice is the local Walmart and they don't have many to chose from. Advice, please? Thank you

  2. #2
    Missouri Star

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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    The heavier the thread the smaller the (weight) number is. So 50w thread is thinner than 40w thread. Thread measurements will often also contain a second number i.e. 50/2 or 50/3. the second number indicates how many plies are in the thread. So the more plies the heavier the thread is (i.e. 50/3 is heavier than 50/2).

    Now with that said.... the following is not a hard fast rule, just my preference:

    I prefer to do my piecing with 50w threads. It's still plenty strong for sewing, and yet thin enough that it sinks into the fabric so the seams will lay flatter. When quilting, I use a 40w thread, as it's stronger so will be less likely to breakdown over time and lots of washings. Also it shows the quilting design better. However if you are stitching in the ditch and you don't want the quilting to show, then 50w is less noticeable.

    When using the heavier thread, you may need to use a different size needle, now with needle sizes it's just the opposite. A larger # is a larger needle (mainly the eye of the needle). Using too small of a needle can cause thread breaking, and even tension issues as heavier/thicker thread needs more space in the eye of the needle to pass thru smoothly.

    As with any thread, you should always test your tension on a scrap fabric/batting/fabric layer to get the tension set just right. I will even go so far as to clean the bobbin area, and the tension disks (you'd be surprised how much lint accumulates in those areas) and check the tension every single time I change the bobbin, even if it's the same thread I've been using for the entire project.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    Thank you. I knew there was 40 and 50 thread but not about the 2 or 3 ply. I do need to practice more, that I know. At least, now when I look for thread for this quilt I will know what I am looking at. I used serging thread to sew this one together as it is thinner than normal sewing thread. I didn't have any trouble with it in the machine.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    It also depends on the fabric you used for the quilt. I generally FMQ with #40 Aurifil thread and a #80 needle but I made a quilt once that I had used fabric from homespun shirts and I used #30 thread and #90 needle.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Caroline T. View Post
    The heavier the thread the smaller the (weight) number is. So 50w thread is thinner than 40w thread. Thread measurements will often also contain a second number i.e. 50/2 or 50/3. the second number indicates how many plies are in the thread. So the more plies the heavier the thread is (i.e. 50/3 is heavier than 50/2).

    Now with that said.... the following is not a hard fast rule, just my preference:

    I prefer to do my piecing with 50w threads. It's still plenty strong for sewing, and yet thin enough that it sinks into the fabric so the seams will lay flatter. When quilting, I use a 40w thread, as it's stronger so will be less likely to breakdown over time and lots of washings. Also it shows the quilting design better. However if you are stitching in the ditch and you don't want the quilting to show, then 50w is less noticeable.

    When using the heavier thread, you may need to use a different size needle, now with needle sizes it's just the opposite. A larger # is a larger needle (mainly the eye of the needle). Using too small of a needle can cause thread breaking, and even tension issues as heavier/thicker thread needs more space in the eye of the needle to pass thru smoothly.

    As with any thread, you should always test your tension on a scrap fabric/batting/fabric layer to get the tension set just right. I will even go so far as to clean the bobbin area, and the tension disks (you'd be surprised how much lint accumulates in those areas) and check the tension every single time I change the bobbin, even if it's the same thread I've been using for the entire project.
    Why do you check the bobbin all the time if using the same thread? Do you mean you just look at it or run a test seam on a scrap?

  7. #6
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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    Quote Originally Posted by lourixe View Post
    It also depends on the fabric you used for the quilt. I generally FMQ with #40 Aurifil thread and a #80 needle but I made a quilt once that I had used fabric from homespun shirts and I used #30 thread and #90 needle.
    My needles are numbered 10, 11, 12, ..... So how do needles numbered 80# and 90# correspond to the smaller numbers? They aren't a continuation of those starting around 10, are they?

    I am using cotton cloth, which I consider "regular weight". It's not flannel and it's not tissue paper thin. The backing is one piece of wide quilt backing that was described as "thin" online. It feels stiffer than the fabrics on the front, even though I prewashed it but I think it will be fine after I get the quilt finished.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    Here is a chart from Superior Threads showing what size needle to use with what type and weight of thread

    https://vw-superiorthreads.storage.g...ence-guide.pdf

    So your needles numbered 10 is an #70/10, the 12 is an #80/12. Have no idea what the 11 is.
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  9. #8
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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    When I used to do FMQ on my DSM, I used 40 wt. cotton thread for the quilting. I used Superior's King Tut or Signature threads. I also used a larger needle to allow free movement of the thread through the eye of the needle -- 90-14 Top Stitch needle. I used the same thread in the bobbin as on top. Sometimes it's necessary to adjust the pressure of the presser foot on the quilt sandwich or adjust your machine's settings.

    Now that I quilt on my Baby Lock Tiara II table LA, I've been using Glide thread, which is a trilobal polyester thread. I use a #16 needle that is made for longarms.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseSm View Post
    Here is a chart from Superior Threads showing what size needle to use with what type and weight of thread

    https://vw-superiorthreads.storage.g...ence-guide.pdf

    So your needles numbered 10 is an #70/10, the 12 is an #80/12. Have no idea what the 11 is.
    Thank you, I guess I have never looked at the other number. I am going to start practicing so that this quilt doesn't look like a 6-year-old did it. Maybe a 12-year-old.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: How to chose the quilting thread

    JJ, I check the upper tension every time I change the bobbin thread (By sewing on some scrap fabric).

    My vintage machine has a drop in bobbin, and with the old bobbin winder, I don't trust it to always wind the bobbins consistently, even my side winder isn't always consistent, so I err on the side of caution.

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