Becoming a Better Quilter: Fine Tuning Skills part 1

Hello Everyone!

As I was sewing recently the idea for this series of posts came to mind. I want to mention, everything in the Post Series is solely my quilting experience of a decade plus. I thought it might help fellow quilters to share my experience on specific quilting skills we all share. My goal is to help someone learn something to help elevate a skill. More importantly, if any of you have an idea to share please shoot me an email- I’m just as eager to learn myself and share your thoughts!

Today I’m going to chat about thread. It’s a pretty essential component, that goes without saying. Thread is a very wide area of topic as well so I’m going to narrow it to thread specifically for piecing, for sewing all the little pieces together. For me, when you say thread, I think what kind and what size? Talking about the fiber content of thread, quilters usually belong to two different camps (just like the prewash / do not prewash fabric camps); some will only use cotton thread and some will use thread with polyester content. What kind, or fiber content, do you like to use?

When I learned to quilt I was told Gutermann was a good brand of thread. I began using it and am still happy with the quality and performance of this brand today.

A couple years ago I was introduced to Aurifil thread. This is an Italian Cotton thread. The person who told me about Aurifil pointed out “the weight” of the thread. Thread weight is the other important aspect of thread. The higher the weight, the finer the thread; 50 weight is finer than 30 weight. If you care to do additional research on thread it gets very interesting. I learned quite a bit while doing research for this post. I suggest you do some research in your spare time, especially if your interest and use of thread encompasses other thread crafts.

I bought a spool of Aurifil and tried it. The finer weight leaves no bulk or bump in the pressed seam. A sewn, pressed seam with 30 weight thread leaves some bulk in the seam- you can feel it. Now you may be thinking, how can this difference be such a big deal? Believe me I think using a 50 weight thread makes a positive difference and results in a better sewn, flatter pressed, nicer looking finished quilt block. Read on…

I mentioned a heavier weight thread leaving bulk in the seam- another way of putting it is it “takes up room” in the seam. Perhaps you’ve heard about the term “scant ¼” seam allowance”. A heavier thread weight can come into play with a seam being too wide in the end. If your piecing involves a lot of points to match, an inaccurate seam allowance will cause you frustration as you start matching points during block building. If you use a 30 weight thread sewing a scant ¼” seam allowance is a must. I’m going to address the Scant 1/4” Seam Allowance in part two of the Post Series. Please be sure to look at it; this is an important topic.

Back to thread. When I began using 50 weight thread I felt like I’d entered another dimension of the craft. I truly love the finished product! I’ve been using only Aurifil brand 50 weight cotton for about a year now. I’ve even shifted from matching a thread color to using a neutral color in a similar shade. I keep a black, 3 shades of gray, a light tan, cream and white on hand. That way I always have the thread I prefer when I start a project. Aurifil offers many color and varieties of thread if I were to want a specific color for any project as well. I recently noticed they offer thread for Cross Stitch- I was tempted to start some of that just to try their thread- that’s how much I like the Aurifil brand.

I still like using Gutermann thread for kitchen and home dec projects (potholders, towels, pillows, etc) because it is a heavier weight and suitable for those types of projects. The wide variety of colors and even fiber content choices are fun for decorative stitching.

To summarize, thread for piecing is important. It should be a good quality and fit the purpose for your finished product. You have a choice of cotton or polyester. Thread used for piecing won’t be visible; using a neutral color is fine.

If you have any questions or comments please shoot me an email– I’d appreciate hearing from you. Part 2 of the Post Series will be coming in one week.

Until then- find some time to sew!

Here is Our Recommendation: Aurifil Eleanor Burns Quilt In A Day Neutrals Thread Collection 6 pc.