Quilting Thread Types & Differences

Sewing and quilting is an art form that requires attention to detail, the right equipment, and right sewing supplies. When it comes to quilting, selecting a quality thread can be the difference between a beautifully finished quilt and one that falls apart over time. In this blog, we'll explore the different types of sewing machine threads for quilting and which ones are best suited for your quilt projects.


Cotton thread: This type of thread is ideal for quilting, as it has a natural fiber content and provides a traditional look. Cotton threads are available in a variety of weights (commonly a 50 weight or 60 weight is used) and often a large variety of colors, making it easy to match them with your fabric.  Cotton threads have a good tensile strength, which means they can withstand repeated washing and ironing without breaking, and considering your quilting fabrics are cotton, the stretch and shrinkage during washes overtime are most equivalent.  A few brands that we commonly use are; Mettler Silk Finish, Aurifil, King Tut, Superior, and there is also Wonderfil Spagetti and Frutti which are heavier 12 weight 100% cotton threads.


Polyester thread: Polyester threads are synthetic and have a high tensile strength, which makes them ideal for longarm quilting, typically providing the most strength.  Polyester threads are also resistant to fading and shrinkage, which means your quilt threads will help your quilt maintain its shape over time. Polyester threads come in a wide range of colors and weights (commonly 40 weight), making it easy to find one that matches your fabric. There are many brands out there, a few brands that we commonly use are; Mettler Polysheen, Isacord, Floriani Polythread, Glide.


Silk thread: Silk threads are luxurious and have a natural shine, making them ideal for embellishing your quilt. They are lightweight and strong, which means they can be used for both quilting and piecing. Silk threads come in a range of colors and weights, but they can be more expensive than other types of threads.


Metallic thread: Metallic threads add sparkle and shine to your quilt and are often used in projects for adding decorative touches, and some embellishment. They are usually made of a nylon core with a metallic coating, which means some metallic threads can be difficult to work with. They are also more expensive than other types of threads and can be prone to breakage. A few brands we have found to be the easiest to use are; Mettler’s Metallic, Kingstar metallic and Floriani metallic threads.  Using metallic threads with an exterior thread stand, and operating your machine at slower speeds often helps reduce those potential thread breaks.


Monofilament thread: Monofilament threads are clear and invisible, making them ideal for applique and quilting where you desire invisible stitches. They are also strong and can withstand repeated washing and ironing. However, they can be difficult to work with and may require some practice before you achieve the desired effect. Superior’s Mono Poly thread is one brand we like.


When selecting thread for machine quilting, it's important to choose one that is strong, durable, and matches your fabric. Cotton and polyester threads are the most commonly used types of threads for longarm quilting, as they are strong and come in a range of colors and weights. Silk and metallic threads are ideal for embellishing your quilt, while monofilament threads are perfect for those invisible stitches.  Threads to stay away from are those that have been sitting in the drawer for years, or those may be that have been exposed to sunlight.  If you take your thread by both hands, and pull and it quickly breaks without much pressure … its time to throw it away.  Nothing is worse that working on a beautiful project, to watch it fall apart from using some old, cheap thread. 


The most common cause of thread breaks while sewing are;

  1. Poor thread quality: This is the most common causes of thread breaks while sewing, and can be prevented by ensuring that you are using high-quality thread for your projects.
  2. Improper thread tension: Thread tension should be adjusted properly to prevent thread breakage. Too much tension can cause the thread to snap, while too little tension can cause a wavy stitch. Remember, when changing thread weight, you may need to adjust your machines’ tensions.
  3. Incorrect needle size: Using the wrong needle size for the fabric and thread you are using can cause thread breakage. Make sure you are using the correct needle size for the fabric and thread you are using. When using Cotton or Polyester threads in the 40 weight or 50 weight range for sewing machine quilting you are commonly using a 80/12 universal or microtext/sharp needle, but depending on the thread type and fabric type it could range from a 75/11 denim/jeans needle to 90/14 quilting needle. Topstitch or Quilting needles (100/16 or 90/14) would typically be used when using heaver weight (28 weight or 12 weight) threads.
  4. Poor needle condition: If the needle is bent or dull, it can cause thread breakage. Make sure you are using a sharp, new needle for best results. Needles are relatively low cost, and this is the component on your sewing machine that experiences the most action. A fresh needle can solve many issues.


In conclusion, there are many types of sewing machine threads for quilting, each with its own unique characteristics. By selecting the right thread for your project, you can ensure that your quilt looks beautiful and lasts for years to come.

To see some of the threads types or needles available by Aurora Sewing Center, click here:   https://www.aurorasewingcenter.com/