Thursday, July 24, 2008

Threads for piecing

Thread is addictive. I love the colors, textures, and different applications for using them--piecing, quilting, and embellishing.

When piecing a quilt consisting of cotton fabric, I stick with cotton thread. Especially for quilts that will be washed regularly, such as bed quilts, cotton on cotton is a solid fiber marriage for the long haul. Use a quality thread--avoid short staple cotton threads. These may seem fine but they contain slubs and are weaker than a long staple or extra long staple thread.

A quality spool of cotton thread will cost less than a yard of fabric. My favorite piecing thread is Presencia 60/3. It is available in 600m spools or 125 gram cones so you can piece forever!

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This 60 wt. 3-ply thread is fine yet strong. When aiming for an accurate 1/4" seam, this thread yields both precision and strength. A taupe or light/medium gray works well with most fabrics. Presencia 50/3 thread, available in 182 solid colors, is also excellent for piecing and quilting. Try sewing a seam with each of these threads and compare the difference.

Pictured below from left to right: a 125 gram cone of 60/3; a 500m spool of 50/3 and a 400m spool of 40/3. When sewing binding on a quilt, I machine sew the double fold binding edge to the front of the quilt with 60/3 thread and hand sew the fold to the back with 40/3. This is the recommendation of Harriet Hargrave and it gives a strong finish to the quilt edge.

A popular choice for piecing is Aurifil Mako Cotton and Superior's MasterPiece, both 50/2 threads. With just two plys it's important to shorten the stitch length on your machine to insure strength in the seam.

With 60/3 thread you get the benefit of an accurate 1/4" seam without adjusting the stitch length. Also the 3-ply thread has about 50 more twists to it, adding to its strength. For this reason, Presencia's 60/3 is my hands down favorite piecing thread. Check out their full line of quality threads at

A fine polyester such as Superior's Bottom Line or So Fine may also be considered for piecing projects that are not bed quilts. Wall hangings, miniature quilts, wearables, bags, crafts, etc. are perfectly suitable for using polyester thread. Again quality is important so look for the word "trilobal" on a spool of polyester thread.

Copyright ©2008, Sharon Baggs

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