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Choosing Thread: Why Quality Thread is Important

Embarking on any new quilting or sewing project is always exciting for me. I love to let my creativity loose and watch as my fabric turns into something cute, quirky, or fun. But there is one aspect of every project that I always seem to overlook until the last minute: Thread.

I can sort through my stash or head to the fabric store to curate the perfect fabrics for my project and gather my supplies, but somehow thread is always something I forget to add to my basket, meaning I inevitably have to return to the fabric store to choose the right colour for my quilt. However, the colour of my thread is no longer my only consideration when I am purchasing the perfect spool to match my project, and here’s why:

When I first started sewing and quilting I was guilty of buying cheap tools and supplies. This included cheap thread. I would buy the cheapest bargain bin, no name thread spools that I could get my hands on. I naively thought all thread was created equal. Spoiler alert: It’s not. After many (many) projects and frustrating mishaps with thread breaking mid-stitch, clogging my bobbin casing with lint, fraying into knots, and sometimes multiple issues at once, I eventually gave a better quality thread a go. Imagine my surprise when I found that these issues I had been experiencing were all of a sudden greatly reduced! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a magic fix-all - I still have to clean my bobbin casing (especially if I have been using a cotton thread and not a Polyester Blend as pure cotton does tend to generate a bit more lint) and change my needle regularly, but it has certainly made my sewing time a lot more enjoyable and I have far fewer irritations from snapped threads or unsightly nests of knots in my seams.

Spools of Thread on a stand in a store - Photo by Hector J Rivas

So which threads do I use now?

I actually have quite a mixture of different brands and threads in my stash. This is partly due to my impulsive way of quilting… when I start a project I want my thread straight away so I can start sewing as soon as possible. I’m not someone who likes to wait around for my threads to arrive in the mail - especially when it costs an arm and a leg just for shipping from the United States to New Zealand, and can take several months to arrive. I’m not saying I haven’t done it for a special project every now and then. For example, for my Busted Fence Quilt which was featured in Make Modern Magazine, I ordered some Sulky Blendable thread and waited very patiently (and nervously as my deadline loomed) for it to get here. It’s just not something I can always do as it’s not practical.

There are a few stockists of Aurifil thread here in New Zealand which is another very good quality brand of thread. However, I haven’t found a local stockist that I can walk into to grab what I need and go home and sew with. I have a couple of spools of this in my possession as well, usually ordered in conjunction with fabrics from Rainbow Stash.

While some quilters will loyally swear by a certain brand. I’m not going to do that. Because although not all thread is created equal, I also know that not every quilter has a big budget to shop with or the ability to access them easily. What I will say next may not be a popular opinion among quilters… in fact, it is likely to cause some controversy among the purist quilters… Scanfil Gutermann and Mettler make a good middle-of-the-road thread, which I have found to be reasonable quality and you can usually find them at craft stores like Spotlight or Lincraft (These are the Australian and NZ equivalents of JoAnn or Michaels.) which make them easily accessible and affordable for most sewers. For the purists who would disagree with me on this, I would like you to think about it in the following context: If the choice was quilting with medium-quality products or not quilting at all - which would you prefer?

Ultimately I believe the choice comes down to two things: your budget and local availability. While I would love for you to be using Aurifil every time you sit down at your sewing machine, I also know that’s not a practical possibility for every quilter. So maybe, like myself, you occasionally buy a spool or two of these really good quality threads for a special project and the rest of the time you buy good medium-range options. As long as you aren’t buying the bulk-bin, cheap and nasty thread your project will likely still turn out well. My current thread collection shown below includes a range of threads from all the brands I have mentioned in this post and I am not greatly loyal to any singular brand.

My Threads were always breaking when I was sewing, until I switched to using better quality threads. The image shows my own collection of threads now that I am using higher quality including Sulky, Aurifil, Mettler, Scanfil and Guttermann Thread. I am not loyal to any one brand.

To make a long story short, while thread might seem like a minor detail in your quilting and sewing project, the importance of buying quality shouldn’t be underestimated. The quality of the thread you buy can greatly affect the outcome of your work, and your enjoyment of your sewing time, so investing in medium-high quality options is going to be worth your while in the long run. While some quilters will swear by specific brands, it really does come down to your budget and local availability, just be sure to avoid the low-quality bargain bin threads. While I would love to encourage you to use top-tier threads like Aurifil every time you sew, it simply may not be feasible for everyone. Therefore opting for a reputable medium-quality brand like Scanfil, Mettler, or Gutermann Thread can still result in a better quality finish and less frustration. The key is to find the balance that works for you.

Happy Quilting, Rachel

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links for products and services that I trust and use myself. If you purchase an item via one of these links it will not cost you any extra, however in some cases, I may earn a small commission which helps me fund my quilting habits. Thanks for your understanding!