Whether you are a new or seasoned quilter, choosing fabrics for a quilt is a blast. There are so many colors and patterns to choose from – hand dyed fabrics, stripes, polka dots, solids, blenders, Civil War and thirties fabrics, calico and funky modern and on and on. You can spend literally dozens of hours and many more dollars choosing just the right thing. But when it comes to choosing thread, we tend to use whatever we have on hand or buy basic white or black. Remember, it’s the little things that count!
Let’s talk thread.
When doing applique’, it is always best to match the color of the thread to the fabric you are sewing. If you are sewing a yellow flower, your thread should be a matching shade of yellow. However, you might be using your machine for machine applique and choose a clear (transparent) thread. The benefit of this is that you can use the same thread no matter what color you are sewing. If you use a clear thread, put a pale grey thread in your bobbin so it won’t show on the top. Another option is to applique’ with a decorative buttonhole stitch. In that case, you WANT your thread to show, so you should choose a black or contrasting thread for machine or hand stitching. Even an embroidery floss or pearl cotton is acceptable for this method!
For piecing, again it is best to match the color of your thread to your fabric. But what if you are making a scrap quilt? With many different fabrics and colors to work with, it can be difficult to decide what color you need. I normally piece with a neutral color: beige, darker tan or grey. Or, if it is a scrappy quilt all in green fabrics, I will select one soft green to use throughout the quilt. By “soft green” I mean a green that isn’t likely to jump out at me when the quilt is completed. It should blend in wherever it is seen, like a moss green (not a bright lime green).
When it comes to the actual quilting (hand or machine), the choice of color is a matter of preference. Older traditional quilts usually were quilted with white or black thread. Now we have so many solids and variegated thread choices that the rules for quilting thread have all been tossed in the basket. If you prefer a traditional look, white and black are still good choices. If you’re a more contemporary quilter, you’re safe going with a contrasting thread or something variegated. It’s your choice!
How should I store my thread? Don’t follow the old wives tale that says keep it in your freezer. That’s not necessary. As long as you keep it out of the sun in a clean, dust-free space, you will be fine. A clear plastic storage box with a lid is an easy solution that allows you to spot the thread that you have yet keep it clean. I keep small spools of thread for applique in a zippered bag with a clear vinyl window. It’s easily portable and tucks away in a tote bag quite easily.
If you’re a thread-a-holic like me, you’re always on the hunt for more glorious threads. Go ahead, enjoy yourself! Every thread has a purpose, and you can never have too much.