A Quilty Kind of Girl

March 16, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday – What is YOUR thread weight?

After spending some time stitching on another machine, I quickly realized that something was different. I took a close look at the thread, which seemed really large. I inspected the thread cone and found the thread was a 35 weight. I normally use a 50 wt thread for piecing, so I was interested to see how the different thread weights would affect my piecing.

I chose one brand, Aurifil, in four different thread weights. I stitched out an identical sample in all four. I used the same fabrics for every sample, and used 50 wt thread in the bobbin. The following pictures document the results of my experiment in thread.( Click on the images to see a larger picture.)

Four samples of Aurifil Thread.

Here are four samples of Aurifil thread. Starting on the left is 50 wt, 40 wt, 28 wt, finishing with 12 wt on the right.

Four cones of Aurifil thread in various weights.

These are four cones of Aurifil thread, same color, different weight.

Sample of 50 wt thread.

The seam allowance of the 50 wt thread measures exactly a quarter inch.

The 50 wt thread sample after pressing.

Perfect! the 50wt thread has delivered exactly the result I want, a size of 3.5 inches.

Sample of 40 wt thread.

The seam allowance of the 40 wt thread measures exactly a quarter inch.

The 40 wt thread sample after pressing.

Hmmmmm. Looks like the 40 wt sample has come up a hair short of 3.5 inches.

Sample of 28 wt thread.

The seam allowance of the 28 wt thread measures exactly a quarter inch.

The 28 wt thread sample after pressing.

The thicker 28 wt thread has finished quite a bit short.

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The 12 wt thread sample after pressing.

The thickest thread, 12 wt, has come up the shortest. Almost 1/8 of an inch! It would only take 8 patches for the quilt to finish a FULL inch short.

Sample of 12 wt thread.

The seam allowance of the 12 wt thread measures exactly a quarter inch.

Isn’t it interesting to see how the thread affects the piecing? When I first began sewing and quilting, I would buy my thread from the bargain bin. The cheaper, the better! Looking back now, I laugh at myself, who was willing to spend $16 for a meter of fabric, but only 99 cents for a spool of cheapo thread. I did not learn anything about the weight of thread until I worked in a quilt shop. As I replenished the shelves with tiny little spools, I had plenty of opportunity to examine each and every weight of thread.

Here are some tips for using threads according to their weights:
50 wt – ideal for piecing. Also good to use in the bobbin when quilting with a heavier top thread.
40 wt – beautiful for quilting or top stitching.
28 wt – for quilting when you really want the stitching to show. Also ideal for hand quilting.
12 wt – perfect for hand quilting, applique and top stitching on garments.

Anytime you use a thread heavier than 40 wt on your domestic machine, it is wise to switch to a size 16 top stitching needle. The larger eye on the needle will allow the bulk of the thread to travel without fraying.

Do you have any experiences to share about thread weight? Comment below to share your experience!

Quilty Hugs,

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