Best Quilting Thread for Hand and Machine Quilting

Every quilter requires some strong quilting threads to hold the quilt sandwich layers together during a project.

Quilting threads hold fabrics together, creating indents wherever stitches are sewn in the quilt. The thread and the indents created both results in a decorative pattern.

With advancements in technology and innovations, everyone can imagine the large variety of threads available in the market. It is, therefore, understandable that you are seeking the best from the list of different quilting threads to enjoy your quilts and have a smooth quilting experience.

This guide will help you choose the right and best material of quilting thread for both machine and hand quilting and what to consider before you buy.

Best Thread for Hand Quilting

      1. Gutermann Hand Quilting Thread

Gutermann is one of the threads that offer the best hand quilting experience in the art of quilting. Gutermann quilting thread is made using natural cotton, and this cotton is 100% mercerized. This means that its strings are strong and resilient, leading to stronger, tighter loops and a durable end product.

Soft, supple, and with a range of colors, this thread is an excellent choice for sewers and quilters who like to use natural fibers. It is elastic and extendible,  tear and abrasion-resistant, light-resistant, and color-fast.

This brand comes with a unique finishing called “wax finish cotton.” This prevents the strings from twisting and tangling with each other. The wax strings are also slippery and slide easily, making binding easy.

Benefits:

      • 100% mercerized cotton, meaning stronger and more durable threads for quilting
      • Prevents tangling
      • Suitable for both hand and machine usage
      • Has the best natural cotton strings
      • Good color selection
      • Ideal for small projects

      2. Coats Dual Duty Plus Hand Quilting Thread

Quilting thread
Image Source: Etsy

This brand of quilting thread was made for all kinds of hand quilting projects. It has a unique “glace” finish that prevents the strings from having unwanted fraying effects and tangling with each other.  It is hard to quilt seamlessly when the strings get tangled and jumbled up, hampering performance.

You are guaranteed long-lasting usage with the glace finish, which keeps you from repeatedly spending more money buying threads. Coats Dual Duty Plus Hand Quilting Thread was designed to give quilters a seamless experience.

Benefits:

      • It has a “glace” finish which prevents the string from having any fraying effect and tangling up.
      • It can be used with any type of fabric
      • Has high strength
      • Perfect for hand quilting

      3. Finesse Quilting Thread

Hand quilting thread
Image Source: Grace Frame

You don’t have to buy an entire cone set for a chosen color with this brand. It comes in mini-cones, allowing you to buy what you need in small volumes without wasting money or the thread.

Finesse guarantees a seamless experience in both hand and machine quilting. It is made with 100% polyester properties that offer durability and more strength than cotton and the right amount of thinness to prevent bulk.

This product comes with a wide range of colors and efficient shapes which are easy to store. They are not costly as you can buy in small volumes and can be used with different types of polyester fabric and various materials.

Benefits:

      • Perfect for both hand and machine quilting
      • 100% polyester, much stronger than cotton, for complete durability and enhancement.
      • Mini-cones allow you to buy any colors in small volume without wastage.
      • Right size for easy storage.
      • An array of colors is available

      4. Coats & Clark  Quilting Thread

Best thread for quilting
Image Source: Wilsons Fabric

Coats & Clark is a product for polycotton enthusiasts. It is a blend of synthetic polyester and natural cotton. Therefore, it is softer and stronger than cotton, and you can get the best of both polyester and cotton as well.

You can use this thread in quilt fabric sewing and any kind of decorations when quilting. This hand quilting thread is a quality, easy-to-use, all-purpose choice for all types of fabric for sewing or quilting projects.

Having a broad range of usage and a twofold characteristic, it is perfect for long-lasting projects. It is durable, resilient, and resistant to tears or breaks.

Benefits:

      • Polycottons blend cotton and polyester, making it extra strong, durable, and resistant.
      • Perfect string for long-lasting, hand quilting projects.
      • You can use them for embroidery.
      • Cheaper than regular cotton threads.

      5. YLI Hand Quilting Thread

YLI hand quilting thread
Image Source: Quiltdirect

Made with 100% glazed cotton, YLI quilting thread is ideal for hand quilting. It also performs well in machines. It has a unique natural glazed finish that eliminates tangles and knots, allows the thread to glide smoothly through the fabric, and makes needle threading simple.

It comes on an exclusive wooden spool and has excellent colorfastness. It is capable of traction, making it possible to disappear into the fabric almost completely with no slippage.

Benefits:

      • No tangling
      • Perfect for hand quilting
      • Made of cotton
      • High strength and durability

You may check the YLI thread in use through this video.

Best Thread For Machine Quilting

      1. Glide Quilting Thread

Glide yellow thread for quilting
Image Source: Quilted Joy

Glide is a 40wt trilobal polyester thread made from high-tenacity filament yarn. This longarm quilting thread is a multi-purpose thread perfect for machine embroidery, longarm quilting, and machine quilting. It runs smoothly, is lint-free, and has a beautiful sheen.

This product comes with a minimum elongation variation from color to color, ensuring uniform tension throughout each spool. It provides you with high-quality stitches with consistent tension.

Benefits:

      • It has a brilliant sheen and the look of Rayon
      • It runs clean through the machine and is lint-free
      • Easy to wash with strong resistance to bleaches and most chemicals

      2. Aurifil Mako Cotton Quilting Thread

Cotton quilting thread
Image Source: Online Fabric Store

Aurifil quilting thread is smooth and very strong. It is ideal for serging, embroidery, and machine quilting. It leaves very little lint or fuzz in the sewing machine to clean.

If you are interested in buying white in bulk, this is your best choice. This thread set comes in spools, and each spool amounts to 1,422 yards, made of 100% mercerized cotton. The long-staple mercerized cotton ensures that the thread is strong, soft, and doesn’t shed. It creates fine stitches with little breakage.

Benefits:

      • It is excellent for free-motion quilting.
      • It is a great choice for both piecing and machine quilting. 
      • The colors blend perfectly with other colors in your pattern.

      3. Signature 100% Cotton Machine Quilting Thread

Signature quilting thread
Image Source: Walmart

The 100% mercerized long-staple cotton thread is a good choice for sewers and quilters, preferring cotton through and through. Whether you are working with high-speed multi-directional designs, free motion quilting, sewing the quilt backing fabric, or just doing general sewing and quilting, you’ll enjoy the process.

Signature quilting thread passes through three-ply, long-staple fiber construction, combined with mercerization and finishing processes, all of which contribute to this high-quality thread’s high luster, superior strength, and low lint properties.

The mercerized cotton produces less lint and higher luster. It is available in beautiful solid and variegated colors.

Benefits:

      4. Superior King TUT Quilting Thread

Best thread for machine quilting
Image Source: Red Rock Threads

King Tut quilting thread is a low-lint 40 wt./3-ply extra-long staple Egyptian-grown cotton thread. It differs from all other cotton quilting threads because of the quality of the natural products used to make it and the special processing.  

It takes almost an entire year from planting the cotton seed to when the thread has been completely processed and ready for use. This long process results in the production of the best cotton thread for quilting projects, especially practicing how to bind a quilt.

Superior King Tut Thread is one of nature’s best threads for quilting. It produces extremely low lint due to the extra-long staple grown cotton and its processing. The staple fibers are 10% longer than other regular staple cotton. This makes it stronger and durable, a great addition to your quilt kit.

King Tut quilting threads are available as Solid, Tone on Tone, or Variegated colors on 500yd spools.

This demonstration shows this quilting thread in use.

Benefits:

      • Perfect Growing Conditions
      • Has Low Lint
      •  Increased Twist
      • Mercerized Cotton makes it smooth and strong
      • Extra-Long Staple
      • Precision-Dyed with even, one-inch color change intervals
      • Gassed Cotton resulting in a brighter and smoother appearance

      5. YLI Machine Quilting Thread

YLI machine quilting thread gray
Image Source: Weekend Kits

YLI Quilting Thread is a medium-weight, high-quality, variegated Egyptian cotton thread commonly used for decorative quilting. It is unglazed, making it ideal for both hand and machine quilting.

YLI brand is popular for having one of the best machine quilting threads on the market. It is a high-quality 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton with a range of solid and variegated colors. The Long-staple cotton property means it is specifically designed for the machine and has longer fibers that keep it from breaking easily when quilting.  The thread is a perfect choice for appliqué and machine quilting and works well with various quilting fabric bundles.

Other brands with some of the best quilting threads for hands and machines are Americana quilting thread and Sulky. Americana quilting thread is a better choice for hand quilting. It is made with 100% glazed cotton, making it easy to pull through your quilt layers when you are hand quilting. 

If you want cotton’s warm, soft, natural look and feel with a matte finish, go for Sulky Cotton Threads. They are designed from long-staple, highly mercerized, 100% Egyptian cotton thread. Sulky is versatile for serging, handwork, quilting, embroidery, crafting, and much more. They add the perfect pizazz to any quilter’s work.

How To Choose a Quilting Thread

Choosing the right thread for a project can be overwhelming, especially if you have a large variety. However, you can simplify the process by considering the following key factors.

Quilting Thread Weight

Most threads come with indicators and numbers stamped or printed on the edge, the top, or the bottom of the spool.  As much as there are different indicators like the manufacturer, the color, the yardage, and others, you should never ignore the quilting thread weight printed as WT.

The quilting thread weight is a number that indicates its thickness. The measurement system of thread weights runs backward such that the lower the number, the heavier the weight. So a 30-weight thread is heavier than a 40-weight thread, and the heavier thread will be more visible and prominent in your quilt.

Thicker threads are more popular for quilt decorations than thinner ones that complement the quilt colors. If you want your quilting to show, use a thicker thread. If you like more texture, use a thinner thread.

An example of a thread weight table

Thickness

Weight

Purpose

Light

60

Appliqué and bobbin

Thin

50

Appliqué and bobbin

Regular

40

Quilting, all-purpose

Upholster, heavy

30

Decorations

Heavy duty

20

Decorations

Thread Material

Threads are made of different fibers. While it’s easier to just match the thread content with the fabric content, you still need to know and understand the various thread materials available before choosing which one to use on your quilt.

Cotton threads are strong, soft and durable, and can stand the pressure of heat from an iron, compared to polyester thread, which is important when pressing linen and some types of cotton fabrics. It is versatile and has almost no stretch, making it a good choice for delicate sewing fabrics, lingerie, and heavy-duty quilting projects. You can use cotton to make pre-quilted fabric for a project. 

Some cotton thread brands are coarse, while others have a silk finish, making it perfect for basting, gathering, and hand finishing as it easily glides through the fabrics.

A polyester thread is a fine synthetic, all-purpose fiber with a wax or silicone finish that allows it to glide through the fabric with ease, giving it a little shine. Compared to cotton fiber, polyester has a little stretch which helps prevent breakage when working with stretchy knits, it sheds less lint, and it is less expensive.

Silk thread is a fine fiber, perfect for quilting silk fabric. It rarely leaves marks or holes on the fabric, perfect for fine fabrics and basting. It is possible to mold silk thread into shape with iron without the natural fibers snapping due to excessive ironing. Silk thread has long been considered the best for hand appliqué.

Clear thread for quilting, also called monofilament thread, appears invisible when stitched into the fabric. It is much thinner than most quilting threads. It is almost similar to quilting with normal nylon or polyester thread; the main difference is the thread weight of Clear.

When using a translucent monofilament thread in the clear or a darker smoke color, both of which are see-through, remember the darker smoke color blends better with dark fabrics. You can use the regular polyester thread as the bobbin thread when using Clear thread for quilting or use more monofilament thread. This product has some natural stretch, so wind it slowly if you use it in the bobbin.

Thread Color

With thread colors, there are no rules for right and wrong choice, only your choice of which one you like best and where you’d like the quilting to show.

To decide on a quilting thread color, lay and audition several threads on top of the quilt project and go with the one you like best, considering whether you want the emphasis on quilting or piecing. You can either match a color within the quilt or use a neutral tone.

Also, consider the colors in the backing as a quilting thread that is visible on the quilt backing fabric will also show any knots, mistakes, or wobbles in the project.

Durability

This is a key factor to consider when choosing a quilting thread. You don’t want your threads to wear away over time and fray easily. This can affect the look, and the line can also break. Along with this, your thread should have the high tensile strength to not snap under the minimum weight.

Best Needles for Hand Quilting

The relationship between a sewing needle and a thread is essential to successful sewing or quilting. As important as choosing the best thread for quilting fabric is, it is equally important to choose the best needle for the thread you are using. Whether a professional or a beginner learning how to sew with hands, these needles are a great selection.

Two key factors often determine needle selection:

    1. the thread to be used and
    2. the fabric to be sewn or quilted.

Sewing needles come with different eye shapes and sizes, each made to suit the type of yarn, thread, or other material you’re using and enabling the threaded needle to go through the fabric being sewn with as much ease as possible. 

Check out this video on selecting quilting and sewing needles.

Needle

Description

Betweens

These are short, sturdy needles designed for hand quilting. Their short stature and small eye enable them to slide through multiple quilt sandwich layers easily. Some betweens are designed with a slightly larger eye, making the needles easier to thread.

Sharps 

Sharps are thin hand sewing needles with a round eye. They are versatile and somewhat longer than an all-purpose needle.

Milliners Needles

Also called straw needles, milliners are very similar to sharps but longer. They are great for basting tasks and learning how to appliqué on a quilt. They are a good choice when hand-sewing binding to your quilts. 

Sashiko Needles

Sashiko is a long needle with lengths of 2 inches or more. They have very small eyes and are therefore meant for finer threads. 

Embroidery Needles

These are perfectly designed for when quilting with a heavier thread. They have big eyes that can easily accommodate a thicker thread. They are also a good choice for larger stitches for a bold, hand-quilted design.

Longs

Longs are used for basting quilt layers together or tying quilts. With lengths above 3 inches, they are sturdy and unlikely to bend. Their size and length allow you to make many stitches quickly and easily through all of the layers.

Conclusion

With the wide range of threads available in the market right now, it is safe to say that there’s something for every quilter; whether you desire to learn how to make a T-shirt quilt, how to make a tie quilt, how to make a rag quilt, how to make a barn quilt, or simply how to quilt as you go. The most suitable thread for quilting depends on your needs and preferences and how you wish your quilt to turn out.

When trying out new threads, take time to determine what works best for you and your machine. When you are unsure how your quilt will turn out with a new thread, use a new needle and test out your threads first on some leftover fabrics. Have fun quilting!

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