Quilting Blog

All About Threads: Threads for Piecing and Quilting

There are many options available when selecting threads for piecing and quilting. Beautiful threads in a rainbow of colors aren’t just pretty to look at. Threads are the workhorses of your projects, and it’s important to know what type of thread to use for quilting and piecing.

Here are some suggestions and tips for choosing the correct thread for your project.

1. If you are using high-quality quilting fabric, be sure to piece your projects with a high-quality thread.

When piecing with 100% cotton fabric, it is important to use a 100% cotton thread. Choose a neutral color (many quilters use white, cream or gray for all of their quilting projects) or choose a thread to match the fabrics you’ll be sewing.

Good quality cotton threads produce less lint than lower quality cotton threads and are visibly “smoother” than the lower grades of cotton thread. High-quality threads, which produce less lint, are also good for your sewing machine.

A few excellent choices for piecing are Aurifil Mako 50 weight cotton thread and our exclusive Craftsy Pima Thread. Both threads are smooth and fine, while at the same time being strong and durable.

Craftsy Thread on Thread Stand

2. When looking for a thread to use for regular machine quilting, a 40 weight cotton thread is an excellent choice.

Because the 40 weight cotton thread is heavier than the finer 50 weight cotton thread, quilting stitches will show up more easily on the quilt. While the 40 weight cotton is heavier than the thread you’ll want to use for piecing, it is still thin enough to easily be used in home sewing machines.

You may need to make slight adjustments to the tension setting on your machine when quilting and sewing with 40 weight and heavier threads.

3. For hand-quilting, use an even heavier thread, such as an all-cotton 28 weight thread.

The threads used for hand quilting need to be able to withstand the stress of pulling and stretching. Some quilters also like to use wax on their thread when hand-quilting to help the heavier thread glide easily through the fabric. Thread Heaven is one product specifically designed to condition thread, making hand quilting an easier task.

Many long-arm quilters like to use specialty polyester and metallic threads in order to achieve a variety of effects with their custom quilt designs. Superior Threads makes a variety of these specialty threads that are perfect for long-arm specialty quilting.

4. For binding, use the same thread weight used for piecing.

Also be sure to match closely the color of your binding thread to the binding fabric.

Craftsy Pima Thread in Shades of Blue and Purple

5. There are also several thread options for appliqué projects.

Using 50 weight 100% cotton threads in a color matching the appliqué piece is an excellent choice. However, some quilters prefer to use silk threads for appliqué. Silk is another strong natural fiber that comes in a variety of weights and colors. Many quilters feel that silk threads practically “melt” into the fabrics, making them nearly invisible and the perfect choice for hand and machine appliqué.

You may also enjoy my tips for choosing quilting pins and needles.

Craftsy Pima Thread

Introducing Craftsy Pima Thread

Featuring a curated array of strong 50wt pima thread in 60+ colors, it’s ultra long-lasting and engineered for smooth movement on any machine.Learn More

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2013 and was updated in February 2018.



After years of sewing I knew that the thread made a difference but I did not know how to apply this to my new hobby of quilting. Thanks for answering all my unasked questions.


Love Masterpiece by Superior threads. I’ve used Aurifil, Prescencia, Gutterman’s, but the thread from Superior is, well, superior! They also have a huge amount of info on their website about thread, so you can get a good education by poking around there. Thanks to Wendy Butler Berns for mentioning it in her Craftsy class.


This article is very helpful. I always use fifty weight for my piecing. It really peices well. Do you have a recommendation of thread to use for machine embroidery? Thanks for your help.


I’ve read through the tips about thread and which to use on different projects… I need to know if anyone has used floriani embroidery thread for machine quilting??

Sally Freshwater

In answer to your question, I have used Floriani for machine quilting with no problem. I didn’t encounter any breakage or pulling of thread.


I am a long arm quilter and have used Floriani embroidery thread on a couple of tops. Do you think it is strong enough to put onto a baby quilt? Like the sheen since it is similar to Magnifico with Superior and I already own over 150 spools of Floriani

Sandra Grace Darlington

I haven’t used it…yet, but I know people who do use it and are happy with the outcome. Test it out on a “practice” piece before committing to a large project.


I have recently quilted with this thread and it was really nice. Looks great and had little to no breakage as I went. I love this brand!


I agree that silk thread is perfect for applique, it really does “melt” into the project. I love Superior thread for all of my quilting projects. Like fabric, I can look at all the gorgeous colors and it makes me feel good. Next up is using the twin needle function on my machine, sounds like it will make a beautiful statement; but I’m also a tad anxious about doing it. Well nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thank you for all the info, it helps.

Ida Wallace

I am new to Aurifil thread. I ordered some and it has arrived. I bought 50 weight before I realized that 40 weight was suggested for machine quilting. Do you think it will make a huge difference?

Lynn Marie Buckley

I use 50 wt for both piecing and quilting. When using it for quilting, I personally love the way the 50wt sinks into the quilt. It is the BEST for piecing as it is the finest 50wt thread. Believe it or not there is no law that a thread labeled 50 wt has to be a certain thickness. It is left up to the manufacturer. The Italians really know how to make their thread the finest. They double mercerize so it has absolutely no nubs and it holds the color better than others.


A friend of mine gave me a spool of Aurifil and I love it! The best thread for all my quilting needs. Thanks Aurifil.

used combines

Hi, the whole thing iis going sound here and ofcourse egery one is sharing data, that’s genuinely fine, keep up writing.


Where did you get the round bobbin holder? I love it!


Fat quarter shop has them. I just got one in my monthly see sampler kit. So handy!! #sewsampler


Considering I am a newbie to quilting and didn’t know any better, I bought a bunch of Robison-Anton thread, along with a few spools by Sulky. All are rayon or polyester; no cotton. I am at a point where I will be ‘quilting’ my quilt (stitching in the ditch), which is 100% cotton (JoAnn Batik fabric). Will rayon or polyester work with 100% cotton? Thanks to anyone who responds. 😀


You’ll have better long term results if you use like materials. Use cotton thread on cotton fabric.

Donna Lee

Most quilters believe that only cotton thread should be used on cotton fabric. Others say that polyester thread is fine or indeed better since it is less linty. In the end it’s really your preference. Cotton is best for an heirloom quilt, polyester is fine for a child’s quilt that will be washed again and again. I use a good quality cotton thread like Aurifil or Mettler just to be safe (plus my sewing machine is picky!).

Robison-Anton rayon is a great choice for machine appliqué, so you’ve already got it on hand for your next appliqué project.

D Henry

Try breaking the thread between your fingers. You are going to find that the rayon is VERY fragile. I find it will not be hardwearing enough to hold a quilt together. It is usually made for machine embroidery only. All of the Sulky brand threads are also designed for decorative work and are not sturdy enough to serve as quilting threads–even their 30 weight cotton is pretty softly spun–so it breaks between the fingers fairly easily. Great for wall hangings or decorative quilting techniques (like background fills or thread painting) but not for holding the quilt together. If you plan on SID quilting to hold the quilt together, I recommend Superior So Fine or Bottom Line. Both are fine polyester threads designed to hold your work together. Bottom line is finer than So Fine so it may bury itself in the ditch, if that’s the look you are going for.

And it is fine to use poly threads on cotton fibers. The modern threads are made to break like cotton so they will not cut the quilt, and modern sewing machines are tensioned at the factory to work with 50 weight poly thread in the default setting. Most importantly, pick a good needle to work with whatever thread you choose. Look for mfger recommendations on their websites. I find a topstitch needle works great because of the bigger eye–less stress on the thread!

Good luck!


I’m new to quilting but have over 100 colours of Thread Art embroidery thread (polyester 40wt). Do you think it will hold up for machine quilting? Thanks!

Cindy Pieters

I have had a very bad experience with threads on my latest machine. A well known name brand thread no matter what I do continues to shred or break. How does Craftsy thread hold up? I have had success with Aurifil.

Pat Evans

I believe Thread Heaven mentioned in #3, is no longer being produced. You may still be able to find it in some shops or online.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply