Needles and thread

I was going to talk about basting a large quilt, but I think I will come back to that later.

One of the most important aspects of machine quilting on a domestic sewing machine,is what kind of thread are you going to use. And then depending on what kind of thread you use will determine what kind of needles that you will use.

There are all kinds of thread to use when you are machine quilting and the best advice is to try them out and see if you like them.

I personally like to use either rayon, cotton or silk thread, but there are many other choices. A good place to check out threads is at your local quilt store, or at a quilt show. There are always vendors who sell threads and you should try different kinds and see what kind of results you get with them.


When I am using rayon thread I use an embroidery needle, it has a deep thread groove and larger eye for synthetic embroidery threads.

When I use silk thread I use a Sharp (Microtex) needle a very sharp point.

And when I use cotton thread I use a quilting needle, designed with special taper to the point for quilting through thick areas.

If I was to use Metalic thread I would use a Metafil needle it is a sharp point embroidery needle for synthetic threads.

If I used monofilament I would use either the Metafil or the Microtex.

Choosing the right tools for the right job is very important.

These are all sharp shank needles designed to pierce through multiple layers of fabric. You should not be using a universal needle, that is what you piece with. It is designed to separate the fibers in the fabric while you sew. And by the way sewing machine needles are designed to last only about 8 hours worth of sewing time and then they begin to wear and you should change them out.

When you dispose of your needles and used rotary blades I like to put them in a container rather then directly in the garbage.

IMG_0762 The thread used to go up the stem of these flowers is a 30 weight rayon thread.

Before I begin any quilting project I make a sample quilt sandwich out the fabric I will be quilting on with the same kind of batting and backing and do a test run with my threads and needles to make sure the tension is good on my machine and to also make sure that I like the thread I have picked out for the project.

Top This is a sample of just plain old stippleing. Warming up and checking my thread tension before I begin.

I like to use cotton in my bobbin. But again there are many choices you can have for bobbin thread. I use a lighter weight cotton in the bobbin than the thread that is on the top and I use the same color on top and bottom. You can also try using the same thread top and bottom if they are a thinner weight thread.

The weight of the thread is listed in numbers and they vary. 50 3ply mercerized cotton thread is good for construction of quilts and for quilting of medium weight cotton.

I like to use a 30 weight rayon thread. The smaller the number the thicker the thread. I use this for decorative stitching and to add a bolder statement to my quilting.

I also like to use silk thread it is usually a very thin thread and will recede into the background of your quilt.

Each thread type and style will give a different affect. You will need to experiment to find what you like to use.

A good resource for thread is the Superior Thread website. They have a wonderful resource page that tells you what needles to use with which of their threads.

And of course a great resource is Harriet Hargrave’s book on Heirloom Machine Quilting. I think it is now in it’s4th edition. I own a copy and refer to it all the time.

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