Some quilters don’t think so. There was a common myth that polyester thread is not good to use for quilting on cotton fabrics. If you want the truth of the matter, please read on.
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Can you use polyester thread for quilting?
You can use polyester thread for quilting. Many quilters use it for different stages of quilting like piecing, quilting, and binding. Some quilters are hesitant to use polyester thread for quilting because of the myth that it can rip the fabric of a quilt.
Quilt historians had invalidated the myth about polyester thread cutting on cotton fabrics. They studied carefully the quilts made in the 1950s when polyester was starting to be used widely. The polyester thread did not cut on the cotton fabric even after more than 50 years. So, there is no valid proof that polyester thread can rip the fabric of a quilt. The polyester thread makes the quilt even more sturdy and long-lasting.
When thread manufacturers introduced polyester thread, there were microscopic sharp edges. Some quilters believed that they cut through quilting fabric. But decades have gone by, and the quality of polyester threads nowadays had improved so much from when it started. Polyester threads of today are even indistinguishable from cotton thread. The sharp edges observed from polyester threads from decades ago are a thing of the past.
The modern polyester thread is, in fact, an ideal thread for quilting. It is best to use when you are working on a quilt that will go through hundreds of washings in its lifetime. Polyester threads hold up better than cotton threads, making your quilt more durable.
Can I use polyester thread on cotton fabric?
You can use polyester thread on cotton fabric. You will not find strict and written rules about using polyester thread on cotton fabric. There is only an old wives’ tale that says polyester thread can rip through the cotton fabric.
Although it is wonderful to use thread with the same material as the fabric (ex. cotton on cotton), it is not always workable. There may be times that the supplies you want are not available. Sometimes your quilting budget may not cover everything that your quilt project requires. You only need to find ways that would work best for you.
The polyester thread is one of the go-to threads of quilters today. It is stronger, produces less lint, and more affordable than most quilting cotton threads. A polyester thread is also ideal because it is colorfast, easier to tension, and does not change due to weather conditions.
Maybe some quilters think that polyester thread may rip the cotton fabric because, over time, cotton fabrics will degrade. But the polyester thread will stay strong. It is normal that coming from natural fiber; the cotton fabric will get damaged faster than the synthetic polyester thread.
But it is also good to note that while polyester threads improved through the years, enhanced cotton fabrics exist as well.
Should I use polyester or cotton thread for quilting?
You can use either polyester or cotton thread for quilting. But your option will depend on the type of quilt you are making. If your quilt will go through many uses and washings throughout the years, it is wiser to use a type of thread that can hold up your quilt for a long time, a quality typical to polyester thread.
If the quilt you are making is more of a decorative one, you can opt for the thread, which would look great on your quilt. Cotton thread has a nice texture which makes it a great quilting material.
But the choice for quilting thread still relies on different factors such as the design of your quilt, fabric type, quilting budget and many more. To help you choose which thread type would be best for your quilt, here are the qualities of polyester and cotton threads that you can ponder on.
Polyester Quilting Threads
Polyester is a synthetic all-purpose thread.
It costs slightly less than cotton thread but does not mean that it is of less quality.
Polyester is a stronger thread than cotton thread and is designed for heavy-duty use.
You can find polyester threads in significantly smaller size spools than cotton thread spools.
The polyester thread is strong, even the thinner weight threads like the 100wt polyester thread. Cotton thread at 100wt will not be as strong as the same thread made of polyester.
Polyester threads can hold color pigment longer and retain color through many washes.
There are polyester thread types you can use that will not show on your quilt. With polyester, you can choose from various finishes from matte, medium, or high sheen.
Polyester is also not affected by moisture, mildew, rot, and most insects.
Some polyester threads are ideal for piecing. They make the seam lay flatter, making the quilt’s piecing look better and making it easier to line up quilt block patterns.
Cotton Quilting Threads
Cotton is the traditional choice quilting thread. The thread is made from natural fiber from the cotton tree. And it gives a matte look because it is made from a natural material.
The distinct feature of cotton thread is its texture and non-reflective matte finish. This thread quality allows it to blend into the fabric better.
The cotton thread may be slightly more expensive than a polyester thread of similar quality.
It has zero-stretch to the thread, which is a perfect quality for quilts. No stretch on the threads prevents wrinkling after it has been washed or used. It also makes it easier to sew with.
Cotton thread is a versatile option that most people use from piecing to quilting and has been used in this fiber craft for thousands of years.
Can you use polyester thread for quilt piecing?
You can use polyester thread for piecing your quilts. It is one of the best choice threads of quilters for piecing quilt blocks because it makes the seam lay flatter and not bunching up.
The polyester thread is an ideal thread for piecing. A thin polyester thread of 80wt is perfect to use because smooth and flat seams make quilt piecing look better.
Quilters like the polyester thread for piecing because it is lint-free. Since it has less lint, there is no need to clean the bobbin as often. The lint build-up in your machine is significantly reduced.
Another good thing about polyester is its high tensile strength. Your stitches will last longer than those stitches made using threads from natural fibers.
Aside from piecing, polyester is also perfect for quilting. There are two types of polyester threads you can use for quilting.
- Cottonized Polyester Thread
- Trilobal Polyester Thread
The name may make you think that it has cotton combined. But cottonized polyester thread is 100% polyester. It has been treated to take all the stretches from the thread, making it incredible to sew with.
These qualities are most similar to cotton, and the thread type is called such because of its cotton-like qualities. Treating the thread makes it lose most of its shine. The thread has a matte finish that lets it hide in the fabric. But comparing cotton and cottonized thread stitches side by side, you can still see more sheen on the cottonized thread.
If you want a polyester thread that stands out a little more, try the trilobal polyester thread. Most threads are round in shape, but a trilobal polyester thread is triangular. This thread property reflects more light from its surface, giving it a shine that you cannot find on the cottonized polyester thread.
Polyester is safe to quilt and will not damage your fabric. It is the reason why quilters are apprehensive of using it for quilting and use cotton instead. Polyester was believed to cut through cotton fabrics decades ago. But polyester thread quality has changed remarkably over the past decades. So, the myth of polyester ripping cotton fabric must be forever shelved.
What is the best thread to use for quilting?
Cotton thread is considered the best thread choice for quilting, be it by hand or machine quilting. It is ideal because of its strength, high heat resistance, and versatility.
The polyester thread is an all-purpose choice for quilters, and cotton-polyester thread is mostly used for different stages of quilting by quilters who do not have much choice.
Some threads are best used to attach fabrics, while other threads provide the design elements you want on your quilts.
Quilting experts suggest 2-ply 50 or 60wt thread for piecing because it creates a true quarter-inch seam. It would also be best to use the same weight of thread on the top and bottom of your quilt to keep a good tension on the quilt top.
Choosing your quilting thread, on the other hand, is mostly based on personal preference. If you want your stitches hidden on your quilt top fabric, you can use 80 to 100wt thread. Also, if you use this thread weight and a similar color to your quilt top, you can add texture to your quilt top without changing its color.
But if you want colorful quilting, you must choose a heavier-weight thread. A 30wt thread will not settle on the quilt top but will add color and design instead. If you want your quilting lines bolder, you can choose a heavier thread weight like 12wt. You can also add sheen or effects to your designs by using specialty threads like metallic threads.
Here are a few general thread rules to guide you in choosing the best thread for your quilting project.
- In picking the right color, choose the thread that is one shade darker than the fabric.
- It is best to match the thread weight to the fabric weight so your quilt can retain its form.
- As much as possible, try to match thread fiber to fabric fiber. It is advised not to sew synthetic threads on natural fibers.
- Read thread labels properly. There are threads labeled for machine quilting or hand quilting.
- The amount of spin of the thread fibers is also an important factor to consider. When a thread has many twists, it will be smoother, shinier and stronger than a thread with little or no twist.
With so many options to choose from, it may be overwhelming to find your best thread for quilting. Your thread choice depends on whether you want the emphasis on piecing or on quilting. Take useful hints from quilting experts on the best threads to use for quilt piecing, quilting, and binding. Then, match them with your quilting budget and your style. You will arrive at the best quilting thread that you would want for your quilt.