Needles & Threads! Oh My! Part 3

Time for Part 3 of the Needles & Threads extravaganza!! Today, the amazing Kelly Wood is sharing her extensive knowledge of quilting threads! Kelly knows A LOT about fibers and was kind enough to share her knowledge with the Machine Quilting Bee last Saturday. And let me share it with you today!! Here’s Kelly!


Kelly started with telling us about the make up of the fibers. There are two types of threads: natural and synthetic. Natural fibers include cotton, silk and wool. Synthetic includes polyester and rayon. Rayon is made from wood pulp (which is natural), but is man made.

The threads are formed with different processes in addition to being different fibers. Cotton fibers can be spun from long staple or short staple. Long staple means longer pieces of cotton fibers which means stronger thread and less lint! Typically, the longer staple means nicer thread, while shorter means less expensive and more breakage. Silk is a filament thread which is one long strand. Polyester can be spun or a filament. And because Rayon is weak when wet (and doesn’t recover strength), it should only be used for an art quilt that will not be washed.

The higher the thread weight, the finer the thread. Unfortunately, the weights are assigned by individual companies and not universal. Typically, a 50 wt cotton will be similar to a 40 wt polyester.

Kelly showcased her favorites! She used all neutrals so that we would not be sidetracked by bright colors:) And she showed different quilting patterns to showcase each thread.

Soft Touch Bobbin Thread Polyester 60 wt, YLI Silk 100 wt & Aurifil Cotton 50 wt


Polyester 40 wt, YLI Cotton 40 wt & King Tut Cotton 40 wt


Signature Cotton 40 wt & Sulky 12 wt


Kelly also suggests Sewer’s Aid. She runs three stripes along the spool from top to bottom. She says this can prevent lint and help a thread run smoothly through the machine. I’ve never used it, but I’m looking forward to trying it!


Thanks for sharing your samples and knowledge Kelly! It’s really nice to see what everything looks like quilted, especially since her quilting is so beautiful!!
xo LC

5 thoughts on “Needles & Threads! Oh My! Part 3

  1. If you can’t use rayon thread in something that’s going to be washed, then why is Madeira embroidery thread rayon?

    • Madeira rayon threads were originally intended for badge/patch embroidery. You can find their laundering information here: Please note, if you read the small print, they stress that unless the laundering instructions are followed, they can not guarantee the thread’s integrity.
      If you are embroidering items that will receive a lot of wear and washing, polyester is a better, and more user-friendly choice. Polyester threads can take the washing better!

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