Friday, November 5, 2021

Let's Talk Piecing Thread on Off the Wall Friday


Okay, I know fusing  quilt tops is popular with the time-crunched quilters of today....very popular.  But there are still those of us that are doing a lot of piecing.  I love to piece.  I love the texture that extra layer of fabric adds with the seams.  You can feel it every time you run your fingers over your work.  

All of this came to me this week, as I spent time hand piecing my pinwheels.  It's amazing what you think of when you quietly make stitch after stitch after stitch after stitch.  From there I got to thinking about the thread I was using and how different it was from my machine piecing thread.  For the pinwheels, I've been using a Wonderfil DecoBob  80 wt polyester and WoW!  what a

difference it's made in my English paper piecing.  

If the DecoBob made such a difference in my handwork, would changing my machine piecing thread make a difference too?  I mean, 50 wt cotton thread is 50 wt cotton thread, right?  Well, it turns out, after some investigation the answer is no.  

I took some time to research the most popular piecing threads that are being used by today's quilter.  I chose 50 wt since that is the weight I use.  Here's what I found.... 

Aurifil -2 ply Egyptian Cotton, Long staple...comes in 270 colors...made in Italy

Superior (Masterpiece) - 3 ply  Egyptian Extra Long  Staple ...comes in 79 colors  (I could not find where their thread is made)

Gutermann - Long Staple Cotton...comes in 240 colors...(I could not find if it was 2 or 3 ply, also where it was manufactured)

Wonderfil Konfetti - 3 ply Egyptian Long  Staple Cotton - 60 colors - made in Canada

A&E Signature - 3 ply Egyptian  Extra Long Staple  - 96 colors made in the USA

Mettler - Silk Finished - 2 ply Egyptian Long Staple - 250 colors - made in Germany

If anybody knows some of the information I couldn't find like what ply or manufacturing country please let me know and I'll edit the list.

Now, I know what you're thinking ...Nina what does all that mean ??....well I'll tell you.

Apparently, cotton grown in Egypt is the best in the world since it has the longest strands.  Longer strands means smoother thread.  Smoother thread means stronger thread with less lint.  Cotton is classified in 3 categories - Extra Long Cotton, Long Cotton and Short Cotton.  As the ranking implies Extra Long Cotton will create the strongest, smoothest thread.

Then there is the ply.  2 ply means that they take 2 strands and twist them to make your thread.  3 ply will make a stronger thread.  Both are very fine and smooth but 3 ply will always be stronger.

All these cottons are mercerized which gives them a smooth finished.

I found these facts interesting.  I mean, can the average quilter actually tell the difference between a 2 ply and a 3 ply?  Will having a Extra long Staple make a difference than a long staple?  I found it interesting that my guess for the most popular  - Aurifil  - has only 2 ply   - long cotton staple.  It boasts of low lint, but it stands to reason that a 2 ply thread will create less lint than a 3 ply.  Also, my guess is that its the most expensive with the biggest marketing budget.

I've used all of these threads at one time or another.  For years and years, I swore by signature piecing thread.  I would buy big cones of it and never had a problem with it.  About 5 years ago, I switched to aurifil and had the same great result.  I think the reason I switched was that it was more readily available at the the time hmmmmm and on sale.

I have tried the sample of Kofetti but not to a great extent.  I didn't care for gutermann since I got a lot of breakage.  Last on my list was the Mettler.  Don't ask me why but  the thread was just too "silky" to

easily use.   I got a lot of breakage - tangling with hand sewing and it was generally a pain.  I literally threw out any last spools of it.

Also, I want to mention that I don't have a big "stash" of piecing thread.  I normally just keep big cones of the white, light grey, dark grey and black handy.  

After this exploration, I'm thinking I'm going to try going back to Signature.  Not only do I like it's stats but I also like the fact it's American made.  Maybe I'll get a cone of it in and test it side by side against the aurifil....I'll let you know.



Okay tell me....What are your experiences with piecing thread?  Does it change with the project or with machine.  Does price play into it??  Or the ease of where to buy it?

Let Me Know!! 




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Gretchen Weaver said...

I've been using Aurifil for years for piecing. Maybe I'll try Signature sometime but not sure where it's available around here. Most of the local stores carry Aurifil. Happy stitching!

Jody said...

I haven't done much handsewing for quite some time but am looking to start with EPP shortly. I am going to try the Auriful 80 for that.
For machine piecing I prefer Mettler. But I haven't really tried anything other than that or Guterman for piecing. And none of my machines seem to care for Guterman. Tangling, breakage, it is nearly always a mess.

I will watch to see what your results are.

Have a wonderful weekend!

DVArtist said...

Very informative post. Thank you.

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

The only hand sewing I do is finishing bindings and I use Mettler 90% of the time. My 50 wt. Silk Finish thread says 3 ply on the spool. They do make a 2 ply 60 wt. which is great for hand basting my quilts. As long as I knot the end that I just cut off the spool I don't get tangling.

Margaret said...

I'm a Superior fan! I must say, it had to do -- at least in part -- with watching early episodes of The Quilt Show, when "Bob [Purcell] The Thread Guy" appeared every once in a while and did vignettes on different types of thread and their uses. He and his wife founded Superior Threads. I began with a "try me" pack, and with sourcing locally -- hard to do because I live in The Middle of Nowhere in western Canada. However, there are a couple of Canadian suppliers from which I've purchased what I need at their quilt show booth (remember those, those of you who've not been to a quilt show in over almost 3 years?) and online. I use MasterPiece, So Fine and King Tut -- the latter mainly for my art quilts (I make landscapes, among other things and these are wonderful for that.

Why not -- because I'm Canadian -- use a Canadian-made thread -- i.e., Wonderfil? Because I don't like the "put up" -- that is, the way it's wound on the smaller "spools". I like a spool that looks like a more traditional spool -- and my King Tut and Bottom line threads come that way. So do the few spools of Sulky that I own. Even the Gutterman and Mettler in my modest collection have spools that have tops and bottoms! The topless and bottom-less spools put out by Wonderfil and Aurifil? I've had them unravel too quickly whether standing up or lying down. The thread itself might be great, but if it threatens to make a tangled mess while I'm sewing...or while standing/lying quietly in my thread drawer -- not happenin'!

Tried 'em; will us 'em up; won't buy 'em again.

Leisa♠ said...

I'll start out with saying that I machine everything, so I will never hand piece anything.

Wonderfil Decobob is my go-to piecing thread. It is fine, strong, and sews beautifully. You may need to make some bobbin tension adjustments. 70-80 Microtex needles work well. Love it for FPP (will never do EPP).

I also use Decobob for quilting (top+bottom or bottom only). I really love this thread--and a light gray gets you through just about any piecing (even black). I

I appreciate your thread talk as I think so much old lore is brought forward that really impugns the reputation of the high quality polyester threads currently available. Straightforward testing/discussion helps dispel bad info.