Wednesday, November 04, 2020


The different types and brands of thread that we use for sewing and quilting fascinate me.  Some quilters swear by one or two brands and never vary.  Others use what is least expensive.  I have a variety of threads that I have amassed in my stash.  Which one to use - and why?  I can't offer any answers but I know that some are better for different things.  

My Public Library has a "Things" collection that can be borrowed.  One of the things that interested my geeky mind was a USB digital microscope. I had no plans when I borrowed it a couple of days ago.  Then inspiration hit. What if......  What if I put threads from various manufacturers  side by side under the microscope?  What would I see?  

Gathering a variety of threads from whatever was close at hand, I put together an interesting collection. 
The players are: Glide (polyester)in a cream "linen" color.  Aurifil 50 weight in a medium blue. A Coats machine quilting cotton in variegated reds, another Coats machine quilting cotton in orange. And a purple Essential cotton from Connecting Threads.  (the burgundy colored  one was just for label reference in the photo.) 

Let us look closely at these players. 
You can see that the cream colored Glide polyester shows almost no loose fibers but is less twisted than the others. This is probably due to difference in fiber type.
The purple CT Essential thread is twisted tightly  and shows some fibers peeking out. The orange Coats machine quilting cotton thread was a surprise in that it shows almost no loose fibers.  You may notice that it isn't twisted as tightly as the Essential thread.  The blue Aurifil 50 weight shows more loose fibers than I expected in this photo. It has a nice medium twist that is somewhere between the Essential and the Coats. 

This photo uses the same blue Aurifil for reference since the red Coats thread was picked later.  I was trying to find a different Coats that wasn't a machine quilting thread but I must have put that somewhere "safe" as I could not put my hand on it.  
Notice that the Aurifil shows no loose fibers in this photo - I have no idea why. Perhaps  the bit closer to the end had been handled more and was frayed a bit.  The red Coats is twisted more tightly, consistent with the orange Coats. Again there are virtually no loose fibers. 

All of these threads were purchased or given to me.  I am not being sponsored by any of these vendors/manufacturers.  The simple fact is that I was curious and had the right tool to look at them. And of course, I thought that some of you might find it interesting also. 

What does it all mean?  I don't know.  I do know that loose fibers in a thread create more lint.  If you use a "linty" thread you will need to clean out your machine more frequently.  As a side note, quilting through batting pushes more fibers into the machine also.  So clean the bobbin area more frequently when doing that. 
What will I change based on this?  Honestly, I will continue to use all of these threads.  I was surprised that the diameters don't seem to vary much on any of this lot.  That means they are all acceptable for piecing. Personally,  I prefer one of the cottons for piecing and would not use the poly for that. However, I love the Glide poly for quilting. 

I hope I didn't bore you too badly.  Now you know that I am very geeky in some ways. I am always ready to learn something that relates to things I do.  I hope you are also. 
In a few days, I plan to get back to sewing/quilting. Looking at these threads was inspirational for me. 

Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 

Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.


A Left-Handed Quilter said...

Geeky is good! I'm a MATH geek - but geeky just the same - LOL. I think your thread "analysis" was very interesting. I knew about the "twist" and the "ply" and loose fibers - but had never seen them under a microscope. Could the "sameness" in the diameter be due to them being the same "weight" - or is that something different? - ;))

Barbara said...

Who would have thought to do a post on magnified threads?! Not boring, and heartening to know I have company overthinking sometimes. Haha. Oh, also, I’ve learned “Glide” is more than a tooth floss! 🤣

Pamela Arbour said...

That was very interesting, Gene. Thanks for sharing. Great use of the microscope!

Frog Quilter said...

I found your post interesting like the others before me.

Debbie said...

Good post! My rule of thumg is to clean bobbin every time I change it....saves money on machine service. Also, be sure to use quality fabric. Some are big lint producers!

Quilting Gail said...

Love this post ...
I was very interested in how the Coats compared to Aurifil and Glide!
None of my machines like Coats: old singers (FW), newer Janomes. But they all seem to like Aurifil and Glide ... interesting!
Happy Quilting! :-)

Kathleen said...

That is a fun little experiment. Coats has done a lot of "upgrading" in the last couple of years. I haven't really tried their thread in a long time, so it may be that it is vastly improved.

KathyCrawford said...

Now I would wonder about the amount of lint produced by the various threads. Do the cheaper threads produce more lint? I would suspect that they do.