I would like to talk about my knowledge of thread, I would love it if you would add your knowledge also.
When I first started quilt making I mainly worked by hand, so I learnt about hand quilting threads, piecing threads and embroidery threads. I then moved on to a new sewing machine which I loved and started to learn more about using my machine for most of my quilt making work.
I now use a wide variety of threads, and I have gathered a large collection. Somehow I never seem to have the right colour or type and I am always learning more.
My favourite threads to date, ( I say to date as this may change at any time ) are:
For piecing I prefer to use a 50/2 100% cotton, both in the top and the bobbin. I find a finner thread sinks into the seam and reduces the bulk. This maybe harder to unpick if you should need to but overall it is worth the extra effort. With this I use a finner needle 70 sharp microtex, this needs to be replaced regularly to maintain a quality stitch with no hiccups.
For decorative work, this all depends on the style of my work. When I want shine you can't go past a good quality polyester, Rayon or metallic thread. The weight of the thread depends on the degree that you want your decorative work to stand out. ( The higher the number the finner the thread. ) If I am working on a more subtle design ( unusually with a more traditional design ) I choose a cotton thread, as the cotton threads meld into the fabric. Again the weight I use depends on how much I want the design to show. Silk thread is another option, usually very fine this gives a more denser appearance, disappearing into the quilt to give a more subtle look with a little bit of sheen.
Now that I have bored you with all that information which comes from my experience of trying all these options I would like to talk about invisible machine applique. I have been doing alot of research through testing out different techniques to get the look of hand applique by machine. There is alot of information out there and everyone has a slightly different way of going about this. I have found that several different techniques used in one piece can give you a dimensional look. I am still at a loss about which is the best thread to use, I have found that invisible thread ( mono-filament ) is the most invisible, but !!!! being a traditionalist at heart I struggle with this concept as I would rather be using a natural fibre in my quilt. ie. cotton or silk. I have found that a fine silk thread is very good but you do need a very wide range of colours and the match has to be perfect, there is also a slight sheen that on traditional quilts is not always the look you want. Also I have tried a 50/2 weight 100% cotton and this is not great as it is not fine enough, also a large range of colours is needed, I also tried washing the applique fabrics and not the background so that when the piece is finished and given its final wash the stitches miraculously pull under the applique pieces. ( Not always true in my tests ).
So please if anyone out there has any other ideas on this delema of mine I would love you to share them with me.
Here are some of my results.
I have used mono-filament in this sample. I have used cotton in this sample.
I look forward to your suggestions and comments.