Choosing Thread Color

Thread Color

Once again, I would like to welcome all the new followers from around the world who have joined us here at The Inbox Jaunt.  We have been joined by a large group of quilters from France, sent to us by Emma Coutancier of L’Atelier d Emma.  Thank you, Emma!  See her lovely blog HERE.

Today, I would like to discuss thread color choices.  For each project, it is a good idea to do a fairly large sample on the fabric and batting that you plan to use in your quilt.  This will give you a sense of how your thread color will look on the finished quilt.  You will be spending a great deal of time quilting your quilt, so don’t rush this step.

In the samples below, I compared rayon threads of three color types.

For the first sample, I chose a thread that is a shade darker than the fabric.  It blends in well and gives the quilt a slightly darker, heavier look.

Thread Color

Next, I tried a thread that is a shade lighter than the fabric.  It also blends in well, and gives a brighter feel to the project.  I definitely like this better.  The quilting “pops” and you can see the stitching quite well.

Thread Color

My third test was a variegated thread.  I rarely use variegated threads as I think they distract from the quilting line.  However, I  like how it looks in this motif.  Perhaps variegated thread seems more appropriate when stitching leaves and flowers because it mirrors nature.  Also, the choice of variations within the thread makes a big difference.  I tend to like the more subtle transitions of color within the thread.

Thread Color

Finally, I tried my favorite thread–an off white thread.  The quilting “pops” and the pattern is easy to see.

Thread Color

All are good choices depending on the project.  This time,  I am going to break out of my comfort zone a little  and go wild–I will use the variegated thread.

Thread Color

What would you chose?

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35 thoughts on “Choosing Thread Color

  1. Interesting post again Lori! I would have chosen number two because it is very nice and would forgive some of my irregular stiches… but you have not this problem!
    I am one of the “quilteuses de France” who discovered your blog thanks to Emma.

    • Welcome and thanks for stopping by! I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to share ideas with new friends from France! I am constantly amazed by the power of the WWW to bring people together!

  2. I actually love seeing the stitching, even when mine’s not perfect. I think it adds so much to the quilt. I especially like it when it’s a deep contrast to the backing as it makes the backing so much more interesting! I would choose any of the last three you mentioned. I’m not crazy about the first that makes it look so much darker. Thread is a personal thing though so everyone has the right to their opinions.

    • I like the brighter one, too, but I see why so many people liked the darker thread. I have used both and I think it depends on the mood of your quilt and the mood you are in at the time you start quilting–probably has a lot to do with what you have in your drawer??

  3. I would have chosen the first one ( a shade darker than the fabric )
    I am one of the “quilteuses de france” too !!!
    I’m very happy with your blog.
    Thanks to Emma
    A bientôt

  4. Maybe you have mentioned this in an earlier post, but do you use rayon thread for all you machine quilting?
    By the way, I’m so happy to have recently discovered your blog. I am so enjoying all the machine quilting inspiration. I found your blog via the Kim’s Big Quilting Adventure blog when she had people comment with their favorite blogs.

    • I will be doing a lot more writing about thread in the next several weeks…

      I frequently use rayon thread because I like the sheen and I can usually find a good tension for lovely stitches. I love to try new threads and have several brands and types of threads I like.

    • Thanks, Mary for letting me know how you found us. I loved Kim’s blog and her idea of asking others their favorite blogs. I will definitely do that here at The Inbox Jaunt someday soon, too. I use Rayon thread for a lot of my small quilts. I love the sheen and the way it fills in…Also my machine likes it–and that means better tension…I am in the process of researching it more. It seems to have a “bad name” and it’s not clear to my why. Will let you know what my research reveals…to be continued…

  5. I love variegated when embroidering, but I am so new to quilting everything scares me, boo!, so i think I’d go with same color until I get a little more comfortable. I found your site through a friend’s facebook post and I am so glad I did. You are helping me get out of my comfort zone and just enjoy the quilt.

  6. I like all the choices- and would have used any of them- or all- sometimes mixing threads can really add visual interest too!

  7. I’m sticking to white a lot lately. And I even just finished a yellow quilt! Well, it was white and yellow, so the white thread fit very well.

    • White is great when you want the quilting to show, though on a yellow quilt, I’m sure the color just blended in. Sometimes a soft gray or even a light purple blends in more subtly than white or ecru.

  8. I love to hear what other quilters choose for thread choices..and why! I recently discovered Glide thread and am in love with every color, its shine and price! Varigated is harder for me. I dont’ like how it ‘disappears’ when it hits a color of fabric that matches a color in the thread. I do like it on solids. My go to colors lately have been mostly green. It seems to act as a neutral. I like my threads to be seen, but not hit you over the head.

    • I rarely use variegated thread for the same reason–it can make the quilting line look uneven or messy. It is interesting how green, gray and even light purple can work like a neutral. I have never heard of Glide, but am off the the web to give it a look!

  9. Hi, enjoy learning from all your posts, just beginning in the free motion quilting, but have been quilting for about 13 years. I like the second color choice. Very pretty!

    • I know you will enjoy free motion quilting. I loved all forms of quilting, but struggled with free motion quilting. One year I decided that it was my goal to learn it and now it’s my favorite part of quilting.

  10. Hi Lori,

    I recently joined your site after my friend in Arkansas told me to take a look at your FMQ. I was amazed at how close and how clear your pictures are which is sadly lacking in some sites so congratulations. I am a confident beginner quilter in Adelaide, South Australia and I skype on a regular basis despite the time variation to Arkansas. So far, I am enjoying your discussions and what I have read has made sense to my young quilter brain. Although I have not really gotten into FMQ I am touching the bases in preparation for a study into it next year by looking at all aspects. I love your selection of threads in the blog but I particularly like the effect darker yellow thread gives. I believe it helps both the design and the quilting to standout. Thankyou for suggesting to look at various different colour tones and too try them out to see which one you actually want for that project for whatever reason. Thanks for sharing until next time happy quilting. Julie Beard.

    • Hi Julie, Thanks for you comments. I admire your “studied approach” to quilting and free motion quilting. Are you taking specific classes next year? I hope you will dive right into free motion quilting…it is just that, very “free-ing”: no patterns, little marking, just your machine, a little music, and you can finish a quilt yourself without sending it off to someone else who has a different vision of your project. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I like the first one, the shade darker thread, It seems to settle in to the fabric so smoothly and the quilting shows very well.

  12. What a useful exercise! Thread colour is so important in stitching but often gets overlooked in the haste to get started. I love the idea of doing little swatches to see the difference in look before deciding – would have been interesting to have thrown in a purple thread – although of course where do you stop!

    • When I get to the quilting phase, I am usually very anxious to get started. I am never sorry when I take the time to do this short exercise. I usually don’t end up using the thread I thought I would use!

  13. First, I just love your break down your quilting designs so easily. You are able to see how you moved from point A to point B, etc. Love that part. 2nd, you are the first I’ve heard of that use Rayon for quilting. I love the color’s/shine that Rayon offers, but every time I ask a person at a quilt shop if they quilt with it, they tell me no, it’s not meant for quilt just embroidery..have you done it on bigger quilts?

    • I love rayon threads, too. I love the shine and the “plumpness” of them. I have never used them on a bigger quilt because I, too am spooked by all the negative things you hear. When I have done a little bit of research on it, the only thing I can find is that Rayon does not stand up to heat well–I don’t think that should matter for the quilting stitch. ( I wouldn’t use it for seams that will be ironed.) Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t just an “echo-chamber” effect because when you ask the same people why they don’t use it they don’t have a lot of facts behind their answers. I will do more research and contact Sulky directly. If you find any useful information, I’d appreciate it if you would share it with the group…

  14. I like them all! The darker thread recedes a bit, and I think that for an all-over pattern or for the background, it would be perfect. The lighter thread is warm and inviting, for reasons I can’t explain. The other 2 just pop.
    I’ve been using variegated thread when I do an overall pattern and the fabric is a range of colours. To tell you the truth, I don’t find it’s working for me, but I’ve been concerned that using a single colour would be even worse.

    • I don’t like variegated thread for that reason, too. Sometimes I change thread color within a project, but that isn’t always possible. I guess that’s the fun and the challenge of quilting!

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