It’s Spring Break week here at my house, but the fact that I have 3 crazy kids running around won’t keep me from posting this week’s installment of the “Deciding What to Quilt” series!

All About Thread

This week, we are talking about thread color.Thread to a machine quilter, is like fabric to a piecer…..I love thread! I love my color cards, I love to spend my time picking out the right color of thread and I have my go-to favorites. So Fine! and 50 wt Aurifil are the two threads on my machine most.

[shopify embed_type=”product” shop=”” product_handle=”drawn-aurifil-thread-collection” show=”all”]

Picking out the right color

I am sure that everyone has seen a quilt that was quilted wonderfully, but the thread color was off and it ruined the overall look of the quilt. The color of thread can make or break a quilt almost more than the quilting design! Picking out the right color is very, very important! When the time comes to pick out the thread color ask yourself a few questions:

Does the quilt need more than one thread color?

I hate to change thread colors in a quilt…not because it’s hard or anything….just because I am a tad lazy. So I try really hard to avoid that, but sometimes, there is no getting around it! Take this quilt for example:

maching quilting feathersCrown Jewels quilt- Designed and Pieced by Tula Pink

The dark purple background is a lot darker than the lighter crowns…..I definitely had to use two different colors of thread in this quilt! Yet another example would be this quilt:

However, if the areas that contrast with the rest of the quilt are small, I will consider keeping the same thread color.
Modern Machine Quilting Quilt pieced by Ryan Walsh

Even though the small strips on the blocks are darker in value then the rest of the quilt, I used the same white thread that I used in the rest of the quilt. The reason that this works is that the strips are fairly small and the thread is lighter than the fabric (more on that later!).

Is it a quilt of many colors?

Changing between 2 or 3 thread colors may not seem like a huge deal…..but what if the quilt has several different colors? When I come across those types of quilts, I try to find a neutral thread that blends in with most of the fabrics. Here is a great example of such a quilt:

Swirl Free-motion QuiltingLollipop Twist Quilt designed by Joan Hawley

Event though the stars of this twinkling quilt are many different colors, I knew that I wasn’t going to pick out a separate color for each part. Luckily the background is a gray, so I used the same light gray on all of the stars.

If just picking one color isn’t going to cut it, then I will try to find 2 colors, one darker and one lighter, and use them in the quilt.

For the quilt above, I picked out a red and a tan color. I used the tan in all the lighter areas and used the red thread in the rest of the quilt.

What about bobbin thread?

I always, always, always, always match the bobbin thread to the top thread. Even if it means that it is going to show on the back.

back of quilt machine quilted with free-motion quilting design

Back of quilt pieced by Heather Bostic

Many moons ago, when I first started quilting for customers, I had a gal ask for pink thread on the top and black on the back…….you already know where I am going with this, don’t you? It was tragic….my first unhappy customer. It is almost impossible for the back thread to not show through the top or vice versa. Besides, I secretly love it when the quilting shows up on the back!

I figure that you can only worry about one side of the quilt, might as well focus on the front.

Some final points:

Here are some of the things that I do when picking out thread. These may work for you as well:

– I use a 50 wt. thread. It blends well, making it more versatile.

[shopify embed_type=”product” shop=”” product_handle=”so-fine-50wt-403″ show=”all”]

-If I don’t have the exact color I need, I usually pick a slightly lighter color .

– Make sure that you audition the thread on all areas of the quilt. What looks good in the border may not look great in the middle of the quilt.


To buy thread, or for other machine quilting resources, check out my online store.

Happy Quilting!