As a quilter, my interest in threads is very specific and actually relatively limited. I use the sewing machine for piecing (patchwork),appliqué and quilting. Embroidery I usually do by hand. So when I evaluate thread, I look at how it performs with straight stitches for piecing, satin and buttonhole stitches (for appliqué) and straight freehand stitching for quilting. I use the same stitches to test sewing machines.
When I was introduced to Madeira threads, I ran a standard test of straight, satin and buttonhole stitches on several varieties of thread: Lana, Cotona, rayon, metallics, and some novelty threads. All the threads were tested on the same piece of fabric with the same stabilizer. I did use the appropriate type and size of needle for every thread type.
I fell in love with Cotona No, 50. It is an absolute dream to piece with. It is thin and strong and has a huge color selection. Personally the color selection was not a factor for me, as I tend to piece with a limited number of colors – usually cream, tan and dark gray.
Most threads behaved beautifully. The biggest surprise was the Lana and the thicker metallics. They all worked exceptionally well. The only thread to cause me grief was the silver metallic (red frame in the picture). It broke several times and was in general very temperamental.Interestingly, the similar gold color thread behaved very well. I liked Cotona very much for the narrow satin stitch, as it provides a nice smooth finish with a slight sheen, and the color selection is exceptional. The metallics, Lana and multicolored threads were great for buttonhole stitching.
I focused my testing on the Cotona family – No. 30, No. 50 and No. 80. All are great threads for quilting and can be used also in the bobbin,although cotton bobbinfill is a good option as well. #50 is the most versatile and has a large selection of colors, including beautiful variegated threads. It is thin enough to work well in designs with backtracking and thread build-up,and has a nice unobtrusive presence.
The following sample I quilted with Cotona No.50.
Cotona No. 30 is a bit thicker and therefore more visible, although if you are looking for quilting panache, I would go for a more flamboyant thread. #80 is wonderful for busy background designs where you want to see the texture but not the thread. It’s only drawback is the limited color palette.
The following sample was quilted with the three thicknesses.No.80 was used in the background; No.30 in the contour of the heart and No.50 in the pebble fill inside the heart.
Going to Town
Finally I took a pile of threads and simply played withthem, both on the machine and by hand, doing some extreme quilting andembroidery on a small piece. The result speaks for itself.