Embroidery Thread For Quilting

I have the top and back of the VIP Liam quilt basted and ready for actual quilting. The top chevrons and the large block patchwork back intentionally don’t match up other than the Disney Cars theme. The top was more for the aesthetic of grown-ups, while the back is just for Liam to enjoy.

My thought process for the quilting was that I didn’t want to use my usual cream Gutermann thread and just quilt the top like I normally would. This has to be special. That and the cream thread would look silly on the colorful back. So the obvious choice would be to use a colored thread, right? That would still cause really obvious lines in the crazy patterned back….so, I decided to take advantage of having embroidery functions on my machine, the variegated threads at the store and see what happens.

I did some Google searching (that’s like soul searching, right?), but couldn’t find satisfactory answers to my thread question: Can machine embroidery thread by used for machine quilting? I get the weight, ply, strength blah blah blah issues that MAY occur, but can it be done?? The only thing to do is just try it myself and figure it out by making my own sewing lab.

Enter a $45 dollar receipt for thread. That’s with sales and coupons. Keep that in mind if this whim bites you in the…yeah.

Embroidery Thread Spools
Embroidery Thread Spools

The Signature Cotton thread is a 40 wt thread and the display said it’s ideal for machine quilting. The Sulky is a rayon and I read a LOT of contradictory statements about rayon embroidery thread. Some love it. Some say it bleeds, snaps and isn’t ideal – and that was just for embroidery. I’m going to put this through layers of cotton and batting. I read all kinds of business about bobbin tension issues, using the wrong needle will make embroidery thread snap, etc. I’m a little headstrong and don’t like coulda/shoulda crap. I just decided to find out for myself.

Both A&E Thread, makers of Signature, and Sulky have horrible websites. Just horrible.

A&E Thread has built their website for resellers, not you, the consumer. So, if you can move through a reseller site with ease, you’ll be ok and I will admit they have really thorough specs on their site. If it’s too confusing, hopefully you can find a fully trained reseller (that’s like a flying pig sometimes.) A&E’s site is also built with way too much old-skool coding crap like javascript that I can’t even link you directly to the thread. I have to tell you it’s here and go to “Signature Quilters’ Threads Cotton Variegated Assortment” – not really consumer or reseller friendly.

The Sulky site isn’t much better, but it is built more for consumers. It’s just really messy and looks like a school kid did it. However, you can find Products listed in the mess on the side and you can get to your thread. I can say I have #2240 in 40 wt. listed on this page. Looking at the site, 30 wt. would have been preferred it seems, but life goes on. Their specs are pretty good but you HAVE to read the first paragraph of the answer to poly vs. rayon thread here.  I don’t know who at Sulky wrote that, but I love them. That is a fantastic answer with solid reasoning and a bit of a back-slap thrown in. They get my respect for that and I did read exactly who they’re talking about….what a perfect response. Here’s my love, mwah! They didn’t mention one other bad point about polyester, which is it will eventually cut through cotton. Just nature of the beast. Anywho…

I made some practice pieces of cotton and batting, and loaded up a fun program to practice with. I’m not going to embroider the quilt, but just quilt with embroidery thread, so this is more testing than necessary but more fun too! Plus, I kill two birds with one stone knowing what I can and can’t do down the road.

Liam Program
Liam Program

These first tests weren’t for tension adjustment, but instead just to see if the thread would go through the Viking ok, and the batting and a 90 universal needle and…you get the idea.

I tested the Sulky rayon thread first.

Rayon On Machine
Rayon On Machine

 

Rayon In Bobbin
Rayon In Bobbin

I’m happy with it. It feels flexible through the fabric and really as soft/silky as you think rayon would. It obviously needs tension adjustment, but this was just a machine and material test.

Embroidery Thread Test On
Embroidery Thread Test On

Next, the Signature Cotton.

Cotton On Machine
Cotton On Machine

 

Cotton In Bobbin
Cotton In Bobbin

Again, overall I like it. It’s not as silky as the rayon and the colors come across more…Crayola if you know what I mean. I think if I wanted my thread color to be true to what it looks like on the spool, cotton is a sure bet. It is also easier to adjust for tension.

Cotton Embroidery Test
Cotton Embroidery Test

After some deliberation and input from “Uncle R” I decided to go with the rayon as long as it passed the colorfast test. I read that rayon thread had problems with this, even though the Sulky spool does read “silky, shiny, strong, washable & dry cleanable.” I’m too well-versed in marketing to believe labels!

Here is the rayon thread after cold water, hot water, rubbing, soap and just about everything else I could think of to do to it.

Colorfast Testing Rayon
Colorfast Testing Rayon

Alright! We have success! Good on Sulky!

To get the tension adjusted…or rather to see if it was even possible with the lower 40 wt. through the batting, I tested again.

Tension Setting Rayon
Tension Setting Rayon

I just ran the machine and made little tweaks until it was where I liked it and it has worked fine. No breakage, no snaggle-messes, no cussing like a sailor.

So, for me and the Viking, embroidery thread is working just great as a quilting thread. I have about 1/3 of the quilt done in simple echo-lines on the chevron, and it it looks really cute and fun. I did experiment with a little FMQ and it held up just as well.

If you’re ignoring the extra functions on your machine, this, like FMQ, is another “just dig in and do it” thing. It’s totally worth it…maybe just don’t buy so much at once like I did!

Other details: Kona cotton, Warm & Natural batting…I mentioned above it’s just a 90 universal needle. Get on it!

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