Sunday, February 12, 2012

What's your favorite thread for hand applique?

This question comes up a lot not only in my online quilting groups but also when I'm out shopping at local quilt shops.  I do have a favorite thread or I should say 2 favorite threads for hand applique that are very similar:  Aurifil and Superior's Masterpiece.  Both of these are strong, 50 wt., 100% cotton thread but what makes them great for applique is that they are 2 ply instead of 3 ply.  The strength comes from the fact that they are made with extra-long staple, Egyptian grown cotton.  I have heard that Superior is going to change Masterpiece from 2 ply to 3 ply.  Superior says that with their smooth, tight, even twist, you will hardly notice the difference . . . we'll see.

If you are into applique, then you know how great it is to have a nice variety of thread colors.  However, with the price of thread increasing as it has in the last year or two, this can get quite expensive when buying an entire spool.  A couple of years ago, I ran across what is called a 'Frosted Donut.'  It sounds yummy and it is but not in the way you might think.  The Frosted Donut is a bobbin ring filled with bobbins full of a nice variety of thread colors from the Superior Masterpiece collection.  They are sold at Piece O'Cake Designs and come in 2 sets:
Frosted Donut ~ Set 2

Frosted Donut ~ Set 1

The cost for each donut is $39.00 but look at all the color variety you have at your fingertips.  I love taking these with me when I travel.

If you run out of a particular color, you can order the bobbins individually for $1.00.

You can get additional information about the Frosted Donuts by clicking HERE

Elly Sienkiewciz, the queen of applique, likes to use the YLI silk thread.  I have used YLI silk and do like it because it truly does sink into the fabric.  Even though I love this feature about the thread there is one thing that frustrates me so much that I have refrained from using it.  The YLI silk thread is very, very fine and delicate and as a result it tends to slip out of my needle most of the time.  Because of this, I end up stopping to re-thread a lot which wastes a lot of time that could be spent stitching.

 As long as I am on my lecturing about the threads I like, I may as well say something about how I like to organize my thread.  The Frosted Donuts shown above really don't need much more organization as long as you remember to put the bobbin back in place when finished with it.  But when you have lots of different spools of thread like the Aurifil threads, I have found one of the best ways ever to keep them organized and portable ~ The Thread Caddy by Pat Campbell.

Thread Caddy by Pat Campbell

The Thread Caddy holds 48 spools of 220 yd thread, and it has a special pocket for your applique notions.  Plus, the fabric strips along the top (shown in red) make it possible to pull the thread through so you don't have to unzip to remove the spool every time you want to use a particular color.  I love this feature because it really helps to keep my thread neat and organized.

Here's what it looks like when closed:

Thread Caddy Closed

I got my Thread Caddy from the Pacific Rim Quilt Company but I'm sure there are other places where it is available.  The Pacific Rim Quilt Company has a very nice variety of great applique notions and Aurifil thread in addition to beautiful fabrics and Hawaiian applique patterns. It's one of my favorite online places to shop.  If you are interested in checking out this great shop, click HERE

There are a lot of thread choices as well as thread organizers out there and today I just wanted to share with you the ones that work the best for me. 

Whatever you have planned this week, I hope you get the chance to carve out a little time just for you ~ doing something that makes you smile ~ and thanks for sharing a part of your day today with me!


  1. Great tips about thread Debbie.I really like silk am gradually collecting the kimona silks from the Superior rep up here. She , too sells the frosted donuts so I need to consider that as well.The thread caddy you highlighted sounds great.I am totally hooked on applique now.I have been working on the back basting method and doing an older BOM from Connie Sue at Apple Blossom Quilts. I am about halfway through and thought it a good one to try as the pieces are large.I really like Superior threads.

  2. Back basting is my favorite way to applique. I am addicted to needle turn applique and wish I had more time to everything I would like to do! I'm glad that you liked the information I provided on thread. There are so many choices out there sometimes it gets confusing. I hope you enjoy the back basting, the more you do it, the easier it gets and (for me) it is a much faster and easier way to prep my blocks.

  3. The question about thread. My favorite is YLI silk #100 weight. Yes it does slip out of the needle as you sew, yes this is a waste of your time....So here is the little trick you need to save your sanity. Thread your needle and then make a loop with the short end of the thread and run the needle through the loop. This makes a tiny little slip knot and the needle will not come unthreaded. Problem solved!!!!

  4. I love my silk YLI thread also!! I also make a slip knot at the eye end and the needle doesn't come unthreaded.