Quilting with Thread

It may seem tempting to use up old thread on a quilt. However, working with old, weak thread is frustrating because it tangles and knots -- and working with high-quality, new thread is a joy.

Consider buying 100-percent cotton thread or good long-staple polyester thread for piecing, appliqué, and machine quilting. Use monofilament nylon thread (.004mm or size 80) for freehand machine quilting. Cotton quilting thread is wonderful for hand quilting but should not be used for machine quilting because it is stiff and will tend to lie on the surface of the quilt.


For piecing by hand or by machine, select a neutral color thread that blends in with most of the fabrics in the quilt. For most projects, either khaki or gray thread works well.

Use white thread for basting; do not risk using colored thread that may leave color behind. For appliqué, the thread should match the fabric that is being applied to the background.

The color of quilting thread is a personal design choice. If you want your quilting to show up, use a contrasting thread color.

Not what you're looking for? Try:

  • Learn about choosing the right fabric for your quilting projects on our Quilting with Fabric page.
  • Excited to quilt, but don't know where to begin? See Quilting Materials for a place to start.
  • Learn How to Quilt or brush up on the basics with our refresher course.