Difference Between Machine & Hand Quilting Thread

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Quilters make many choices when sewing, including whether to quilt the project by hand or machine, which quilting pattern to use, and which type of thread is appropriate. This last decision can be critical to the success of the project.

Types

  • Machine quilting thread can be 100 percent cotton, or a blend of cotton and polyester, rayon, monofilament or metallic. Hand quilting thread is typically comprised of 100 percent cotton.

Features

  • Hand quilting thread is often coated with a wax substance. This makes the thread stiffer and less likely to tangle between stitches. The wax also allows the thread to glide through the fabric repeatedly.

Appearance

  • Hand quilting thread can appear to be thicker than machine quilting thread against the fabric background of a quilt. This is because of the coating on the thread and will wash away when the quilt is laundered.

Considerations

  • Machine quilting thread can be used to hand quilt. But hand quilting thread should not be used in sewing machines because the wax coating can cause machine malfunctions.

Warning

  • While most cotton threads work well with any needle, monofilaments, thickly coated threads and metallics require special needles so the thread can easily travel through the fabric.

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References

  • The Quilter's Quick Reference Guide; Candace Eisner Strick; 2004
  • Photo Credit "In Use" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: oskay (Windell Oskay) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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