What Color Thread Should be Used for Quilting?

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Every visible stitch on a quilt affects its appearance, including decorative stitches and stitches that hold the quilt pieces together. The thread colors you choose depend on the types of stitches you're sewing and the fabrics you're using. Although there are no right or wrong choices, some color combinations look better than others.

Thread for Basting

  • Basting is a stitching technique used to align the pieces of a quilt before they are sewn together with their final stitches. After the quilt is sewn, the basting stitches are removed. Some quilters prefer using thread of a contrasting color to the quilt's fabric. Contrasting thread is easy to see when removing basting stitches, but its color might run and stain the fabric. Use white thread to avoid staining the fabric.

Thread for Sashing

  • Sashing is the fabric placed between a quilt's blocks. If the quilt's sashing is made from patterned fabric, select a thread that matches or is similar to one of the pattern's colors to prevent the stitches from clashing with the fabric. If the sashing is a solid color and you don't want the thread to stand out, use matching thread or thread that's one shade darker. For noticeable stitches, use contrasting, multicolor or metallic thread. You can also use the same color thread in a noticeably lighter or darker shade.

Thread for Finishing Applique Edges

  • Applique pieces are decorative elements that are sewn along their edges onto a quilt. A tree made from multiple pieces of fabric and sewn to a quilt is an example of applique. If you don't want the stitching to be noticeable, use invisible nylon or matching thread. Thread that's slightly lighter or darker than the applique pieces also blends well. If you want noticeable borders around the applique pieces, use thread that's three or more shades lighter or darker than the applique pieces.

Decorative Thread

  • Any noticeable stitching or stitching used for embroidery is considered decorative thread. The colors you choose for decorative stitching depend on the type of effect you're creating. For example, if you want to create a subtle embroidered design, such as abstract curves, use thread that's slightly lighter or darker than the quilt's fabric. To make your design stand out, use contrasting, multicolor or metallic thread. If your quilt consists of patterned fabric, choose contrasting thread colors.

Tips for Choosing Thread Colors

  • Take swatches of fabric when you're shopping for quilting thread. Lay different threads against the swatches to choose the right colors for your project. If you're shopping in stores where the lighting distorts your perception of color, take a portable, naturally-colored flashlight with you. Prior to sewing the quilt, sew stitches onto scraps of fabric to see what the final quilt will look like.

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