Last Updated on January 1, 2024
Quilting, a cherished craft that has evolved over thousands of years, offers many creative possibilities. Every quilter’s crucial decision is selecting the right thread for their project. Cotton and polyester threads are the most common choices, each offering unique characteristics.
Here, we’ll delve into the key differences between these two materials to help you decide based on your specific quilting needs.
- Cotton thread is the traditional choice, offering a distinctive matte finish that seamlessly blends into fabric.
- Polyester threads, stronger and available in smaller sizes, provide a versatile option for discreet quilting, particularly in projects where the thread should remain inconspicuous.
- Cottonized polyester combines the strength of synthetic fibers with a matte finish, offering a balanced choice that resembles traditional cotton.
- For quilters seeking a glossy finish, trilobal polyester adds a vibrant sheen to quilting projects with its triangular shape and reflective surface.
- A modern polyester thread is safe for quilting and won’t cut into the fabric, addressing concerns from older polyester threads. Both cottonized and trilobal polyester exhibit minimal lint, reducing machine buildup.
Cotton vs. Polyester Thread for Quilting
When deciding between cotton and polyester thread for quilting, choose cotton for a traditional matte finish with zero stretch or polyester for strength in smaller sizes and a glossy sheen.
Consider cottonized polyester for a blend of strength and a more subdued appearance and trilobal polyester for added shine.
1. Cotton Quilting Threads
Cotton thread, spun from natural fibers that provide a distinct matte finish, is the traditional choice for quilting. While the associated cost may be slightly higher than polyester, cotton brings many benefits.
The texture and non-reflective matte finish allow it to blend seamlessly into the fabric, making it an ideal choice for quilting.
Cotton thread exhibits zero stretch, preventing quilts from puckering after use or washing. Its versatility makes it suitable for various quilting tasks, from piecing to quilting itself.
2. Polyester Quilting Threads
On the other hand, polyester thread, a more recent synthetic material, offers a different set of advantages.
Despite being potentially more cost-effective, polyester is far stronger than cotton, allowing for smaller thread sizes without compromising strength. This is particularly evident in thread sizes like 100 weight, where polyester outshines cotton in terms of strength.
The fine size of polyester threads, such as the 80-weight Decobob, is ideal for quilting projects where the thread needs to remain discreet.
3. Cottonized Polyester
Cottonized polyester is a unique type of polyester that has been treated to eliminate stretch, making it easy to sew with. This process, however, reduces the shine of the thread, giving it a more matte finish that closely resembles cotton.
Despite retaining some shine, quilting with 100-weight cottonized polyester significantly reduces the thread’s visibility in the fabric. This type of polyester combines the strength of synthetic fibers with a finish that closely resembles traditional cotton.
4. Trilobal Polyester
For quilters seeking a bit more sheen in their projects, trilobal polyester is an excellent option. Unlike traditional round threads, trilobal polyester is triangular in shape, reflecting more light and providing a glossy finish.
Both trilobal and cottonized polyester from reputable manufacturers have minimal lint, a significant advantage in reducing buildup in sewing machines.
Quilters are commonly concerned about whether polyester thread will cut into the fabric. Modern polyester thread manufacturing has addressed this issue, ensuring that it is safe to quilt with and won’t damage your fabric.
While polyester threads from decades ago had this problem, improvements in manufacturing processes have eliminated the risk.
Is it OK to piece quilt with polyester thread?
Yes, it is perfectly okay to piece a quilt with polyester thread. Modern polyester threads are strong and won’t damage your fabric. They provide durability and can be especially useful for achieving flatter seams in your quilt blocks.
Is Polyester or Cotton Thread Better for Quilting?
The choice between polyester and cotton thread for quilting depends on your preferences and project needs. Cotton offers a classic matte finish with zero stretch, while polyester provides strength and versatility in smaller sizes. Both have their advantages, so it’s a matter of personal preference.
What thread is best for piecing quilts?
For piecing quilts, a strong and fine thread like cotton or polyester is recommended. Many quilters prefer a cotton thread for its matte finish and zero stretch, while others opt for polyester for its strength in smaller sizes, such as 80 or 100 weight.
Is cotton or polyester thread better for quilting?
Cotton offers a classic matte finish and zero stretch, ideal for a traditional look. Polyester, being stronger, is suitable for smaller thread sizes, providing strength without compromising on subtlety.
Does cotton thread stretch?
No, cotton thread has zero stretch. This lack of stretch is advantageous for quilts, as it prevents puckering and ensures a smooth appearance even after use or washing.
Why choose polyester thread over cotton?
Polyester thread is a strong synthetic material, allowing smaller thread sizes without sacrificing strength. This makes it an excellent choice when you want the thread to be discreet in your quilting projects.
What is cottonized polyester, and how does it differ from regular polyester?
Cottonized polyester is a 100% polyester thread that has been treated to eliminate stretch, making it easy to sew with. The process also reduces the shine, giving it a more matte finish similar to cotton. It combines the strength of polyester with a look that closely resembles traditional cotton.
Will polyester thread cut into the fabric?
No, modern polyester thread is safe to quilt with and won’t damage your fabric. The concerns about cutting into the fabric were more prevalent in polyester threads from decades ago. Manufacturing processes have since improved, addressing this issue.
What is trilobal polyester, and how does it differ from cottonized polyester?
Trilobal polyester is triangular in shape, reflecting more light and providing a glossy finish. While both trilobal and customized polyester offer minimal lint, trilobal polyester stands out more with its shiny appearance, making it a great option for those wanting a glossy look in their quilting projects.
Are there any advantages to using cotton thread?
Yes, cotton thread has a distinct matte finish that blends well into the fabric. It is versatile, suitable for various quilting tasks, and has been a trusted choice for quilters for thousands of years.
Which thread is better for piecing – cotton or polyester?
Polyester threads, especially in smaller sizes like 80 or 100 weight, are ideal for piecing. They provide strength while allowing seams to lay flatter, resulting in better-looking pieced blocks and easier alignment of quilt block patterns.
In the end, the choice between cotton and polyester threads for quilting depends on your specific project requirements and personal preferences.
Cotton offers a classic matte finish and zero stretch, while polyester provides strength and versatility in smaller sizes.
Cottonized polyester combines the best of both worlds, offering strength with a more subdued finish, and trilobal polyester adds a glossy sheen for those seeking a more vibrant look.