Top Quilting Tips – No. 5 – Nice Threads Man!

In our countdown to classes series here is tip number


Nice threads doesn’t refer to topics on message boards (for the more modern) or the white suit John Travolta sported in ‘Saturday Night Fever’ (for those of us more vintage than modern). I’m talking about the myriad thread choices we have when we are piecing and quilting (and hand sewing too). Do we choose cotton, metallic, silk or polyester? And what does weight mean?


Different numbering systems are used in order to specify different sewing threads. Apparently different spinning mills used their own thread sizing systems and there are still several in operation today. Complex n’est pas?

Basically the systems are based on weight. The Tex system was invented to be the standard in the industry. In this system the higher the number the heavier the thread. Unfortunately it hasn’t quite taken the quilting world by storm.

What quilters like are the weight standard  and the number standard. Under the weight system the larger the number the finer the thread. So 50wt is finer than 30wt. Why? Because it takes 50 metres of 50wt to weigh one gram whereas it only takes 30 metres of 30wt to weigh one gram because it’s heavier.

Confused? We haven’t even mentioned plies (the number of yarns twisted together to make a single thread) or the denier standard that embroiderers use! That standard is based on the weight of nine kilometres of thread. Think about that when you’re tying up your roses with your old panty-hose!



There are even formulas to determine thread count which I won’t divulge here but trust me they exist.

Your formula is to use a good quality thread. Personally I like Rasant (a core-spun thread – meaning it has a polyester core and cotton covering.). For general piecing it is strong, robust and reliable. You can use it for quilting too and generally beginners would use this in one of our classes without any trouble. Plus there are lots of colours to choose from.

images4S2S8EI0 rasant


For free motion quilting I really like Wonderfil Mirage (a 30wt rayon) because it is a variegated thread that really pops and enhances the quilting. Of course if you use a finer thread such as Mirage you need to use the appropriate bobbin thread (also finer) such as Invisafil so it doesn’t all end in tears and broken threads.

23-Thread  invisafil

There are videos here from Wonderfil showing what you can do with Mirage thread.

Linen threads are very useful for hand quilting and, if you have hyper-embellishment disorder like me you will favour metallic and silk threads for that extra ta-da element.

metallic  imagesEP78I67U

I think we’ll have a closer look at the different threads and what they can do for your quilting during the year because there really are dozens of options.

When it comes to thread choices, colour is another issue. Did you know that Marsala is the Pantone colour of the year?


It is described as a “hearty yet stylish tone”. Some others say it’s more reminiscent of bodily functions and decrepit buildings. What do you think? Is it outside your comfort zone?

Your task today is to :

Have a look in your stash at what threads you have. Is there an abundance of neutrals or are 80% of them the same colour (I have lots of blue)? Have a look at them again and see if there are some gaps in your choices – either colour-wise or texture-wise. Resolve to widen your repertoire this year.

You’re halfway through your tasks now so you deserve a little reward. Have a look at this video. It’s a little sexist but it made me smile.

 Until tomorrow

Happy Quilting


If you’ve missed any posts in this series find them here:

9 8 7 6


The Countdown has begun

A rather belated happy new year to everyone. I hope you have enjoyed your little break and look forward to a motivating and inspirational year at Apatchy Quilting.

I arrived back in Brisbane early in the new year after a wonderful holiday with Luvvy, the teenager-in-residence, my parents and aunt. I, of course, enjoyed it all – from the tuk-tuk ride in Bangkok to the iconic stone houses of the English Cotswolds to the twinkling lights of the German and French Christmas markets. It is certainly a magical place to spend Christmas.


IMG_4037IMG_4750 IMG_4942IMG_5110

Ok that’s it – if you want to see more you’ll have to wait for the slide night!

It was difficult to choose a highlight although snow on Boxing Day was hard to beat. How beautiful it was to see the way it gently fell and swirled around and such silence – quite an experience for people used to the tropics. Luvvy said it was a very tough assignment and, after the disappointment of the 2014 campaign where we circumnavigated the globe and didn’t see one drop of snow, he was pleased we were rewarded. Thanks Freiburg.


The teenager-in-residence also agreed that it was difficult to choose a highlight – he was torn between the superior wifi in Singapore or the day he stayed at the hotel in Rothenburg and talked to his friends on Facebook… In fact there was no competition – it was the day he met Steve Tyler from the band Aerosmith and actually had the presence of mind to ask for a photo. And Steve had the good grace to oblige. Since he’d just come through security at Heathrow Airport it must have been a little annoying to be accosted by a fan. No doubt he was trying to grab his belongings from the conveyor belt before they became entangled with others owned by mere mortals. I thought he looked very rock star – especially the fur coat. What do you think? Nice one Steve.

Steve and Huw

Here is Brizzie there was another VIP arrival with the birth of Sophie Blake on 30th December seen here with her unbelievably yummy mummy Sarah – one of our evening class ladies. Sarah started at Apatchy last year and did a great job finishing a lovely cot quilt – and just in time for Sophie’s arrival – check it out in the gallery.

Sarah and Sophie

And so we are all back from holidays and special events and it is back to realty. Sarah has a good reason to be a bit disorganised in the sewing department but what about you?

There’s 10 days left until the week classes start again and so I’m going to shock you all by posting a daily blog for the next 10 days to help you get ready. I know you want to be in top form so I’ll be giving you advice and tips on how you can start the year off so it will be productive and enjoyable – things that you can ACTUALLY incorporate into your real life – things that are ACHIEVABLE!

Stay tuned

What are you all looking forward to in 2015? How can I make it the best year ever? I’d love to hear from you. Until tomorrow..

Happy Quilting