Machine Quilting Thread~ Cotton vs. Polyester

I have been so very busy this month. We are 13 days into the month and I have already completed 9 quilts, 2 of which were very large. The funny thing is that I can’t show pictures of any of them right now…….*sigh* Without any pictures of quilts what am I going to talk about?????

Hmmm…….what if I stirred the pot a bit? Maybe get a little bit of a debate going? Why the heck not.

Are you a cotton kind of person? Or a polyester kind of person? I am not talking about fabric, of course, I am talking about thread. My thread of choice is So Fine, a 50 wt poly thread that runs like a dream in my machine. Just gorgeous.

I know there are cotton purists that would disagree with me. They would probably say that its not a natural fiber……Or they might point out that poly thread is so strong that it could eventually shred the fabric.

But I would disagree, quite respectfully of course. Poly thread is thinner than cotton, which allows it to blend in with the fabric. It is also stronger than cotton which makes it ideal for machine quilting. While it is a stronger, I have never had a quilt shred from the use of poly thread. There is also a lot less lint with a poly thread. That doesn’t have anything to do with the performance of the thread, just a nice “extra”

But I do love a good cotton thread. In fact, I prefer to use cotton in the bobbin. It’s a little more grippy than the poly thread and helps hold the So Fine thread.

I would love to know what you think? What kind of thread do you prefer? I will randomly select a comment for a little prize.

~Happy Quilting~



  1. 9 QUILTS???? Wow, congrats on finishing these up!
    I have to admit that until now I have solely used cotton thread – for piecing and for quilting. I don’t know why, but somehow it doesn’t *feel* right to use polyester…it’s not the fear of shredding the fabric…
    Nonetheless I recently bought a spool of ‘So fine!’ and I will try it soon.
    Another type of thread by Superior Threads I just tried piecing with this week is ‘Masterpiece by Alex Anderson’ which is a #50/2 cotton thread – very similar in appearance to the ‘So fine!’. I really love it and will definitely use it more in future. It is such a difference compared to the Gütermann cotton thread I have used before (simply because it is easily accessible for me). The Gütermann thread is probably better for things like bags where the seams are a lot more stressed because of its thickness…
    I still have to try the above mentioned ‘superior threads’ for quilting.
    The ‘King Tut’ thread is quite nice to quilt with, it broke more often than other threads I used before for quilten despite using the recommended needle…
    Another thread I quilted with, was IKEA thread (yes, please don’t beat me). It’s also 100% cotton and it works quite well. I used it for a quick baby quilt because I didn’t have enough of other brands at that time. I wouldn’t recommend it for a super labor intensive, award-winning quilt, but it served the purpose and the quilt, which is in constant use, is still okay ;o).
    I’m already curious to read other opinions & experiences…

  2. I’ll stick with my friend Mr. Bob of Superior Threads who has the demo using both cotton and poly thread to show that actually cotton is more likely to outlast the quilt fabric and possibly make problems.

    However, even he says that with the new ways of manufacturing thread make it pretty much a toss up. This is one of those “because gramma used cotton thread” situations.

    Find what works best for you and your machines and use it. *S*

  3. My Mom uses So Fine exclusively and I use either So Fine or Masterpiece. I have lots of both because of my longarm so I go whichever is in color I need!

  4. I have never used So Fine, but I would like to try it. I used *another* brand (shame) but have moved away from a local distributer and am in need of getting some colors!! I don’t have a long arm (sigh) but I do use a poly thread on my quilts as I struggle with my little machine quilting it all up pretty!

  5. gina pina says:

    Ooh that machine looks like so much fun! It reminds me of the giant embroidery machines I used to run. For machine embroidery I was always using madeira poly thread. The shine is really nice. On my old machine at home I always use cotton because it really doesn’t like how slippery poly can be. Amazed you can use a different thread in your bobbin, I can’t manage my tension if I do that.

    Have you seen the cardboard pre-filled bobbins? I didn’t know such things existed until I was doing machine embroidery and I fell in love with them. I can’t use them in my machine at home and I miss them. Not ideal for quilts since they only come in white or black and are just meant to stay on the back of the garment and not be seen. Might be handy for you to have a box around for testing when you don’t want to wind a bobbin or whatever it is you have to do. Can’t wait to see what you have been working on!

  6. I am a cotton girl for quilting. although I do use polyester thread to piece my quilts sometimes…
    but my quilting is always done in cotton. why?
    because someone at my quilt guild told me that was the way “real” quilters did it. and I was new to quilting so I went with it.
    At the time I wanted more than anything to be considered a “real” quilter.
    My opinoin of a real quilter now though , is someone who does longarming so I guess I need to start broadening my horizons 🙂

  7. I’m starting to use more poly thread – I think it will make more sense for something like a bag, where you need the strength of the poly thread. Also, I just quilted using poly because I couldn’t find the shade I needed in cotton!

  8. Poly is my standard thread, it seems to hold up to being washed better and I do a lot of garment work. I do tend to like my thread to match my fabric though, so I’ll use cotton with cotton.

  9. Angelina S. says:

    I must confess that I haven’t actually quilted a quilt myself yet. Eep! I’ve finished some tops, but the quilting is just intimidating to me. I really need to get to it though. I’d probably use cotton thread if I were to start one now, because that’s what I have the most of in my sewing room. I’m generally not a big fan of poly, but I’m intrigued by the “less linty” comment!

    Do you happen to have a cotton thread you would recommend? There is a lady that does machine quilting here, but she refuses to use cotton thread because she says it breaks. We have limited availability here, so I’m not sure what she’s already tried. Do you know of one that is a bit more durable that I might be able to suggest to her?

    Thanks so much!



  10. I’m one of the quilters who prefers polyester thread. My favorite is Fil-Tec Glide because my machines love it and it has a lovely, delicate shine that makes the FM quilting look even better. Sometimes I use So-Fine or a similar thread fob background quilting. I’ve tried various cotton threads, many, many polyester threads, and the Glide remains by favorite.

  11. I have used different threads, depending on the project, I think for Custom work where you have back-tracks you need a fine thread for the build up, That’s when I use So Fine or Bottom Line, but I also use Rasant Poly-coated Cotton Core Thread, apart from the fluff build up its great for E2E.
    When your Machine likes the thread It also helps, I don’t like to ‘play’ with my Tension to much prefering to change thread if there a problem.

  12. Marcia W. says:

    I am just now looking at threads as the older machine we use has been having a lot of issues with thread breaking/shredding, skipping stitches, and interlocking of stitches. Have found that a heavier weight (don’t know what wt as was given to us) cotton thread in the bobbin with a cotton covered polyester in the top seems to work best. There is some fluff so just clean the bobbin area each time change the bobbin. We don’t mess with the tension as the machine doesn’t tweak well. Usually end up with C&C dual duty (or hand quilting thread) as that is what is available locally. If it was more readily available and affordable, would love to do all my hand quilting with Messler silk thread. When have used it, experienced no tangles and it glides through the fabric. My mother just received some Common Threads spools which intend to try on a brown quilt. There does not seem to be any difference between those and C&C.

  13. So glad I found this because that was a debate I was having. I’ve only used cotton in quilts because that was what all the quilters I have met told me, but I think I will give poly a whirl. Have so much of it from sewing and need to use it up.

  14. Gerda Halliday says:

    I had my 30 year old Janome sewing machine tuned before starting my first quilting class.
    Used cotton thread as recommended by the teacher,however after 6 lessons the stitch tension was off.

    After taking my machine back to the sewing centre for service,the
    owners wife informed me the fluff from the cotton thread had
    caused my tension to be off.

    Do you have any suggestions,Could I use another thread,my sampler quilt is made of cotton fabric.

    Gerda H.

  15. I am brand spanking new to machine quilting. I always thought 100% cotton thread but you make some interesting points , I might have to reconsider and at least try poly.

  16. I like that you are mixing your thread…poly on top and cotton in bobbin. It can be confusing, but it’s also reassuring in a way to see so many opinions about what works for them. I read another blogger who swears by always matching top and bobbin threads. But she is also big on using what works for you and your machine.


  1. […] thanks to everyone that commented on my Quilting Thread: Cotton vs. Poly discussion. I randomly selected Leslie as the winner of a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: