One of the most frequently asked questions I get from students is, “What thread do you like to use for fusible applique?” The answer is a simple. I like to use thread that matches the fabric. What kind of thread? Well, that gets a little more complicated.
Some people like thread that blends perfectly with your applique fabric. To do this, you will need a huge assortment of colors. Pick your favorite brand and your favorite weight, and start investing. I love Aurifil thread 50 weight for applique. When you get the exact color of your fabric, the applique stitch practically disappears. Getting every color imaginable gets expensive, however.
There are times when I prefer the 30 weight thread to really build up along the edge of the applique and “finish” the raw edges. 30 weight Aurifil thread sew beautifully in my machine and highlights the applique edges. This is especailly nice when using a variety of decorative machine stitches. In this case we are not looking for the thread to blend, but to stand out boldly in texture and even in color. Think of applique motifs from the 1930s with black hand stitching. You can get a similar look with machine stitching with 30 weight thread.
Other times, I want my applique stitch to completely disappear, and I will reach for 80 weight Aurifil, or 100 weight Invisifil by Wonderfil. Invisifil has a distinct advantage: Invisifil is so very fine, the polyester thread takes on the color of the surrounding applique fabric. A rather narrow range of thread colors can be used on a huge range of fabric colors.
If you have ever taken a workshop with me, you know that I am a huge fan of variegated thread for buttonhole stitching, satin stitching, zig zag stitching and couching. I just love the way that the variegated threads have such a nice blend of colors in them. There are a bunch of brands out there, and I collect them all. Superior’s King Tut line, Sulky blendables and YLI variegated Machine Quilting thread all work well. Wonderfil has a lovely line called Tutti. All of these threads work great for machine applique and double as machine quilting threads.
To me, it is all about the color combinations. Depending on the variety of fabrics in my applique quilt, I often can find one variegated thread that brings all the colors together, eliminating the need to change threads with every applique fabric.
My favorite brand of Variegated threads are Wonderfil Tutti threads. These are a little harder to find than the other brands, so I have decided to start carrying them in my shop to serve my customers better, especially those that are taking Zoom workshops online with me.
When I make a quilt such as Mint Chocolate, I use a wide variety of green fabrics. Changing threads between light, medium and dark green fabrics takes time, and I wouldn’t like to see different threads in this type of quilt.
So I used the Wonderfil Tutti 50 weight Egyptian cotton thread in Evergreen, which has all shades of green and even a bit of teal. I have to say, I’m pretty obsessed with this color way!
Most of my quilts have green leaves somewhere on there! This thread is perfect for my leafy, viney, gardeny quilts!
I thought that Rock (TU-36) was the perfect choice for this Tiles Table Runner quilt. The table runner has all shades of brown, navy, white, beige and Burgundy. Rock blends well with every color and again, I was able to use one thread throughout the quilt.
I have added the full line of Wonderfil Tutti Variegated threads to our website shop. I have also ordered the color charts that are actual thread, not a printed picture of the thread. You can find all the threads and the color chart here.
What thread do I use in my bobboin?
I don’t like to use variegated thread in my bobbin. The colors never match up top to bobbin anyway, so why waste that beautiful thread? Instead, I use Decobob bobbin thread by Wonderfil. This Cottonized Polyester thread is 80 weight (so you can wind a huge amount on your bobbin) but it pairs well with a 50 weight thread on top. Don’t ask me how, but Wonderfil has developed this thread to match the tension of a 50 weight cotton top thread. Wonderfil offers pre-wound bobbins of Decobob in neutral colors (I carry a medium gray) and in an assortment of all colors in one sampler pack.
Official Bobbin Guide: Find the bobbin that fits your machine
All machines are not created equal. Bobbins come in three sizes (two for domestic machines, class 15 and L) and one for long-arm machines (M-Class). To find the pre-wound bobbin size that is right for your machine, use the Official Bobbin Reference Guide you can find here: Official+Bobbin+Guide
Using Wonderfil Vareigated threads and Decobob bobbins takes all the work out of changing colors for applique! Use a neutral gray in your bobbin, and a variegated thread on the top and enjoy stitching applique again!