3 of the Best Thread Weights for Piecing and Quilting

Detail of 270 Colors quilt, made by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of Whole Circle Studio. Made with Kona Solids by Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Warm and Natural batting by The Warm Company. Pieced and Quilted with Aurifil 50wt cotton thread.

Before we get into specifics about thread weight, I want to share a bit about my history with thread. When I first started quilting, I used a variety of (mostly inexpensive) threads that I could find at my local big-box store. I had occasional issues with tension and thread breaking but didn’t realize it was because of the thread until I discovered and starting using Aurifil. A few months later, I came across a blog post all about thread quality and looking at different threads under a microscope. This is what really convinced me that thread does indeed matter. Full disclosure: through using their product, I have become an Aurifil Artisan and Aurifilosopher and do receive products from them. I only promote products that I truly love, use and endorse.

50 weight cotton

My “go-to” general purpose thread is 50wt cotton by Aurifil. It truly is a workhorse and I use it for just about everything:
• Machine Piecing
• Machine Quilting
• Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP)
• English Paper Piecing (EPP)
• Needle-turn Applique
• Attaching Binding (machine sewn to the top then hand sewn to the back)

Piecing half square triangles for Stone Slice quilt. Fabric: Sun Print by Alison Glass
Machine Piecing /// Half Square Triangles in progress for Stone Slice quilt

 

Quilting my Butterfly Bunch rainbow quilt on my Juki 2010q with my walking foot.
Machine Quilting ///  Butterfly Bunch quilt

 

Patchwork Petals quilt blocks. An easy Foundation Paper Piecing pattern by Whole Circle Studio. These colorful samples were made from Sun Print 2018 by Alison Glass for Andover Fabrics and are perfect for a quilt swap. Blocks finish to 16.5" square. Made additional blocks and piece them together to make a table runner, mini quilt, throw, twin, queen or king quilt!
Foundation Paper Piecing /// Patchwork Petals quilt

 

English Paper Piecing alphabet letters with Typecast EPP pattern and Aurifil 50wt cotton thread.
English Paper Piecing/// Typecast Alphabet Blocks

 

Needle Turn Applique with 50 wt Aurifil thread.
Needle-Turn Applique /// Think Big! mini quilt

 

Day 27: 365 Days of Handwork Challenge— Saturday night stitching and finishing of latest Big Island Blossom quilt! Whole Circle Studio — 365 Days of Handwork Challenge
Attaching Binding /// Big Island Blossom quilt


I’ve been asked what my favorite color is. How could you possibly choose when 270 colors are available? On top of that, I’m probably one of the few quilters that has quilted with all 270 colors in the same quilt. Read more about 270 Colors here.

270 Colors, a modern quilt designed and created for Italian thread company, Aurifil, to commemorate and celebrate their tenth anniversary in the United States. The quilt features all 270 current colors of Aurifil’s 50wt thread. Designed and made by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of wholecirclestudio.com
detail of 270 Colors, a modern quilt designed and created for Italian thread company, Aurifil, to commemorate and celebrate their tenth anniversary in the United States. The quilt features all 270 current colors of Aurifil’s 50wt thread. Designed and made by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of wholecirclestudio.com QuiltCon 2016. Erin & Bradley of Aurifil USA with Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill of wholecirclestudio.com, designer and maker of quilt.

Okay, okay… if I had to pick one, I’d pick Stone—2324.  It’s the thread shown in the big cone and is a great neutral for piecing.
Aurifil 50wt cotton thread.

40 weight cotton

Aurifil’s thread weight is determined by something called Number English or Ne. Ne is a measure of linear density and refers to the number of hanks of skein material that weigh 1 pound. Under this system, the lower the number, the thicker the thread.

Quilting Hexie Blues quilt with 40wt cotton. Made with Art Gallery Fabrics Denim Studio (variety of colors) and pieced and quilted with Aurifil Cotton Thread. Batting: Warm and Natural by The Warm Company. Pattern by Whole Circle Studio

Detail of Hexie Blues quilt. Made with Art Gallery Fabrics Denim Studio (variety of colors) and pieced and quilted with Aurifil Cotton Thread. Batting: Warm and Natural by The Warm Company. Pattern by Whole Circle Studio
Machine Quilting /// Hexie Blues quilt

As in the case with my Hexie Blues quilt, when I want my machine quilting to stand out, I love using a thicker 40wt cotton thread. The shapes and colors of the quilt top are simple, so I really wanted the quilted straight lines to be the star of the show. I also knew that Hexie Blues was going to be photographed and printed on fabric to be sewn into leggings, so I really wanted the quilting to stand out. Because the quilting is pronounced, people really think I’m wearing a quilt when I have them on!

80 weight cotton

A few years ago Aurifil introduced its 80wt cotton thread. I love using this weight for needle-turn applique. Because the thread is so fine, your stitches just melt into the fabric, hiding any handsewing inconsistencies. At this time, there are less colors available (88 in total) for the 80 weight. If I can’t find a close color match in 80 weight, I use a 50 weight which still works well!

Needle-turn applique mini Double Friendship Knot quilts with 80wt Aurifil
Needle-turn Applique /// Double Friendship Knot mini quilts
Day 49: 365 Days of Handwork Challenge — The last stitch and this block is complete! Appliquéd with a combination of Aurifil 80wt (color 1135) and 50wt (color 2150). Whole Circle Studio — 365 Days of Handwork Challenges
Needle-turn Applique /// Hawaiian-inspired applique with 80wt and 50wt

Want to learn even more about thread?

Be sure to check out Aurifil’s Thread Matters blog series. So much good inspiration and information!

Use your favorite thread colors and make your own mini!

Sew Many Colors — a free foundation paper piecing pattern that makes a mini quilt. Choose your favorite colors and get sewing! Makes a great wall hanging for your sewing studio.
Sew Many Colors — a free foundation paper piecing pattern. Make a mini quilt for your sewing space.
Download the Sew Many Colors pattern for free! I designed the original Sew Many Colors mini quilt as a donation to the Quilt Alliance annual fundraiser in early 2016. The original design contained 12 spools. This updated version contains 10 spools, at actual size, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Aurifil USA in 2017.

Go make something great,


3 of the best thread weights for sewing and quilting. Check out projects and information about using 50 weight, 40 weight and 80 weight Aurifil cotton thread in your quilts. 3 of the best thread weights for sewing and quilting. Check out projects and information about using 50 weight, 40 weight and 80 weight Aurifil cotton thread in your quilts. 3 of the best thread weights for sewing and quilting. Check out projects and information about using 50 weight, 40 weight and 80 weight Aurifil cotton thread in your quilts.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you Sheri. I’ve yet to try 80 wt Aurifil, can’t wait to see how it just melts into my fabric:)
    Thread really makes a difference on my machines too and once I discovered Aurifil, that’s all she gets to use.
    I’m totally enjoying the Blog Hop and can’t wait to see more letters and projects. thank you

    1. Hi Diane, I hope you love the 80wt for applique as much as I do! Thank you for your kind words and following along on the blog tour… there so many awesome projects to come! –Sheri

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