“Each of us is a unique thread, woven into the beautiful fabric of our collective consciousness.” Jaeda DeWalt

There is something magical about a hand-quilted quilt. In addition to adding texture, the time involved in hand-quilting adds a dimension of intimacy to a quilt. We love the growing trend of mixing touches of hand-quilting with machine quilting. In her articleThread., Heidi Parkes discusses her tips and tricks for picking and using threads for hand quilting. 

Thread. by Heidi Parkes in Curated Quilts: House, issue no. 6.

The first thing to consider when choosing what thread to use is to recognize that quality matters. Poor quality threads, as they are pulled through layers of fabric, will wear thin and snap easier. 

Parkes recommends using a mercerized thread. Mercerizing is a process used during the manufacturing of cotton threads that helps strengthen thread and absorb dye better. It also gives the thread a silky, vibrant look. Be aware that some threads, depending on their intended use, have more twist in them. This can make the thread more likely to get tangled while quilting. 

Parkes prefers using a thick thread for her quilting and mending. The thicker the thread, the more it will show your stitches. “I like to show off that it’s hand-quilted. I believe time is one of the most valuable commodities on Earth, and that something obviously sewn by hand innately looks valuable and beautiful.” Threads come in a variety of thicknesses. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the skinnier the thread. Thread thickness will vary a bit brand to brand. 

Thread. by Heidi Parkes in Curated Quilts: House, issue no. 6.

There are a number of good-quality threads currently on the market available in a slew of colors and various fibers. Some seasoned quilters suggest using the same thread fiber as fabric fiber. For example, use a cotton thread with cotton fabrics, polyester thread with polyester fabric, etc. Many thread manufacturers will tell you that current manufacturing processes are more advanced than they were in the past, yielding a higher quality of thread so quilters don't need to worry as much about using different fibers with one another. 

If you decide to use a specialty thread, such as one that contains a metallic/shiny fiber in it, your thread will wear thin more quickly. We recommend changing your thread more often to preserve its strength. When picking a thread we also recommend you assess how your quilt will be used. If it is for the wall, laundering will be minimal, if at all, and thus opens more options of the types of thread that can safely be used. If you are using the quilt on the bed or at the park, you may consider how materials will wear on one another and choose a thicker, more durable fiber. Heidi’s favorite threads to use are DMC Pearl Cotton Balls, size 8 and Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Cotton, size 10. 

Thread. by Heidi Parkes in Curated Quilts: House, issue no. 6.

You can read the full article, Heidi Parkes inCurated Quilts: House, issue no. 6.

Heidi Parkes is an author, teacher, designer, and quiltmaker. In her work she creates a scaffolding of fabric, piecing, and quilting that allows her to reference many ideas on a single plane. The materials she uses are pieced together to create the main imagery of her quilts. The cloth is then beset with hand stitches, evocative of the slow process involved in construction, and functioning as a layer of ‘drawing’ on the quilts surface. She can be found online and on Instagram at @heidi.parkes.

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By Brittany Bowen Burton

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