Thursday, July 11, 2019

It's time to make a choice...of thread colors!

I'm selecting thread today for an upcoming project, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to share more about the way I go about picking colors.

For basic quilt piecing as a general rule, I will often piece in a neutral thread, such as a light grey (Aurifil 2600) or white (Aurifil 2021), that will blend in with most of the colors of the quilt top.  Depending on the project, sometimes that "neutral" is anything but neutral.  When I'm going to work on a project where the thread will be entirely visible, such as quilting or topstitching on a bag or garment, I get a little more picky on what I use (this is a massive understatement).  ;)

I like to select thread weights and colors before each new project so I can have the right thread on hand and ready to go when I need it.  My process usually starts with comparing the fabric (or zippers/mesh/ribbon) with my trusty Aurifil color card. If I'm torn between a couple of colors or if one isn't quite a perfect match, I will grab a couple of options and go from there.

Based on what I see next to the color card, I would pull color 2588 as a likely match to coordinate with the fabric.

I recommend color cards that have actual product on it when possible for thread or fabric. Purchasing the color cards have saved me a ton of time and money when I need to order online or simply if I can’t remember exactly which solid fabric I used.  In a pinch, I've used pre-printed swatches, but they aren't usually as accurate as the real thing. I wrote a blog post about color cards and DIY versions a couple of years ago that is still applicable, so here's the link.

From there, I pull the colors and unwind a few inches from the spool to see if I like the match or not (this also gives me a chance to see if I need to order more).  If you happen to be thinking, wow, you person must have a lot of thread, please also remember that I have been using Aurifil since 2013, so I've amassed a pretty good stash of colors.  I really do have a lot of thread, but it wasn't purchased at one time.  :)

It's a little hard to see, but the grey thread is spread out over several of the colors so I can see if I like how it looks.

If I unwind a bit and I'm still unsure, I will actually take a small scrap of the fabric and stitch a line of each thread to see how it actually works.  Sometimes you just do what you gotta do, right? ;)  If I am pleased with the color but I think it needs a bit more or less texture, I may decide to use a different thread weight.

One of my favorite things about Aurifil’s cotton thread is that that the color numbers are consistent across the weights, including floss! So, if I have the right color in the wrong weight (i.e. I have it in 50wt, but I want 40wt for my project), I can order with confidence that I’m getting the right color. That makes me super happy (and reduces my stress level)!

As a side note, I also record the colors that I use with each project so that I don't necessarily have to go back through the whole process if I'm using the same fabrics in another project.  :)

Well, that's basically it.  Now it's time to order one spool of thread for my upcoming project so I can get started!