Saturday, April 18, 2020

Favorite thread weight - April 2020 Artisan Challenge

Hey everybody!  After a few health challenges earlier this year, I'm to happy to be back here with you.  Our Aurifil Artisan challenge for April was favorite thread weight.  This one was tough for me because I use different weights for different tasks.  I thought I'd take the opportunity to write it all down and hope that it would lead me to a clear winner starting in the order that I really discovered Aurifil.

So without further ado, off we go!

A thread pull from a recent project that I promise to show you soon!
Top row (50 wt): 2692, 2435, 2600
Bottom row (40 wt) 2435, 5004

50/2 weight - the orange spool
My first Aurifil experience was with 50 weight thread that I purchased at a big sewing/quilting show.  It's a thread that I've been using for 6 years, and it's the weight that I use for all of my quilt piecing.  I use it for traditional patchwork and foundation paper piecing, but I've also used it when I've experimented with projects that had machine appliqué and English paper piecing.  Before I started using 40 weight (coming up next on my list), I also used it for making some bags and machine quilting on a domestic machine.

Why do I like it?  It's fine enough so that it doesn't add bulk in my seams which is super important for accurate piecing, but it's strong enough to give a lot of integrity to my seams. It blends in beautifully and helps me to get the super flat seams that I love.  With 270 colors to choose from, it's rare that I have issues finding the right thread color for my projects.

50wt Aurifil in color 2600 (Dove Grey) used for foundation paper piecing.  Each piece is just over 1/8", so thread weight makes a big difference!

40/2 weight - the green spool
When I started making more bags and quilts, I started really thinking about what I was using and how I wanted it to perform.  I wanted a thread with a bit more heft, so I decided to try Aurifil's 40/2 Mako cotton.  I think it was a game changer for me.

Why do I like it?  I love it for quilting because it gives me just a bit more texture which can be a little tricky when you are the type of person that likes the thread to visually blend in to the fabric.  I use 40 weight when I make bags for the little bit of extra durability from the thicker thread.  The slight increase in thickness over the 50 weight is perfect for topstitching on bags and garments (non-stretch fabrics) too.  I also use 40 weight when I hand bind a quilt or bag.  Binding always seems to have bit more wear and tear, so the slightly heavier thread holds up to that really well.  It isn't really any more visible than 50 weight if you match the color of the thread to the color of your binding.

I love how the 40 wt topstitching looks on this skirt hem. The colors are 1200 (Blue Violet) & 2692 (Black).

Here's some 40 wt used on a bag that I quilted. This is 2479 (Medium Orchid) and 1148 (Light Jade) on the zipper.

Aurifloss cotton floss - available on a wooden spool like 80/2 weight
While I love Aurifloss, I know that it won't beat out 40 and 50 weight for being my favorite, but it's still awesome so I wanted to mention it.  :)

Why do I like it?  I started doing cross stitch last summer, and I love how this thread feels in my hand when I'm stitching.  I love that I can wash my finished projects and not worry about the dye bleeding (this is true with all of the Aurifil thread that I've ever used).  Another thing that I really like is that I can match the colors of my other threads (like the 50 and 40 weight, the same 270 colors are available in the floss).  Plus, it's super cool that I can buy it in the same colors that frequently use in my regular sewing.  Finally, those wooden spools are just so stinkin' adorable.  LOL.

A pretty assortment of Aurifloss in purples and greys.

LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!
I pulled out a couple of projects that I made using the same fabrics, the same stabilizer (yes, it's Soft and Stable®), and the same color of thread, but they were stitched with 2 different thread weights. Let's start with a photo of both projects together.

ByAnnie Ditty Bag (back) and a scaled down ByAnnie Necessories Mini Bag

They don't look that much difference at first glance, right?  Let's look a little bit closer.

Left is 50 wt.  Right is 40 wt.  Both are color 2530 (Blossom Pink)

Same photos just slightly more zoomed in
When you zoom in on the bags, I think it's easier to see the difference.  Can you see that the 40 weight (on the right side of both photos) looks a wee bit thicker?  The weight gives the stitches a little more definition and texture.  I just really love how it looks.  Personally, I don't necessarily think there's an inherent benefit to using the thicker thread other than aesthetics on these types of small projects.  They will not come under tension/weight bearing to the point that there would be a risk of thread failure due to overloading.

I do think that the thread weight can (and does) make a difference when you get into larger projects, especially those that may have a more rough life (ie., lots more trips through the washing machine, bearing heavier loads, being sewn through thicker materials).

I've shared this link before, but I think it's super handy, so I'm sharing it again.  If you've ever wondered what thread weight Aurifil recommends for different types of projects, or if you've wondered what size needle is recommended for the various thread weights, check out Aurifil's Product Guide here.

THE VERDICT
Ok, so I guess it's time to make a call.  I don't think there's really a wrong answer because I do use both of them an awful lot, but if I had to pick only one weight, my pick would have to be 40 weight. From quilting, binding to topstitching garments and bags, 40 weight is the thread that I use for most of my sewing.  With that said, if I was just piecing quilts, I probably would have picked 50 weight. Does that mean I changed my answer?

I did promise to show you my project soon, didn't I?  :)

Yes and no - sometimes the best answer is to not pick just one favorite!  This is the pillow that I made using blocks from the Mini Series Sew Along that featured patterns by Alison Glass and Giuseppe Ribaudo of Giucy Giuce.  I pieced the blocks using 50 weight thread, mostly in Dove Grey (color 2600).  I used 50 weight Black (color 2692) to sew the 4 smaller sub-sections together in the bottom left block (4 - 2" blocks are sewn to make a larger block), and I used 50 weight Peachy Pink (color 2435) to add the sashing.  Once all of the top was pieced, I lightly quilted in the sashing using the same, beautiful Peachy Pink in 40 weight.  Even though it isn't visible, the backing of the pillow is grey, so I used 40 weight Grey Smoke (color 5004).

That's all I've got for you right now, so thanks for spending a bit of time with me today. :)

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