The Best Thread for Machine Quilting: How to Choose & Where to Buy

Updated 4/16/2021

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Polyester or Cotton thread? What thread weight, and how many plies? Many questions occur when speaking of quilting.

Whether you are a seasoned sewer or quilter (or both) or not: everyone can imagine the wide range of threads available nowadays. Since quilting requires some extra strong threads to keep the quilt sandwich together and hold the batting strong enough, it is understandable that you are seeking the best of the best, to enjoy your quilts as long as possible and have a smooth quilting experience with your home machine – as it should be. 

But, as this type of thread serves not only to keep everything together but also to be a decorative part of your projects, you may want to delve into this a bit deeper. Luckily, many threads have the traits of both. Today, we will talk about the right and best material of thread and where to buy the best threads for machine quilting, and what to consider before you buy. Read on below to discover our complete guide and favorite choices on the different thread used for quilting.

Thread Weight

Before we jump onto our favorite and reviewed thread types, let’s talk about something else first: the thread weight.

A spool of thread comes with many small numbers and indicators on it. Things you will come across are, for example, the yardage, manufacturer, and the color reference, but an indicator you will not be able to ignore (and shouldn’t) is the thread weight, noted as WT. As you presumably know, the weight here is a nifty way to indicate the thread’s thickness. 

This little number shows you immediately whether the yarn will be an eyecatcher on your quilt (thicker) or just used as a filler/binder (thinner) that complements the colors of your quilt itself. 

However, it’s important to remember that a thread weight from different brands can have the same weight but still feel and work differently from each other. Similar to buying shoes, there is not one brand in the world that holds up the standard for a ‘regular’ size 8. 

To explain where this indication comes from, it is used to indicate the thread’s actual weight pertaining to the length. WT40 means that 40 kilometers of this yarn weigh 1 kilogram. Internationally recognizable, super handy. The lower the weight, the heavier the thread is. 

Many yarns have an extra indication, for example, a 40/2 or 40/3. After the weight indication, the second number implies the amount of twined threads that have been twisted around each other, also referred to as “ply.” In this case, the more ply, the stronger the thread.

Top tip: a ‘rule’ to keep in mind is to use a heavier thread with heavier projects and lighter ones with thinner, delicate fabrics. 

The Best Thread to Use For Machine Quilting

Even though there are many types of quilting threads available and suitable to quilt with a sewing or quilting machine, the most commonly used type is a WT 40 or WT 50 cotton thread for any regular home machine. Cotton has been used since the early days of quilting and runs excellent on almost any sewing machine, has a matte finished look, and lasts long. It is reliable and strong, and even this single type of thread has many variants: they can differ from ply, for example. 

Choosing a 40 weight cotton yarn will show the stitches beautifully on the quilt, and it is thin enough to be used without any problems in a sewing machine. However, you could also opt for a combination of cotton-poly thread or 100% polyester for free-motion quilting.

Below, we have selected our top 7 best threads for quilting. Read on and discover!

#1: Superior Threads King TUT Quilting Thread #939 Heather

Superior Threads King TUT Quilting Thread #939 Heather - 2000 Yard Cone
Superior Threads King TUT Quilting Thread #939 Heather - 2000 Yard Cone

Superior Threads is probably a name you have come across already more than once. And that’s for a reason. King TUT is a beautiful range of 135 different colors and shades and is made of 100% Egyptian Cotton. This heather #939 quality thread is a 40 Wt King Tut is a Wt, 3-ply extra-long staple cotton thread. The thread is extremely strong, doesn’t fray or break, and has extremely low lint. A winner, without a doubt! 

#2: Aurifil Christa Quilts Piece and Quilt Colors Thread Kit

Aurifil Christa Quilts Piece and Quilt Colors Thread Kit 12 Large Spools 50 Weight
Aurifil Christa Quilts Piece and Quilt Colors Thread Kit 12 Large Spools 50 Weight

Two things we love: kits and colors. It can’t be a coincidence that we chose this thread kit by one of the best brands in the market for our reviews list! This kit is originally designed by blogger Christa Quilts and contains 12 large WT 50 spools of quilting thread in bright colors. It is a 100% long-staple cotton fiber that will do the job for all your flat seams, with a soft, supple finish. We are sold!

#3: Connecting Threads 100% Cotton Thread

Connecting Threads 100% Cotton Thread - 1200 Yard Spool (Brown)
Connecting Threads 100% Cotton Thread - 1200 Yard Spool (Brown)

Despite the fact that this thread for quilting is made of 100% cotton, the brand Connecting Threads supplied this spool of thread with an appealing satin finish. The color is beautiful, exactly what kind of sewing thread we like (and need) for all our quilting dreams. It is a 50-weight thread made from three plies of 100% long-staple cotton. A smooth thread, less lint, and available in 11 beautiful colors to choose from.

#4: New Brothread’s 16 Variegated Colors 100% Mercerized Cotton Threads

New brothread - 18 Options - Multi-Purpose 100% Mercerized Cotton Threads 50S/3 600M(660Y) Each Spool for Quilting, Serger, Sewing and Embroidery - 16 Variegated Colors
New brothread - 18 Options - Multi-Purpose 100% Mercerized Cotton Threads 50S/3 600M(660Y) Each Spool for Quilting, Serger, Sewing and Embroidery - 16 Variegated Colors

This multi-purpose cotton thread comes in a variety of 16 beautiful colors to finish all your quilting and sewing projects. Each spool contains a 30 WT thickness of 600 yards, extra-long-staple, mercerized cotton thread. The 30 weight is a perfect mid-way, as it is not too thick and not too thin either. The biggest benefit to choosing this type of thread is that there are many other applications for this thread in sewing!

#5: Signature Thread Signature Ctn 3000yd 100% Cotton Quilt Thread

Signature Thread Signature Ctn 3000yd 100% Cotton Quilt Thread 3000 White
Signature Thread Signature Ctn 3000yd 100% Cotton Quilt Thread 3000 White

Signature Thread brings us, with this 3000 yard, 100% cotton thread, an excellent option to use in all our quilting projects. The basic but beautiful white color does a great job, doesn’t shred or break, and is a perfect option for quilt piecing. It is a strong, 40 weight fiber and loved by many quilters. Next to that, it is also a good option for decorative applications in a subtle color. The thread is, nonetheless, suitable for a longarm as well.

#6: Superior Threads Arabian Nights 3-Ply 40W King TUT Cotton Quilting Thread

Superior Threads 121029XX935 Arabian Nights 3-Ply 40W King TUT Cotton Quilting Thread, 2000 yd
Superior Threads 121029XX935 Arabian Nights 3-Ply 40W King TUT Cotton Quilting Thread, 2000 yd

The brand Superior Threads occurred already once on our list of best threads, and with a quality thread like this, that’s not a surprise. This beautiful variegated thread, made of, once again, 100% cotton – will give all your quilting projects that finishing touch of magic. Both suitable for piecing quilt as quilting itself, this fine 40 Wt thread is the right choice. It brings no issues such as breaking, lint, or tangling; all in all, a great thread for quilting with the beautiful trusted Superior Threads quality we’re used to.

#7: Aurifil 50WT Mako 100% Cotton Thread

3-Pack - Aurifil 50WT - Muslin + Light Beige + Beige, Solid - Mako Cotton Thread - 1422Yds Each
3-Pack - Aurifil 50WT - Muslin + Light Beige + Beige, Solid - Mako Cotton Thread - 1422Yds Each

When you are a fan of subtle and natural colors like we are, Aurifil knows how to meet your needs. With this three-pack of 1422 yards thread, your quilting projects are without a doubt elevated to a professional and stylish looking result. It is a mercerized, long-staple quality that lasts incredibly long, is super strong, and won’t disappoint you. Luckily, there are many other colors and color combinations available from Aurifils quality.

Materials and Fibers 101: Cotton Thread vs. Polyester Thread

Do you still find yourself in a glitch and can’t decide which fiber thread to use? Below, we’ve listed a brief explanation of the most common types of thread: polyester thread and cotton thread.

Cotton Thread 

Soft, durable, strong, as described earlier. The fact that a cotton thread has almost no stretch in it makes it even a more robust and better choice for heavy-duty quilting projects; it will not stretch or lose its shape over time. It also works a lot better under the pressure of heat compared to polyester thread and will maintain in best shape under the heat of fast friction.​

Polyester Thread 

This fine synthetic fiber does have a little stretch to it. A polyester thread is perfect for when you are looking for a bit more flexibility and stretches in your quilting. A big benefit to a polyester thread is that it sheds less lint than cotton and is less costly. 


How do I choose a quilt thread?

This depends on what your desired outcome is. Try to determine what fabrics you will use making your quilt, combine that with your budget and the appearance of the thread on your quilt. Do you want to show the stitches off on the quilt? Opt for a lower weight, which comes down to a heavier thread. 

What thread is best for machine quilting?

In our opinion, that will be Superior Threads King TUT, our number one choice. The Egyptian Cotton is extremely durable and available in a 2000 yard cone. It is compatible with most home machines. However, there are many other great options, depending on your preferences. Other great brands include Aurifil, Mettler, and Gutermann.

Is Gutermann thread good for quilting?

Gutermann is one of the brands used most by quilters and people who love patchworking. But, of course, this depends on your specific needs. 

Can I use polyester thread for quilting?

Yes, you can. Polyester is a new kid on the block in quilting, but it is an excellent option for a quilt that you want to last long. This synthetic fiber of the thread holds up very well. 

What color thread should I use for quilting?

Depending on the design of your quilt and if you want the stitching to stand out and be visible, try to either color match or color clash!

Can you use all-purpose thread for machine quilting?

As there doesn’t exist any rule on this, we would recommend you to try and see what your sewing machines like. Nowadays, there are so many different types of thread used in quilting with the machine that the best thing to do is to try different types of sewing thread to see how it works. But, stay away from hand quilting thread!

Can an embroidery thread be used for quilting?

Even though cotton and polyester are the most common thread types used in hand quilting and quilting on a home machine, embroidery thread can also be utilized for any quilting project. However, it is vital to find the right tension on your sewing machine as the right one may differ in any fiber and weight.

Is quilting thread stronger than regular thread?

As mentioned earlier, the most common types of thread used in both hand quilting and machine-based quilting are either cotton, cotton-poly blend, or polyester. These threads are often considered stronger than all-purpose due to the mercerized layer; it reduces lint and is specifically designed to pass through the fabric fluently. However, never use hand quilting thread for machine work. The thread that is used for hand quilting contains a layer of wax that can damage your machine! 

A Final Word

With all the different threads, colors, weights, and fibers available to us right now (and all the beautiful options on our reviews list), it is safe to say that there’s something for everyone. Our takeaway is that the most suitable thread for quilting on a free motion quilting sewing machine depends on your needs and how you wish your quilt to look, where a 50 weight thread or 40 weight thread is most common. By making small adjustments to your thread’s weight and material, and to play and experiment with the tension of your machine, you are most likely to find exactly what meets your needs.

A final top tip from us when trying out new threads: make sure to take the time to consider what works best for you and your machine. According to us, there are a lot of great brands available, such as Mettler, Gutermann, Superior Threads, and Coats and Clark. Start with a new needle when you are out for a new quilting project, and try testing out your threads first on leftover fabrics when you’re unsure how it will turn out.

By the way, other fine quilting threads as metallic thread, silk are beautiful (and suitable) too and are a good option to add some beautiful embroidery designs to your quilt top!

Have you found your perfect thread for quilting? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments! Happy Crafting!