28 weight - 2600, 2024; 40 weight - 3840, 2810, 2600, 2220, 2024, 2535, 5006, 3770
When I decided to start my large wholecloth quilt project, I took a chance to try these different, new-to-me thread weights. Since a wholecloth quilt is made up only of quilting, the heavier weights might really provide contrast (yes, the lower the number, the thicker the thread). I asked Aurifil if they would be willing to let me try out some 40 weight (green colored spool) and 28 weight (gray colored spool) threads, and they were gracious enough to send several spools in specific colors. Thank you, Aurifil!
You can see above how much thicker the 28 weight thread is. Aurifil states on their website that it's best used for machine quilting, embroidery, applique, plus hand applique and hand quilting (it gives great texture). So, I decided to put it to the test...
I tested out the gray thread (2600, my favorite shade ever) on a scrap quilt sandwich. Since I knew I'd be writing words on my wholecloth, I wanted to experiment with writing right away. You can see that the 28 weight thread is still noticeably thicker than 40 weight, but below, further away, it only makes a slight difference. Still, though, both threads are thicker than 50 weight.
I wrote a little message for you. 😉
5 Tips for Working with Heavier Weight Threads
1. Take the time to figure out the right tension on your machine. You may have to adjust your tension dial to accommodate (I did). It can be a frustrating and lengthy process, but it's worth it. Once you've figured out the right settings for different kinds of thread, I suggest writing down your numbers on a handy post-it to keep near your machine. Also, I use a universal needle 80/12 for almost everything, but you may want to try the needles Aurifil suggests (28 weight: Top Stitch 90/14; 40 weight: Sharp/Microtex quilting or denim 80/12).
2. Use a practice quilt sandwich for all tension testing and practicing. It doesn't have to be large (fat quarter size - 18x22 works well for me, or sometimes smaller).
3. Use a thinner thread in the bobbin that's a similar color. I only use 50 weight bobbins - that's the thread I have the most of and I know it works well (plus, Aurifil recommends it on their website!). I haven't tested thicker weight threads in the bobbin but if anyone has, I'd love to hear about your experience. Also, I know that the quilt police like it when you use the same color thread in the top and bobbin... but I hardly ever do. As long as your tension is right, you shouldn't really see the threads!
4. QUILT SLOWLY. Thicker weight threads, especially 28, have more of a chance of breaking/splitting. This didn't happen to me often and I'm thrilled with the quality of the thread, but it's simply MORE thread.
5. Practice tracing over thread to gain even more definition. See below...
This is a small project I started (with more words). On the bottom row, I decided to trace over the stitches to make them stand out even more. I want the words to really show in comparison to the rest of the piece. Overall, I'm very please with how the 28 and 40 weight threads stand out on their own, but you can really add to the effect by tracing.
Background thread - 50 weight; words - 40 weight, traced over 2 or 3 times.
50 weight is my favorite for piecing, but 40 weight is definitely my favorite for machine quilting now. I love to make my quilting SHOW (after all, I put so much work into it!).
So, have you tried changing thread weights? If not, take the chance and dive into the unknown. You might be surprised at the subtle contrast and change in the look of your work!
For further reading, please check out Yvonne (@quiltingjetgirl)'s tutorial for using 12 weight Aurifil on her longarm.