Saturday, December 23, 2017

Piecing Threads - weight and fiber content

Piecing the top of a quilt together is actually my favorite part of the whole quilting process!  I just love to sit and make blocks…I can get lost in that for hours…

What about piecing threads?  I have lots of things to say about that! 

Fiber content
Do you piece with 100% cotton?  That’s the traditional way.  And there are some good reasons for it.

If you are using 100% cotton fabric, then using the same fiber content for thread assures that the fabric and thread will age at the same rate.  Historically, we have “believed” that using a poly piecing thread on cotton fabric will “cut” the fabric because the poly is so much stronger.  In the new quilting millennium, we are finding that the soft polys probably don’t cut the fabric.  But polyester will certainly age more slowly than cotton.  So the choice is yours.  If it is important to you that your quilting fibers age at the same rate then use all-cotton thread on cotton fabric.  We have quilts in museums and collections that are 150 years old and were made with all cotton materials and are still in beautiful shape.  As a quilting culture, we have a lot of experience with cotton and we know how it performs.

Cotton, by nature, is fibrous and has a “grippy” nature to it as the fibers cling together.  We RELY on that when piecing; that’s what allows your fabrics to move under the presser foot evenly, when the feed dogs are only pulling on the bottom layer.  Cotton thread has a grippy nature, too.  Threads are treated on the surface to remove fuzziness – the premium threads are very smooth and have been through multiple processes to create a silky surface.  That process is called “mercerizing” and thread companies take great care to have mercerizing steps that make the thread smooth but do not compromise the strength or consistency of the thread. 

But cotton thread is somewhat grippy, even when it is very smooth, and we rely on that feature for the thread to fill the hole created by the needle.  To make an evenly filled seam.

It is certainly possible to piece with polyester and many people do.  But remember that the poly is a form of plastic and it will not fill the hole created by the needle in the same way that cotton does.  So if it is important to you to have a smooth, filled seam line, use cotton. 

Even when quilting on top, these considerations are the same. 

Finally, there are threads that contain a combination of cotton and poly.  For example, a poly core that is wrapped with cotton.  I find that most quilters want more control over the thread and how it performs and they will select an all-cotton or all-poly thread.  The threads with a combination of fibers usually are constructed with a “wrapped” technique rather than a twist and the wraps don’t always go through your machine without incident.

The Wonderfil company makes their poly threads with a technique that they call “cottonized” and these threads are exceptionally soft and easy to use.  Master Quilter, DecoBob, and Invisifil all are cottonized.

I pieced and quilted this miniature pineapple quilt
with 100-weight Invisafil cottonized polyester thread.

Thread Weight
Generally speaking, thread weights run from thick to thin, 0 to 100.  [That’s not entirely true but it works for discussion purposes.]  In the middle, the average weight thread is a 50 weight and that’s what you have been using for piecing.  Quilters like a 50- or 60-weight thread for piecing.  Strong and easy to use.

Some threads have two plys twisted together, some have three.  Three-ply thread is probably the most traditional and it will feel more familiar to you (if you took home ec in 1968 like I did).

Thread takes up room in the seam allowance.  So the smaller your block pieces are, the more you need to pay attention to your thread weight.

A 60-weight thread or a 50-weight two ply thread will give you a finer seam than a 50-weight three ply thread.  50-weight two-ply threads perform more like the 60-weight thread in your block.  Both are strong. 

Finer threads such as 80-weight or 100-weight are not as strong.  I use those for piecing art quilts that will not have as much wear and tear.  I also use them for embellishment (like machine blanket stitching or thread painting) and I use 80-weight thread in the bobbin for many different kinds of threads on the top.

Test your piecing results in the traditional way.  Cut with precision, sew with precision, and then spread your pieces apart to see if they result in exactly the dimension that you expect.  If they don’t, and you can’t explain it any other way, your thread may be too heavy for this project.

For example, a 40-weight thread (typically the weight for quilting on top) is a little too heavy for most piecing.  If you’re applying a big ol’ border at midnight and 40-weight thread is all you have in the house, use it!  But remember that for precision piecing you’ll need a finer thread.

When you CHANGE thread with different weights in a project or between different projects, remember to test your results again.

Some people find two-ply 50-weight threads to be a little too fragile for them.  Especially if your machine puts a lot of stress on the thread or if you are pulling hard when you hand-sew.  If that describes you, change to a three-ply 50-weight thread.  You’ll notice a difference right away.

Do your completed quilts have seam pops after they have been washed or used?  To avoid this, use a three-ply thread for piecing. 

Here is a list of threads available from Threadmongers – you know that my advice will be to try them all!!

Cotton – solid colors in spools and cones

Aurifil – 50-weight, two-ply (all weights of Aurifil are two-ply)
Konfetti from Wonderfil – 50-weight, three-ply
Masterpiece from Superior – 50-weight, three-ply on the spool or cone
Masterpiece from Superior – 50-weight, two-ply on prewound bobbins
Presencia – 50-weight, three-ply
Presencia – 60-weight, three-ply
Signature 60 – 60-weight, three-ply
Valdani – 50-weight, three-ply
Valdani – 60-weight, three-ply

These are all premium threads, with the premium long-staple cotton fibers and the best manufacturing practices.  All are lovely and easy to use.  I have used them ALL with success. 

Polyester – solid colors in spools and cones

Bottom Line from Superior – 60-weight, two-ply
So Fine from Superior – 50-weight, three-ply
DecoBob from Wonderfil – 80-weight, two-ply
Invisafil from Wonderfil – 100-weight, two-ply

Every thread has its place in the sun!  There is no “best” thread.  Each manufacturer takes great pride in their product and they are eager for you to try them all.  I like to use the threads that I think are best for my project.  For baby quilts and kids’ quilts I try to quilt for DURABILITY as my first consideration. 

But wait, there’s more!
If you think that this is a list of all the threads available from Threadmongers, you’re wrong!  There are many more choices of quilting, embellishing, and applique threads.  Be sure to visit the great Pacific Northwest quilt shows where Threadmongers is a vendor.  If you’re looking for a particular thread or have a question, just contact us through the comments section on this blog!

YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE THREADS is an important step in skill building.  Try several and see what they do.  There is no substitute for experience, and as you learn how they perform you’ll be able to choose just the right thread for your project every time!

A link to more info!
Finally, have you already read my little essay on using neutral and colored thread for piecing? 
Check it out at this link:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Quilts for foster kids - a dedicated group!

Quilters by the River show a few quilts for foster kids.

One of our local quilting groups (and there are several) has a tradition of making quilts for foster kids; both kids in fostering programs and kids aging out.  They recently passed the 1000 quilt mark, in fact, they blew through it!  Now at 1031! 

They are featured on the front page of the Skagit Valley Herald, Wednesday, December 13, 2017.  The photo was taken at their Christmas party on December 12. 

This is but one example of the benevolent work done by quilt guilds all over the nation and all over the world.  Are you part of a quilting group?  Your life will be richer for it.

Thanks to everyone who quilts for the comfort of others!

Photo from Skagit Valley Herald.  See link below.  Thanks to them for reporting quilting news!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Block Party Quilters in Issaquah! Nov. 10-11-12, 2017!

It's time to close out the quilt guild show year with a spectacular show!  The Block Party Quilters in Issaquah are up to the challenge - they always have a fun show with surprises and inspiration!

The Issaquah Community Center might be the PERFECT quilt show venue.  Lots of natural light, even in these gray days of November, and plenty of room to display and appreciate quilts!

Come early and stay late.  Issaquah has a lot to offer and the Block Party Quilters are ready to show you what they have been up to. 

Threadmongers will be there!  You need thread to last you through the winter!!

Here's the link:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Washington Stars Quilt Guild - Show October 13-14 in Olympia!

The Washington Stars are having
a two-day quilt show in a great,
central location for the
South Sound area!

Quilts, demos, vendors, boutique, and fun!

Come on out and be inspired - meet this great group of quilters.

Threadmongers will be there - winter is coming - YOU NEED THREAD!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Westside Quilters Guild - Hillsboro Oregon - October 7-8!

The Portland Metro Area has a zillion quilters!  Many of them are on the "west side" and enjoy quilting camaraderie with the Westside Quilters Guild!

So they're planning a GREAT show for you at the Tuality Health Education Center in beautiful Hillsboro.  I have been visiting that town for many years - primarily in my former career - but I have been to this quilt show, too, and it is so much fun!

October 7-8 is coming up soon.  Threadmongers will be there plus some other popular vendors and a member boutique.  

Featured quilters are Violet Craft and AnnMarie Cowley.  I KNOW you have been admiring Violet Craft designs lately. 

Did you know that you can get to Hillsboro on the MAX train?  I have done it.

Anyway, here's the link:

Be sure to turn out and support quilt guild shows.  The guilds do such wonderful charity work all year around and they are so proud to share their love of quilting with neighbors, friends, and other quilters!

You need thread!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sea Pals/Ocean Shores Quilt Show Sept. 15-16-17!

It's that lovely time of year again - fall!  When the rains return to give us some relief from wildfires and dust, and when our thoughts turn to quilting!

Often, when it's raining inland it's sunny at the beach!  You know this is true if you're a native Pacific Northwest person.  Well, the Sea Pals will have another AMAZING quilt show, rain or shine!

This is one of the best quilt shows in one of the best venues that happens all year.  A perfect time for you to come on out and enjoy summer's waning days and get jazzed up for your wintertime quilting. 

Threadmongers will be there!  Wouldn't miss it.  The Sea Pals and I have a long relationship and I just love their guild and their show. 

This year I'm doing my demo, "#12 Threads and their Friends".  If you are thinking about using these extra heavy threads in your projects, come on out for the demo and a great selection from three manufacturers!

Also, are you looking for the new 80-weight Aurifil thread?  It's coming in!  Come and see what I have in stock and give it a try. 

So plan a trip to the beach!  It's so can almost smell the ocean air.  Come on out and enjoy it for real!

You need thread!

Here's the link:

Ocean Shores Convention Center!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Quilting Summer for the Threadmonger!

I have had a nice block of time this summer to get some things done around the house - including quilting!!  Uninterrupted sewing time - are you jealous?

Lots of quilt finishes on the horizon - I have a bunch of tops completed now. Basting begins tomorrow! 

In the meantime, here are some finishes from earlier this year, and the ribbons I won in the Skagit County Fair!  Fully half of the quilt entries in the fair were from the quilters in my town - members of Quilters by the River. 

This is a quilting town!

Chippy's Scrappy Pouch
I did the embroidery on this piece with some great #12 threads!

Big Print Houses - traditional block

Birdies in the 'Hood - Neighborhood pattern by Elizabeth Hartman

This is a challenge piece that represents my birthday!
Cat pattern by Bonnie Sullivan.

Churn Dash Conversation - traditional block.

Pansy Party - pattern by Billie Lauder

See you at the Sea Pals' show in September!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sunbonnet Sues in Sequim!

The annual Sequim Lavender Festival brings a lot of folks to town - but so do the quilts!  What a great event they have for a midsummer adventure.  You need to take a day or a weekend and come on out to Sequim for the lavender, the friendliness, and the quilt show!

I saw the raffle quilt last year when it was still just a top and I KNEW that it would be spectacular!  And it is!  Their theme is "Don't bug me, I'm quilting".  Bugs galore!

And because Sequim is the World Headquarters for The Applique Society you can always expect some great applique.  Bugs and flowers and everything!

Threadmongers will be there - my 10th year with the Sunbonnet Sues!  So much fun and many long time friends.  You need thread!

Here's the link:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Threadmongers will be at these fine quilt shows through 2017!

Here is my schedule for the rest of 2017.  I'll look forward to seeing YOU there - bring your list - you need thread!!

Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club
July 21-22-23, 2017
Sequim Middle School, Sequim WA

Sea Pals Quilt Guild
September 15-16-17, 2017
Ocean Shores Convention Center, Ocean Shores WA

West Side Quilters
October 7-8, 2017
Tuality Health Education Center, Hillsboro OR

Washington Stars Quilt Guild
October 13-14, 2017
Washington Land Yacht Harbor Event Center, Olympia WA

Gig Harbor Quilters – Meeting Speaker
November 1, 2017
Gig Harbor Yacht Club, Gig Harbor, WA

Block Party Quilters
November 10-11-12, 2017
Issaquah Community Center, Issaquah, WA

Most of you know that you can call me "between shows" when you need something!  Happens all the time!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Blast of Birds quilt show - July 14-15-16!

What better way for me to celebrate Threadmongers' TWELVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY than to be a vendor at my own guild's quilt show!! 

Woolley Fiber Quilters will have their 8th annual quilt show July 14-15-16 at Cascade Middle School in Sedro-Woolley.  We have finally found a venue that allows us to have the entire show in one place, but we had to tweak the show dates a little and move from June to July.  This popular show will be fun and frenzied, as usual, and we have SO MANY lovely things to show you!

250+ quilts on display, member boutique, vendors, demonstrations, and the unforgettable BED TURNING, brought to you by Teri Bever.  What will she have up her sleeve this year?  Come and find out!

The entrance to Cascade Middle School is just off Highway 9; turn right on the McGarigle Road and you'll see the quilt show signs immediately.  Great parking!

Threadmongers will be part of nine excellent vendors for you.  Need scissors sharpened?   Bring them along!  Butch Stearns will be set up to sharpen them!

Thanks to all my customers who have supported me for 12 years - especially my VERY FIRST CUSTOMER in 2005, Alene Kempton Gragg!  I remind her of this every year.  She is part of my long-time quilting group, the Variable Stars in Vancouver WA.  Shout out to them and to the many customers who have become friends through the years.  Just had two calls from customer/friends this week!  A sweet anniversary.  Thank you all.

I'm sure YOU NEED THREAD!  See you at Blast of Birds this weekend!

Here's the link:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bibbity bobbin boo!

Just a quick reminder:

Are you interested in trying prewound bobbins?

The most important thing to know about this is WHAT SIZE bobbin your machine uses!!

Threadmongers carries:

  • L style
  • Class 15
  • or M Style (used by some longarm machines)

Here is a resource for you on prewounds:

Make a point of knowing what size bobbins your machine uses.  If you have more than one machine...make sure you identify them all!  That way, when you come across the prewound bobbins at the Threadmongers booth you'll know what to choose!

The best way to know how prewound bobbins perform in your machine is to try them!

If your friend has a machine that takes the same size, share a package of prewounds so you can both get the experience. 

See you at the next quilt show!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Yakima Valley Quilters show - May 19-20!

What a great weekend for a quilt show!  We are so inspired by SPRING!

The Yakima Valley Quilters have a show every other year, and THIS IS IT!  They are spreading out at the Yakima Convention Center - rumor is that they had so many  more entries than they expected that they had to take over two extra rooms. You know that means quilters have been busy!

So come to Yakima this weekend - after all this inspiration YOU'LL NEED THREAD!  And you knew I was going to say that...

Here's the link:

See you in Yakima!!

Monday, April 10, 2017

All in Stitches Quilt Show in EVERETT!!!! April 28-29, 2017

Here's a GREAT new addition to our regional family of quilt shows - the All In Stitches quilt guild has planned a terrific new show for you in EVERETT!!  At the Xfinity Arena on Hewitt Avenue.

Full disclosure:  I lived in Everett for a long time, a long time ago.  Everett needed a quilt show then and they need one now.  Here it is!! 

Not only are there beautiful quilts to see and inspiring vendors, but the AIS crew has planned an opening night gala, classes, evening lecture, demonstrations, and some special fun for kids!!

Threadmongers will be there!

This show is EASY ACCESS from I-5, which is another feature we have needed in quilt shows for a long time.  There are local restaurants for a nice lunch and overnight accommodations if you are so inclined.  Do you sew in your hotel room?  (I do...)

Remember that Threadmongers has the BEST prices on quilting threads in the region.  Plan to stock up on Aurifil, King Tut, So Fine, Invisafil, Master Quilter, Konfetti, Kimono and YLI silk, Valdani quilting thread and pearl cotton, and literally DOZENS more of your favorites. 

Bring your machine's bobbin size if you are shopping for prewound bobbins!  Class 15 and L style bobbins are in stock with cotton and poly to choose from!

Let's all support this new quilt show venture - see you in Everett!

You need thread!!

Here's the link:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Clark County Quilters walk on the wild side! April 6-7-8!

Clark County Quilters are in the Clark County Event center for the second year!  Right off I-5!  (Exit 9)

We had so much fun last year in a big new space with lots of room to turn around - which, of course, means better viewing of quilts! 

[Full disclosure:  I'm a member of this guild!  I lived in Vancouver WA for a long time and was active with this BIG, talented group.  Even though I moved away in 2006, I'm still a member to keep in touch with my friends!]

And you need to know the work of Featured Quilter, Barbara Shapel.  She is just amazing.
Especially since she uses lots of THREAD...
This is a three-day show so you can be sure and come.  They even offer a three-day pass!  Quilt shows are full of energy and fun.  LOTS of people spend three days at this one!
So gather up your quilty friends and zoom on over to the CCQ show - you'll want to walk on the wild side, too!  Here's the link: 
 With all this inspiration, you'll need thread!!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quilting Economic$! Tri-City Quilters' Guild March 24-25

Those clever quilters in the Tri-Cities are putting the final touches on their quilts for the "Quilting Economic$" show this Friday and Saturday, March 24-25!  Held again at the beautiful and spacious Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, the show's featured artist is Geneva Carroll and guest artist is Jason Yenter!

Come and see 400 quilts!  Plus the Raffle quilt, Community Service Quilts, Guild Challenge, a Silent Auction, and 35+ vendors!  Yes!  Threadmongers will be there! 

It's time to spice up your thread stash and be ready for the many ideas you have for your 2017 quilting year!  If you're wondering about those thick threads, I'll be doing a demo on "#12 Threads and their Friends" that you'll want to attend.  I'll give you more ideas.  So nice to be able to help quilters finish a project beautifully!

So plan to cruise on out to Kennewick and enjoy the terrific hospitality of the Tri-Cities Quilters' Guild.  Here's the link:

You need thread!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Kitsap Quilters present "Rhapsody in Blue" February 17-18, 2017!!

It's here!  A long, snowy winter has its reward - the Kitsap Quilter's show!!  First show of the season and we're all eager to get out there and see the beautiful work the Kitsap Quilters have created since last February.

So as we count down to the show opening on Friday, quilters are getting ready to admire and inspire!  Come on out to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds this weekend.  Easy parking, easy access, always a festive mood.  Those Kitsap Quilters take seriously their responsibility for holding the first show of the season and they are ready to make sure you have a great time!

Here's the link:

Threadmongers will be there, along with so many of your favorite vendors.  We are ready to help you finish your current project and start the next one! 

Supporting local guild quilt shows assures that there will always be someone in your community who is quilting and passing on the knowledge of the craft.  Plus, quilt guilds do so much good works for those who need some comfort - in your neighborhood! 

Come and see The Threadmonger at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds this weekend - YOU NEED THREAD!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Here we are at the beginning of the "quilt show year"!  I have already seen promotional materials for many shows in Washington State and Lower British Columbia; it looks like a GREAT year for quilt show lovers!!

If you are looking for one more way - or two - to promote your show, here is a post I put up in 2012 to help guilds publicize their shows.  There are so many ideas - find the ones that suit your show and use them!  Quilters want to find you!

These are strategies that work for my guild and other guilds I know.  Please feel free to use them in the planning and execution of your fun quilting events!  We all want quilters and quilt-appreciators to have a GREAT time at your show! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 First half quilt show schedule for THREADMONGERS!

How exciting to start the “quilt show year” again!  As I get my shows lined up for the season, I think about all the friends I have made at these shows and how much fun we have getting back in touch after the long winter! 

The first show of the year belongs to those Kitsap Quilters, as usual.  I can hardly wait to see what they do with this year’s theme!

Threadmongers’ schedule
for the first half of 2017

February 17-18, 2017                      Kitsap Quilters                                  
     "Rhapsody in Blue"

March 24-25, 2017                           Tri-City Quilters Guild                    
     "Quilting Economic$"
     I don’t know who thinks up the TCQG show themes but they are always the most creative!!

April 6-7-8, 2017                                Clark County Quilters Guild         
     “A Walk on the Wild Side”

April 28-29, 2017                               All in Stitches Quilt Guild of Everett         
     “Through the Eye of the Quilter”

 May 19-20, 2017                               Yakima Valley Quilters Guild                       
     “Quilts in the City”

July 14-15-16, 2017                          Woolley Fiber Quilters                                  
     “Blast of Birds”

                ***Note!!!  This is a NEW date for the WFQ show – it has historically been in June.

                But there’s a great new venue – Cascade Middle School – with LOTS of room
                for LOTS of quilts!
What’s new at Threadmongers this year?
Lots of GREAT threads for your creative juices!

Wonderfil – including the popular Invisafil, Konfetti, Eleganza, and Master Quilter!

Aurifil – 1300 meter spools plus those BIG cones!

Superior Threads – too many to list.  But lots of folks have been asking me for MonoPoly and I have it!!

Valdani – the luscious hand-dyed variegated threads and pearl cotton.

Presencia – 60-weight piecing threads

Signature – the ever-popular workhorse cone threads for longarming

Fil-Tec – cotton and poly prewound bobbins and Glide poly!
Specialty threads for applique, sashiko, couching, big stitch quilting, fine hand quilting, embroidery, embellishment, and thread to satisfy your creative mind!

There’s so much more.  You have seen my booth and it is overloaded!  But that’s what makes quilting fun – high quality threads to make your beautiful quilts last for years!

See you in 2017.  You need thread!!