Tips & Tricks – Quilting with 12 Wt thread

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Today I wanted to share with you some quick tips for quilting with 12 wt thread.  My thread is from Aurifil and the 12 wt is a THICK thread.  It’s almost a floss honestly.  And it can be a little scary to think about using it for quilting when you compare that to what I normally use, a 40 wt or 50 wt thread.  There is quite a difference.  But I love that almost hand sewn look you get using this weight and I thought I would share with you how I go about using it.
One thing to note:  I am using this for straight line quilting.  I’m not offering advice on how to use this for free motion quilting (though I know people have done that too).  I find that I don’t need to make too many adjustments when doing straight line quilting and frankly less work makes me happy.

I chose a 12 wt thread for my top thread but I am not using it in the bobbin.  Some people always match their bobbin thread to their top thread, but I don’t.  I don’t really trust that large a wt in my bobbin.  The thread I’m using is wool and causes a good amount of lint, and I don’t want to clean up that much from the bobbin area constantly.  Plus, you will need a lot more bobbins because the heavy wt thread fills them up faster with less thread.  (Remember, I want less work lol)  So I am using a 40 wt thread in my bobbin which is slightly thicker and stronger than the normal 50 wt thread I use for my piecing.  And it is working beautifully together.

I did lengthen my stitch length by quite a bit.  Pictured above is my stitch length at 4.2 on my machine…a length I would normally consider to be a basting length when using 50 wt thread.  And I could go larger.  That thick thread just takes up space and needs some room.  The good news is that your quilting will go faster because you are doing less stitches per inch.  Win win!

I am sewing on a Janome and using their accufeed foot but that is just basically a built in walking foot.  I’m not sewing at full speed because I don’t want to over heat the needle or cause extra tension on the thread and split it.  The down side of using larger wt thread is that you notice a break in the thread more obviously on your quilt.  The other major thing I’m doing is using a Jean Needle.  I haven’t overly experimented with needle size at this point but you definitely want a needle designed for heavy weight threads because the eye of the needle is larger…and even with that I’m still hand threading the needle because my automatic threader doesn’t like that heavy weight.

If you are blessed with an auto thread cutter on your machine, take a break from it while using this thread.  I find that it pulls to strongly on thread to cut it and ends up shredding the thread, causing you to rethread your machine.  Too much work. 😉  So instead I cut the thread by hand like I used to before my fancy thread cutter came into my life.

It may sound overwhelming, but I’m just giving you little tips to help make the process less frustrating.  So far I’ve had exactly one skipped stitch and one break in the thread mid line.  Not bad at all.  And I’m getting a gorgeous quilting line that just pops beautifully from the quilt.  I’m not shy about quilting thread colors and have chosen a lovely yellow to stand out against the solid grey.  I LOVE it.  I need to get this weight in more colors.

So give it a whirl and see what you think! Let me know if you have any tips for sewing with larger wt thread or if you have done with free motion quilting.  Let’s share the wealth of knowledge we have!

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18 thoughts on “Tips & Tricks – Quilting with 12 Wt thread

    1. Anywhere that sells Aurifil thread would have it. I haven't used other companies heavy weight thread. I've found more and more quilt stores that carry it, but I'm an online shopper. You can google it easily and find any number of stores that carry it. Just note that it comes in both a cotton and wool thread. And be sure to get the spool that is RED. That tells you it is the 12 wt.

  1. I'm a new follower of yours (via Feedly) and delighted to find your blog. Thanks for these tips I've wondered about this combo and worried about tension issues, so good to hear that it works so well. I'm looking forward to getting back into some sewing and giving this a go!

  2. Love the look! I actually won a sample pack of Aurifil, and it included a small spool of 12 wt. Might have to give this a try! Thanks for the great tips 🙂

  3. The easiest way for free motion quilting with the 12 wt you actually want to put it in the bobbin and flip the quilt upside down (with a smaller thread on top)! It works beautifully, I've quilted with perle cotton this way. The bobbin thread isn't as fussy and doesn't get pulled on like the top thread. Of course since you are quilting from the back you have to plan your design differently. We had an art quilter present at our guild and she showed us lots of tricks for larger threads – art blogs and magazines are the place to go if you having trouble.

    I found the advice to crank up the top tension when quilting with a larger thread to be counter-intuitive but helpful. Though I think that varies by machine. I think I read that on the superior website?

  4. I tried using the auto threader with thick thread, and it BROKE. So, definitely don't use the auto threader! I was actually using perle cotton – definitely slower to sew, but it looks great!

  5. I love using the #12 for straight quilting. I also increase my stitch length and use a 100 needle for the larger eye. Also the other thing you didn't mention is you can not back stitch with this thread as it would be quite a clump, so stitching from end to end is best. If I am doing quilting in the middle of the project, I pull the threads to the back and run them into the batting by hand to fasten them off.

  6. Hi Angela! I just bought a set of 12wt Aurifil and did a quick Google search for tips on quilting with this weight of thread. Thanks for posting this! I'll definitely reference your notes when I use it on my upcoming quilt.

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