There are a lot of different types of thread out there. A LOT! It can be overwhelming when you hear weights, sizes, strands, etc. All of this can be simplified for quilting though. By working with basic quilting cotton, you can narrow your thread choices down considerably.
All threads have a weight. It is listed on the spool. The important thing to remember about thread weight is that the bigger the number the lighter, or finer, the thread is. Thread weight range can vary but for piecing quilt blocks, it is recommended that you use 50 weight thread. Although, some prefer a slightly thicker 40 weight thread, keep in mind that the thread does take up a portion of your ¼” seam, so you may need to adjust your seam allowance slightly when using a thicker thread. Some quilters prefer a very fine thread when paper piecing or piecing very small pieces and use a 60 or 80 weight thread. If you want your thread to “disappear” into the fabric when hand-sewing a quilt binding, consider using 100 weight thread.
Besides weight, you may also be wondering the difference between cotton and polyester thread. Typically, if you are using cotton fabric, you will also want to use cotton thread. It will lay nicely with the fabric and wash well. Using polyester thread with cotton fabric can make your fabric pucker. When your project is washed, the cotton fabric will shrink slightly and the polyester thread will not, leaving the fabric wrinkled.
Just like with fabric, thread quality is also important. Not all threads are created equal. A good rule of thumb to use is if a retailer is selling quality fabric, they are also selling quality thread. Skimping on thread quality while investing in quality fabrics is not a good idea.
Remember, keep a well-stocked supply of thread and you will be ready to stitch anything that catches your eye. Happy sewing!