How Do You Decide on Thread Color?

by Nicole

I’ve been working on another class sample. This one will be for a Spoonflower class on making an improv log cabin quilt.

I decided to use a monochromatic color scheme in blue. I started with strips of blue and added gray and white.

Using improvisational piecing, I made blocks like this.

Blue log cabin block

I had to fight the temptation not to add a bit of orange here and there.

Usually I don’t decide on the backing until I’ve got the top together, but this time, I knew I wanted to satisfy my need to add orange by using it in the backing. I’ll be using this pretty little number, by Beary Organics, courtesy of Spoonflower. I love the polka dots in the different sizes.

My next decision for the quilt will be the thread color. Since I will have a range of shades of blue in the quilt, from the darkest midnight navy to the palest baby blue, I’m trying to pick a color that will go well with all the fabrics. I’ll be auditioning a variety of blue and gray threads on a couple of sample blocks to help me decide.

How do you decide on which thread color to use? Do you audition a few colors or do you have one or two “go-to” colors that you always use?

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Heather D. March 25, 2013 - 12:25 am

Honestly, most of the time I use either a medium or light gray thread for quilting and it always seems to blend nicely. Depends if you're looking for it to blend, or for it to contrast!

Debbie March 25, 2013 - 12:48 am

Gray, white, or ivory are my "go-to" colors depending on the background of the quilt. Occasionally i have gone with one of the brighter colors in the quilt and very occasionally use 2 or more colors. I have also really enjoyed using variegated thread a few times.

Katy Cameron March 25, 2013 - 12:56 am

Have you got any variegated threads? I went for my first long arm session ever yesterday, and having had a practice session hit up my own quilt. I think I went in thinking white all over, but I ended up with white in the white, and 2 different variegated threads in the prints (I had 2 distinct colour sections in the prints, hence the 2 distinct thread colours) My teacher was the one that dug them out, I think even if I'd thought coloured threads, I still wouldn't have thought of that!

Paige March 25, 2013 - 2:29 am

I always use a neutral thread for quilting. That's just how I roll, I guess. Gray seems to be my go-to thread color.

CitricSugar March 25, 2013 - 3:42 am

I usually go grey, too. I'm a wuss, I know. Or I'll pick a colour similar to the top and hope it blends. It's mostly because I'm not that confident in my stitches so anything that will distract and hiding any mistakes works for me. Someday, i'll bust out and go wild with hot pink on light blue. Who knows? 🙂

Heidi Staples March 25, 2013 - 4:37 am

I almost always use white, off white, or grey for my quilting. It goes with everything and keeps it simple.

wish2stitch March 25, 2013 - 8:09 am

Thanks for the information you give so freely on you blog. I followed the links to the tutorial for improv log cabin and then the link discussing the value of fabric. It's really interesting information and so kind of you to share.

Annabella March 25, 2013 - 9:49 am

I usually stick with safe colours as I have to bring all my thread over here as the locals ones are pretty bad! I will be interested to see what you choose as I have exactly the same idea with a monochromatic quilt I'm making in blues – quilting has come to a halt as I can't find the right colour. I hadn't thought of gray – that could be a good option 🙂

knitnkwilt March 25, 2013 - 6:58 pm

All I can say is that I have the same problem. I often do high contrast piecing so either a thread shows on one and not the other or a middling color shows on both. My quilting at this point demands that it not show much. 🙂 Some day I hope to use contrast to show off. Meanwhile I don't like to change colors. So no help, just sympathy. March 26, 2013 - 3:30 am

I'm glad to see I'm not alone! There is no easy answer to the dilemma of choosing the perfect color!

LauraC March 25, 2013 - 10:00 pm

I love variegated threads and I completely thinking blue unti I saw the back. I think you should do orange thread.

Natasha March 26, 2013 - 7:59 pm

That is going to be beautiful! I can't wait to see it finished!! I have never been good with thread but orange does sound intriguing.

Liz Gellert March 27, 2013 - 8:31 pm

What about orange? That way you get your zing, but not too much. And it will match the back.

Laikabear March 29, 2013 - 7:30 am

So Fine by Superior has a nice color "Big Sky" that would work for that… or gray… I would choose one of those. I am one of those that mismatches colors in the top and bobbin (I wouldn't want to use blue thread on the orange backing). Right now I am doing a baby quilt with yellow on top (Limone) and Big Sky on the back. So far no pokies to speak of. 🙂 Love that block by the way!

Michelle Diller November 27, 2016 - 3:40 pm

Hi I have a question about what thread should i use for a quilt that has a teal green front and white backing?

Nicole January 3, 2017 - 4:52 pm

Ooh, tough call, Michelle! If it were me, I would use teal green thread in both the top and the bobbin threads. You could try green in the top and white in the bobbin, but unless your tension is perfect, you could risk seeing the white thread show on the front of the quilt. Good luck!

Nicole January 3, 2017 - 4:53 pm

By the way, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Apparently all my wordpress emails were going to spam and I just realized. I’m guessing you already made a decision on the thread by now!

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