How to Determine Thread Weight Without a Label
Good Morning, Quilters! Today, we have a Nancy Drew style mystery, one we can all relate to—The Case of the Missing Thread Label!
A few weeks ago, we discussed thread weight and how it determines the look of our machine quilting. Read Understanding of Thread Weight.
Then, we used thread weight to choose the correct needle size. Read How to Choose the Right Sewing Machine Needle.
That’s all well and good, but what do we do when the label is missing and we don’t know the thread weight???
Let’s get out our Nancy Drew magnifying glasses and investigate.
(no…not really–it’s easier than that!)
START WITH THE FACTS…
Start with a spool of thread that you do have the label. Look for a middle weight, 50 wt thread.
HINT-If you have Aurifil Thread, the color of the spool is the code to thread weight. Orange is 50 wt and gray is 28wt.
THREAD WEIGHT IS RELATIVE
Look at the known thread and compare it to the thread that is missing the label. Does the thread look heavier or finer or the same?
If it looks heavier, assume it is 40, 30 or 28 wt
If it looks lighter, assume it is 60, 80, or 100 wt.
INSPECTION IS BETTER THAN THREAD LABELS
Every manufacturer measures thread differently, so thread labels are an indicator of thread weight, but inspecting the thread is the best way to judge thread weight!
Every time you pick up a spool of thread, inspect the fibers.
Soon, you will be able to determine thread weight just by inspection and you will be able to predict how it will look when stitched.
And of course I ALWAYS recommend stitching samples…(Later this week a few of my thread samples.)
I ALSO RECOMMEND AMERICAN QUILTER MAGAZINE
If you LOVE quilting and you LOVE free motion…May I recommend American Quilter Magazine?! Every issue is chock-full of patterns, product reviews, helpful articles and inspiration! The best way to read American Quilter Magazine?
Peruse the cover, then flip the magazine onto the back…
Read the magazine backwards!
Why? Because My Line, the step-by-step machine quilting tutorial, is the last column in the magazine.
I know. I know. It makes no sense to me either!
I guess they save the best for last?
For those of you who subscribe, you may have noticed that the graphic artist has a sense of humor.…
He moonlights as my personal stylist!
LAST DAY FOR FREE SHIPPING
Today is the last day for FREE US Shipping ($5 off international orders) on all books from my Etsy shop.) Each order includes an autographed copy and a little SURPRISE!)
Use the promo code: SPRING to get the best deal today!)
YOUR Sewing Sleuth,
PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to Lori Kennedy Quilts. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thanks!
25 responses to “How to Determine Thread Weight Without a Label”
I do subscribe to American Quilter and I love it. Always filled with surprises and, of course, always has the talented & gifted regulars like YOU!
Thank you! It’s a great magazine and I love the graphic artist’s sense of humor!
Now me, I’ve always been a hand to start at the back of a magazine . . .
Does the weight of the thread have anything to do with the “curliness” or ” twisting” of the thread? Mine in the
orange spool always curls or kinks up coming from the needle. I have to hold the end of the thread before
sewing a stitch or seam because it curls around the needle and makes a twisted mess. Wishing I could solve
Not really Marta. That has more to do with the fiber and how it was manufactured including twist. Are you referring to Aurifil orange spool?
Yep, I have white and black. They both do it..None of my other brands do it. I have changed needles, tension, fabric (for testing) and still happens.
I hate the curly thread too. I don’t know why the manufacturers use such a narrow spool, which is what makes it curl, as far as I can see. I heard a suggestion to use an external thread holder set behind the machine to give the thread time to relax, but why should we have to do that? I don’t buy the little spools unless I have to.
I think you are in to something there. The end of the spool is more curly. It must be the way they have to spin it on to the spool–perhaps it’s a little tighter at first.
Thanks for posting.. My SpouseMan always tells me to check out OE.. operator error !! LOL
Hi Marta! I used to have this problem too and I solved it by accident…it’s caused by how the thread is pulled through the needle. I know you’re going to think I’m nuts, but it’s true.
Assuming your machine threads from front to back rather than side to side, do you pull the thread to the front toward you – or to the side? It’s almost guaranteed to curl if you do. Instead of that, first make sure you’ve got it UNDER the presser foot, you’re holding it down low parallel to the machine surface and pull gently to the BACK. When you release it, it may have some wave in it but it won’t go all Shirley Temple on you and wrap around the needle. I have tested this on several machines and it works every time, no matter what the tension or the thread type.
I hope it works for you.
Dear SG , Your mom must have looked at you and said, “God gave me an astute child !!”
This rings true to me, because I DO pull to the ‘”south-west” of my needle, while concentrating on how much tail to pull out so I will have enough Shirley Temples to grab onto with arthritis fingers. My machine is packed up at the moment, ready to travel with us today, I will try it tonight.Thank you so much !! : )
P.S, Remember that gift wrap ribbon we used to buy and pull it across the scissors or other flat tool and that ribbon would curl up sooo pretty? I had wondered if my needle was doing that to
my thread…..you just confirmed it.
Hello again Marta! H-h-h-m-m, I don’t remember her ever calling me astute, but when I’d come inside after playing with my friends all day mom used to say to me, “You smell like a dirty rabbit – go upstairs and take a bath!” ; -}
She taught me how to cook a turkey dinner when I was 12, and she had me sewing on her machine when I was just a little girl, more than sixty years ago. She was a great mother and I miss her still.
I have arthritis in my left hand thumb joint which is why I began pulling to the back. if I pull sideways I tend to flex the joint and it hurts!
Thank you for the kind words and I would love to hear back from you that it worked.
I am amazed at how much we have in common ! The tip you provided is working very nicely ! “Curly” Temple went back to Hollywood Archives ! This month is 10 years since I had surgery on right thumb in two joints..not normal but works and is out of pain. Left one is threatening !! My mom taught me on her machine when I was age 10..loved it ever since. Maybe our moms can meet and fellowship in Heaven about us. I wish mine was here to enjoy quilting. Thank you again for the help with my curly thread problem….77 years young
It does my heart good to know I could help and I hope the information helped some others as well. Other quilters have done as much for me and I believe in passing it on.
Yes, we do have much in common. My thumb bothers me regularly but I can’t complain, I could have many worse problems! My mom sat me down in front of her White Rotary Model 77 – a black, cast iron, crinkle-finished TANK – when I was not quite seven years old. I also have loved sewing ever since, still have her machine which I cherish, and it still runs, even 62 years later.
I have a sneaky suspicion that our moms have already met & are comparing notes; a lovely thought!
Happy quilting and may God bless you always,
P.S. – a SPECIAL thanks to you Lori, for permitting us to have this extended conversation on your blog. I
hope we haven’t taken advantage. God bless you always too.
Last day of free shipping? It doesn’t show on the order.
Hi Barbara- You’ll enter code “SPRING” at checkout! I updated it this AM, so just check back now. Thanks!
Try feeding the thread into your machine fromthe other end of the spool. Some brands allow you to pop the bottom off and put it on the other end. You can test which end to feed from by pulling a length off, holding the end next to the spool, and seeing if it winds up or looks “curly”……if the two strands twist together, feed from the opposite end.
I shall try this ! Thank you..
I assumed that it was caused by the thread running through the tension disks. It never curled on my Huskvarna, but all thread curls after it has come though my Pfaff.
Karen, I had to chuckle… this is happening on my Viking Platinum.. I received a brand new baby BabyLock small mechanical machine yesterday. I am going to try all brands of thread I have and see what happens.
Aurifil is the worst thread for me. It keeps getting breaking because of the way it is wound on the spool. Worst thread ever! Will never use it again. I had the orange spool, but I don’t think it was 50wt.
I like Aurifil, but it is a cotton, thread and I truly believe cotton is not as strong as poly (hubby is a retired organic chemist and he confirms this), so I use Superior’s Sew Fine on top and often Bottom Line on the bottom. However, I have not had a problem with Aurifil twisting, as I use a separate thread stand a ways away from my machine.
I don’t have a thread stand (rather spend my money on more fabric) so I sometimes use my serger’s thread tree by placing my serger’s to the right of my sewing machine.
I sometimes drop an uncooperative spool into a mug behind my machine and let it feed from there.
Also, try a vertical spindle if you are using a horizontal one. And vise versa. Some threads are meant to “uncoil” on a horizontal spool and others are meant to “unspin” on a vertical spindle.