Thread color experiment

Standing in my French inspired kitchen, I was thinking about the toile quilt I was in the process of making.  The pie safe in the middle of the kitchen is green, and it occurred to me that the toile would make a perfect addition to the décor.  After all, toile is a French word meaning ‘linen cloth’, so it fit the theme.  Toile has been traced back to the middle ages in Europe, and since the 1700s has been used to describe a fabric with some kind of scene repeated over the fabric in a single color most often black, red or blue.

Thinking about it further, I decided that I would use the blocks I had to create not one lap quilt, but three table toppers to use in the kitchen and dining room.  This gave me an opportunity to look at the difference a choice of thread color could make in the finished design.  I added dark green borders to all of the toppers.

I divided the blocks into the three toppers depending on the size I needed for the space and constructed the tops.  I loaded a single backing to quilt all of them, along with the two candle mats from the borders tutorial.  All three toppers got the exact same pantograph leaf pattern.



I tend to use dark threads for quilting as I like the quilting to show most in the background spaces and disappear in the block design.  Most of the time this works well, but I wanted to see what might happen with other values.   On one I used a dark green thread, one got a neutral light brown, and one got a variegated green, all King Tut by Superior Threads.


The dark green shows the quilting well on the background, but it tended to obscure the delicate print of the toile.  I like it on the dark green flying geese, but overall wasn’t the best choice for this quilt.



Next, I tried the light brown, matching the triangles in the quilt.  This faded back and lets the toile show better.  It shows up more on the border and in the dark green flying geese, but this is a bit more pleasing because of the toile prints.



Lastly, I tried the medium to light green variegated, with a solid neutral in the bobbin.  This was a good choice too, as it didn’t overpower the toile, yet it is subtle in the border and blocks.



So, think about what you want the quilting to do, where you want it to show and where you want it to fade back when selecting your quilting thread color.  There is not one correct answer, the choice is always up to you and what you like.  For delicate prints, matching the background color will recede to the background better than a strong color.  Darker colors will show nicely on light backgrounds and disappear in darker block fabrics.  Either way, have fun.  Click on Binding Color – Match or Contrast  for part 3!

Sharing – Val’s Tuesday Archives, Longarm Learning.

8 thoughts on “Thread color experiment

  1. Joan Sheppard

    Doing some backtracking on your tutorials – late to that party! But looking for all the real life info I can get on thread. This was a very helpful teaching about color. When I take mine to the quilter, we dump a few yards all over the quilt but I am still surprised when I get it back. But now that I am doing my own quilting, am wondering if I’m using the right thread for texture, duration, washability. Aurifil? King Tut? House brand like Boundless? All about the same price so…..
    Thanks again for the tute. p. s. I have some of this from when my daughter and her friends wanted to be the Von Trapp family in the drapery fabric. LOL

  2. Nancy Bekedam

    Interesting experiment, Carole!!! My rule of thumb for thread color is to use the color I see most in the quilt. Sometimes I break that rule, of course.

  3. Rebecca Grace

    It’s so interesting to see the same quilt in different thread colors! Makes me think it would be worth it to sew scrap strips together from a quilt top and doodle a few lines of quilting across them in different colors before quilting the actual top. Thread stitched into a quilt looks very different to me than a length of thread draped across the quilt top like I see so many quilters doing to “audition” thread. Thanks for linking up with Long Arm Learning!

  4. I tried the exact variegated thread (I think) this past spring on my Irish Chain. I rarely use them but when I do, I prefer a subtle variegation and I think this one worked for me, too. Thank you for sharing these different options–interesting to see.

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