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Four Ways to Use Lightweight Sewing Thread

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Hi, I’m Susan from Sewfeet.com and in this post, I want to explore the use of lightweight thread. As a point of reference, let’s talk about the weights we usually use for general sewing. Typically, we sew with 40-wt and 50-wt thread for seaming, piecing, topstitching, quilting – all the techniques we typically sew. And if you are an embroiderer, you probably use 40-wt. embroidery thread, which is what most digitizers have in mind when creating their designs.


What I consider to be lightweight are threads such 60-wt and 80-wt. Remember, the higher the number, the finer the thread. (It seems counter-intuitive but that’s the way it is.) Even though these threads are not ones we use every day, there are some sewing situations where they are the best choice. I use Quilters Select threads – the 60 weight is 100% cotton, 2 ply and the 80 weight is a para-cotton-poly, 2 ply thread. There are many ways to use these threads and here are four ways I use them.

Bobbin Thread

If you are sewing a satin stitch (a zigzag with a short stitch length) or heavy decorative stitches such as the ones shown below, you may use a lightweight thread in your bobbin. This keeps the thread build-up on the back of your fabric to a minimum. You may need to adjust your tension settings slightly to balance the two threads. If you see the bobbin thread being pulled to the top of your fabric, decrease the needle tension by small increments until the bobbin thread is not showing on the right side of the fabric. I used 60-wt cotton thread in the bobbin and Floriani 40-wt embroidery in the needle when sewing the stitches shown below.



If your machine accepts pre-wound bobbins (typically for quilting or embroidery), then you should take a look at the Quilters Select pre-wound bobbins. The 80wt Para-Cotton-Poly thread comes wound on Class 15 and size L bobbins in three sets of 40 bobbins each (check your machine manual to see what bobbin size your machine requires). One set has multi-color bobbins, another, all black and white and a third is a range of neutral colors.



Invisible Appliqué

This technique is a perfect place to use lightweight thread. Use a color that blends or matches your appliqué shape. Sewn with a tiny blindstitch, the 80-wt and 60-wt threads melt into the fabric and disappear (almost). The appliqué shape below has been stitched with 80-wt thread in both the needle and bobbin, but it may be hard to see in the photo below. But isn’t that the whole point of invisible appliqué?



Stitch-in-the-Ditch

Stitching in the ditch is a quilting technique that inconspicuously holds your quilt layers together. You follow the seam lines of the pieced blocks of your quilt, and all-in-all, it’s a straightforward process. However, if you are not paying attention, your stitching may not stay in the ditch. Using a lightweight thread in a matching or blended color can help it sink into the ditch and if you occasionally miss, the thread is less visible on the fabric.



To learn more from and about Susan Beck, visit SewFeet.com. Happy Stitching!

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