Creative articles about quilting

Weight (Wt)… what does that mean with machine threads?

So many wonderful threads to work with. Sometimes it is very difficult to make a choice! If you want to use beautiful threads while working with the Crazy Colors Mystery Quilt 2017 project, it can inhance the decorative stitches you are using. Thick threads, thin threads, solids and variegated threads…. what to choose and how to choose them, these machine threads**? Those are questions quilters ask me a lot, because of this mystery project.

SAM_5009Let me tell that I am not a distributor and no expert with évery sort of thread which is on the market: I am a user* with a webshop (where a lot of threads are available for ordering) and give classes, and I have over 27 years of experience with patchwork and quilting, mostly done by machine. I have done a lot of research for my workshops and webshop, to find out more about the quality of machine threads and their characteristics, to be able to make a choice for myself and to use them in my own work.  Because there are hundreds of beautiful threads, I cannot name them all, but I will give you information about some of them I am using myself, from two different brands: Wonderfil en Superior Threads.

Let us first check the information you can find on most of the thread spools or cones:

  1. The name – name of product/specific machine thread
  2. The brand – the manufacturer or company that developes the thread
  3. The length – the amount of thread in meters or yards that runs on a spool or cone
  4. The color number – indication of color, to be able to (re)order that specific color
  5. WT.. – Weight – the indication of thickness

Sometimes there is more information on a spool or cone, but these 5 points above are the most important for buying and working with a machine threads. The name/brand is obvious, the length of thread is important to know how much you can do before you run out, which by the way can be different per project, depending on usage.

The color number is important for (re)ordering. Most threads also have a color name, which is more suitable for the users. Wonderful names like Charlot of Fire, Citrus Flash, Bumblebee, Fall Leaves, Soft Gold… they sound like music to your ears! Every company tries to think of a unique and recognizable name for a certain type/color thread, to emphasize their ‘type’ and ‘brand’. For us users, something we pass along to each other too.

But the most important to me personally is the Weight (Wt) of a thread: the indication of thickness. If you understand this, you instantly know how to use the thread: to make it stand out (thick threads, small weight), or to blend in (thinner threads, high weight).

What does Weight (Wt) mean?
It is an indication of actual weight (1 kilogram) relative to the length (1 kilometer). Wt 50 means that 50 kilometer of that thread weighs 1 kilogram. Wt 80 means that 80 kilometer of that thread weighs 1 kilogram. I is a uniform indication that is recognazible world-wide. You can find it on many thread spools and cones (not on all, because some manufacturers or companies will give you different information, for example about the soze of needle to use for best results.)

But I think you can understand that a thread of 40Wt is thicker and heavier than a thread of 80Wt, because with the first one there are less kilometers per 1 kilogram present. A good system, once you know how it works.

You can sometimes find extra indications:  for example 50/2 of 50/3. The second number, behind the / indicates the number of individual threads (strands) that are intertwined (also referred to ‘plies’ or ‘ply’), to make one final thread. You can imagine that a thread of 50/3 is heavier than a thread of 50/2 (even 50%), because it is heavier and thicker, due to more strands. So the classification about Weight alone is not always complete… but it is important to understand the concept, which gives you a better preparation when purchasing threads.

There is often little space on labels, stickers or the spools to give information about the threads, so the choice of giving certain information is up to the company or manufacturer. You can find additional information on Color Cards or at their websites. Once you are working with a certain thread, it is important to remember the specifics, or write them down.

Someting I’ve found out over the years, is that – when mounting a spool or cone – there will be a hole punctured through a label or sticker, if that label or sticker is on the top and/or bottom of the spool or cone. Sometimes the information on that label or sticker is lost by puncturing, or even the name of the thread. I’ve also found out that – with the latest developements – the companies are aware of that, and place the important information either to the side, or away from the center of a spool or cone.

Oh and of course.. I have to tell you something about the threads I am using with my Crazy Colors Mystery Quilt 2017, and their specifics, because that is what you have asked for:

DecoBob / Wonderfil – 80Wt:
2 ply Polyester bobbin thread. For usage with áll threads that I have worked with so far. It can also be used on top of your work for making decorative stitches, with a fine needle (Topstitch 70/10): the stitches will blend in with the quilt and can be used with dense stitches. Available in 36 wonderful colors, in a starter box with these 36 colors, each on spools of 400m, on cones of 2000m and on pre-wound bobbins, assorted box or per color.

King Tut / Superior Threads – 40Wt/3: 3 ply, extra long stapled Egyptian cotton, available on spools of 500 yard (aprox. 450m) and on cones of 2000 yard  (aprox. 1829 m). There are 133 colors, solid and variegated.

Konfetti / Wonderfil – 50Wt: 3 ply Egyptian cotton, double gassed and mercerized. Available on spools of 1000m and on cones of 3000m. There are 60 beautiful solids. Also available at spools of 200m, in special packs, packed by Sylvia’s Art Quilts Studio, together with Tutti, specially for the  Crazy Colors Mystery Quilt 2017 project.

Magnifico / Superior Threads – 40Wt:
2 ply (Trilobal***) machine thread, which lies ‘on top’ of your quilt – it standsout! Available on spools of 500yard (aprox. 450m) and 3000 yard (aprox. 2743m). There are 200 colors, a couple in my favorite NEON hues: I really love them!

Splendor / Wonderfil – 40Wt
: 3 ply Rayon machine (embroidery) threads with a wonderful sheen. This thread can also be used for quilting and making decorative stitches. It is made to pass through the eye of a needle with a 1000 stitches per minute; on a domestic sewing machine as well as on a Long Arm machine. Available on spools of 150m (164 yard), 1000m (1094 yard) and 4572m (5000 yard). I am using this thread from a Theme pack ‘Retro’, because it contains all the colors of my Crazy Colors Mystery Quilt 2017 project. There are a lot more Theme packs, and of course the seperate spools. And I almost forgot: this thread is available in 342 solids and 31 variegated colors.

Tutti / Wonderfil – 50Wt
: 3 ply Egyptian cotton, double gassed and mercerized. Available on 1000m spools and even on 3000m cones. There are 41 beautiful variegated colors. Also available at spools of 200m, in special packs, packed by Sylvia’s Art Quilts Studio, together with Konfetti, specially for the  Crazy Colors Mystery Quilt 2017 project.

Many of the threads mentioned above can be found in my webshop: but there are so many more. I am adding more colors and more threads regularly. If there is a thread you cannot find in my webshop, please let me know, so I can add it for you to order. Because I often discover more beautiful threads to work with…

Happy Quilting!
Sylvia Kaptein
Sylvia’s Art Quilts Studio
email: [email protected]


* The information I am passing here is out of own experience and research: it is not to prefer one company over another, but also not to exclude companies that are not mentioned. I wish I could use áll threads that are available….
If you need more information about the threads I’ve mentioned, or other brands: you can often find a lot of information with the company or distributor about the brand of your choice. Either they have the information ready for you on their website, or they can refer to website(s) of the manufacturer. The choice of threads you would like to use is very personal, allthough I advise you to sometimes go beyond ‘your comfortzone’, to try out new threads and discover their possibilities.

** NEVER, EVER use (hand)quilting threads on your machine: most of these threads contain wax, which can ruin the inner parts of your machine. They are made for hand quilting and not for machine quilting.

***Trilobal threads, like Magnifico/Superior Threads, are made from polyester fibres. They are triangular shaped to reflect the light at all three sides. If three Trilobal threads are twisted to one final thread, that final thread is round, but with the high-lustre characteristics we enjoy so much.

Related content you may be interested in

Comments of this post

4 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Required fields are marked *

  • Rita Fi EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I have a Bernina when you say good thread what does that mean? Brand, Wt??

  • Sylvia Kaptein EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Congrats! You can use any brand of machine thread, as long as it is a good brand. Be sure to adjust needles according to thickness of thread. Have a lot of fun!


  • susan koeppen koeppen EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I just won a 350 bernina! My question is on thread? Any special kind?


  • Viviane Burns EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I have a 770qe and I would like to know if you need to change any settings for heavy thread? Unless I use cotton my machine doesn’t work gets VERY frustrating and I have tried many times,  and regardless of what I use for a needle or fabric the only thing that works is cotton

Dear BERNINA Blog readers,

if you want to publish pictures via the comment function, please log in to the blog first. Click here to sign in.

You haven't registered for the BERNINA blog yet? Click here to create your free account.

Thank you very much

Your BERNINA Blog Team