In search for perfect thread...
Since I use different techniques in my work, I use variety of sewing threads.
I understand that there is no universal thread that you could perhaps use both for English paper piecing and quilting and it is also a matter of personal preference.
Some time ago I was given a spool of Gutermann thread Tera 180 to test and I would like to share my experience of working with this thread.
Guterman creativ Tera 180 is the specialist thread for fine overlock and coverstitch seams. It is semitransparent, very fine 100% polyester thread /thickness No 180/, particularly designed for fine and light fabric. It comes in 40 colors and the length of the spool is 2000 m. I had color 800 that is White, but I would define it as more natural white.
1. English paper piecing and hand stitching
I have been doing epp for 1,5 years. When I started, I didn´t have any special supplies or knowledge but only desire to try slow stitching. So I used universal sewing polyester thread Coats Astra and regular needles. My needle was quite thick and so was the thread.
Once I got hooked on this technique and started sewing with Liberty Tana Lawn, I tried different types of thread but finally settled with Aurifil 50 wt, even though I didn´t like it. The problem with Aurifil is that it tangles and breaks easily, once you pull it slightly tighter than usual. Since it is not being sold locally, I had only a few color options and the thread becomes quite expensive if you buy it from outside Finland. I mainly used color 2021 - natural white which blended rather well with the majority of Liberty fabric.
For dark fabrics I used Mettler Transfil monofilament thread (100% nylon) as it makes invisible stitches (1000 m, 6 Eur, not available locally). I really didn´t like how slippy it was and the feel of the thread while stitching.
I know some of you prefer only cotton thread for epp, while others say that polyester thread wears the cotton fabric eventually. My personal opinion is that nowadays cotton fabrics (especially Liberty Tana Lawn) have such a high thread count that it shouldn´t be a problem.
Once I tried Gutermann Tera 180 for epp, I was pleasantly surprised what a considerable impact it had on sewing. I made 2 units for my new project and used both Auriful and Gutterman to compare the quality of stitching. And the difference is obvious not only in the quality but in the process as well.
First, it has always been quite difficult to thread Tulip Milliners Straw needles #10 with Aurifil, so I eventually opted for Tulip Hiroshima Milliners Needles BIG EYE (Straw) #10. But since the Gutermann thread is so fine, threading is not a problem even with a small eye straw needle (I still have some, so I tried and it worked just fine).
Second, since the Gutermann thread is semitransparent, even the white color blends with Liberty much better than Auriful. And add to that it makes the stitches seem nearly invisible.
My friend Susanna @life_in_12th_scale, who is an expert in dressmaking on doll house scale, tried the Gutermann for hand stitching a skirt for one of her dolls. She was working with purple /!/ fabric and used the same white color thread.
Of course, the stitches are visible but had the color been gray you could´t have seen stitches. The fact that she has switched to this thread for doll dressmaking tells it all.
Gutermann thread doesn´t tangle or break as easily as Aurifil. I haven´t encountered that problem yet as I have completed one block so far (25 pieces). Of course, it might eventually unravel at the end if you use a very long piece, but I tend to use rather short pieces of thread. If you have a very short piece left, the thread keeps slipping out of the needle eye. But even if it is a polyester thread it doesn´t feel too slippy but rather soft to touch.
And the spool is 2000 m long which would probably last a life time for hand stitching!
2. Machine sewing
Since the thread is designed for fine fabric, the recommended needle size is 60-70.
I tested the thread on my Pfaff Quilt Expression 720 with Schmetz Metallic needles 80/12, which have an elongated eye to prevent thread shredding and breaking. The size of the eye is perfect for the fine thread.
I compared the Gutermann Tera 180 (2000m, 9, 90 Eur, Erkin Sauma & Tikki Ky) with two other types of polyester thread - Coats Astra (universal sewing thread) (1000m, 2,50 Eur at Eurokangas) and Mettler Seralon (500 m, 7,50 Eur, Erkin Sauma & Tikki Ky) .
Out of these 3 - Gutermann is the finest, Mettler is the thickest.
But what surprised me is that all three threads have more or less the same strength. I sewed together two pieces of Marimekko heavy weight cotton (stitch length 2,5 and regular tension 4,6) and then tore the seam. Tearing felt the same for all the fabrics. That proves how fine and strong the Gutermann thread is.
On the photo below you can see the stitching on Marimekko cotton with all three threads. Because of the semi-transparency of the Gutermann thread the white stitching is almost invisible on dark or multi-colored fabrics compared to other two threads.
I also tried this thread for stitching Liberty Tana Lawn. I wish I had it when I was piecing my Ripple effect quilt. Since the fabric is very fine it was quite often pulled in the bobbin area especially in the beginning of the seam. I had to use Aurifil 50, fine needle (size 70), decrease my stitch length to 2,0 and use a small piece of fabric to start stitching with. My new machine has straight stitch needle plate that prevents the fabric to be pulled into the bobbin area, but I can see the improvement in stitching quality with Gutermann compared to Auriful.
I even tried top stitching with the Gutermann thread on some black and white fabric baskets made from heavy weight upholstery Marimekko fabric. It looks quite nice but there is not much definition due to the finesse of the thread.
Though I noticed that in sewing with the Gutermann thread you have to be more careful and lock you stitches in the beginning and end of the seam to prevent it from unraveling.
Even though the thread is not designed for quilting I was very curious to try it.
I made a mug rug and quilted it with ruler foot. I was nicely surprised how it worked. I didn´t do any adjustments to the upper thread tension. The thread didn´t break or split. You can see the result in the picture below.
I like the slight transparency and delicate look of quilting. Since the thread is so fine you can quilt much longer with the same bobbin than with regular thread. I would definitely consider the Gutermann thread as an option for bobbin thread for quilting in the future.
Of course, if you prefer more definition in your quilting, then you choose heavier thread.
For machine quilting I like Glide polyester thread the most as it is strong, has slight sheen to it and works well on my Pfaff Quilt expression 720 without any tension problems (unlike Aurifil 40 wt). With Aurifil I have to decrease upper thread tension substantially to be able to quilt without thread breaking.
From my experience in testing Gutermann Tera 180 I think this thread is a great choice for hand stitching or machine sewing, especially multicolored fabrics. Yet I wouldn´t recommend it for quilting unless you are looking for a very delicate look or would like to use it in the bobbin.
Local peeps, you can find this wonderful thread at Erkin Sauma & Tikki in Helsinki.