Blog

Thread Selection

I have been talking with other artists about the importance of sharing our processes. Sometimes it is fun to peak behind the curtain, and see how an artist’s mind works. My mind is usually a tangle of thread. I attempted to be a little neater in my process this time just for your benefit.

Step 1

I begin with a tray or box and start tossing in tons of threads. I try to add a huge variety of colors, thicknesses, and textures to my selection. Tossing the colors together, somewhat haphazardly, allows me to see color combinations that I might not normally choose. I use this same toss in a pile method for selecting fabric.

Step 2

I place the tray next to the piece I am going to stitch. This allows me to get a feel for the color mixture. At this point, I weed out a few threads and/or add other thread choices.

Step 3a

I then check to see if I have enough variety in the color pallets I am considering for the piece. Many people think you should match thread to your fabric. I use the “matching” colors to ground the piece. But then, I add my traditionally non-matching colors. If you match all your threads, they disappear when your piece is viewed at a distance. The threads that stand out and catch your eye are the color shifts. These are the colors that work with your “matching colors” and support them in the overall effect of your design.

Step 3b

Step 3c

Now, it is time to begin stitching. Some threads will not be used and others will be added along the way.

My Rainbow of Thread Colors

One of my favorite gifts from my husband is my Gutermann 100% Natural Cotton Thread Set. Being able to quickly glance at thread color options and audition different colors without having to scramble through a box of thread is a huge time saver.

I currently use glass jars to contain my other threads.  However, I hope to eventually find a way to display them as well.  Shelf space is precious in my studio.  I will be searching for a solution that can be mounted on the wall.

I have tried various thread brands and prefer the 100% Natural Cotton Gutermann thread for most of my projects.  I prefer cotton as it can be over-dyed if needed.  The cotton thread works well for both machine and hand stitching.  There are many more expensive brands, but Gutermann is a good quality thread in an average price range.  In my experience, Coats & Clark brand threads break easily regardless of the type.  

I have used several of Gutermann's other thread types for both machine and hand stitching.  I use Gutermann 100% Viscose thread when I want to emphasize an area by adding shine.  For pieces needing added strength I use Gutermann's 100% Polyester thread for both machine and hand stitching.  To add a minimal shine, I use Gutermann's 100% Silk Thread.  I have currently only used the silk thread for hand stitching.  The most impressive thread is the Gutermann Invisible Thread.  Anyone that has ever experienced a rat's nest bobbin using invisible thread knows the importance of a good invisible thread.  I have used both the clear and the smoke invisible thread numerous times without any problems for both the top thread and the bobbin.  

Over the course of my experiments I will try other brands.  Currently, I am trying out the different types of thread while keeping the brand a constant.  Keeping the brand variable the same allows me to get a feel for the difference of type of thread without having to consider brand differences.

Please comment on either thread storage options or thread choices that you have a fondness for using.