What thread should I use in my longarm?
Your APQS machine’s simple thread path and Gentle Touch Tensioner make it easy to use many different thread types, from delicate silk to metallic thread, invisible thread or heavy-duty cotton or polyester. Avoid the "bargain bin” at the store, where older thread or poor quality thread present an attractive price point. You’ll fight thread breakage and excess lint will make your bargain much more expensive in the end. For best success, choose high quality thread from a reputable manufacturer. Several companies produce thread that is suitable for longarm use and is available in many colors, styles, and formulations. Superior Threads (products include So Fine, Omni, Bottom Line, and many more), Fil-Tec Threads (Glide, Glisten, Affinity, Harmony, to name a few) and Aurifil thread (12, 28, 40 and 50 weight cotton thread) are all popular among longarm quilters.
You’ll find three major thread
types on the market today: cotton, cotton-wrapped polyester, and 100%
polyester. Other specialty threads include metallic, invisible, rayon, trilobal
polyester, and even silk. Cotton thread has been the traditional choice for
decades, but polyester thread has actually become more popular than cotton in
recent years. If you choose cotton thread, look for long staple, Egyptian
mercerized cotton. The longer fibers mean less lint, a smooth finish, and less
breakage. Test the thread by trying to break a short length between your hands.
If it snaps easily, it is not a good choice for your longarm.
Polyester thread offers the advantage of durability and strength for quilts that will receive lots of wear or use. It is also virtually lint free, which is a terrific bonus. While early polyester thread formulations were rejected by quilters due to their tendency to cut the fabric, today’s thread is completely smooth. It will not harm the fabric any more than cotton thread. Polyester threads can have a matte appearance that makes them difficult to discern from cotton thread, or they can take on the luster and luminosity of metallic thread without all of its hassles.
You do not need to match the top and bobbin thread types. Pre-wound bobbins offer a huge convenience and come in many colors. While you may find both cotton and polyester pre-wound bobbins, polyester is the preferred choice among most longarm quilters. It leaves the bobbin case and hook assembly much cleaner, and improves stitch quality because it is smooth and fine (typically 60-weight). When you choose thick thread for your top thread, try a thin bobbin thread or a pre-wound bobbin for better tension.
Specialty threads can also be used in your APQS longarm. Invisible thread in the top and/or bobbin is popular for stitching in the ditch, outlining appliqué patches, or stitching around embroidery. Metallic thread can add sparkle to a project as well. Use a standard MR 4.0 needle with metallic thread, loosen your tension, and slow down for best results.