Thread shred, breakage, fuzzing, lint, and poor tension are all reasons to wonder if the thread you are ogling at the quilt shop is the right choice for your machine and your project.
Start by evaluating your machine’s thread path. The simpler it is, the less chance you will have for thread breakage and tension issues. Sometimes you can modify the thread path to suit the thread. For example, thread with a tight twist will not perform well if it must wrap around several thread guides or twists in the wrong direction. Try skipping a thread guide or re-threading any any that add extra twist to the thread.
A short thread path decreases the thread’s tendency to bounce around and escape from thread guides. Try mounting the spool closer to the front of the machine. After all, one of the main reasons the thread cone remains on a stand at the back of quilting machine is simply because it was convenient in the early days of the industry when machines were mainly found in decorator and drapery workrooms. If you quilt mainly from the front of your machine, you may benefit from a vertical spool holder mounted near the needle. Hartley Manufacturing makes one designed for APQS machines.
With proper tension adjustment and a focus on the thread path, you should be able to use everything from 100-weight silk thread to 12-weight cotton thread. (Remember, the bigger the number, the finer the thread.) The key to successfully using a large variety of thread is a willingness to experiment…with needle size, bobbin thread, thread path, and especially tension. With a little practice you’ll be surprised at how quickly your experience level grows, along with your collection of thread!