Monday, August 3, 2009

The Making of A Thread

Many years ago, when piecing a quilt, we used the standard budget thread that is available at most shops. It broke from time to time and we thought that was normal. We tried other brands and had similar breakage problems and lots of lint buildup. We had just finished designing King Tut thread and were discussing piecing thread frustrations. That is when we decided to begin working on a top quality piecing thread line.

With so many piecing threads on the market, we wondered if we could even compete. We would not make a cheap and fuzzy thread. We believed if other piecers were as frustrated as we were, they would also prefer a very high quality piecing thread. And once they used a quality thread, they would become loyal customers. We knew it would be a long and expensive uphill battle.

We designed MasterPiece for piecing with five things in mind:

1. Weight. A #50/2-ply thread is finer than regular quilting thread. As it forms the seam, the thread is not nearly as bulky. The result is a flatter seam and we have the complete 1/4" seam without the bump that results from using a heavier or fuzzy thread. This explains why so many books talk about a scant 1/4" seam to compensate for lumpy, fuzzy thread which takes up some of the seam.

2. Quality. The cotton fiber used in MasterPiece is the same cotton used for King Tut, extra-long staple Egyptian-grown cotton. Short and long staple cottons are lower grade cottons which means a weaker thread and probably quite a bit of lint. Our cotton really is grown in Egypt (unlike most other threads labeled as Egyptian cotton which come form Romania, India, China). Egypt has the best climate for consistent quality cotton. We ship this Egyptian-grown extra-long staple cotton to Japan for precision processing.

3. Production. Japan has a long history of textile excellence. Japan cares about quality. Although processing costs there are the highest in the world, we believe it is worth it because we can produce a fine, smooth, consistent thread.

4. Colors. Many believe that gray and beige are the magic neutral colors for piecing any color fabric. Those colors are neutral if we are sewing flavors of beige and gray fabrics. Just as a tailor or seamstress matches the thread color to the fabrics, so should a quilter when piecing fabric. For best results, the piecing thread should be color-matched to the fabric being pieced. Sometimes it is necessary to use more than one color when piecing a quilt. This explains why we started with 50 colors of MasterPiece and more have been added since.

5. Spool sizes. Running out of the perfect thread is not a pleasant experience so we decided to avoid the mini spool sizes. Offer enough to get through the project. Spools, labels, and winding starts and stops are expensive so make the spool large enough to make it worth it. We decided on 600 yd. spools and 3,000 yd. cones. Yard-for-yard, a quality thread on larger spools and cones often costs less than a cheaper thread on a small spool.


  1. Well, Bob---you did good with this thread! I love Masterpiece and have both the cones and the spools. It's the only thread I use to piece with now. Good stuff!

  2. Hi, I was reading Bob Adams web site and he uses neon polyester thread-do you carry this thread? Your blog is great!

  3. Topic #4 reminds me of a question that's been nagging me for some time. When piecing fabrics of two very different colors, for example, black and white, what color thread is best? Do you always go with the lighter color or the darker color? I never know exactly what to do.