Tips and Tricks when using 12wt Aurifil and other heavier threads in your home sewing machine

12:59:00 PM

How to use heavy weight thread like AUrifil 12WT in your home sewing machine via Sew at Home Mummy

I thought I'd write up a quick little tips and tricks post with respect to using a heavier weight (in this case, Aurifil 12wt*) thread in the top spool of your machine.

I have included affiliate links in this post to for your reference and pajama-shopping, couch-surfing pleasure.

If you've never tried using it, you should! It's a really great way to decorate and finish your quilt and sewing projects. The heavier weight thread is a much more accentuated stitch, and is perfect for emphasizing, especially if you use those decorative stitches your machine came with:
Tips and Tricks when using 12wt Aurifil and other heavier threads in your home sewing machine - using your machine's decorative stitches

just some of the decorative stitches on my Janome MC6500

Here's a finished pin cushion I made recently featuring Aurifil's 12wt, which I used on the top spool of my Janome MC6500 (click to see it on Amazon) home sewing machine:
handmade pin cushion featuring aurifil 12wt thread and bonnie and camille for moda "vintage modern" and "bliss"

Here are just a few tricks I've learned (and thought I would share) when using Aurifil's 12wt on the top spool of my sewing machines:

1. Thread
Using a heavier 'weight' thread will accentuate your stitches on the project you're creating, and I think, make the item look more 'hand' stitched.

I like to use Aurifil's Cotton 12wt - denoted by a red spool color:
Tips and Tricks when using 12wt Aurifil and other heavier threads in your home sewing machine

(more information on Aurifil's 12wt thread can be found on their site, {here}.)

I have also used Sulky's equivalent and had great results with that, too.

2. Threading
Tips and Tricks when using 12wt Aurifil and other heavier threads in your home sewing machine
Thread your machine as you normally would with any other spool of thread - make sure to use the thread cap supplied with your machine if it requires one for the particular sized spool you're using.

3. Bobbin
You shouldn't have to adjust bobbin tension. In your bobbin, you should use a lighter weight thread (I use a 50wt Aurifil, and I've heard of others using a 40wt and having success).

4. Needle
You'll have more success with less thread breakage, skipping, etc., if you change your needle. Start with a new, sharp, 90/14 Topstitch/Embroidery Needle. Doesn't matter which brand. I use Organ brand needles (available here on Amazon).

These needles have a larger eye and a groove in the needle to accommodate the thicker thread:
image courtesy of Schmetz Needles
I have found that using these embroidery/topstitch needles have really been the key to my success and to minimizing thread breakage and skipped stitches when using Aurifil 12wt.

To be honest? I actually piece, embroider and quilt with these same Organ brand needles. They're all I use - for everything. They're like my universal, and I use them on all of my machines in this manner.

5. Tension
Modifying your tension to have your threads stitch correctly, not break, etc. will vary by machine - I have a little Singer 9960 and it doesn't require any change to the top tension when sewing with a 12wt, whereas my Janome 6500 requires I drop the top tension to between 0-1. You'll have to play around a bit with your machine to get the perfect stitch - but note - only adjust the top tension, not the bobbin tension. And each stitch style may require a modification in tension, so make sure to check before starting on your project.

Sew at Home Mummy Tip:

Make a scrap quilt sandwich or 'pretend' or practice project to practice your stitches and tension on before you start on the real thing.

Make sure your practice piece is about the same thickness as your real project.

6. Presser Foot
This isn't a necessity, but it'll sure make your life a lot easier, especially if you decide on a denser stitch pattern. Choose an applique/embroidery open-toe presser foot, like this:

Tips and Tricks when using 12wt Aurifil and other heavier threads in your home sewing machine

Sew at Home Mummy Tip:

an applique or embroidery presser foot has a groove or channel running down the underside's center, allowing for bulkier stitches to pass unobstructed - meaning you're less likely to have a jam-up while you are sewing.

7. Stitches
Pick your stitch! Start playing with all of those stitches that your machine came with, but you never knew when or how to use. Have fun with it!

Sew at Home Mummy Tip:

not all of your decorative stitches will be as compatible with the thicker 12wt threads as others will be. This is where your practice project or practice quilt sandwich will come in nicely for testing out all of your options.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial, and have found it useful. Most of all, if you've never ventured into the world of heavier threads I hope you give it a go - they can be a lot of fun.

If you have any tips or tricks for using heavier weight thread on the top spool of your machine, please feel free to comment below, I'd love to hear them. I hope I haven't forgotten anything, but if I have, I'll make sure to come back and add as needed.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Great tips.. i'm a LONG TIME sewer/quilter/crafter and so enjoy reading all the helpful information you "younger gals" can give!! I learn something almost every day and am thrilled to see the art of being creative continuing on:)) Hugs, B

  2. Great tips. Thank you. I definitely want to try this.


  3. Wonderful blog post. I have started using my decorative stitches and it is fun! Have not yet tried the heavier thread but I will now give it a go. All extra info is always welcome. Thank you for the tips.

  4. That's good to know that you should get a new needle if you have a thicker thread like this. It would be frustrating if the string kept breaking otherwise. I'll have to invest in some embroidery needles now. It's exciting to start experimenting with decorative stitches.

  5. GREAT tips. I attended an Aurifil lecture on thread and received a full array of weights in the same color so that we could play - focusing on thread not color! Getting ready to make a sample sandwich and did some quick reading before I hit the presser foot - you have great tips! Thanks


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