All About Aurifil, Part 3

Welcome to the third installment of our All About Aurifil series. Today we are going to learn about some of Aurifil’s new and/or specialty threads: 80wt, Cotton Floss, and Wool. But first, a continuation of our threaducation! Let’s talk about mercerized and long staple cotton. These two things go hand-in-hand so it makes sense to discuss them in the same conversation. Let’s get started!

Click here to view the full brochure

Mercerization is a process that all Aurifil Cotton undergoes before turning into what you see wound onto those fabulous little spools. It was invented in 1844 by a British gentleman named John Mercer. He used sodium hydroxide to treat cotton fibers. The chemical bath caused the fibers to swell which shrank the overall size of the fibers, making them easier to dye. About 50 years later, in 1890, the process was improved to include an acid neutralizing bath after the sodium hydroxide bath. This second bath had several benefits including an increase in luster and strength, resistance to mildew and shrinkage, and a better ability to absorb dye. (See last weeks post about indanthrene and reactive dyes.)

Aurifil thread during the mercerization process

The type of Cotton that responds best to the mercerization process is Long Staple Cotton. It has an average fiber length of 1¼”, which makes it easier to twist together, and produces a stronger, more durable thread that produces very little lint. Aurifil takes great pride in producing a super high quality thread, made with Long Staple Cotton. High quality thread is better for your projects AND better for your sewing machine. It greatly reduces both cleaning time and wear-and-tear on all those inner working parts!

Aurifil thread during the dye process

Now, let’s learn a bit more about a few of our specialty threads!

Our 80wt thread is the newest member of the Aurifil family and it is quickly earning a large fan club! It is available in 88 vibrant, luxurious colors available on a beautiful cherry wooden spool that holds of 300 yards (274 meters). Such a thin thread is perfect for a variety of techniques, including English Paper Piecing, Hand Applique, Machine Embroidery, Machine Applique, Free Motion Quilting, Free Motion Couching, and more.

We recommend that you use 70/10 or 80/12 Microtex/Sharp or Embroidery Needle with 80wt in the bobbin. For hand sewing, use a short length of thread, around 12”-18” to reduce tangling and breaking. Some prefer to condition the thread when hand sewing, though it isn’t necessary.

Image by Brigitte Heiland

But what about needles? You should try to match the diameter of the needle’s eye to the thickness of the thread as close as possible. If you use a needle with a too-large eye, it will cause a lot of stress and friction on the thread, which will weaken and eventually break the fiber. A size #10 hand sewing needle, like a Tulip Hiroshima, is our favorite. (You might want to invest in a needle threader, this eye can be challenging for some!)

Our 6-strand cotton floss thread is wound on a pretty little wooden spool similar to our 80wt thread. It has 18 yards (16 meters) per spool and is available in all 270 colors. Our floss is excellent for Cross Stitch, Huck Embroidery, Miniature Punch-Needle Embroidery, Tatting, Needle Point, Crochet, Applique, Big Stitch Quilting, Accent stitching on garments and other items, and hand embroidery. We recommend matching your hand-sewing needle to the intended project.

Our Lana Wool is a 12wt thread in a lovely, soft blend of 50% acrylic and 50% wool. It is available in 192 colors on red spools in three sizes: a Small Spool with 54 yards (50 meters), a Large Spool with 383 yards (350 meters), and a Cone 1860 yards. Use this thread when you want to create texture or visually pleasing details. It can also be used for Single or Double Strand Cross Stitch, Hand Embroidery, Machine Applique, Machine Quilting, and Lower Looper Serging.

Use a 90/14 Topstitch Needle with our 50wt in the bobbin. Longarm quilters should use the largest Longarm Needle possible (use 28wt in the bobbin) 100/16 Needle with 40wt in the bobbin.

Be sure to come back next week for the last installment of this series. We will be featuring polyester thread and monofilament and some information about our Oeko-Tex certification.

Until next time…

The brochures are printed and are now available both in our HQ in Italy and in our Chicago office. They will also be arriving at shops and quilty events worldwide. Check in with your local quilt shop to grab your own, or send a pre-addressed large envelope (to fit roughly 5.5″ x 8.5″) with 2 standard stamps applied to:

Aurifil USA Inc
180 N Stetson Ave #3502, 
Chicago, IL 60601
Thank you and Happy Stitching!


  1. I’m loving learning all of this! I have to admit though, I don’t always understand it all. If you guys ever have a chance, I would dearly love to see pictures of some examples. (Such as: here’s what ALL thread weights look like side by side in this type of use.) It would be helpful to visualize why things do or don’t work. Lol, that way it keeps me from finding out the hard way! I’ve learned so much though already – it got me out of my comfort zone and trying new things.

    1. Hi Melanie! That is a great idea and we are actually working on something just like that for publish in October. I’m a visual person (as many of us are!) and I know it’s so handy to see things rather than to just read about them. I’m working with Kristi and she already has some great photos to share:). Stay tuned!

    1. Hi Cindy! I was the same exact way before I started working with Aurifil. I find it all so fascinating and the thread knowledge has opened up my sewing world! Hope you’re having fun following along:)

      1. Thank you for your reply. I am enjoying the education. I am just beginning to build an inventory. It will take a while to let the information sink in and be comfortable with the various applications. I have a long arm quilting business and had no idea that you had thread suitable for that. I must have been living under a rock. 😂 I will have to try a cone on one of my quilts. There aren’t many local distributors which makes it hard to find in my area.

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