Thread Matters: 12wt

Hi Everyone! I’m so excited to dive back into Thread Matters and I think it is an amazing chance to share some great threaducation, answer some questions, and tell you more about some of our products and how to use them to make your creative work shine. I am picking the series back up with our 12wt thread, Aurifil’s heaviest weight thread. (For a reminder on how thread is weighted click here.)

Aurifil’s 12wt thread comes on the red spool and compared to the 50 weight thread, it seems really THICK!  It comes in all 270 of our Cotton colors and is a fabulous way to add some dimension to your fiber art!

It has all the same properties of all of our beautiful threads, it is virtually lint free, mercerized, and useful for so many things!

The 12 weight is a perfect way to put the finishing touches on bags, clothes, pillows, etc.. Choose a coordinating color to add texture or a contrasting color to add dimension!

Top Stitching with Aurifil 12wt on Denim – Image by Jenni Smith

Don’t worry about holes in your favorite jeans! 12wt is great to add a personal touch to clothing and other wearables! Our 12wt has been tried and tested by some of our favorite makers and it not only reinforces weak points in your clothing, but add fabulous definition to that hand-stitched embellishment. Kitty Wilkin of Night Quilter uses her 12wt to mend and reinforce the knees of her jeans, to give them new life in her kid-busy world.

Shannon and Jason Mullett Bowlsby of Shibaguyz use their 12wt in a contrasting color to embellish those worn spots and turn them into a part of the art.

Visible Mending by Shibaguyz

12wt is wonderful for both hand and machine Sashiko. One strand will do it, but we’ve heard from a handful of makers that 2 strands adds a delightful amount of definition.

OMG! 12wt is the absolute BEST for hand-quilting!! It really was made for this technique and helps to create an amazing and well-defined quilted effect with your thread.

With so many color choices, Aurifil 12wt is sure to have just the right accent color for your next project.

Aurifil 12wt is amazing for hand embroidery. While we’re suckers for Aurifloss, the 12wt is preferable to some, particularly when you don’t want to worry about how many strands to use and which separations to do where. The 12wt offers wonderful definition and complete stitching ease.

Passionflower Embroidery by Jo Avery, click here for more info

Okay, so now you know where to use Aurifil 12wt in your next (or current) project… But the big question remains… HOW do you use it?

  1. Use a larger needle! This is a thick thread and it needs a little more room in the needle – use a 4.5 on your long arm and a 110/16 or 90/14 in your domestic machine (denim needles).
  2. Use 40 or 50wt in the bobbin on your domestic machine or 28wt in the bobbin on your longarm. It will be easier to balance the tension and your bobbins will last longer.
  3. When using 12wt for hand embroidery, you may want to make your stitches in the opposite direction to what you would normally do. For example, if the directions say to stitch left to right with the thread to the bottom – you may want to stitch right to left with the thread to the top. We recommend this because Aurifil thread uses a “Z twist” vs. an “S twist” which is common for other hand embroidery yarns and threads.  Going in the opposite direction will help your stitches to lay flat and finish with a neat appearance. (More on that next month!)

Now that we’ve piqued your interest and you just HAVE to use the 12wt… where can you get it?

  1. Talk to your local quilt shops! They won’t know that there is a demand for this if you don’t tell them! If they don’t have the color you are looking for or the collection you want, just ask. Most shops would love to help you out and place an order on your behalf.
  2. We have a wide range of Designer collections that feature our 12wt thread. Take a closer look here and then go talk to your local quilt shop!
  3. Check out one of your favorite online retailers.
  4. Email me!

I hope that this was helpful and informative! Please let me know if you have questions about our 12wt thread and once you’ve had a moment to give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think!

I have been sewing since I was about 8, my mom was a crazy-talented artist/weaver/sewist/mom/teacher… (you get the idea!) and I remember her making all my costumes and many of my clothes.  My mother-in-law introduced me to quilting – which suits me more than making clothes as I have trouble sewing in 3-D.  After college, I worked for my mother’s luggage company, in sales and making prototypes of her antique reproduction bags before becoming a middle-school math teacher (yes, I am crazy!)

I still use my 45-year-old Kenmore sewing machine on which I learned how to sew. Soon it will be cool again, because it will be officially “vintage”. I was introduced to Aurifil 9 years ago by the man who services my machine. He said he wouldn’t take care of my baby if I used anything else, and he would know if I cheated. I have not used anything else since!

My trusty side-kick, Wrigley is always at my side (or at my feet) throughout all of my quilty adventures. It is clear that she enjoys the products of all of our hard work!!


  1. i would like to see a more detailed article about using 12wt for machine stitching. not just needle size but also tension and stitch length adjustments. i did topstitching with 12wt in the needle and 50wt in the bobbin and the bobbin side looked awful; the top was great. i enjoy all these articles and look forward to seeing more.

  2. Kate — you are the BEST! Love, Love, Love the information that you’ve shared here (and those projects — they ROCK!). One other tip for home machine quilters — if they have any trouble with the 12wt shredding try a TOP-Stitch needle in place of a Denim needle. That extra grove along the shaft of the top-stitch needle aids tremendously with reducing friction on the the thread. It’s well worth playing with it — because it looks so fabulous when quilted this way !!

  3. I would love to get some and try it for Punch Needle. I’ve been trying a lot of different threads from Valdani Perle cottons-love the variegation-to crochet thread. DMC is fine but I like using 3 strands as opposed to 6, which means I have to separate it. Punch Needle sucks up thread more than x-stitch, regular embroidery, etc so I’m “experimenting” to find out how I like items that just keeps on going once I get started. Aurifil size 12 sounds like it should be on my list to try if I can find it or I may have to order it

  4. Thank you for the article! I appreciate the info. I have tried aurifil for regular sewing. It is so smooth and basically lint free. Such awesome thread!!

  5. This is indeed a very good thread , but there are other threads out there that work just as well and I am taking a stand against buying ridiculously expensive threads and sewing supplies directed at a predominantly female market who for some reason feel they have to follow the trend and buy every ridiculously expensive sewing machine or thread on the market. I will continue to use what works for me. I know someone who bought a $12000 Bernina because of the hype and I don’t think she has used it yet. Someone also told me she has over 200 spools of Aurifil thread, that is so ridiculous! Give some of that money away to the needy for goodness sake! And don’t get me started on the stash that quilter’s accumulate , never to be used !

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