The Wonderful World of Variegated Thread

How much do you know about our 36 variegated colors? Have you used them in your projects? We know that Aurifil neutrals are often the go-tos, but we invite you to try out this fabulous array of colors which are the perfect solution when you want a touch of fun with added versatility.

Variegated threads contain multiple colors or multiple shades of one color. The spacing and repetition of the threads depends on how the thread is dyed. Aurifil produces 36 variegated thread colors that are prepared using three unique processes:

SHADED: 9 Colors
On Aurifil’s cotton color card, colors 3910 through 3320 are referred to as shaded. They are dyed in a special wardrobe with the darkest hue on the bottom of the wardrobe, a lighter version of the same color in the middle, and water on top. This results in a shaded or ombre effect.  

On Aurifil’s cotton color card, colors 3817 through 4656 are the multicolor threads. These threads contain more than one color and are actually printed or stamped on the thread, not dyed in a wardrobe. 

On Aurifil’s cotton color card, colors 4658 through 4665 are true variegated threads. These colors are dyed in wardrobes with a random application of a variety of colors. There are no rules or patterned repeats with these thread colors and they may also contain undyed areas.   

Variegated threads are wonderfully versatile, adding color interest to any project, whether with free-motion quilting, machine applique, machine embroidery, hand quilting, hand embroidery, or any variety of other techniques. Are you ready to give them a try? 

  • Head HERE to download Aurifil’s Cotton Colour Card including details for all 36 Variegated colors, recommended care instructions, and more!
  • Click HERE to check out Renee Hoffman’s (@quiltsnfeathers) deep dive into Aurifil’s variegated threads including stitched samples of all 36 colors and tips for use.
  • Quilting with variegated threads adds interest to solid colored backgrounds like with this quilt by Karen L. Miller.
Quilt by Karen L. Miller via @redbirdquiltco
  • Variegated threads are terrific for quilting a multi-colored top as they blend incredibly well, eliminating the need for multiple thread color changes as shown with these modern quilts by Christa Watson.
Quilts by Christa Watson — L: Color Weave, R: Improv Squares
  • To elevate your collage quilting or thread painting – find a variegated thread color to accent your project. Shaded colors allow for adding contrast and accents without changing thread colors like with this stunning piece by Lorraine Turner. 
Thread painting by Lorraine Turner via @lorraineturnerartist
  • Using variegated threads for free standing lace embroidery can add a little boost to your embroidery piece like with this butterfly by Kate Toney.
Machine Embroidered Butterflies by Kate Toney via @toughkittencrafts
  • Need a uniquely colored lace accent? Try thread painting with heavier weights of Aurifil variegated colors on water soluble stabilizer.  
  • Try using variegated threads for big stitch quilting to finish off modern quilts with flair like with these beauties by Natalie Barnes and Madeline Bonner.
L: Madeline Bonner via Auribuzz R: Natalie Barnes via Auribuzz

Are you ready to give Aurifil Variegated threads a try? Shop collections (US only), check our store locater, or submit a request via our Thread ConciergeHappy Stitching!

The Variegated CollectionKaleidoscopeTula Pink Premium Collection


  1. Thank you. This is the first I’ve read about the Shaded 9. I’ll have to head to my local quilt shop.

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