As a quilter, thread is right up next to fabric as a crucial factor in my projects. Many times the colour and choice of thread can make or break a quilt for me. And lets not talk about the early days when I used bad thread in a quilt that literally broke apart after a few washes!

I like to experiment and try different threads and brands, in the same way I use different brands of fabric. Aurifil is the one brand I have stuck to, using the 50 weight thread for my machine / hand piecing and English Paper Piecing, 80 wt for hand appliqué, 12 wt and 28 wt for hand quilting and Brillo for glittery shine. Ok so clearly I am a fan of Aurifil, I haven't had any problems with it breaking (in any weight), so my machines have liked it too. I go between 50 wt and 40/2 wt for quilting, though I have used the 28 wt in my machine too for smaller projects (with 50 wt in the bobbin). The 50 wt is lovely for a subtle look, I use smaller stitches and have also used it for free motion quilting. Generally speaking I do like a thicker thread for quilting though, one that gives more definition so I was excited to be given the new Forty3 or 40/3 wt in #2310 by Aurifil at CHSI. To be clear this is not a sponsored post, just a quilter having fun with new thread!

Aurifil Forty3 cone of thread

Currently available on cones and in 50 colours, it is a strong, mercerised cotton thread. Forty3 is marketed as a Longarm thread, the 40 weight 3 ply threads have been designed for “the rigor of today’s high speed machines.” Despite not having a longarm machine, I do use cones of 50 wt thread for piecing and it's totally fine to use the Forty3 in a domestic machine too - you will need a cone stand and a thicker needle, I use a Schmetz 90/14 topstitch needle and again I used 50 weight in the bobbin.

Here is a visual comparison; the cone of Forty3, green spool of 40/2 and orange spool of 50. They are different colours but still you can see the varying thicknesses. 

Aurifil Forty3 thread 40 weight 50 weight thread comparison swatch

I quilted some straight lines with my walking foot using different stitch lengths too. The top four lines are 50 weight and 40/2 weight and the bottom four lines are Forty3.

Forty3 Aurifil straight line quilting

top to bottom:
50 weight, stitch length 3
50 weight, stitch length 2.4
40/2 weight, stitch length 3
40/2 weight, stitch length 2.4
Forty3 weight, stitch length 3
Forty3 weight, stitch length 2.4
Forty3 weight, stitch length 3.5
Forty3 weight, stitch length 4

And then I got a little fancy! I tried out some of my favourite decorative machine stitches  still using my walking foot and then did some doodles with my free motion foot.

free motion quilting with Aurifil Forty3 thread

free motion quilting with Aurifil Forty3 thread

All worked great. The thread definitely shows up well and I was able to double back and go over lines without a problem or it looking too heavy. I did notice that if I paused while free motion quilting or stopped in the same place repeatedly there was a build up of thread - totally expected but you do see it more with the Forty3 so that's something to be careful of. I really like the texture it gives though and the strange little creature I sketched feels so good, even where I went in a close spiral. The machine embroidered alphabet stitches turned out really well too and the heart feels lovely and soft.

For the most part I tend to stick to straight line quilting, my 'go to' pattern being cross hatch marked out with a hera marker (for a tutorial click here) and Forty3 excelled. The thread performed beautifully and the weight of the thread just gives that bit more emphasis to the quilting without overpowering the texture of the design. I stitched this with a 2.8 stitch length and that was the sweet spot for me. 

cross hatch quilting with Aurifil Forty3 thread

I will be getting cones in other colours, I'm thinking #2021 and #1158, then longing for #2420 to be made!
The combination of Forty3 as the top thread and 50 weight in the bobbin is a winner on my domestic Elna 680. I haven't yet quilted a whole quilt obviously and there's been no washing done so I can't attest to that, though having used plenty of other Aurifil products I can't see there being an issue. The majority of my quilts have hand sewn binding using 50 weight thread and if that can withstand three kids and loads of washes, the Forty3 can probably take it! Aurifil Forty3 is currently available at Fat Quarter Shop and other good retailers!

cones of Aurifil Forty3 and 50 weight thread

Tell me what is your favourite quilting thread? Do you prefer a fine or thicker look?