RTS Blog

Thread Matters April 03 2023

When you use the right thread for the job, your projects will look better instantly!

If you haven't found the thread that's right for you or your machine, we've got some threads you might want to try to elevate your piecing, quilting and more.

Check out our Red Thread Studio picks below, but in the meantime, I'd love to know your favorite threads!  Comment below.

Piecing Thread

Piecing Thread

From hand piecing to machine piecing and quilting, I love to use Aurifil cotton thread.  

Aurifil produces a mercerized thread that is widely heralded by a dedicated tribe of quilters, sewists, and textile artists for its versatility, its strength, its lustrous color and the fact that it produces virtually no lint. 

The 50wt is ideal for piecing, both by hand and and by machine. The thread's thinness makes flatter, more accurate seams resulting in a truly professional finished product. When it comes to machine quilting, the 50wt is a fantastic choice because it sinks into the fabrics, creating the perfect amount of definition without being overbearing, allowing the piecing to be the star of the show!

But we also stock 40wt too for those of you who require a bit thicker thread.

Grab your Aurifl thread by the spool or build your stash with our Aurifil Color Builder Thread Club.




Hand Applique Thread

Hand Applique Thread

When it comes to hand appliqué, I love it when my thread melts into the fabric without a trace.

There are several options including cotton (Efina from Wonderfil), silk (Kimono from Superior Threads) and polyester threads (Invisafil from Wonderfil) that I use.

My personal favorite is Invisafil.  It is a remarkable silk-like 100wt, 2-ply cottonized polyester. This ultra-fine but surprisingly strong thread has cotton-like characteristics and negligible stretch while also feeling soft in the hand.

Invisafil makes for super low bulk stitches and virtually “disappears”, making it the ultimate choice for appliqué (Spoiler alert: and is the the ultimate choice for English paper piecing!) whenever you don’t want your stitching to show.

It is available in 60 subtle to bright colors with a matte finish, so you can choose how much want the thread to show (or not at all)!




Wool Applique Thread

Wool Applique Thread

Hands down my favorite.  I love that it is on a spool.

After years of product development and research by Wonderfil, along with Sue Spargo's expertise every step of the way, they have created what is to be the finest wool applique thread available on the market.

Engineered and finished to the highest quality standard, Ellana is extremely user friendly and the perfect wool thread for both hand appliqué and machine work. Ellana is fray resistant, contains significantly less fuzz, and possesses unparalleled smoothness.

And even better, there are 60 gorgeous colors that match Sue Spargo's wool!




English Paper Piecing Thread

English Paper Piecing Thread

When I first started English paper piecing, I researched the best thread to use.  At the time, I started with Aurifil 50wt.  

As I worked to refine my stitches and to make them smaller and less visible,  I discovered Invisafil.  You can read my thoughts above under hand appliqué 
thread on the benefits of using Invisafil.  They all apply to English paper piecing but for which I would add that the polyester has proven to be stronger especially when rubbing up against the papers.




Sashiko Thread

Sashiko Thread

Phew...this is a hard one.  I always encourage students to try traditional Sashiko thread like Olympus brand or Hidamari on a cone by Lecien Cosmo.  These threads have a mat finish.

If you would like a sheen, then I highly recommend Eleganza Perle Cotton in size 8...I particularly like the spools with Sue Spargo's collection.

But if I had to chose only one, I would pick Eleganza.




Big Stitch Quilting Thread

Big Stitch Quilting Thread

What I love about Big Stitch Quilting is that there are not many rules....and the same can be said about the thread used.

Some folks love to use a 12wt (like Spagetti by Wondefil) but my go-to thread is yet again Eleganza Perle Cotton.  I generally use 8wt but depending on the look you want to achieve, you might explore 5wt for a bold look.




Embroidery Floss

 Embroidery Floss

Another difficult category for me.  When it comes to six-stranded embroidery floss, I really like Lecien Cosmo thread.  There is a wonderful selection of colors and the quality is's like butter!

But when it comes to hand dyed floss, I am swooning over Cottage Garden Threads, and in particular, their Signature Series.  Currently, we stock their top 80 colors but keep watching here as we will have some thread club options coming up in the future!

You can learn more about the Katie and the team at Cottage Garden Threads in Australia HERE.




Specialty Threads

Specialty Threads

It's always fun to add some pizazz to your piece!

From metallic threads to silk ribbons, your project will shine!


Five Reasons I Became a Small Business Owner November 25 2022 4 Comments

It’s small business week! It gave me the perfect time to reflect on why I created Red Thread Studio and became a small business owner. Read more.

2022 Word of the Year: FOCUS December 30 2021 12 Comments

Jen Lee here... 

As we kick off the New Year, I wanted to put my stitching related goals for 2022 down on the proverbial paper.  This seemingly simple exercise forces me to think about what is important to me and to map out the big things that will make a difference before I launch into my daily chaos.  

As I sat down to write my goals for 2022, I first reflected on my accomplishments as well as bumps in the road over the course of 2021.  I am amazed at all of the things that I was able to accomplish despite the challenges of a post COVID world.  I also feel blessed thinking about all of the people I have met along the way.  

Moving into 2022, my word for the year is FOCUS.  I want to continue the momentum that I built this past year, but I also want to allow myself more time to focus on those things that are truly important to me.

And, an important note to self:  I can make the loftiest of goals, but I also need to be grounded and remember that life with two teenage kids can be hectic.  I will need to be flexible and open to change.  As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

What is your word for the year?  Do you have any goals for what quilting or stitching related projects you want to get done in 2022?

Jen's 2016 Goals

In the meantime and to help you start the new year with as much stitching and quilting as humanly possible, I've compiled a list of tips to help you FOCUS and to get you ready to make progress on and finish a few of those quilting projects that are still laying around.

  • Get Organized!  No matter your experience or how many UFO's you have, it's important to first get organized.  Make note of how many unfinished projects you have.  This simple step of acknowledging what you do have is the first step toward finishing these UFO's. 
  • Schedule Creative Time In Your Day.  Research has shown that hobbies such as quilting are good for your physical and mental health.  Quilting keeps your mind sharp, creates new social connections, and adds richness and dimension to your identity.  Adding a hobby into your schedule will also force you to get various other tasks done more quickly and efficiently.
  • Create A Project Plan With Mini Milestones Along The Way.  What is the next smallest step you can take that makes it impossible to fail?  This progress, one step at a time, allows you to build momentum to keep moving forward.  Did you know that simply checking off a completed task releases dopamine (a.k.a. the reward chemical) in our body making us feel happy and motivated?
  • Make It A 'Sewcial' Affair.  Find a support group of like-minded creatives to get advice when you need help, to cheer you on when you are struggling and to celebrate with you when you make progress.
  • Have Fun!  Make it a game and challenge yourself to not start a new project until you finish 1-2 current UFO's.  Reward yourself with a new Fat Quarter bundle or fun notion when you finish a project ;).

Happy New Year!  May it be filled with lots of Love, Laughter, and of course, Lots of Stitching!

5 Ways To Set Yourself Up For Quilty Success In 2021 December 30 2020 2 Comments

Let's face it, 2020 has been a rocky ride. But for many of us, there has also been a silver lining during these uncertain times.

So with some new friends and new skills, we get to turn the page to begin a new year with new hope and promise.

And, to help you start the new year with as much stitching and quilting as humanly possible, I've compiled a list of tips to get you ready to make progress on and finish a few of those quilting projects that are still laying around.

Pivoting during a Pandemic August 31 2020 2 Comments

Learn how Jen Lee decided to pivot from business-as-usual mode during the pandemic of 2020. 

25 Ways to Use Mask-making Scraps July 13 2020 2 Comments

From handy ear bud pouches to fun bookmarks and jelly roll beds to pamper your pets, we crafted a list of 25 things to make with your mask-making scraps.

National Embroidery Month is Here February 11 2020

Yes, there’s an entire month to focus on embroidery. As passionate Red Thread Studio Stitchers, we are primed and ready to celebrate. While we try to make handwork part of our every day, we took a beat to remind ourselves how this month came to be. 

What’s Your Heart’s Desire? February 06 2020

Whatever makes your heart sing will do. And if you can make something for someone you love all the better. Nothing says love more than a handmade gift.

Stitch it Forward on MLK Day of Service January 17 2020

The MLK Day of Service let’s us celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life by way of volunteerism and community service projects. As stitchers and makers, we often endeavor to create things for the greater good. How do you give back to the community? 

Showing Off Quilts December 23 2019 1 Comment

While creating is its own reward, we like to show off the things we make, too. Especially if we can make it into a big con, but just as sweet is the smaller exhibition. 

Saluting our Veterans November 08 2019

Our own Jen Lee has a dear friend named Maureen McNally who as worked with veterans for many years. We asked her a few questions about her work, Honor Flight Network, and Quilts of Valor.

Soothing a Loved One or Friend with Breast Cancer October 25 2019

October’s pumpkin spice cannot cloud the attention we should pay toward Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Especially since one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. How can you soothe a loved one or friend? Read more.

Celebrate National Handbag Day With These Chic Picks October 10 2019

We love our handbags. From our workbag, to our go-to shopping bag, and our going out bag—can we ever have enough? What better time to invest in a new bag than National Handbag Day!

Sewing Kit for Stitching on the Go September 24 2019 16 Comments

National Sewing Month has us celebrating all things sewing related. As loyal Red Thread Studio Stitchers, we know you understand. It’s in our blood. As our lives get busy, we also know we can take our love for sewing on the road with us with our trusty sewing kit. We’re curious to know, what’s in your sewing kit?

Sew a New Wardrobe this September September 17 2019 10 Comments

September is National Sewing Month! As Red Thread Studio Stitchers, we are always sewing. From quilts to clothing to needlework, we appreciate the pure enjoyment sewing brings to our lives. Read more.

Head Back to School August 20 2019 1 Comment

We’ve rounded up our favorite Red Thread Studio tutorials and suggested reading to help us head back to school.

Quilting in the Aloha State (and a Giveaway)! July 09 2019 44 Comments


Did you know that this past Friday (July 5th) was National Hawaii Day?  This day is to recognize the 50th State - Hawaii - to be granted statehood.

Hawaii is known for its beautiful tropical beaches, stunning landscapes, luaus, hula dancing, surfing, rainbows, and of course, Hawaiian quilting!

A Hawaiian quilt is a distinctive quilting style of the Hawaiian Islands that began in 1820 when missionaries first arrived.  It uses large radially symmetric appliqué from a single cut of folded fabric and quilting stitching that normally follows the contours of the appliqué design.  Motifs often work stylized botanical designs in bold colors on a white background.  Hawaiian quilts are truly a labor of love (generally 1,000 plus hours of craftsmanship and 1 million plus stitches per quilt).


I was blessed to be able to spend a few weeks in the Aloha State last month for our family vacation.  We spent our time exploring the beautiful sites and beaches around the Island of Oahu including Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, The North Shore, Kualoa Valley and Pearl Harbor.  

Activities included hiking, surfing, sailing, snorkeling, zip lining and soaking up the sun.  I even managed to sneak out for a few hours to explore a local Quilt Shop and to see Hawaiian quilts in the wild.


These quilts and quilted accessories by Julie Yi (Julie's Creations Designs) of Hawaiian Islands Arts put a modern spin on the traditional Hawaiian quilt.


Another modern take on Hawaiian appliqué showcasing the Honu (turtle).


There are lots of options for quilted treasures for everyone's budget at Oahu Quilt.



The Hawaiian version of Sunbonnet Sue - Aloha Sue and Aloha Sam!



While not hand embroidered in the Islands, this pillow which showcases Oahu's treasures was designed locally.


I was only able to visit one quilt shop on our trip since it was the only one in walking distance of our condo.  Fabric Mart offered a nice selection of Hawaiian fabrics including some novelty prints with a fun Japanese twist.  On my list of must see shops for the next trip is Kaimuki Dry Goods and Kuni Island Fabrics.


And I did manage to bring back some souvenirs!  



COMMENT BELOW whether or not you've made a Hawaiian quilt for a CHANCE TO WIN a bundle (fat sixteenth) of this Hawaiian souvenir fabric!  Winner will be chosen by random on July 15th, 2019.  Not feeling lucky?  You can purchase your own souvenir bundle HERE.

Looking for more Aloha Inspiration

Jason Yenter: Father and fabric designer June 04 2019 1 Comment

Jason Yenter is one of our featured designers in our blog series. As we approach Father’s Day, we thought to point you in the direction of his wonderful profile. A wonderful story that starts right where it should, In the Beginning.

We Love Our Mother Ocean June 01 2019

Many fish and ocean animals rely on the protection of the healthy, living reef that also supplies a rich, thriving food chain. It’s truly a wondrous watery world.

It also reminded us of ... read more

Quilt Market Spring 2019 Review May 21 2019 2 Comments

I was on a mission to see and touch as much pretty fabric and handwork products as I could at this year’s Quilt Market in Kansas City. Here's what I saw (and felt!) from the show floor. Read more.

Look out Quilt Week - Here We Come! May 01 2018 2 Comments


AQS Quilt Week Instructors - Spring Paducah 2019Margy and I submitted our instructor application in the Fall of 2017 and were delighted to learn that our proposals for a Beginning Ruler Work on a Domestic Machine and a Hand Sashiko class were accepted.

To say the least, it was surreal to see our names and photos (along with another Treasure Coast talent - Karen Marchetti) in the Paducah Instructor line up with the likes of Alex Anderson, Hollis Chatelain, Heather Givens, Marti Michell, Ricky Tims, Deb Tucker and Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  We were tickled!

And to add to that, Margy's Ruler Work class sold out in a record two days!  By March, my class was full as well.

The local newspaper, The Paducah Sun, reached out to Margy for an interview, and she was featured along with all stars Hollis Chatelain and Ricky Tims.  

Paducah Sun Article - Margy Merle

During the Instructor Briefing, we were also given the opportunity to sign up to film a short tip for Quilt TV which is produced by AQS for Quilt Week.  Filming took place early Friday morning in the Red Thread Studio booth. 

Filming a quilty tipHow to Manage a Skein of Thread Tip - JenLee

Here is my video if you are looking for a way to manage your threads:

I hope you enjoyed our adventure as much as we did!

2016 Fall Market Review November 21 2016

Another Quilt Market is in the books!

Quilt Market is a bi-annual trade show for the quilting industry that is not open to the general public.  On the show floor, you will find shop owners, fabric and pattern designers, fabric companies, distributors, media, publishers among other industry professionals.

On the eve of Quilt Market, retailers can also participate in Sample Spree.  This event gives retailers a chance to purchase limited quantities of up and coming fabric lines, patterns or notions in order to start making samples once back home or try out products before placing larger orders.  You can feel the excitement in the air as the line to Sample Spree begins to queue more than 2 hours before the doors open!  I certainly did my share and have some exciting samples currently underway back home at the studio.

Left: Thankful as always for my Mom as she held our place in line to Sample Spree while I attended an educational seminar. 

Right:  An attempt to capture the frenzy inside Sample Spree.

Sample Spree Fall Market 2016

With 27 aisles of vendors to explore, I don't know what was more difficult - getting to see all that they had to offer in a limited amount of time or staying within budget!  Like past markets, I was in search of new ideas for quilters on the go, and I can say that there was inspiration all around.

Here are some trends that we saw on our whirlwind tour:

Welcoming Pineapples and Flamboyant Flamingos

The pineapple is recognized as a traditional expression of “welcome” and symbolizes those intangible assets we appreciate in a home such as warmth, welcome, friendship and hospitality so it was not surprising to see this fruit incorporated into quilt patterns or fabric designs.

Top Left:  Mod Pineapples by Sew Kind of Wonderful

Top Right:  Pineapple Farm by Elizabeth Hartman

Bottom Left: Pineapple inspiration by Adornit

Bottom Right: Japanese pineapple fabricPineapples

Flamingos are bright, social animals who are very family oriented.  It is said that Flamingo people tend to be very vibrant, outgoing and even flirtatious.  The flamingos we saw incorporated into fabric and designs definitely had a playful vibe.

Left: Flamingo Fever fabric by Adornit

Center:  Florence Flamingo by Elizabeth Hartman

Right: Hello Flamingo by Adornit


Handwork, Handwork and More Handwork!

This continues to be the most exciting trend for me since I personally love handwork.  From surface embroidery and embellishment to English paper piecing and Sashiko, handwork caters to the lifestyle on-the-go.

Top Row:  Stitched by Nichole Vogelsinger of Wild Boho for Jennifer Sampou's new fabric line Black and White 2 for Robert Kaufman Fabrics (Top Left) and for Alison Glass's new fabric line 76 for Andover Fabrics (Top Center and Top Right)

Bottom Row : Stitched by Nichole Vogelsinger of Wild Boho for her new book Boho Embroidery.

Wild Boho

Wild Boho

Top Left: Modern English Paper Piecing by Violet Craft

Top Right: Studio Bag featuring Sashiko stitching by Leesa Chandler Designs

Bottom Left: Sashiko inspiration by Kathy Doughty featuring her up and coming fabric line for Free Spirit Fabrics - Celebrate

Bottom Right: The Diva Wallet by Sew Many Creations featuring Sue Spargo's Renaissance Ribbon

Hand Work

Left: Willow by Sew Quirky dressed in her unicorn outfit 

Right: Willow, a dress me doll, by Sew Quirky that features hand embroidered faces

Willow Dress Me Doll

Beyond Quilting Cottons

Quilting cotton isn’t going anywhere, but fabric designers are venturing into new textile territory.   We saw denim, fleece, double gauze, chambray and even some bark cloth. One collection that caught my eye was Outback Wife by Gertrude Made for Ella Blue Fabrics that features bark cloth.

Left: Mister Domestic weaves his magic with Art Gallery Fabric denims

Center:  Outback Wife by Cathi Bessell-Browne of Gertrude Made for Ella Blue Fabrics 

Right:  More wovens with Loominous 2 by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit Fabrics.

Beyond Quilting Cotton

What quilting, stitching or fabric trends have caught your eye?

Featured Notion - Tulip Needles September 20 2016


My favorite hand sewing needles by far are Tulip Hiroshima needles. Slightly more expensive than other hand needles on the market, Tulip needles have a reputation for being stronger, more flexible and less likely to bend or break. Based on my experience, I couldn’t agree more.

The tradition of Hiroshimabari (Hiroshima needle) production in Japan stretches back for more than 300 years. Tulip is based in the Hiroshima region and since 1948, has manufactured sewing needles blending traditional techniques passed down from older generations with cutting edge technology available today. Tulip also makes beading, wool felting and knitting needles as well as crochet hooks.

Based on the principle of ‘Quality First,’ each Tulip needle goes through 30 different processes when made to ensure the needle is safe and of the highest quality. The needles are polished lengthwise to ensure smooth piercing. The large eyes are optimally designed to allow for easy threading and to prevent snagging. Each and every needle eye is inspected.

While many think of sewing needles as disposable, Tulip believes that a really good, quality needle is never thrown away. Tulip recommends wiping down the needle after each use and storing it inside its case to maintain good performance.  (Did you know that each year in Japan, seamstresses pay homage to their needles in the Festival of Broken Needles (Hari-Kuyo?

To top it off, these sewing needles are beautifully packaged in small cardboard boxes with a cutout window one the front and encased in a clear tube that is secured with a cork stopper. Each tube is labeled with the needle size helping to keep your needles organized.

Check out my favorite Tulip hand quilting, appliqué and embroidery needles here:

What are your favorite needles?

2016 Spring Market Review June 13 2016

Hard to believe that three weeks has already passed since Spring Quilt Market in Salt Lake City, Utah!

As many of you may know, Quilt Market is a bi-annual trade show for the quilting industry that is not open to the general public.  On the show floor, you will find shop owners, fabric and pattern designers, fabric companies, distributors, media, publishers among other industry professionals all in search of new trends and ideas....and of course, on a mission to pet and fondle pretty fabric!

 Spring Market 2016 - Salt Lake Convention Center

Unlike Fall Market 2015 where I braved 28 aisles of vendors alone, I was able to share this experience with my Mom.  Now she can truly understand the method to my madness after seeing some of the behind the scenes of owning a quilt shop!

Spring Market 2016 - Me and Mom Collage

In addition to looking for new trends and ideas for quilters on the go, we also had the chance to meet up with some of our past and future Featured Designers to see what they have been up to and to film a fun video.

Left: Lee Chappell Monroe of May Chappell.  Lee is now a Craftsy instructor and will be teaching at QuiltCon East in Savannah, GA in 2017!

Middle left:  Pauline McArthur of Funky Friends Factory

Middle right: Janeene Scott of Passionately Sewn

Right: Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession

Spring Market 2016 - Lee Chappell Monroe, Pauline McArthur, Janeene Scott, Kathy Doughty

Left:  Scrappy Lawn Star from Jenny From One Block

Middle left: Jen Kingwell

Middle right: Happy Birds

Right: One Happy Bird!

Spring Market 2016 - Jen Kingwell

Left:  Alison Glass booth featuring her fabric lines for Andover Fabric

Middle left: Alison Glass

Middle right: Flower #1 embroidery kit

Right: Clover Sunshine Needle Book

Featured Designer - Alison Glass

Left:  Helen Stubbings of Hugs N Kisses

Middle: Razz-A-Dazzle BOM coming to Red Thread Studio in July!

Right: Close up of a Razz-A-Dazzle embroidery block

Featured Designer - Helen Stubbings

Left: Jessica Van Denburgh of Sew Many Creations

Right:  The Diva Frame Wallet

 Spring Market 2016 - Jessica VanDenburghDiva Frame Wallet

There was also several fabric lines that caught my eye.

Free Spirit Fabrics

Top Left:  Mod Corsage by Anna Maria Horner

Top Right: Fast Friends by Juliana Horner

Bottom Left: Folk Art Revolution by Kathy Doughty

Bottom Right: Natural World by Snow Leopard Designs

Spring Market 2016 - Free Spirit Fabrics

Cotton + Steel Fabric

Cotton + Steel's guest designer Rifle Paper Co. created quite a buzz with Le Fleur.

 Spring Market 2016 - Le Fleur

Top Left:  Trinket by Melody Miller

Top Right: Raindrop by Rashida Coleman Hale

Bottom Left: From Porto With Love by Sarah Watts

Bottom Right: Print Shop by Alexia Marcella Begg

Spring Market 2016 - Cotton + Steel

Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Left: Marks by Valori Wells

Middle: Paint Box Basics by Elizabeth Hartman and her pattern Lepidoptera

Right: Euclid by Carolyn Friedlander

Spring Market 2016 - Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Shibori by Debbie Maddy for Moda Fabrics

Spring Market 2016 - Shibori by Debbie Maddy 

Grafic by Latifah Saafir for Me + You by Hoffman Fabrics

Spring Market 2016 - Grafic by Latifah Saafir

Ella Blue Fabrics

Left: Gembrook by Rosalie Dekker and center medallion of Memories of Gembrook

Right: Matilda by Emma Jean Jansen

Spring Market 2016 - Ella Blue Fabrics

And finally, some handwork finds like wool appliqué and surface embellishment and English paper piecing.

Top Left:  Folk Tails by Sue Spargo

Top Right: Bonus pattern from Folk Tails by Sue Spargo

Bottom Left: Wish Upon a Star by Sue Daley

Bottom Right: All Over the Octagon by Sue Daley

Spring Market - Wool Applique and EPP

Do you have any favorites?