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Thread count is the number of threads per square inch in the fabric. It determines the quality and weight of the fabric.

Threads are counted for both the length and width of the fabric. If there are the same number of threads in both directions, the fabric is an “even weave.” Fabrics with an even weave are easier to work with as you make a quilt, since the fabric will have the same amount of “give in both directions.

Quilting cotton is generally 68 x 68 threads per square inch, higher than average fabrics. Fabrics with lower thread counts, those around 60 x 60 per square inch are too lightweight for quilts. They tend to ravel excessively, they will shrink more, they will be less durable, and batting will come through the weave in your finished quilt.

High thread counts and extremely tight weaves can be difficult to work with, especially if you are hand quilting. Although it is tempting to use a sheet for the backing of a quilt, the finish and thread count may make it very difficult to work with.

I remember one year I was very excited to find some high quality Pima cotton. I bought a bunch of it, in all different colors, and made a beautiful quilt. It was an Amish-type Ocean Waves. Cutting the fabric was a dream. These were the days before rotary cutting, and I was cutting the fabric with scissors. Sewing the fabric on the machine was wonderful. Basting it was great. Then came the quilting.

Hand quilting was not pleasant at all. The thread count was so high, that quilting was almost a nightmare. I tried everything – smaller needles, sharper needles, bigger thimble, whatever I could dream up. But nothing made any difference. I just gutted it out, and finished it, because I loved the feel of the fabric and the design of the quilt.

I love the quilt, but won’t ever use Pima cotton again.

Happy Quilting!

Penny Halgren

Penny Halgren is a quilter of more than 24 years who seeks to interest new quilters and provide them with the resources necessary to create beautiful quilts.

This article courtesy of http://www.How-to-Quilt.com. You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.

©2006, Penny Halgren