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What is Aurifil Thread?

What is Aurifil Thread?

Aurifil’s Origins

Open box containing several dozen Aurifil thread colors

If you’re a quilter or an embroiderer, you’ve no doubt seen Aurifil thread around. It’s one of the most popular threads in the world and it gets a lot of hype, but what’s so special about it? Where does Aurifil thread come from and why is it considered one of the higher end threads you can buy?

Aurifil as a company dates back several decades: to 1983 in Milan, Italy. Original founder Angelo Gregotti was motivated by the desire to be the best in the business and set out to create embroidery thread made from the finest Egyptian cotton. 

It was actually Gregotti’s daughter who first saw the potential to market Aurifil thread as quilting thread. And she was absolutely right in her idea. The threads were first shown to quilters at the European Quilt Show in Strasbourg in 2000 and were a huge hit. Today Aurifil thread is the quilting thread of choice for hobbyists and professional quilters alike. 

“Mako Cotton Thread”

Aurifil is based in Milan, Italy and has been operating in the U.S. since 2007. Prior to then, U.S. customers had to rely on imports for this high-quality thread. 

In his quest for the best thread possible, Gregotti knew the importance of raw materials. You cannot create a premium product from shoddy ingredients. So Aurifil thread comes from some of the highest-grade cotton, Mako Cotton. 

Mako Egyptian cotton growing in a field

Mako Cotton comes from upper-Egypt, where the cotton industry has enjoyed many ups and downs over the centuries. In the modern era, “Egyptian Cotton” is synonymous with quality. The longer staple fibers are spun into an incredibly smooth cotton that manages to be both finer and stronger than other cottons. 

In fact, when Egyptian cotton was first introduced to Europe, many people observed that it was nearer to silk in appearance.

Before it makes it to your sewing room, each Aurifil thread has undergone 15 different steps to assure quality.

Aurifil for embroidery

Aurifil thread was initially designed for embroidery. Gregotti’s original company, Studio Auriga, was the first Italian company working towards a multi-head mechanical embroidery machine design. 

Gregotti was further inspired by Japanese technology (and specifically Tajima brand embroidery machines) to work towards combining the best designs with the latest technology. From here, his passion spread to threads. After all, what good is the best machine if it’s loaded with subpar thread?

You will frequently see Aurifil thread referred to as Aurifloss when it is marketed for embroidery. Floss is simply multiple threads put together. Same materials, different packaging.

Can you quilt with Aurifil thread?

Absolutely! Although initially developed with embroidery in mind, Aurifil thread has proven to be a huge hit in the quilting world. Both hand and machine quilters alike favor this thread for projects big and small. 

How to Choose Quilting Thread

Thread may seem like a small deal. (It’s nearly invisible, after all!) However, the thread you choose can make or break your quilt. After all, it is what literally holds all your seams together! Selecting a high quality thread can really increase the longevity of your quilt as well as its looks. It can be tempting to go for the cheapest, easiest-to-find thread out there, but don’t be fooled. You’ve already spent so much time and money on your fabrics and design that it’s worth it to get a strong thread to hold it all together. 

Fortunately, for all its high reputation, Aurifil thread is very widely available and usually at competitive prices.

Aurifil isn’t the only good thread on the market. You can get ahold of polyester or blended threads that are high quality, as well, and you’ll still make beautiful quilts with them. For embroidery, polyester Isacord threads are also a great choice. Aurifil does have a few advantages you won’t see anywhere else, though, and over the years it’s become the quilter’s choice for most projects. 

The Benefits of Aurifil Thread

Aurifil is a mercerized thread well-known for its strength. These are threads that are going to fray and snap on you constantly. Other benefits of Aurifil thread include:

  • Vibrant colors
  • Smooth
  • Thinner (for flatter laying blocks)

But most of all, Aurifil thread is a favorite of quilters because it produces almost no lint. Using Aurifil thread means no linty bobbin areas and less time cleaning your machine!

Indanthren vs. Reactive Aurifil Thread Colors

You’ll see Aurifil thread colors come in two varieties: Indanthren and Reactive. 

Indanthren colors are stable colors. They are heavy-duty, common-use colors with incredible colorfastness. 

Reactive colors, on the other hand, are made with a reactive dye and are less common. Because they are more prone to bleed and require additional care than indanthren colors, you’ll notice an asterisk marks these colors.

Aurifil Thread Weights

Thread weight is the measurement of how thick the thread is as it unravels from the spool. Smaller numbers are thicker threads. Most quilters prefer 50 or 40 weight thread, but you’ll see many different weights depending on the needs. Extremely thick weights like 12 weight are sometimes seen in big-stitch hand quilting.

Needle size and thread weight chart

12 weight  100/16 OR 90/14 Topstitch Needle, 4.5 Longarm Needle
28 weight Topstitch Needle, Denim Needle, 4.5 OR 4.0 Longarm Needle
40 weight 80/12 Microtex/Sharp Needle, Universal OR Denim Needle, 4.5 Longarm Needle
50 weight 80/12 Microtex/Sharp Needle, Universal OR Denim Needle, 4.0 Longarm Needle
80 weight 70/10 OR 80/12 Microtex/Sharp or Embroidery Needle
Wool: 90/14 Topstitch Needle, longest possible Longarm Needle
Polyester:  80/12 Microtex/Sharp Needle, Universal or Denim Needle, 3.5 or 4.0 Longarm Needle
Monofilament 80/12 OR 70/10 Topstitching or Microtex/Sharp Needle

Looking for a more visual guide? Aurifil offers this same thread weight and needle size chart as a colorful PDF with pictures.

Aurifil Thread Options

Despite the exclusive nature of its ingredients and manufacturing process, Aurifil thread is readily available. You’ll find many of your favorite names have partnered with Aurifil for high quality thread kits and boxes. 

A colorful box of Lori Holt

Lori Holt offers several different collections of thread. We’re happy to offer the following Lori Holt Aurifil kits:

You can check out all our thread offerings (Isacord, Aurifil and more) by visiting our Threads Collection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Aurifil thread bleed?

All textiles have the risk of bleeding. Aurifil is a very strong, high quality thread, so bleed should not be an issue if the threads are properly cared for. Improper care, however, may result in significant bleeding. 

You’ll find care instructions on your Aurifil thread box or case. Be sure to follow them! With proper care, your Aurifil threads will hold their lustrous color for many years. 

Pay attention, too, to the asterisks you see marking some threads. These are the reactive Aurifil threads which require additional care to prevent bleeding.

Does Aurifil thread have a sheen?

Yes, Aurifil thread has a distinct sheen because it is mercerized. Mercerization is the use of a caustic soda to make the thread stronger and more receptive to color dyes. It is this ultra-receptiveness that allows Aurifil thread to hold a brilliant sheen and color.

Is Aurifil thread waxed?

No, Aurifil thread is not waxed. Instead Aurifil uses a transparent paraffin oil treatment while winding. This achieves the same effect as waxing so your thread glides smoothly through your machine, and there’s no residue left behind!

Which aurifil thread weight is best for quilting?

Every quilter has their preference, and every project has different needs. The higher weights will let you stitch in superfine detail and the lowers are better for hand quilting and creating unique textures. Play around with different weights to see what you prefer, and be sure to ask the thread weight on completed projects that catch your eye!

Which aurifil thread weight is best for piecing?

Aurifil recommends their 50 weight thread for piecing fabrics because of how flat the stitches lay.

Happy Stitching!

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