We have all heard the stories about polyester cutting the fabric. The stories we hear are mostly legends handed down from earlier generations. Back in grandma’s time, most of the available thread was cotton and the quilting was usually done along the pieced seams, or “stitch in the ditch.” Times have changed and machine quilting has opened up a new world. No longer is quilting done only along the seams. Machine stitching can enhance the beauty of the quilt by adding intricate and complementary designs throughout the entire quilt. Machine quilting does not add stress to the quilt. The stress points remain in the piecing. Some say that polyester thread is too strong and will tear the fabric. If the fabric ever tears as a result of heavy use, most likely it will tear at the seams. The seams are the true stress points of a quilt, not the machine quilted areas.
The solution is to piece with cotton thread, thereby matching the nature of the fabric fibers with the thread fibers. This equalizes the stress points of the quilt. Then, use other threads such as metallics, polyester, and 20 or 30 wt. cotton to decorate and enhance the quilt by creative quilting. If a polyester thread is used in decorative quilting, it will not tear the fabric under normal or even heavy use because there is minimal stress away from the seams.