What Color Is Your Basting Thread?

Green swiss dot fabric - basted

I’ve basted fabric together using thread that matches and thread that’s a contrasting color. When I’ve used a contrasting color I usually pick black or white for two reasons:

  1. I always have plenty of those colors on hand, and
  2. it’s easy to see and then remove the thread.

However, the benefit of using matching thread is that it’s not as critical to remove every single stitch of basting thread because it blends in with the fabric. And in some cases, you may just want to leave it in – something I never thought about doing until I read Natalie Chanin’s book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. I made a tunic from that book, which features patterns for clothes that are all hand sewn, and it calls for you to baste stay stitches around the arm holes and neck area (still need to do a post about that hand-sewing experience). And she says you could just leave the stay stitches in place if you want – of course that’s assuming you are using matching ┬áthread. When I basted this Swiss dot fabric for my Fall for Cotton project, I decided to go with matching thread. So what color is your basting thread? Do you use matching or contrasting thread?

A Tale of Three Threads

Three green Gutterman threads

Vintage Swiss dot voile
The photo of my fabric on my iPhone

A couple nights ago after I ran an errand after work, I remembered that I didn’t have any thread yet for my Fall for Cotton project. I finally decided on using my vintage Swiss dot voile fabric to make Decades of Style pattern 1940s Girl Friday Blouse. I would be near Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics so I could stop by there BUT I didn’t have a swatch on me. What if I wanted to start sewing that night? I had a photo of it on my iPhone but I knew that could not replace a swatch because photos are just not a good substitute for the real thing. The color could be way off. But I thought I could get in the ball park. So I went in the store, took a hard look at the green threads and decided to pick three threads (Gutterman 752, 785, and 788). Between my memory and the photo, I thought I could get close.

Before I paid for the thread, I told the lady that I didn’t have a swatch and she just said, bring back the thread you don’t use along with your receipt and we can give you your money back.

When I got home, I checked each thread against the fabric. Any of them could have worked because my fabric wasn’t just one shade of green. It turned out that the best match was the darker green, Gutterman 788.

OK, so the lesson is: Take fabric swatches of all your current projects and put them in your purse, wallet, or somewhere you can access them anytime you’re out. You never know when you’ll run across a button, zipper, or contracting fabric!And if you don’t have that swatch, you may not be able to make a decision.

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