I have heard for years how wonderful silk is for applique, and I was finally sold after a good quilting pal of mine did some work with it this past winter yielding beautiful results.
I have been stocking up on this thread when it goes on sale for 40% off at Jo Ann fabrics (and it is on sale right now by the way) as it is pretty pricey at regular cost. It's $4.19 for 100 yards, but with the sale running I only pay $2.51 per tiny spool. I broke down and purchased some small cotton 100 yard spools (also from Gutermann) to compare the two to each other, and it I discovered that it is really amazing how invisible the stitches are with the silk.
These leaves and flowers I am showing here have NOT been stitched down yet, but if you click the photo and look at the gold bias tape - it was stitched with silk! I used a matching gold color and the stitches are nearly invisible.
This Celtic knot that I shared a few posts ago was also stitched down with silk thread. The stitches are so invisible that a quilting pal of mine thought that I had only fused it on and not sewn it down! The funny part is that the thread I used was much darker than this brown knot fabric, and I was really nervous that it would show terribly. But the silk blends in so well that you don't have to use the exact same color, just as similar of a shade as you can find.
Now, you'll have to click on the image below for a better look, but this crow with leaves shown here is applique that I stitched with a cotton thread. I used very closely matching colors, so it does blend, but it's not invisible. If it doesn't bother you that your stitches show then by all means, use whatever you like for applique! I personally find that I enjoy hand applique much more than machine, so for me, it is important to find a thread that I can hand applique with and get as good as or near as good as using mono filament.
Here are two more hand applique projects using cotton...you can really see the difference on these...
Below - just one more example of some stitching using silk - and the purple silk really doesn't match very well either!!! But that's what I love about it. As long as you're in the same ballpark...it disappears. :)
I'll share some more progress pictures with you soon on my newest quilt. It is almost entirely hand applique, though there is some piecing, and it is all being stitched down with silk thread. My Jo Ann Fabrics has a very limited color selection of silk, and that might be particular to Gutermann or simply because I live in a small town and there isn't a huge market for it here. But often I find that I have to use as close as a color as I can get and sometimes a totally different color all together. The leaves I'm stitching now have all been sewn in a dark khaki color because there isn't a green close enough to match. You'll be surprised when I show you - even with a totally different thread color the stitches can just very barely be seen!
Edited to Add: Here are a few additional pictures showing how nicely the silk blends. This is my current project, the leaves were actually stitched using a khaki color because there wasn't a green close enough to match. Look how great the stitches look despite the off color!
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