In the course of writing this blog I have learned a lot about thread selection for blanket-stitch applique. I have learned what to use when I want something to recede and what to use when I want something to stand out.
Receding: thin or flat (not shiny)
Use a thread that is flat and not shiny. I would recommend cotton for this. You can also use something really skinny so it leaves a lighter line line InvisaFil 100 weight polyester thread by WonderFil Threads or Bottom Line 60 weight polyester thread by Superior Threads. Both of these threads are thin.
Standing Out: off in color, shiny
Use a thread that is slightly off in color (lighter makes it pop more than darker) OR use a thread that is an accent color in the fabric instead of the main color. It also really makes things pop when you use a really shiny thread. There are many, many threads that have great shine. I like Fufu Threads, Deco-Bob by WonderFil Threads, Glide by Fil-Tec, and just about any rayon thread out there.
Here is a block that I did after gaining this knowledge. I used it to make my choices.
The first pieces I put on when building this block are the outer petals and the accent piece (top) on the middle petal. In this case, they were both yellow. I knew that I wanted the top piece to have a thread that didn't stand out, so I used Gutermann polyester thread because it doesn't have a lot of shine. The other yellow pieces that had more print I knew I wanted to use the darker shade of yellow so the thread stood out more. I also chose a shiny thread to make them pop. I used Madeira 40 weight Rayon Thread.
Then I added the dark blue piece with the yellow and orange dots. If I'd used a yellow or orange thread they would've popped those colors. However, I really wanted the piece to be blue. If it had been orange the orange thread would've run into the orange petals and created a line connecting them which I didn't want to see. If I'd used yellow it would've bled into the top yellow accent piece which again wasn't what I wanted. So I settled on blue. I used Fufu Thread which has a nice sheen to it and was really, really dark blue.
Then I added the orange petals. I knew I wanted them to stand out. There is a slight variation in color to the batik so I went with the darker of the orange and used Deco-Bob by WonderFil threads which has a nice sheen to it. I am happy with the results because the slightly darker color of the thread pops out which is what I wanted it to do.
Then I added the two dots. I stitched the red dot in Deco-Bob by WonderFil threads because it was shiny and slightly off in color which makes it stand out. The dot was a challenge because it was a pale peachy-orange color which is hard to find. I used a Glide by Fil-Tec thread that I had because it was the only color that complemented the fabric at all.
Now you know why I chose the threads I did! Happy appliqueing!