A couple weeks ago when Lorraine was visiting, she mentioned her surprise at the thread our quilt group was using to baste our quilt. Because I was never a quilter in the States I wasn't really aware that the thread that Japanese quilters use was different, but in the back of my mind I had thought that maybe I'd never seen it in America. I may be wrong.
Japanese basting thread comes in assorted colors but it doesn't come on a spool. It is sold in craft shops and even dollar shops (well, 100 yen shops) as a couple of skeins to a package and it is all looped together and twisted into a very long hoop. The first thing we do when starting a new package of basting thread is to tie two pieces of leftover cloth (selveges work great for this) at opposite ends of the hoop and then cut through all the threads at one point. Voila. Basting thread is now all the same length (and managable!) and by pulling a thread from the BETWEEN the two cloth ties, the basting thread doesn't get tangled.
Again, I'm not so sure what other people use to baste with but Japanese basting thread is a very flimsy cotton which glides through fabics easily and breaks cleanly when sharply tugged. Scissors aren't really needed to cut the thread after a section is basted. Just a long back stitch, a sharp pull and the thread will break. This is also VERY handy when REMOVING basting threads from a quilt as a tug will free the threads of any knots and if the thread should happen to be sewn in, it will break easily without cutting into fingers and hands.
I know there are wonderful modern products like bonding spray and curved safety pins, even fusing paper for applique but more often than not I'll reach for Japanese basting thread especially because it is so cheap. When hand quilting with a hoop, Japanese basting thread is a must!