You’ve picked out your sewing project pattern. You are in love with the fabric you chose. You stroll over to the thread section, and find yourself overwhelmed – again. Not to worry. We’ve done the research for you. Relax and read ahead!
Your first stop to find thread should be the instructions on your pattern. It will list thread for the project. Confusion sets in when you’re faced with multiple fabric choices. If you’ve chosen all cotton fabric for your project, the right thread is different than if you’re using polyester.
There are basic guidelines for choosing thread for your sewing project:
- If you can’t match the exact color needed, select a color one or two shades darker.
- Thread comes in different weights. Fifty is medium. Finer thread has higher numbers, and heavier duty thread has lower numbers.
- Match thread weight to your fabric weight.
- Don’t buy off brand thread to save money. Thread made by known and trusted names have consistently higher quality.
In this article, we’ve analyzed products from three major thread manufacturers:
- Coats, or Coats and Clark, began in Scotland during the French Revolution. At the time, only the Clark brothers ran the company. Coats merged with Clark in 1952. The enduring company is a testament to the quality of the product.
- Guttermann was founded in Austria, and has been around since 1864, the height of the industrial revolution. The company now employs over 10,000 people globally.
- Mettler is a subsidiary of AMANN, which started out in Germany in 1854. The company differentiates itself with a reputation for quality.
Threads specific to quilting, embroidery, or other special uses aren’t analyzed in this article. The threads listed are ideal for sewing machine projects, including tote bags, aprons, jeans, and knit apparel. Thread specific to bobbins aren’t analyzed, either – it’s noted to have questionable strength and durability. Most sewers recommend using the same thread for the bobbin and the rest of the project.
Cotton thread is best for natural fiber or delicate fabrics. It doesn’t have much stretch, so avoid using it if you’re sewing clothes. Don’t use cotton thread for knit or synthetic fabrics. The finish is usually matte, though some manufacturers advertise finish with more luster.
- Mettler offers “Silk Finish Cotton” thread in three different weights
- Gutermann sells “100% Natural Cotton” thread
- Coats and Clark has “All Purpose Cotton” thread
Nylon Monofilament Thread
Use monofilament thread for heavy duty projects, like indoor upholstery, leatherwork, dog collars, and knife sheaths. The sun can break down this thread, so it’s best to avoid using it in your car or outdoor upholstery. Monofilament means the thread is not woven, and is made of one strand of material.
- Mettler sells “Transfil 100% Nylon” thread
- Gutermann has “Invisible Thread 100% Nylon”
- Coats sells “Extra Strong Upholstery Nylon” thread
Poly Cotton Thread
Poly cotton thread, or polyester cotton thread, is versatile. Cotton is wrapped around a core of polyester, giving the thread a softer finish. Poly cotton is durable and has stretch. Choose this thread for knits, woven fabrics, synthetics, or natural fibers.
Coats has the largest presence in this market. Here are some names of poly cotton threads sold by Coats:
- “Denim: thread
- “Dual Duty Plus Button & Carpet” thread
- “Dual Duty Plus Denim” thread
- “Dual Duty Plus Jean” thread
- “Extra Strong Jeans” thread
Polyester thread is the most popular. It offers the most colors and versatility, and is inexpensive compared to other thread materials. Its appearance is usually shiny, but can also have a matte or medium finish. Polyester thread surpasses cotton for strength and durability, as a result, it can break cotton fabrics. Since polyester is not a natural fiber, it can melt when exposed to high temperatures.
Polyester thread product names include:
- “Sew-All” thread
- “Recycled” thread
- “Top Stitch Heavy Duty” thread
- “Extra Strong Polyester Upholstery” thread
- “Minking Serger” thread
- “All Purpose” thread
- “Metrosene All Purpose” thread
- “Metrosene Cordonnet Poly” thread
- “Coat TruSew Poly” thread
- “All Purpose Poly” thread
- “All Purpose” thread
- “Dual Duty Plus” thread
- “Dual Duty XP All Purpose” thread
- “Dual Duty XP Heavy” thread
- “Dual Duty Plus Jeans Topstitching” thread
- “Outdoor Living” thread
It’s easy to understand why anyone would be intimidated by picking out something as basic as thread. You might find a color that matches or goes, but it may not be made of a material that’s right for the fabric or use of the final product.
This article takes out the mystery of choosing thread. We’ve broken down the most appropriate use for each type of thread, along with product names to help guide you through the rainbow of spools at the fabric store.
Enjoy your project!