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How to Choose the right Sewing Thread



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Using the right thread for your sewing project can be the difference between great success and major failure. Threads come in a variety of sizes and are as diverse as the fabrics they are meant to go with. Threads can add a decorative touch to the work but their main purpose is usually to bind and join fabrics together. Using the wrong thread can result in broken needles, torn fabric and sewing machine lock ups that can cost you money and precious time. When beginning a sewing job you want to make sure you choose the correct thread but how do you know which one is best for your project?

A general rule of thumb when trying to determine what type of thread to use is to choose a thread that is similar in fabric content to the item you are sewing. Sewing a silky garment would require a similar silky thread as opposed to a bulky quilting thread that would look bad and possibly damage the fabric.

Before you head out to choose your thread you will need to learn some terminology that you will see on the thread labels. Thread size is often displayed as numeric value, the higher the number the finer the thread is. You may also see terms like "heavy duty", "heavy" or "all purpose" on your thread and this also describes the size/ weight of the thread. When the thread is described as mercerized this can often be confusing. Basically, mercerized thread has been put through a series of steps causing the thread to swell, become round and then straighten out again.

When using threads in a sewing machine having a compatible thread to go with the fabric you are working on is crucial if you don't want to toy with all your machines settings. Your machine may break the thread during your work, it may break the needle, catch the fabric or even get jammed if your chosen thread and machine settings are not compatible.

The lease complicated way to choose a thread is by matching the fabric weight to the thread size or by using a practical guide that outlines the best threads for certain fabrics. I have a simplified guide for you today:

  • Light weight fabrics (batiste, chiffon, crepe, etc) do best with a mercerized size 60 thread that can be 100% polyester or cotton wrapped polyester.

  • Medium weight fabrics (corduroy, flannel, gabardine, gingham, linen, muslin, wool crepe, ect.) do best with a mercerized size 50 thread that can be 100% polyester or cotton wrapped polyester.

  • Medium heavy weight fabrics (bonded wovens, canvas, coating, denim, duck, sailcloth, etc.) do best with a mercerized size 40 thread that can be 100% polyester or cotton wrapped polyester and is labeled as "heavy duty".

  • Knits (bonded knits, double knit, jersey, tricot, etc.) do best with polyester, nylon or cotton wrapped polyester.

These days sewing machines come in a variety of brands and are very versatile. You could get away with using just about any thread you want as long as you adjust your machines tension appropriately and use an appropriate needle to go with the thread. This takes much experimentation but is helpful when you don't want to go out in search of a specific or specialized thread.

It is also a good idea to find out what threads the sewing machine manufacturer recommends using for various projects as the settings, tension and machine mechanics can vary greatly from one machine to the next. Refer to your sewing machines user manual for this information, there is usually a fabric/ thread chart in the manual. If you don't have a manual for your sewing machine consider checking the manufacturer's website or you can check out: http://www.mastersewusa.com/index?gclid=CN3aibCU5ZACFQt0YAoduCefTg to easily find machine manual resources.

For a headache free sewing experience buy medium weight fabrics for your sewing projects and stick to a nice "all purpose" thread, you can't go wrong with this method!

More about this author: Talina Norris

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