Sewing Threads – Types and Tips

We live in a world full of options and choices. No matter the activity, there is always more than one way to approach doing what needs to be done as well as more than one equipment to use to get the job done. Sewing and sewing threads are no different.

In this blog, we would be discussing the different sewing thread types, when to use them, and a number of tips on choosing which threads to use. Keep reading to find out more.

Different Sewing Thread Types

Essentially, sewing threads can be grouped into the following different types:

– Cotton threads
– Silk threads
– Denim threads
– Polyester threads
– Embroidery threads
– Upholstery threads
– Nylon threads
– Elastic threads
– Metallic threads

Cotton Threads

The term cotton threads can be a bit misleading. This is because while these threads are indeed mostly made of cotton, they are often made of other organic fibers as well.

These threads are best used for sewing fabrics made from yarns of plant origins such as cotton, linen, and plant-based rayons. This is due to the similar shrinkage and elasticity properties these fabrics have with these threads.

They are not suitable for use on most fabrics made from synthetic fiber, however, since these materials do not shrink. They are also not a good fit for fabrics that have been treated for reduced shrinkage.

Cotton threads are the go-to threads for patchwork and quilting.

Silk Threads

Silk threads are threads made entirely from silk fiber and are characterized by their smooth, soft, and sleek texture. These threads are pretty delicate and are mostly used for delicate work on delicate fabrics as well as fabrics for sensitive skin.

Silk threads are mostly used on silk fabrics, though they can be used on other delicate fibers as well. They can also be used for making embroidery and creating intricate patterns on other apparel.

Silk threads are often the go-to thread for finishing hems.

Denim Threads

Denim threads are strong sewing threads specially designed for sewing denim (jeans). Seeing as denim are sturdy materials, denim threads are just as strong and are the best thread for sewing this fabric.

Apart from denim, these threads can also be used to sew other heavy-duty materials that require sewing threads that are sturdier than your regular sewing thread.

Polyester Threads

Polyester threads are essentially your regular sewing threads. These threads can be used for a variety of uses and on a variety of fabrics. They are relatively strong and durable and so can be used on most sturdy fabrics. They are also flexible enough to be used on fabrics that stretch. This versatility and ease of use in various sewing patterns is why this thread is often referred to as the go-to everyday sewing thread.

Embroidery Threads

As the name implies, this type of thread is essentially designed to be used for embroidery. While these are mostly not threads for sewing machines but instead threads for needlework, there are some of these threads that can be used for machine embroidery.

Embroidery threads come in different materials and sizes. They could be made of polyester or rayon or silk or even cotton. What really separates them from other types of sewing threads is the fact that they are used for embroidery, not stitching.

Upholstery Threads

Like denim threads, upholstery threads are threads designed for use on heavy-duty fabric. These threads are stronger and thicker than your standard threads and as such are better suited for more tasking applications and heavy sewing jobs like deep buttoning, stitching of the toughest fabrics available, as well as making decorative topstitches. They are a perfect choice for jobs where extremely strong sewing threads with high heat tolerance are needed.

Most upholstery threads are not threads for regular sewing machines since they are usually thicker than what these machines can handle. To use upholstery threads on sewing machines, you’d need to use a commercial sewing machine.

Nylon Threads

Nylon thread, as the name implies, are threads made from nylon. These treads come in many sizes and depending on the size, they can be used for anything from making delicate stitches and embroidering to heavy-duty upholstery work.

These threads have a vast array of uses and depending on what size of thread you chose, they can be used for sewing everything from fabrics to canvas to leather. Regardless of the size, however, nylon threads are relatively stronger than their regular sewing thread counterparts and so are perfect for making stitches that require strength and durability.

Elastic Threads

Elastic threads like the name implies are threads made of materials that stretch. This makes them a great choice for sewing fabrics that stretch e.g jersey cotton, elastic jeans, and other such elastic materials.

Elastic threads are suitable for use as both threads for sewing machines and hand sewing threads.

Metallic Threads

As far as strong sewing threads are concerned, these threads are essentially the strongest threads available.

Metallic threads are essentially threads which are either fully or partially made of metal or, in some cases, metal-like materials. Some of these threads are made entirely of one or more metal strips while others are threads containing metal strips wrapped around some fiber or the other. There are even some metallic threads that are not made of metal at all but simply appear to be made from them. Regardless what these threads are made of however, they have one thing in common. They are exceptionally strong, pliable, and durable.

These threads are usually used when maximum durability is needed though they can also be used for decorative stitches and edging because of their incredibly smooth texture.

Which of these threads is your best and why? Let us know in the comment section below.

Tips for Choosing the Best Thread for Sewing

With so many different threads available, many of which can be used interchangeably, it can very often become hard to determine which sewing thread is the best for any given sewing project. To help you make a more informed choice, here are a few tips to follow:

1.    You Can’t Go Wrong with the Sewing Purist Way

Sewing purists believe that one should always use thread made of the same material as that of the fabric to be sewn when sewing. While this is not always possible, it is still a great idea. When trying to choose what thread to use on any sewing machine, first consider what fabric you would be using the thread on. Is the fabric made of cotton fiber? Then cotton threads are your best bet. Is it silk? Then silk threads are the threads to use. Is the material denim? Then denim threads it is! This way, the fabric and the threads used have essentially the same physical and chemical properties.

2.    Always Think Fabric Property

As stated earlier, the sewing purist way might not always be the best way, and there are times when it would be better to deviate. This mostly occurs when there is some special property or the other of the fabric to be sewn that requires special consideration. Take for example a scenario where you are to sew an elastic jean or a cotton jersey. In both cases, the sewing purist way would be to use denim threads and cotton threads respectively. While this is not entirely a bad idea, a better choice would have been to use elastic threads instead. This way, the elastic property of the fabric is easily complemented by that of the thread used.

3.    Never Forget the Why

When choosing a thread to use, never forget what kind of thread it is you are choosing and why it was made. Was the thread made for delicate stitches or was it made for heavy-duty work? Is it made for embroidery or is it better suited for tacking and binding? Once you can answer these questions, consider what it is you want to use the thread for. If your needs are not in line with what the tread you are about to choose was designed for, then chances are, you are better off choosing a different thread.

4.    Consider the Equipment You Have to Work With

Another thing to consider is the equipment you’ve got to work with. Are you working with a regular home sewing machine? Then you are better off not using that thick upholstery sewing thread. Do you intend to use your hands or an embroidery machine, then you have to get the right threads for the job. Instead of changing the threads, you could also decide to change the method if that suits you better.

5.    Your Go-to Everyday Thread is Always Your Friend

Sometimes, things suddenly happen. A thread suddenly gets loose in an otherwise fine dress and it needs a quick fix. You run out of thread while working on an urgent sewing project. Things like this often happen, and sometimes, you don’t have the time to get the needed thread to complete the job. At times like this, your polyester threads are a great choice to get the job done to a good enough degree. It might not be as perfect as it would have if you had used your preferred thread, but when urgency is needed, then these threads can be a real life saver.

6.    Never Forget to Pay Attention to Colors!

Forgetting to pay attention to the color of the fabric to be sewn before choosing a sewing thread can be very catastrophic. When sewing, make sure the thread used matches the color of the fabric or at least is similar to it. Also ensure that when you change threads mid project, you use the same color with what you started with. There are indeed times where you might want to use a different thread from that of your fabric for design purposes. In cases like that, it is still important that you choose a color that complements your fabric color and also ensure to use that color throughout your sewing.

Are there any tips you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below.