A Sewing Thread, It’s Importance, Types and their Uses

What is a Sewing thread?

A sewing thread as part of a sewing machine is a flexible, small diameter yarn or strand usually treated with a surface coating, lubricant or both, intended to be used to stitch one or more pieces of material or an object to a material.

It may be defined as smooth, evenly spun, hard-twisted ply yarn, treated by a special finishing process to make it resistant to stresses in its passage through the eye of a needle and through material involved in seaming and stitching operations.

According to Wikipedia’s definition, thread is a type of yarn but similarly used for sewing. It can be made out of many different materials including cotton, linen, nylon, and silk.

Importance of Sewing Threads

The sewing thread is of considerable importance, playing a major role in retaining the fabric appearance, look, and life of the garment in the long run, even though it usually represents much less than 1% by mass of a garment.

Nowadays, a numerous variety of sewing threads are available in the market due to diverse demands from the sewing industry, increasing use of different types of fibres in the garment industry and expanding application of textile materials in various fields like apparels, technical applications as well.

Better understanding of the sewing process and its requirements as obtained through studies by modern instrumentation techniques has also greatly contributed to the development of new threads.

It is also very much required and appreciable to have different types of sewing threads, which can suit various applications, since various end-uses demand specific property requirements.

It is beyond anybody’s doubt that the success of garment manufacturing process mainly depends upon the operation of sewing, though a very better quality of fabric is selected for the garment manufacturing process.

Again, the sewing threads play a vital role in the success of sewing operation, since a wrong thread may ruin a very high quality fabric and even a best sewing machine used for the sewing, and the whole process will fail. It can add to waste of both time and money.

Therefore, it is very much imperative to select a right type of sewing thread which can suit one’s requirements exactly.

This is possible through the correct understanding of the type of fibre used to manufacture, manufacturing processing sequence & properties of different types of sewing threads existing on earth, which was touched upon in this technical article to a greater extent.

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Different Sewing Threads and their Uses

A Sewing Thread, It's Importance, Types and their Uses

With a large variety of different threads available it can be a minefield finding the right thread for the job, especially if your relatively new to sewing.

Let’s understand the following questions and give their answers as a guide:

– What is the difference between polyester, silk and cotton thread and when should they be used?

– What are the benefits of each thread, and above all does thread choice matter?

There are a number of different thread brands available and you will find alternative thread companies offer a similar variety of options and the same rules apply.

When should you use Polyester Sewing Thread?

Polyester is your go-to everyday thread, it can be used on a variety of different projects for both hand and machine sewing.

Polyester thread has a small amount of ‘give’ and is therefore suitable for use with stretch and knit fabrics. It is strong and durable so can be used on projects that will receive a great deal of wear and tear. It is generally available in the largest colour range.

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When should you use Cotton Sewing Thread?

Cotton thread is the perfect accompaniment to 100% cotton fabric and is therefore most commonly used in patchwork and quilting. Some sewing purists believe that you should use the same thread as the fabric yarn content, so cotton thread should be used to sew cotton fabric.

Cotton thread has very little ‘give’ and is weaker than other available threads, such as polyester. But it can be perfect for use on lightweight, delicate projects as generally speaking you want the thread to be weaker than the fabric your working with, so any stress on seams causes the thread to break, rather than the fabric to tear.

Sewing with Silk Thread?

Silk is a beautiful thread to work with; both on and off the sewing machine. Many designers use silk thread when hand sewing; finishing hems, basting (tacking), buttonholes and tailoring work.

Silk thread is very smooth so travels through even the lightest most delicate fabrics without leaving a mark, as well as being very strong (especially when used in conjunction with beeswax), it is a superb choice for a large variety of hand sewing projects. Other uses include decorative stitching.

Read Also: Guide on How to Insert a Sewing Thread Through a Needle and Tie a Knot

Uses for Topstitching Sewing Thread?

Topstitching thread is as the name suggests suitable for topstitching. Although standard thread can be used for topstitching the thicker topstitching thread is perfect for use on heavier weight fabrics and provides a decorative look to stitching.

When completing topstitching be sure to work with topstitching thread on the top of the sewing machine and a normal bobbin. You will require a topstitching needle so that the eye of the needle is large enough for the thread to pass through.

Try increasing your stitch length to get a better finish; generally speaking the thicker the fabric the larger the stitch length required (the standard stitch length of 2-2.5mm will disappear in thick fabrics such as denim and canvas).

When to use Extra Strong Sewing Thread?

Although extra strong thread is not suitable for the majority of every day sewing projects it does it have uses. Especially when working with home furnishing projects.

The thread is constructed as a thicker, stronger polyester thread that can take a great deal of wear and tear. It is perfect for use on denim, leather and canvas fabrics as well as rugged repair work.

It is also possible to use extra strong thread for topstitching if you don’t have a suitable topstitching colour to hand.

Sewing with Decorative Threads (Metallic & Embroidery)?

Metallic and embroidery threads are fabulous for machine or hand embroidery, creating decorative detailing on garments and home decor projects. With a large variety of different threads available and a superb colour range you should be overwhelmed with choice.

Remember to use a specialist needle when working with metallic and embroidery threads to prevent shedding and snapping of the thread.

Now let us analyze how to choose the best suitable thread for your project below:

Choosing the Best Sewing Thread?

So what do you need to think about when choosing the best thread for your project:

  • Think about fabric properties, is your fabric woven or knitted, lightweight or heavyweight?
  • The weight of the thread should match the weight of the fabric
  • Some sewing purist recommend matching the thread to the fibre content of the fabric (cotton thread to cotton fabric)
  • Most of the time an all purpose polyester thread will work
  • Try and stay away from cheap threads, when working with threads you generally get what you pay for.
  • Colour choice is up to you; do you wish to achieve a colour match or use thread in a contrasting colour as decoration

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