I promised a little while ago to share with you my take on how to choose thread for your sewing projects. I am no expert in “thread” technology, but what I do know is what I have found out with trial and error in my projects over years (and years…) of sewing.
So here goes!
100% COTTON THREAD
There are some lovely colour ranges of 100% cotton threads out there, my personal favourites are COATS, GUTERMANN, METTLER, and YLI. The normal “sew-all” threads are super for all dress making (if you are using cotton fabric) and especially lovely to use for piecing a quilt and quilting too! I would always use cotton thread over polyester given a choice, however saying this, polyester has a place too!
If you are dress making and using a fine 100% wool, I would tend to use cotton thread.
The companies I have mentioned all have a good colour range. METTLER have several different types of cotton thread.
QUILTING COTTON THREAD
Super for when you are quilting but I wouldn’t use for piecing, the range of colours are limited, but perfectly adequate for nearly all fabric colours ranges. You can buy METTLER (plain solid colours) and YLI (good range of beautiful variegated and solid plains) quilting threads.
Quilting thread often has a conditioner coating, normally some thing like potato starch. This glides the thread through the layers, pieced/wadding/backing.
I have also found this an excellent thread to use for hand quilting as, like I have already mentioned it glides through the layers, is nicely balanced and tends not to twiddle and knot. I don’t like it when quilting with normal thread when a tiny fibre of wadding catches on the thread and pulls through to the top… especially annoying when using dark fabrics as most wadding tends to be either natural or white. (There are a few black waddings around but I have found them often difficult to get hold of) Conditioned threads helps with this problem I find.
However, if you use normal cotton thread for hand quilting I find conditioning the thread with light bees wax or THREAD HEAVEN (very lite wax) makes it so much easier to sew through the layers, (top pieced, wadding/batting and backing). Using a conditioner helps balance the thread better and avoids knotting. TIP don’t try and use long lengths of thread, use a comfortable length so the thread won’t twiddle and knot.
In quilting it is much better to stick to cotton thread, most quilting fabric is 100% cotton so it makes scence to use cotton thread. If you do use polyester thread with cotton fabric, you may find over time (thinking… quilts are often heirlooms) thats if you have used polyester thread it may wear the cotton fabric as it is a much stronger/sharper thread, which tears the fabric.
If you are using any synthetic fabric, then polyester is a good choice. For example COATS have a really fantastic colour range of “DUET” thread. If you have polyester thread in your work box and the colour matches perfectly with your fabric, thats if you are making a quilt that is not some thing you would consider an heirloom, then yes… use it! Often you can get some HUGE reels of polyester thread really very inexpensively for about £1. I do have a stash of these in my work box that I use when I “chenille” (Oh… another blog is coming on here… yes, I must tell you about this craft… I will blog in the future about this, I promise!) Also having a reel or two of bargain polyester thread is great for “tacking” purposes too.
There are several different threads I would use for machine embroidery. If you want a nice “shiny” finish then I would suggest GUTERMANN RAYON(Sulky). If you prefer a “matte” finish then go for METTLER fine embroidery (which is cotton) this thread gives a subtle matte finish. When ever you are using the sewing machine for embroidery, especially when using rayon, I would have a little play around on some test fabric first to make sure your machine tension is correct… you may have to reduce the tension by “ever-such-a-little-bit” You will know how your machine behaves and may find the tension is absolutely fine.
Now, not a particular favourite of mine! You will really have to know your way around your sewing machine to get the best results when using metallic thread. It tends to split, so reduce your tension and use a special “bobbin” thread for the underneath thread. If you are hand sewing with metallic then use little short lengths and change often. You will have to give yourself a little talking to if you are any thing like me… be patient and don’t try an hurry your project.
FINE SILK AND SILK
If you are using silk fabric, or delicate fabric such as organza, dupion, chiffon, velvet… a 100% silk or silk finish thread is an idea choice. I enjoy using silk thread for invisible hand appliqué, the fabric just absorbs the fineness of the silk thread beautifully and I love the result. I do use silk thread for tacking too! Now this is an extreme indulgence and I only use silk for tacking if it is a terrible colour which I will NEVER use in a quality project. The reason I like using silk to tack, is it has a very low breakage point, so it pulls out of fabric so easily… naughty but nice! The 100% silk threads I like are GUTTERMANN and COATS, both have a super colour range, for special projects!
BUTTON HOLE, TOP STITCH, TWINE
Another very versatile thread you should have in your thread stash. Obviously great for button holes and top stitch but also great if you need extra strength in a project. I use this thread if I need to pull something up really tightly rather than double thread.
STRANDED COTTON and FANCY DECORATIVE
HAND STITCHING. These threads are mostly used in counted cross stitch or hand embroidery, however I do quite like to use them for MATTE decrative designs too! For example, if you wanted to do some pretty stitches on a linen cushion front then ANCHOR or DMC are super. They come six stranded so for a chunky look use the whole lot, or for a finer look, split the threads. These threads come in hanks rather than reels. There are lots and lots of very pretty hand sewing threads on the market, some that come to mind other than ANCHOR and DMC are OLIVER TWIST and MADEIRA… Great for any free style stitching, couching and mixed in to felted projects too!
There are other threads I favour and have a place in my collection. Invisible in clear and smoke (very useful if you want invisible on a dark fabric) are useful if you want to have an “embossed” look to your work but no colour, they can be temperamental, so knowing how your sewing machine responds is always a bonus. Remember to practice first of odd scraps, adjust your tension (ever-such-a-little-bit-at-a-time!) and use a bobbin thread in the bobbin spool.
Fusible is a useful little number too! Great if you want to do a bit of appliqué, but do follow the instructions, the same goes for wash-away threads… always remember to mark the reel WASH-AWAY or you will be most disappointed if you use this one by mistake thinking it is just a normal thread… wash your project and find it falls apart… not a good feeling!
WHO DOES WHAT!
100% cotton, Polyester, Machine embroidery Rayon (Sulky), variegated, Metallic, 100% pure silk, button hole/top stitch, bobbin (to carry fancy top threads)
Sew All 100% cotton, DUET polyester, Seta Reale(silk and corded), 100% silk, invisible, metallic, linen, Bating.
100% cotton Quilting, fine embroidery, silk finish, various variegated, metallic, Polysheen (similar to Rayon).
Quilting (solid and varigated), Invisible, Leingerie, Wash-away.
Stranded cotton (six strands), Metallic, Light effect, Cotton Pearle, Pearle Metallic.
Stranded cotton (six strands), Marlit, Lame’, Pearle Cotton (no’s 5 and 8) Soft Cotton, Coton a’ Broder.
I am certain that the above companies have other threads to those I have mentioned, but these are the ones I am familiar with. There are lots of other manufactures of threads that I haven’t given a mention I am sure! If you delve into ‘THREADS” I bet you would find a whole host of others that you could add to my list.
Hope the information I have touched on may help you with a thread choice for your project. I would be delighted to help out if I can with any questions you might have…
Cheerio for now, Jay XX
Extra snippet for you from Soo “No two spiders webs are the same….”