How to choose the correct sewing thread

choose correct sewing threadDo you pick up just any matching thread that you come across and sew your fabric? Or do you examine the thread closely before using it for a project? If you are like me and sometimes pick up any thread lying on the stash, then it's time to change the rule. The quality of the thread used has a direct bearing on the final outcome of your sewing project.

To get the best possible outcome, you need to get a clear understanding of the various types of threads available and when to use them.  To help you with this important process, we've put together a short list of guidelines on how to choose the correct sewing thread.

Types of thread

Cotton thread:

choose correct sewing thread

Cotton thread

These are threads that are used for natural fabric like cotton. Most of the cotton thread has a lustrous and smooth finish which makes it ideal for sewing. They can take a lot of heat especially while pressing seams. The only disadvantage of this thread is that it tends to snap more easily than polyester thread.

Polyester thread:

choose correct sewing thread

Polyester thread

This type of thread is ideal for use with synthetic fabric. It is more sturdy and does not tend to break easily like cotton thread. This type of thread has a wax or silicone finish which helps the thread to glide easily through the fabric. This thread also comes in transparent finish and can be used when you want to hide the stitches. But because of the nature of the thread, it cannot take in a lot of heat and can get damaged while pressing.

Silk thread:

choose correct sewing thread

Spools of colorful silk thread

This is a very fine thread and is ideal for sewing natural fabric like silk and wool. Since the thread is very strong, it can withstand heat. If used with the right needle, it will not leave holes in the fabric while sewing.

Woolen thread:

choose correct sewing thread

Closeup of multicolor wool thread

This is used mainly in thicker fabric like wool and canvas and also while undertaking embroidery projects. It is a very strong thread and should be used with large needles. Remember to adjust the tension of your sewing machine while using this thread.

Metallic thread:

choose correct sewing thread

Metallic gold thread

These threads are available in gold, silver and copper finish and are used mainly in handbags, purses and also for embroidery purpose.

Choose correct sewing thread

  • The thread selected should match the type of fabric used. Under no circumstance should you select a delicate cotton thread for sewing a woolen fabric for example.
  • The color of the thread selected is completely dependent on your choice of colors. You can either go for a matching thread or a contrast color thread for your project. If you want a perfectly matching color, snip off a piece of the garment and check it with the thread in daylight.
  • The eye of the needle should be considered while finalizing on a particular thread. You'll need to fit the thread through the eye after all.  Good thread should have fibers that are tightly bound together.  If it is frayed, it may break easily and will certainly be more difficult to thread your needle.
  • Always try to go for branded thread while undertaking a project. A branded thread will be uniformly dyed, does not bleed and will have low shrinkage rate.

The quality of the thread plays a very important role in the final finishing of your project. Hence select the thread carefully, paying special attention to each and every aspect mentioned above.

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7 Responses to How to choose the correct sewing thread

  1. Kristine Born says:

    When making items that will go into the microwave, is it really necessary to use cotton thread? I have heard that polyester thread may start on fire.

  2. Maria Kleczewska says:

    What’s the best thread for a serger?

  3. Marsha W says:

    I never knew what all those different threads were for, except for the Polyester thread for embroidery, I cheat and use a machine for that! LOL Thank you for clarifying these for me 🙂

  4. Susan I Blair says:

    I never realized there were so many kinds of thread. Thanks for sharing this. I agree with Sian. I never use my dressmaking scissors for anything other than fabric. When my children were young, they even knew never to touch the mom’s special scissors. 🙂

  5. Sian R says:

    I use polyester thread almost exclusively. It’s a good all-rounder, IMO.
    As for threading machine needles – I’ve found that if you cut the end of the thread with dressmaking scissors* immediately before inserting through the machine needle it slides in easily.
    *I never, ever use my dressmaking scissors for anything but cloth, or thread .Not even for cutting out/cutting onto paper patterns. That way hey stay sharp and cut clean.

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