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Cotton vs Polyester sewing thread

Cotton vs Polyester sewing thread

Cotton thread is stronger and softer than Polyester thread making it the better sewing option for most applications. That being said, cotton thread doesn’t stretch as much as Polyester thread so it is more prone to breaking. This is something you need to consider when choosing your sewing thread.


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The best thread type for your sewing machine

Polyester thread is best to use for sewing synthetic fabric on your sewing machine. This is because Polyester can stretch a small amount making it more forgiving than cotton. Also, Polyester thread is less likely to shrink when compared with cotton thread. For natural fabric, cotton thread with a Polyester core works extremely well.

The best all-purpose sewing thread

Before the invention of polyester thread it was common for natural sewing thread to break frequently and inconveniently. Today, most sewing machine thread has a polyester core that prevents thread breakage by making it slightly stretchy. As a result the best all purpose thread has a polyester core or is entirely made of polyester.

The best starter sewing thread (most commonly used)

In speaking with other seamsters I find that 50 weight polyester cotton blend thread is the most commonly used thread, for most project types. It is suitable for use with a wide range of fabrics, including stretch. With experience preferences change but for starting out you can’t go wrong with a good polyester cotton blend thread.

Sewing vs embroidery thread

Embroidery thread is more decorative in appearance when compared with regular sewing thread. Embroidering thread is typically shinier, with more vibrant colors, and is available in more textures than sewing thread. As a result, regular sewing thread is generally stronger and more durable than embroidery specific thread whether it’s cotton or polyester.

How to identify Polyester thread

Identifying polyester thread is simple – Reading the label will typically tell you of your thread contains nylon, cotton or polyester. However, if there is no label, carefully burning the thread end in a well ventilated area works for identification purposes because Polyester thread melts, it doesn’t burn.

Top stitching with embroidery thread (possible)

Contrary to an old weaver’s myth, embroidery thread can be used for top stitching on a sewing machine. Several brands of embroidery threads are available for use on standard, simple home sewing machines. Polyester, cotton and rayon threads tend to be a bit stronger than regular embroidery thread but all can be used for top stitching with good results.

Popular thread for serger sewing machines

The most popular thread used in serger sewing machines is Polyester thread because of it’s strength, durability and flexibility. Some sewing projects require a specfic thread type, such as nylon or cotton thread, but most do not. Polyester thread also has the benefit of being slightly less expensive and more durable overall.

Strong thread is called heavy duty thread

Outside of industrial applications the strongest thread available for use in home sewing projects is called heavy duty thread. Modern heavy duty thread most often has a core made of a strong material wrapped in a more traditional thread material. Heavy duty thread is ideal for use with embroidery sewing projects.

Regular sewing thread works in a serger (but)

You can use normal thread in a serger machine but it’s more expensive and will run out more quickly. Using overlock thread on a regular machine, however, is not recommended because it isn’t strong enough for most sewing applications.

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