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How to choose the right thread for sewing

How to choose the right thread for sewing

Thread is available in many weights and sizes. Matching thread thickness with fabric thickness and weight generally gives good results. Typically, thick thread is stronger and more visible than fine thread so determine how much seam stress your sewing project will be subjected to and choose thread thickness accordingly.


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Thread matching, learn how it’s done

Thread matching is the process of choosing the right thread to use with your sewing fabric. For color matching choose a thread that is one shade darker than the fabric to be sewn. For best results match thread fiber type with fabric fiber type. Thread weight selection has been made simple, match the rating on it’s label with that of the fabric’s rating.

Sewing thread size, fabric and needle chart

This sewing thread size chart quickly suggests the best thread size to use with different fabric weights. It also suggests the best needle size to use with the thread.

Thread Weight(Size) Fabric Type Needle Size
80-50 wt. Light Fabric 60/8, 65/9, 70/10, 75/11
50-40 wt. Medium Fabric 75/11, 80/12, 90/14
40-20 wt. Heavy Fabric 100/16, 110/18, 120/19

Typical maxi-lock all purpose thread weight

Thread weight is a measurement of length and the lower the number the heavier the thread. Typical maxi-lock thread is 40 weight, meaning that 40 kilometers of 40 weight thread would weigh 1kg. A 30 weight thread would be heavier and only require 30 kilometers to weight the same. 40 weight maxi-lock thread works best with a 90/14 size needle.

The meaning of thread ‘Tex’

Thread Tex refers to its weight. Tex is a measurement system that uses 1,000 meters of thread per gram as the starting point. If 1,000 meters of thread weighs one gram it is labeled ‘Tex 1’. If it weighed 5 grams it would be labeled Tex 5. Fine(light) threads thus have a low Tex number and thick(heavy) threads have a higher Tex number.

Bobbin thread does not need to be the same color

When your top thread tension is properly set on your sewing machine the bobbin thread will not be visible in the finished product. For that reason your bobbin thread does not need to be the same color as your top thread. To be safe avoid using high contrast color combinations, however, typically any bobbin thread color will work.

About quilting with regular thread

You can quilt with regular thread, I often use a fine, strong two-ply 50 or 60 weight thread for piecing. I find that it allows me to sew true quarter inch seams. 50 weight thread works but you can sometimes see your stitches so use the 60 weight, or even bigger 80 or 100 weight thread, when possible.

Extra strong thread use in sewing machines

Heavy threads are absolutely stunning to work with. Whether hand quilting stand-out stitches or machine quilting bold outlines the beautiful textural effects of thick strong thread is appealing. While it’s certainly important to consider thread strength requirements for structural purposes don’t forget the asthetic appeal of thick extra strength threads.

Serger thread doesn’t need to match

Serger sewing thread doesn’t need to match every color in your fabric. You will most often get eye pleasing results when matching only one color. Alternatively, you can use a base color from the same range of colors that matches none of them exactly. Tip: Focus on lighter colors when no match is available because stronger colors draw the eye to them.

Engage your thread guide to keep thread in place

The thread guide on your home sewing machine is a small metal hook-shaped ring typically located on the upper needle assembly. By running thread through the thread guide it is kept in place during the sewing process. Engage the thread guide to keep the thread moving smoothly between the spool and needle and to avoid frustrating tangles.

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