Sewing Essentials

A Guide To Thread Types – Everything You Need To Know

One of the big essentials that can often be overlooked when starting a new project is different types of threads. This is something I have done before and I think it can be confusing to what you might need. Here is my guide to thread types.

Starting a new project can be really fun, exciting and you just want to get started. If you are working with new material it might work out that you are having trouble with the thread. This might be because it isn’t compatible with your fabric.

Do I Need To Change Thread For Different Projects?

While it isn’t essential it can make a difference to your overall project outcome. Changing thread depending on your fabric and project can give your final project the right finish and make it longer lasting.

Some threads are specialised to do certain things which might make you want to change the thread. Threads such as invisible, super strong or even elasticated.

You can also use threads for decorative purposes on projects. You can buy rainbow style thread, metallic and glitter. Changing the thread for your project is just as important as changing the needle and the sewing machine foot.

What To Look For In Thread Types

Quality

Everyone loves a bargain, I included and I am terrible for doing this but it is time to stop. The quality of thread does matter, it really does. Cheaper brands of thread aren’t bound together as well and can have a lot of loose fibres.

When it comes to sewing these fibres will come loose and build up on your sewing machine. This affecting your stitching and quality of work. It will also affect your machine in the long term.

The more expensive brands are bound together tighter and have less loose threads, meaning fewer fibres stuck in your machine and a longer lasting happy machine. This can also keep your tension in check and no more lost stitches.

Price

Price isn’t always what should matter, it is hard when you want to make your money go further to buy more sewing supplies but you should buy quality range.

There are plenty of quality branded thread types that are well worth they money. You can often find packs of a variety of colours which will be from one brand.

This will give you a range of colours to work from and hopefully save you money and time due to running out to the shop for the correct colour.

Match Your Thread To Your Fabric

Many people don’t realise that you should be matching your thread to your fabric. Very similar to matching your sewing machine needle to your fabric. All these small changes make a difference in the end result.

Deciding to choose different types of threads for different projects is good. It can be expensive but if you choose wisely you can make the most of the purchase.

Threads work with the fabric so they need to be compatible to make the final item work. This will help in the long run when you are washing the fabric, using it and help seams stay strong.

Guide To Thread Types & Brands

Below are the top branded threads that many people sew with and are often recommended. I have used 2 out of the 4 due to availability in the past.

  • Guttermann
  • Coats And Clark
  • Mettler
  • Molnlycke

You can find all variety of colours and different types of threads in each of these brands. This guide to thread types will help you decide which you need for what project.

Different Types Of Threads

Synthetic Threads

Polyester 

This is a great old purpose thread, great and diverse to use on most sewing projects. It is good for using on woven synthetics, knits and fabrics with a stretch as it has more give in it so help the fabrics move.

A polyester thread will have a pretreatment or coating to help the fabric pass through easily and smoothly.

Cotton Covered Polyester

This is a polyester thread with a cotton cover, this mixes the strength and elasticity of the polyester with the cotton covering providing heat residence and durability.

This thread is suitable for many projects and for most fabrics including natural and synthetic, woven and knits. Cotton polyester is a common thread of the different types of threads on the market.

Natural Threads

Cotton 

Cotton is a natural thread, it is best used on lightweight to medium weight fabrics such as natural woven fabrics like cotton, linen and rayon. Most cotton threads are mercerised, this is a coating that leaves the thread smooth.

Cotton thread is said to be softer than polyester but has very little give (elasticity) in it. This makes it perfect for quilting to help the pieces stay in place but not great to use on stretchy fabrics. This is probably the most common on my guide to thread types.

Silk

This thread is made from natural fibres and is known for its durability and beauty. This thread is fine and elasticity and so makes a great partner for items such as lingerie.

The thread comes in a wide variety of colours and weights. This is great to use for embroidery and applique projects and works well with wool and silk fabrics. Don’t get confused with silk finish cotton as this is a different thread altogether.

Speciality Threads

Heavy-duty

These threads are usually quite a bit thicker than all-purpose threads. They can be cotton, polyester and cotton/poly blends. This particular thread isn’t good to use on any project.

You want to use this thread for more heavy duty projects such as working with upholstery weight fabrics. This is a good thread to use on curtains, furniture and lampshades. This can also be used on backpacks and heavy denim projects for more strength and durability.

Button and Craft

This thread is primarily used for hand sewing buttons. It is exceptionally stronger and thicker than other threads.

Don’t be tempted to use this on sewing projects even if you think a stronger thread is needed, it can be more obtrusive and bulky. It can also be used for topstitching and I have used it for covered eyelets in corsets.

Invisible

It is what it says invisible! This thread used to be compared to a fishing line but has come along way and is now soft and tight to use. The thread is available in polyester and nylon and comes in different sheen levels.

It is a popular thread to use with quilters as they can piece together many different coloured fabrics without having to change colour thread. It is also commonly used for sewing labels, bindings and patches.

Nylon

This thread is a synthetic fibre well known for its strength and flexibility. The thread is lightweight and smooth.

Mostly used for light to medium weight synthetic fabrics such as suede cloth, faux fur, fleece and nylon tricot.

Metallic

This thread is mostly used to create exciting and colourful needlework and decorative stitches.

Wool

This thread is more commonly used for embroidery, fabrics it works better with are wool and canvas. More heavy duty fabrics are better with this style of thread.

Helpful Tips And Tricks


  • Check the quality of your thread before sewing.
  • Pick your thread according to your fabric, such as using a stretch using a thread with giving in it and so on.
  • Be sure to use the right needle for your project or material, if you’re unsure check out my post on what needle to use. 
  • Pay attention to the numbers on the thread, the higher the number the finer the thread it. There are also letters, A being a fine thread and D being the thicker.
  • Your pattern may require you to use a certain thread with your project so always check your pattern guidelines before starting your project.
  • If you struggle to pick an exact matching colour, always pick one that is slightly darker as the lighter thread will always show up more.

That is everything on my guide to thread types. If you found this helpful leave a comment below with your favourite brand of threads. If you have any other different types of threads let me know in the comments.