Updated: Apr 17, 2018
All thread is NOT created equal. What you feed your machine matters. Skipped, uneven stitching can be the result of many things but the first thing I check is the thread! It is very tempting to purchase a pack of inexpensive thread, in a variety of colors, or prefilled bobbins but…DON’T DO IT!
Long Staple vs. Short Staple
Long staple cotton is preferable to short staple cotton - whether it is fabric, yarn or thread. Long staple means the cotton fibers are long and therefore have fewer ends or loose fibers. These fibers “shed” as they run through the machine and clog it up. This is why it is helpful to have your machine cleaned and oiled on a regular basis. If you have not had your machine cleaned lately, you might want to remove the foot plate and clean out all that lint!
What type of thread should I use?
Synthetic threads are created in a similar way to replicate cotton threads. Many people prefer to use synthetic threads for durability and strength. These are ideal for a variety of blended, synthetic & tech fabrics. My favorite is Mettler Metrosene 100% polyester 50 wt.
We sell and use this thread in our shop for most sewing projects…
Quilters prefer to use long staple cotton or mercerized cotton threads as they tend to use cotton fabrics. My favorite is Presencia 100% Egyptian Cotton 60 wt.
We sell and use this thread in our shop for machine quilting.
When sewing outdoor fabrics, use thread that is durable and UV protected. Sailrite has a variety of threads for various outdoor projects. They are extremely helpful and can best advise you of what type of thread to use for your project.
The goal is to use thread that reacts in a similar fashion to the fabric so that you do not have puckered or stretched seams over time.
What size thread should I use?
Thread is measured by weight. The most common size for home sewing is 50wt.
The lower the number, the thicker the thread. So if you are hand quilting or top stitching on jeans you may choose to use a 24wt. or 30wt. thread for visibility.
If you are machine sewing upholstery, canvas, or heavy weight fabrics you may choose to use a heavy weight, durable thread such as 30 wt.
If you are hand sewing buttonholes it is best to use buttonhole twist. This heavy thread is suitable for buttonhole stitch by hand, not by machine.
If you are machine quilting you may choose to use 60wt. thread. The goal is to have the seam nestle between the fibers of the fabric so the thin thread is desirable. That is why it is very important to use a strong, long staple, mercerized cotton. Mercerization means the excess fiber is removed from the thread making it very smooth and lustrous.
Choose thread that is suitable for the fabric you are using. Wind your own bobbins. Clean lint from your machine by removing your foot plate.
It is not necessary to purchase thread that matches every project you sew. Most of the stitching lines will not show. Many neutral colors can be used on a variety of colors. White, Ivory, Beige, Grey and Black can be used on most fabric colors. I would rather have five high quality spools of thread than fifteen lesser quality threads.