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Will thread fade along with the fabric?

sunnycenter | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hi all,
I’m making another pair of jeans. I thought I would try a reverse applique sort of a look on the pockets. I did this once before and it looked cool until I washed them and then the raw edges ended up looking all fluffy like a denim rag quilt (not the look I wanted). I attached a picture of the jeans before I washed them and I really liked the look. So I thought this time instead of putting a line of very short straight stitches to reinforce along the edge of the design, I would do a zig zag stitch in the same color of the denim so I can get a raw look with just tiny eyelash sized fraying and the design would stay reasonably crisp to the eye. My question is will the thread fray along with the denim or will it stay dark blue while the jeans fade, causing the zig zag to slowly become undesirably visible? If it does fade, is invisible thread a good alternative? I’ve never used it.


  1. meg | | #1

    "...will the thread fray along with the denim or will it stay dark blue while the jeans fade, causing the zig zag to slowly become undesirably visible? If it does fade, is invisible thread a good alternative..."You'll get different results depending on what sort of thread: all-cotton thread may fade (and eventually fray) throughout the life of the jeans. Some cotton threads won't fade, or may fade at a lesser pace than the denim. Silk thread will probably fade. The issue is that we're stitching with items made by two completely different manufacturers (the denim fabric maker and the thread maker), using different raw materials and different dyes. Polyester, or poly-wrapped cotton, probably won't change color. Invisible thread might be your answer if you don't want the thread to be a noticeable aspect. Remember, though, that if you press your jeans after laundering them, the thread may not stand up to the heat from the iron. I wonder if anyone else has had results?

    1. sunnycenter | | #2

      Oh,good point, I wouldn't want the thread to melt! I think I'll maybe go with all cotton thread for it then.
      Thanks Sun

  2. jjgg | | #3

    How about ironing on a fusible interfacing to the back of the pocket piece, (use black) then do your machine sewing and slashing. I think that might keep the edges from fraying too much.No I don't think even cotton thread would fade the way the jeans fabric will. What about using the top stitching thread and make it a decorative detail as well?

  3. MaryinColorado | | #4

    Looks like you got a great fit on your jeans, what pattern did you use?  I like the back yoke. 

    Most of today's threads are quite colorfast, unless you can find a cotton thread that doesn't say "mercerized".  You could use a lighter shade of blue to begin with, or maybe even a gunmetal grey color.  Did you backstitch at the beginning and end of the stitching?  I would also use a 90/14 denim topstitching needle as it helps to keep the thread from fraying.

     They have come out with a new machine embroidery thread that you brush up with the rough side of velcro to get a "fluffy" sort of look, if you are wanting the frayed look in the thread. (Can't remember the name of it, but it is used for animal designs.)

    1. sunnycenter | | #5

      It's a Kwik Sew pattern for mens jeans. #2123 It's a pretty good pattern with pretty good instructions. They omit the flat fell seam along the inseam typically found on Levis, and that makes life easier, but I'm thinking of doing a mock flat fell seam there on a future pair.
      I thought of starting out by using a lighter color of blue thread like you mentioned, but then it will look too contrasty and busy until the denim fades which seems to take forever. (In the future I'd like to learn more about distressing denim. I think it would be a good article for threads to do)I want a raw look but not a granny rag quilt look along the edge...I think I'll just go with the thread that matches the denim now...then just hope it doesn't look bad later. I thought of fusible webbing but not sure it will be effective later on...
      Am I getting mental over this or what! Better just try something and get on with life. I'll let you know how it goes.

  4. Teaf5 | | #6

    Usually the thread doesn't fade along with the fabric if you're using the standard poly/cotton. Even 100% cotton won't necessarily fade--as I found out when someone washed my extensively hand-embroidered chambray shirt with a cup of bleach. The shirt fabric nearly disintegrated, but the cotton thread came through brightly, thank goodness.So here are some options--if you are going to intentionally fade the jeans and want the stitching to fade into the lighter fabric, choose a lighter shade of the thread to begin with. Or, consider allowing the thread to be darker. On the pair I'm wearing now, the darker thread makes a nice shadow detail along the hems, which are considerably lighter; it gives a nice outlining effect.Invisible thread--the plastic kind-- is miserable to work with; it's hard to get the tension correct, it can buckle and shrink and melt, and securing the ends of seams is a pain. Plus, every single one of those loose ends will poke you every time you wear the jeans.

    1. sunnycenter | | #7

      Well, the pockets look great. I just used a matching cotton thread. I'll have to send a picture in 6 months or a year from now. This particular denim is slow to fade anyway so I don't think it's going to be too big of a deal and I'll get long life out of them.

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