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Sewing Thread Fibers and Special Types

Bobbin thread Fine, and used for machine embroidery where the wrong side won’t show. It comes in limited colors and is sometimes available on prewound bobbins.

Although matching thread fiber types to fabric fiber seems logical, choosing the appropriate thread by characteristics such as strength, colorfastness, or chemical resistance is more practical. In general, natural fiber threads such as cotton, linen, silk, and rayon (a manufactured fiber made from natural cellulose) sew beautifully. But synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, or acrylic are stronger. Learn more about how to choose thread types in Thread Essentials

Cotton thread 

Made from spun staple cotton fibers (Egyptian long staples are about 114 inches long and American pima staples are about 112 inches long). Cotton thread has little stretch, limited strength, and (in comparison to other fibers) can produce a lot of lint. It also has a low sheen. Use cotton thread for heirloom sewing, decorative stitching or embroidery, sewing lightweight natural fibers, patchwork, and quilting.

Cotton-wrapped polyester thread 

Made by wrapping a continuous polyester filament with staple cotton, this thread has the benefits of polyester and the look of cotton. Use for all-purpose sewing.

Nylon thread

Made from extruded filaments, nylon threads come in a variety of forms that are very strong and rot-resistant:

• Monofilament is a single filament and comes in a wide range of weights. Use a lightweight version for invisible sewing and blind hems, or encase a heavier version inside a rolled stitch to support fluted or ruffled edges.

• Texturized threads (such as woolly nylon) are continuous multifilaments that stretch into a fine, strong thread and then expand to a full, fluffy appearance when relaxed. Use them for serged seams, decorative stitching, and rolled hems.

• Upholstery threads are often nylon. They come in limited colors, are extremely strong, and will withstand the rigors of outdoor use. Upholstery thread is easy to sew with but the ends ravel and are difficult to knot.

Polyester Thread

The garment industry often uses…

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