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Essential Sewing Tools: Sewing Thread

Evamarie Gomez-Bostic and Carol Fresia; Videographer: Jeff Roos

Threads Contributing Editor Judith Neukam talks about the many aspects of threads: how to select the right fiber, weight, and finish. The main categories are polyester, cotton, and silk thread.

Learn even more about thread in “How to Pick the Right Needle and Thread for Your Sewing Project.”

Polyester thread

Standard construction thread is made of polyester, and it is it colorfast, heat-resistant, and durable. However, it also stretches slightly, and this can cause puckering in seams. Avoid this by winding the bobbin and stitching slowly.

Cotton thread

This natural fiber thread is available in different types and finishes. For quilting, you may choose a glazed version. You’ll also find undyed, organic cotton thread. Cotton thread is nice to work with because it doesn’t stretch. Therefore, it helps eliminate puckered seams. One disadvantage of cotton thread is that it produces more lint than other varieties. You’ll need to brush lint off the machine and clean the bobbin area routinely to remove this lint and to prevent it from transferring to the garments you’re sewing.

Silk thread

Although this thread is more expensive than polyester or cotton thread, it’s of high quality and is worth the price. It’s strong and extremely fine. You can use a small needle size with this thread, and that’s ideal when you’re working with tightly woven and lightweight fabrics. With a fine-gauge silk thread, there is little bulk along seamlines. Although it’s possible to dye silk thread, in many cases you can use either a natural color (for light-colored fabrics) or black (for dark fabrics). Because the seamline is so fine, you often don’t need to worry about a perfect color match.

Specialty threads

Buttonhole thread: It is a polyester, multi-ply thread that’s strong. You can…

Previous: Sewing Thread Style, Finish, and Weight Next: The Best Tools for Marking Fabric


  1. User avater
    user-7720028 | | #1

    For the best UV protection most thread manufacturers recommend polyester thread, not nylon as Judith suggested.

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