The weight of a thread is how we measure the thickness of a thread. There are several different systems threads are measured by across the world as well as the different fibres, this makes identifying thread weights very confusing.
One spool of thread may be stamped No. 50, another spool may be stamped 50wt., and another may be stamped 50/3. All three of these threads are measured using different standards and are not comparable.
Where we can, we have provided TEX sizes for each thread we stock. TEX measures all threads with one simple, consistent measurement system.
The higher the number the thicker the thread; the same as machine needles.
We hope this will help you and make it easier for you to make an informed choice for you to come to an informed and ultimately successful choice for your project. We have a pdf leaflet that you can download with lots of information on threads. Click Here
The only way to find out if the thread is really good quality, other than being sure that the brand is reputable is by stitching and see how it behaves. You can take a length of cotton and look at it by magnifying it (use a mobile phone), see how smooth the twist is and how much fibre (fuzz is visible).
Technically there are multiple criteria the raw material, construction, type of finish, tenacity and colour fastness.
Does the spool have information on it, The brand, fiber, the weight, the dye lot number?
Think of a kitchen roll (or loo roll) coming off the wall, then place it on the ground and pull the roll upwards....
You can see the difference in straight wound or cross wound spools if you look at a variegated thread. The straight wound spool has the threads in straight or stacked layers, the cross wound threads make a zig zag pattern.
The two types of spools are designed to have the thread delivered to the machine differently. The straight wound thread needs the spool to rotate to come off the spool correctly, the crosswound off the top of the spool and the spool remain still. This can be achieved by having the straight wound spool upright on a felt or foam pad or a cross wound spool on the horizontal with a spool retainer keeping it stationary. A cone holder can be successfully used as an alternative method with cross wound spools if you do not have a horizontal spindle on your machine.
Oeko-Tex certification relates to how a product is processed, including things like dyes and finishes used. It means that our threads are certified free of harmful chemicals and are completely safe for human use.
SERAFLEX® is a new to the market innovative elastic sewing thread, it is highly elastic and is perfect for use with stretch fabrics. The secret is its special composition: raw material PTT allows the thread to stretch up to 65%.
We recommend using the sewing thread with straight stitches; use in the needle and bobbin thread with a lower thread tension for maximum stretch.
TIP: Always wind the bobbin slowly to avoid stretching the thread.
An all purpose thead is, as it says suitable for general sewing by hand or machine. It is a polyester thread and is usually a 50wt. It is not advised to use this thread for very light weight fabrics or heavy stitching.
Mercerising is a process of treating cotton thread in a caustic solution which causes the fibers to swell allowing dye to penetrate the fibers deeper, thereby increasing the beauty of the colour while also strengthening the thread. All good quality cottons are mercerised as part of manufacture.
All the best quality cottons are gassed. It is a process of passing the thread through a flame to remove lint to burn off excess lint. The result is a low lint, smooth and 'silky' finish to the thread with a high sheen.
Yes, you will need to have a cone holder placed at the rear of the machine and ensure the thread travels over the pole to the first thread guide smoothly and at the appropriate angle.
There is no definitive answer to your choice of thread, we all have preferences and different needs.
Here at Quilt Direct we use the best cotton fabrics we can and match them with our 100% cotton threads. We use the Mettler 60wt or Aurifil 50wt for piecing, these are both high quality threads that have exceptional colour fastness and a high break resistance. They reduce the bulk in your seams to help with ¼" seam construction. We choose to use cotton as it is kinder to the fabric, today and tomorrow.
Machine quilting can take many forms, different textures, effects and detail. You can completely change the finished effect of you quilt top by your choice of method and thread.
Traditionally a slightly heavier weight of cotton thread has been used, labelled as Machine Quilting Thread a 40wt Cotton has become the 'goto' machine quilting thread. If you are trying to do very fine stipple with short stitch length you would struggle for a good finish; try a 50wt Aurifil, 60wt Mettler or even a #100 Silk thread.
A simple chunky quilt or a flannel lap quilt may look good with a heavy 28 wt or even 12wt. If you are embellishing the top, polyester or metallic are options to look at.
Glazed cotton works beautifully, it provides a strong smooth thread that resists tangling. It is certainly the thread we recommended for beginner hand quilters and is used by experienced quilters the world over.
Katherine enjoys using 40wt for hand quilting, it nests very nicely into the quilt surface. The compromise is shorter lengths of thread and regular movement of the thread in the eye of the needle to prevent fraying.
If the quilt is needing a chunkier stitch then a 28wt or even a 12wt can create beautiful quilt texture.
Always, the final choice is yours!
As a norm the industry and home sewers now use Trilobal Polyester threads, the colour is vibrant, colourfast and strong and performs flawlessly in the fastest of machines and it is robust enough for the daily rigours of work wear.
Rayon/Viscose is made from cellulose and is traditionally the embroiderer's favourite, it has a beautiful lustre, is softer thread and is always reliable to give beautiful results on delicate fabrics.
If the project wants a more subtle look, we suggest an Aurifil 40wt for 'open designs' or the 50wt for a more dense design.
There are many favourite threads for EPP.
Aurifil recommend their 80wt thread, it is 100% cotton and extremely fine so your stitches are able to sink into your fabric. there is a knack of not pulling the thread to hard and using short lengths. Worth it though! If you are not sure about the 80wt but want to stick with cotton then the 50wt is an excellent choice.
Superior Bottom Line is a very fine polyester that glides through the fabrics and is very strong so avoids breakages.
Silk #100 Strong and a natural fiber. The first time you stitch with silk you will never want to work with anything else! Your stitches will be invisible even with a restricted palette of colours. The downside is that per foot it is more expensive.
Silk is known to be used for over 5000 years. Its softness, makes using silk thread the ultimate in luxurious stitching enjoyment.
YLI #100 is a very fine thread that is perfect for hand appliqué, delicate quilting or decorative embroidery on a delicate fabric. It is becoming a popular choice for EPP. (English Paper Piecing)
Monofilament thread is ideally a machine thread. It is either nylon or polyester. The brands and weights that we stock are all finer than used to be seen in clothing construction!
Our most popular is YLI, nylon and size .004. It is extremely fine and soft, enough to make you change your mind about invisible thread.
Superior MonoPoly is also size .044 but as the name suggests is made from Polyester.
Use for machine quilting where you don't want colour to detract from the design, or invisible machine appliqué. Invisible thread is needed to create the 'hand look quilt stitches' found on electronic sewing machines.
We recommend that you use invisible thread the top with a cotton thread in the bottom. If using monofilament in the bobbin, care needs to be taken not to stretch the thread when winding the bobbin.
Glazed thread is a cotton thread for hand sewing only, The glazed finish (usually wax or starches) would leave residues in your machine and the result would be a clogged machine and a frayed temper!
The glazed finish makes the thread stronger, smooth and helps resisit tangling & knotting. It slides through the layers of a quilt sandwich easily and is less likely to fray in the eye of the needle. Threading a needle with a glazed thread is so much easier too.
Metallic threads have a bad reputation which is not fair. With some simple set up tips, quality metallic thread can be fun and provide beautiful results.
Always ensure that you run the thread from the spool as intended by the manufacturer. Stacked wound thread need to come off the spool sideways and cross wound off the top. Most breakages happen when the thread catches on the end of the spool or is caught under the base of a cone, a thread net (set up correctly) will help resolve this. If you have a stacked thread and no vertical spool pin we highly recommend a Thread Director.
Partner the metallic thread with a reliable, cotton or polyester (in the bobbin).
Use a metallic needle (which has a smoother and larger eye) or a topstitch needle. Lower the top tension until you have a good stitch, I rarely drop the tension past 3 on my Berninas.
If you are struggling with breakages the judicious use of Sewers Aid (silicon) can help the thread travel through the machine more easily.
Woolly Nylon most often used in the loopers of an overlocker. It is a strong stretchy thread made up of very loose fibres, hence the name woolly, that is very thin when elongated. The construction of Woolly Nylon makes it perfect for very stretchy fabrics such as swimwear, dance, or sportswear. It creates a very soft finish, so it is very gentle on the skin, preventing chafing on activewear seams. Woolly Nylon can also make a lovely decorative finish on seams or rolled hems.