Sunday, April 23, 2017

Let's Talk About Thread

Amann Mettler Silk Finish 60wt (My GoTo Thread on 3000yard Cone)
Thread is an interesting discussion.  So many choices, so many types, so many fibers, so many companies.

As you read in my HV Topaz 30 review, I had huge issues with tension, and thread jumping out of the tension disks. That is the reason I decided to discuss thread.

Moreover living in Europe, the choices are different.  The big brands translate over, but the smaller brands do not even think it.
Gutermann Sew All (General Purpose Polyester)

The Big Thread Companies I am familiar with are:  Gutermann, Amann Mettler, Madeira, Aurifil, Superior Thread, YLI, Coats, ScanFil, and Fils Au Chinois.  I am sure there are many many more.

Thread Weight

In my past sewing life, when I had a project I would pick up a matching spool of what ever was on sale at the local Shop, and happily completed my project.  When I purchased my HV, an embroidery machine, things started to change. This machine forced me to look at thread weight.
Aurifil 40wt Cotton (Quilters Favorite)

Aurifil 40wt Cotton (Quilters Favorite)

I have read online or listened to my fellow quilters say some like, "you will want to use a 50 weight thread when you ..."

The Higher the thread weight number the thinner the thread, confusing I know!!!

You must know weight numbers are not always clearly marked.  And many times the weight indication is a fraction, 30/2, 40/2, 50/2, 50/3, 60/2 etc.  The second number is the number of plys that make of the tread strand.  2 mean there are two pieces of thread twisted together.  More strands/plys stronger thread.

Truly understanding thread weight is not universal and only people that manufacture thread really understand the terms like Cotton Count, Denier and Tex.

There is a wonderful blog post on understanding thread weight.
Madame Sajou Thread Numbering System

Superior Threads Understanding Thread Weight

Which Thread To Use

Fils Au Chinois 40wt Cotton
Fils Au Chinois 40wt Cotton
The big question is which thread should I use for my project?  Many say just use a 50wt, Aurifil, Amann Metter, all the major brands have 50wt.  50wt is a great, but not alway the best for a project.


My first thought is Embroidery and Big Stitch quilting.   Machine Embroidery Thread is shiny, and most of the modern embroidery thread is Polyester, Nylon, non natural fiber.  And I prefer natural fibers, Silk, Cotton, Viscose/Rayon, Linen.

Aurifil makes a beautiful 28 weight Cotton, I find it excellent for Big Stitch quilting and Sashiko work.

Sajou in Paris, carries the full line of Fils Au Chinois, they make the most beautiful 30wt Silk thread that can be used for Embroidery, Big Stitch Quilting, Sashiko, project you want the most beautiful shine that only silk can provide


60wt is my go to thread, I use it for almost everything.  I find it is the perfect thread for my machines and my projects.

Amann Mettler and Scanfil have the best affordable 100% cotton 60wt thread.  I use this thread for piecing, embroidery, quilting, etc.

In piecing 60wt is almost invisible and really reduces bulk so you can piece with tight tiny stitches.  I personally piece using 1.5 mm stitch length.  For quilting it is great, if you use a matching thread to you background you can quilt with a single then triple stitch, and the single stitch almost becomes invisible for that hand look quilting work.  And embroidery, 60wt cotton develops into a fine embroidery, great for Freestanding Lace and other delicate projects.

100wt or finer

This very fine thread has many uses.

Top of the list is Heirloom Sewing, Fine Piecing, Lace Making and hand work.

Fils Au Chinois has a 100wt glove thread, excellent for hand piecing, Applique and small machine projects where invisible stitches are required.  (Note:  This thread is waxed, so you must be careful with using in your machine as the wax can build up in your tension area).
Fils Au Chinois 170wt Lace Cotton

Fils Au Chinois also makes 100% cotton thread for lace making.  You can get their lace thread alway to 170wt.  So fine, find it hard to work with, but beautiful thread

YLI also makes a wonderful 100% cotton thread, excellent for Heirloom sewing and Piecing.

Understanding Fibers

Amann Mettler 30wt Poly Sheen (Polyester Embroidery Thread)

Polyester Thread is the most common, it is inexpensive, and readily available.  There is nothing wrong with using a synthetic fiber based thread.  Polyester is generally used in General Purpose Sewing Thread, and Embroidery Threads for it shine and large number of available colors.  It is just not my choice.  Also you have to be careful as some companies market a polyester embroidery thread a rayon.  Real Rayon or Viscose is usually made from Tree Pulp.
Gutermann Sulky Embroidery Thread (Polyester listed as Rayon)

Nylon is another synthetic fiber thread.  Many people use this as it can be transparent, invisible thread.  Many Long Arm Quilters use these thread types.

Cotton is a natural fiber that is sustainable and renewable.   But Cotton is a little more expensive than the synthetic threads.  And cotton is not as strong as the synthetic fiber threads.  But it washes and wears naturally with your finished project.
Fils Au Chinois Rayon/Viscose

Fils Au Chinois Rayon/Viscose
Fils Au Chinois Rayon/Viscose

Rayon/Viscose is another natural fiber usually made from Tree Pulp, or Hemp.  It is mostly used in Embroidery thread, again for its large number of available colors.  This thread can be expensive.  But it does have silk finish or shine and feel.  But be careful many companies sale synthetic fiber threads as Rayon.
Fils Au Chinois 30wt Silk
Fils Au Chinois 30wt Silk

Silk is the most beautiful threads with the most beautiful colors.  Most everyone would agree.  But 100% silk thread is expensive.  But there is nothing like it.  The best silk embroidery thread I have found is from Fils Au Chinois make a 30wt silk thread.  It stitches out beautifully.  There are many companies that offer 100wt silk thread used for Piecing and other find projects, Superior Kimono Thread comes to mind
Fils Au Chinois Metallic

Fils Au Chinois Metallic

Fils Au Chinois Metallic

Amann Mettler Metallic

Metallic thread is a special thing.  It is gives your project a rich and luxurious look,  Metallic thread is usually a foil wrapped polyester cord.  The thread gets twisted and breaks easily.  It is very hard to work with, you need special needles and to really slow your sewing machine down to use these threads. But for embellishment there is nothing like using a gold or silver Metallic.  Amazingly beautiful  


There is no right or wrong thread for any project.  It is about the look and feel you are wishing to achieve in your project.  I prefer natural fiber thread.  But that does not make synthetics bad.  It is your choice.  But as long as you understand that pros and cons of each.

Wishing you all the best in your sewing project

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