How Much Sewing Thread Do I Need?

With this sewing thread guide, you'll learn how much thread you need for certain projects.

By: Frances Seda for
Updated April 22, 2020
How Much Sewing Thread Do I Need

When it comes to sewing you can make practically anything. Items for your home (curtains, pillows, tablecloths, table runners, quilts), articles of clothing for yourself and others, doll clothes, and so forth.

All you need, besides knowing how to sew and a sewing machine, is a pattern, fabric, and thread. If you're wondering, how much sewing thread do I need?, this guide will help!

Once you have decided what to make and you have your pattern and fabric picked out all that is left is getting the thread you will need. While deciding on the yardage for your fabric is easy thanks to information on your pattern envelope, calculating the amount of thread you need can be a tad bit more difficult.

If you’re using a basic color like black or white finding more thread is a cinch, but, if you are using a particular shade of color, like a teal or lavender, you want to be sure that you have enough thread before starting your project.

The last thing you want is to be working on your project and to suddenly run out of thread due to incorrect calculations. Also, if you are sewing items you intend to sell you want to be able to factor in all costs in the price you intend to charge.

How Much Thread Do I Need? Factors To Consider

There are a few factors to consider in how much thread you are going to need. You have to be mindful of your stitch type (chain, straight, zigzag, etc.), your seam type (plain, double-stitched, French, etc.), the material thickness, the number of layers in your project, the construction and finally the stitches per inch.

There are two ways to measure thread consumption, by measuring the actual amount of thread used and by referencing ratio tables available on the internet.

Actual Sewing Thread Used for Sewing

To calculate the actual thread consumed, a length of the seam is measured (for example 4 inches). Next, carefully remove the thread by removing the stitches. Now, you are able to calculate the thread used in one inch by dividing the length of this thread by four.

You can then multiply this number by the total length of the seam. You will have to do the latter part of the calculation for each seam of your item in order to calculate the total amount of thread needed.

Pick the Amount of Thread by Ratio

Alternatively, you can reference ratio tables on the internet. Coats & Clark, a popular thread brand, provides various tables with different stitches and the thread usage by centimeter on their website.

They also provide the average thread consumption for an array of items. This is definitely the easier method as you won’t have to do any math, but, keep in mind that the numbers they provide may not correlate for the items you are working on due to the factors you need to take into account mentioned earlier.

Regardless of the method you choose, you also need to account for waste. In order to do so, it’s best to add about 10% to 15% of thread length to your final amount.

Up Next

Thread for Sewing Machine: What's Best?

How do you determine how much thread you'll need for a project?
Let us know in the comments!

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