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What Type of Thread to Use: A Sewing Guide
How do you choose the types of sewing thread to use for each project? Find out here!
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Just like finding the right fabric and the right needle for your patterns, finding out what thread to use is an important step to moving from amateur sewist to smart seamstress.
When you truly know your materials well, you can begin to master the art.
When it comes to the art of sewing that means knowing your fabric and knowing the types of thread you should be using as you begin to explore more and more sewing projects is going to save you from creating projects to rip or fall apart.
Knit or stretchy fabrics, for example, need to be paired with a type of thread that has some give to it or else hems or edges may bunch up or the thread will rip.
Luckily, our What Type of Thread to Use: A Sewing Guide is here to give you the low down on sewing thread and where it goes. Along with our tips, we even have a handy infographic for you to download.
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PLUS! As an added lesson, scroll down to take a look at the video tutorial at the bottom of this page. Our friend Angel Peterson provides lots of helpful information about choosing fabric for sewing. With a fabric and thread guide, you will be all set to sew.
Want to put the needle and thread down for a while? This easy guide to no-sew tools is a must-read for sewing beginners: Alternatives to Sewing: 15 Tools for the No-Sew Crafter
What Type of Thread to Use: Table of Contents
Sewing Thread Information: General Rules
The difference between figuring out what type of thread to use and what type of fabric to use really comes down to picking one before the other. If you know what fabric to use, it is actually pretty easy to pair your types of thread with your fabric.
Cotton thread, for example, works well with cotton fabric. That’s easy enough to remember. Knowing what thread is what, however, is difficult as it is so thin and hard to really pin down on its own. This means it is very important to organize your thread once you’ve removed it from the packaging.
Here are some tips:
- When you are sewing something that is going to need a stretch (knits, spandex) or is a very durable fabric (leather, polyester), a polyester thread is going to be your best bet.
- Cotton pairs best with cotton thread, but keep in mind that thinner cotton threads can break easily and do not come equipped with much stretch.
- The thickness and weight of your thread are both important to keep in mind, as well.
If you're just beginning, then you need all the help you can get! Make sure you check out this page for some more useful tips and tricks: 33+ Beginner Sewing Videos and Tutorials
Types of Thread: Material Guide
When it comes to the numerous types of thread available for sewists, many want to know what type of thread to use for specific sewing projects and fabrics. Although you can mix and match certain threads and fabrics, this is a fantastic starting point.
Bobbin thread is used for bobbins and works well for most sewing machine fabrics.
Cotton thread works well for cotton, corduroy, denim, and knit fabrics.
Embroidery thread works well with most fabrics for decorative work.
Heavy-duty thread works well for canvas, denim, corduroy, chenille, suede, and polyester fabrics.
Metallic thread works well for leather, pleather, vinyl, and rubber fabrics.
Nylon thread works well for synthetic, polyester, spandex, tricot, and nylon fabrics.
Polyester thread works well for corduroy, stretchy knits, lace, netting, polyester, and spandex fabrics.
Silk thread works well for silk floss, twisted silk, silk ribbon, and stranded silk fabrics.
Upholstery thread works well for thick and heavy fabrics.
Wool thread works well for Persian wool, tapestry wool, crewel wool, and canvas fabrics.
That's not all! We made a handy little chart for you about when to use each popular type of thread. When should you use cotton thread? How about polyester? When should you use the smooth and strong silk thread you bought?
Check out the chart below and click here to download the sewing infographic.
Beginner Sewing Thread Resources
If you're a beginner, then be sure to read these helpful pages. These resources will help you grasp basic techniques, speed up your processes, and get you on the right track to becoming a can-do-all sewist.
- Does Sewing Thread Get Old?
- How Much Thread Do I Need?
- How to Measure Thread Size
- Types of Thread Materials
- How to Use a Needle Threader
- How to Use a Seam Ripper
- Sewing Tools and Equipment
- How to Use a Thimble
- Hand Sewing Needle Sizes/Types
- How to Thread a Sewing Needle
BONUS! Types of Fabric
Take a look at our Sewing 101: Working with Different Types of Fabrics video below to learn more about fabric. We also have a Sewing for Beginners: Types of Fabric page that will provide you with even more information.
Learn how to sew your t-shirts into cool new creations. Get the ideas and full tutorials when you download our free 9 Ways to Transform Old T-Shirts Free eBook
Sewing Needle Types >>
What is your go-to thread?
Let us know in the comments!
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May 30, 2023
I have used the wrong thread before and it ruined my projects, so I am very conscious of choosing the correct type these days!
Nov 22, 2018
I have been sewing for decades and have always worried more about color matching the thread than whether it's the correct TYPE of thread for the fabric! So this post is of particular interest to me as, I'm sure, it will be to others too. I have already printed out the info and put it up at my worktable. Thank you!
Jun 04, 2018
This is very helpful and the bonus infographic comes in handy for those who want a reminder pinned somewhere close by. You can print it out and pin it on a board or share it with someone who's new to sewing.
Aug 24, 2017
Useful guide! I'm always curious about what thread to use for certain projects.
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