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Busting The Biggest Quilting Myth

Posted: 23 September 2011 at 9:52 a.m.
Will polyester thread really tear the fabric in my quilt?
(So Fine! Lint free,no available in #50/3, #40/3 (variegated) and #30/3

Bob is here to bust the Biggest Myth in the Quilting World:
Everyone has some cotton T-shirts. One of the most popular brands is Hanes. One day I called Hanes and asked them what kind of thread they use to sew their cotton T-Shirts. Here is how the phone conversations went:
Bob: “What kind of thread do you use to sew your cotton T-Shirts?”
Hanes: “Why do you want to know?”
Bob: “I love thread. I’m doing research.”
Hanes: “Just a minute please.”
By the time I spoke to a third person and convinced them I was not a corporate spy who was trying to get them in trouble for labeling a T-Shirt as 100% cotton even though they use polyester thread, I was told they do indeed use polyester thread to sew their cotton T-Shirts.
A 100% cotton T-shirt gets a lot more wear and tear than a quilt. If it were true that polyester thread will tear through the cotton quilt fabric, it would do the same to a T-shirt and at a much faster rate due to the extreme wear and tear a T-shirt receives. Yet I have never seen the thread in a T-shirt seam tear through the fabric as a result of normal or even heavy use.
It does not happen.
If we used an extremely strong and wiry thread with a very low quality flimsy or delicate fabric, yes, it is possible that the thread, regardless whether it is polyester or cotton or silk, could tear through the fabric, but when we quilt, we do not combine an extra strong wiry thread with a low quality flimsy fabric.

If we use quality thread and quality fabric, we are well balanced and whether we use cotton, polyester, silk, or metallic thread, there is absolutely no need to worry about the thread tearing through the fabric.

(Bottom Line, 60 wt. lint free polyester)

So where did this "polyester-thread-will-tear-through-the-fabric" rumor begin?
Most likely it is a case of tradition turning into a rumor and eventually becoming a commonly accepted belief. Great Grandma used cotton because that is all she had. She taught Grandma, Grandma taught Mom, and Mom taught me and cotton became the only acceptable thread to use when quilting. Sometimes traditions are stronger than truth. It is perfectly fine to use a good polyester, metallic, silk, or cotton thread in your quilt.
Let's go defeat those bad myths.

To watch a video clip on this myth, click here.
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  • 6. Gail Pennington (11 February 2017 at 12:10 p.m.)

    My Great Grandmother, born 1882, made several quilts with cotton thread. My parents used their wedding gift quilt, with respect and needless to say it was washed. The construction was all cotton, yet the fabric wore at the seams. All thread including cotton thread is stronger than the more delicate strands which make up woven cotton cloth. If it weren't items would come apart at the seams. Wearing at the seam line is expected and moreso if the quilt is washed like a blanket.
  • 5. Peg (20 January 2016 at 1:02 p.m.)

    I have a theory about how this myth started. I made a cotton quilt which got frequent washing because it was for a person who had medical issues. I used a polyester-wrapped cotton thread for the seams. The thread was stronger than the fabric and the fabric wore along the seam lines.
  • 4. Laura (22 March 2012 at 11:07 a.m.)

    Food for thought... If you are inexperienced in quilting, you may want to consider that the stretchy fabric used in a Hanes tee contributed to much less stress on the seam. The weave of the fabric itself is sturdier. Also the type of stitch used on these garments is meant to "give". All these contribute to less stress on the seam. As I am one of those quilters who actually has a quilt where I used a cotton/poly blend, I must say, the thread cut through my fabric after about a year of daily use and monthly launderings. I would consider this when making a quilt that will be used and stressed on a daily basis. Just something to think about. Thread can be pulled out, tied off, buried and sewn again. Cut fabric just can't be mended without compromising the integrity of your design. I'm new to Superior and hear raves and raves. I'm ready to order their cotton thread by the way.
  • 3. Betty Spoonemore (25 September 2011 at 11:45 a.m.)

    I am a new retail customer of yours. Glad to see your answer! I have copied it to show my customers and students!
  • 2. Janine Bell (24 September 2011 at 2:12 p.m.)

    that was the most interesting piece of information I have had. Thank You
  • 1. Sandy (23 September 2011 at 12:10 p.m.)

    Glad the blog has returned!

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