Differences Between Thread Types
Posted: 30 August 2012 at 10:43 a.m.
There are many 'types' of threads in the thread world. Some are for quilting some are for upholstery and some are for piecing. Why are there so many types of thread available? Isn't there a universal thread for all projects?
Below, we will do our best to distinguish the differences between quilting thread, embroidery thread, serger thread, construction thread, bobbin thread, and more.
Usually cotton or polyester.
Wide range of quality.
Strength is important to withstand high speed machine quilting through multiple layers.
Common Fiber Types:
- The highest grade is extra-long staple Egyptian-grown cotton. Any cotton that does list the staple length is probably lower grade short staple cotton. Most thread labeled “Egyptian cotton” is not from Egypt.
Recommended and really is an Egyptian-grown cotton: King Tut.
- 1. Spun poly (lower quality and fuzzy)
2. Multi-filament polyester (smooth, lint free, and stronger than spun poly). Recommended: So Fine! #50 and So Fine! #40 (variegated).
3.Trilobal multi-filament polyester. High sheen. Most trilobal poly is not as strong as regular multi-filament polyester but a new high strength, high sheen polyester (Magnifico) will be available later this month.
4. Poly-wrapped poly core thread. Less expensive than multi-filament poly threads. Strong for high speed machine quilting. Recommended: Omni Thread.
Piecing Thread Cotton is preferred because it can be ironed with a high heat iron. A fine, smooth, evenly twisted, low-lint 50 wt. thread will make the best seam. Highest grade is extra-long staple Egyptian-grown cotton. Recommended: MasterPiece. Serger Thread Because sergers (overlock machines) simultaneously use multiple cones of thread, there are many cheap serger threads on the market. The cones of serger thread available at discount chain stores are an inexpensive spun poly. These are OK when used for serging but not recommended for other applications. Multi-filament polyester thread such as So Fine! #50 makes a clean, lint-free serger thread but is more expensive than spun poly. Omni Thread is a poly-wrapped poly core thread ideal for serging. Appliqué Thread Most applique techniques intend to hide the thread and therefore use a fine, blending thread.
Most embroiders prefer a high sheen thread.
Embroidery thread usually has a looser twist than a quilting thread because the looser twist allows a higher sheen.
Most are 2-ply threads which allows a higher sheen.
Strength is not as important compared to quilting thread.
Common Fiber Types:
Bobbin Thread It is perfectly fine to use a different thread in the bobbin than what is used on top. It is also perfectly fine to use a different wt. bobbin thread than top thread. Most prefer to use a finer bobbin thread because it blends well and more can be wound on a bobbin. The most common bobbin threads are 50 wt. or 60 wt. threads. Recommended: MasterPiece, So Fine! #50, or Bottom Line for quilting and Bottom Line for embroidery. Invisible Monofilament Thread There are two types of invisible monofilament thread available.
- #100 silk Very fine, smooth, and lint-free. Recommended: Kimono Silk.
- 50 wt. cotton A little heavier than a fine silk or poly, but blends very well. Recommended: MasterPiece.
- 60 wt. multi-filament polyester. Fine, strong, and blends well. Recommended: Bottom Line.
- 1. Nylon (sometimes labeled as polyamide). Not recommended due to it’s low heat tolerance, tendency to go brittle over time, and tendency to ‘yellow’ or discolor.
- 2. Polyester Higher heat tolerance than nylon, does not go brittle, and does not ‘yellow.’