Superior Education

Cotton Thread Quality

  • Cotton Thread
  • Extra-long Staple
  • Processing

How can you tell the quality difference between cotton threads?

Q. How can I distinguish the quality of a cotton thread? I have been using a spool of cotton that was given to by a friend as a gift and it seems to be very hairy and leaves a lot of lint when I sew. I don't know if this happens with every cotton thread or if it's just this brand of cotton thread that I'm sewing with? I read online that Superior's cotton threads are supposed to be high quality and wonder if the brand of thread I'm using isn't high quality?

King Tut
King Tut cotton quilting thread has beautiful color depth
King Tut cotton thread
Superior's cotton threads are extra-long staple cotton

A. It sounds like the cotton thread you are sewing with is not made from the highest grade of cotton and perhaps has not undergone advanced processing to eliminate the extra lint associated with cotton fibers. There are three grades of cotton and the majority of cotton thread is made from the lowest and medium grades.

  • Lowest grade = Regular staple (or short staple) cotton. Thread made from this grade is never marked as regular or short staple. It is labeled only as 100% cotton or mercerized cotton, because having a short stapled cotton thread is nothing to brag about Short staple cotton threads will have a lot of lint and are weaker than regular and extra-long staple cotton threads.
  • Medium grade = Long staple cotton. Thread made from this grade of cotton will be labeled as long staple. Long staple cotton threads will have less lint than short staple cotton threads.
  • High grade = Extra-long staple cotton. Thread made from this grade of cotton will be labeled as extra-long staple cotton. This is currently the highest quality cotton fiber available and is something that should be bragged about.
Why does knowing the staple length matter in terms of quality? A staple (an individual strand of cotton fiber) is the source of strength for cotton. The longer the staple, the fewer starts and stops the thread has, resulting in better stress management. There is a direct correlation between the strength of a cotton thread and the length of the staple. Another benefit of extra-long staples is the less lint that will be displaced when sewing.

Chances are that the cotton thread you were gifted is a short staple cotton thread. Choose extra-long staple cotton threads for a Superior sewing and quilting experience.

View our infographic on cotton threads.

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