Superior Education

European Thread Twist?

  • S Twist
  • Z Twist
  • Thread Twist

Is it true that European-made threads have a patented twist?

Q. Dr. Bob, I was recently reading a post on a popular quilting forum and one of the members of the group said that European-made threads have a different twist than threads made in Japan, USA or elsewhere. She stated specifically "Threads made in Italy have the opposite twist of the Superior threads. Just look at where your thread is made and you'll have a good clue as to how it's twisted. European twist is so patented that other countries have to use the opposite twist when they manufacture their thread."

I've never heard that before and find it hard to believe that a single country holds a patent as to how thread is manufactured (it sounds silly when I type it out). Is it true that non-European threads have an opposite twist? If so, what does that mean for my quilting and sewing?

S and Z twist explained
S twist and Z twist visualized
Thread in a topstitch needle
Z twist threads are designed for machine sewing

A. I'm happy to tell you that this snippet of opinion you've read is 100% misinformation. Thread twist is a subject that is often spoken about by those who don't fully understand what it means. All threads which have the intended use of going through a sewing machine (whether you are embroidering, quilting, serging, or sewing) have a final Z twist. A Z twist allows the thread to go through a machine and stay together (not untwist as the thread passes through the machine). Whether the sewing thread is made in Europe, USA, Asia, or Antarctica if the thread is meant to go through your machine, it has a Z twist.

An S twist thread has an opposite twist and these threads are made for hand stitching and for specialty two-headed sewing machines which are used almost exclusively in construction of clothing and commercial textiles.

You may have also read about left hand and right hand twist. These terms are incorrect as well. S twist and Z twist are the terms we use in the industry and the relevance of the twist direction is not an important factor to consider when choosing thread for quilting or sewing, as all threads created for these applications will have a final Z twist.

Watch our video on Thread Twist Explained for more information on thread twist.

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