Seemingly a thread characteristic of little to average importance, the choice of thread thickness to use on your sewing machine can have a far-reaching impact on the machine’s performance, durability, and profitability. It is, therefore, vital to carefully deliberate and strategically choose the best thread thickness for your machine. As thick threads provide more strength, it may seem a viable option to go for thick threads when working on heavy-duty projects. But the question that you should ask yourself before making a thread purchase is, can you use thick thread in sewing machine?
Yes, you can. But not just any thick thread. Different international standards have been developed to provide insight into thread characteristics such as thickness and weight. With these standards, as well as the manufacturer’s recommendations, you can easily select the thread thickness that will work best for your sewing machine.
The impact of thread thickness on your sewing machine is not fully compensated for only by buying the correctly thick thread. You will need to make adjustments to your sewing machine, such as adjusting tension appropriately to ensure maximum efficiency. You must consider other factors when using thick thread, including the stitch type and the needle characteristics.
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What kind of thread is best for sewing machines?
The type of sewing thread you chose can significantly impact the creation and final outlook of your project. Choosing the right thread is about more than just choosing the thread color that will best match your project, and there are various other features you will need to consider, such as the fabric characteristics. With the proper knowledge, you can pick out sewing thread that will suit your project without compromising its quality.
There are several categories of thread types that you can choose from. These categories depend on thread thickness, strength, i.e., number of piles, and the materials the threads are made from.
Sewing threads will have any of the following standard sizing systems.
- Weight (Wt)- the higher this number is, the thinner the thread. A 60wt thread, for example, is much thinner than a 12wt thread.
- Tex (T)- this shows the weight of 1000 meters of the thread in grams. A higher number indicates a thicker thread.
- Denier (Td or d) shows the weight of 9000m of thread, i.e., if 9000m of thread weighs 120 grams, then its denier value will be 120.
- Commercial (V)- this represents the threads denier value divided by 10. This measurement is typically used for powerful threads such as the ones used for upholstery and canvas.
The more common sewing machine thread types you can choose from include:
1. Cotton thread
Cotton threads are often known as general-purpose threads. They are the threads of choice for most sewers due to their characteristics such as their flexibility, durability, softness, and heat resistance which makes them an excellent choice for fabrics that will later need ironing. Cotton threads are a suitable choice for sewing rayon, linen, and cotton garments.
One of the significant problems with purchasing cotton threads is that it can be difficult to tell the difference between high- and low-quality threads. You can significantly lower this risk by purchasing from a reputable manufacturer.
2. Wool thread
Wool threads are not often used in garment construction but are used commonly for embroidery. They are also used for heavy fabrics like canvas, wool, and denim. With a larger needle and the correct machine tension, wool threads would also perform exceptionally well in topstitching.
3. Polyester threads
Polyester threads are multi-purpose threads that have a bit more elasticity than cotton threads. This feature makes them excellent for sewing stretchable, synthetic, and knitted fabrics, among others. Other characteristics that increase polyester sewing threads’ usability include their strength, slight shrinkage, and durability.
Some of the different types of polyester threads you can choose are:
- Monofilament polyester threads are threads with only one strand that is usually very fine and have a good heat resistance allowing for ironing on medium heat.
- Spun polyester- these threads are made from twisting together polyester staple fibers to form a long thread. They are less expensive to produce and cost less than other polyester threads.
- Filament polyester threads- they are made from twisting together long, thin strands of polyester fibers. These threads have significant elongation and can be finished as either a thin or a thick thread through the more delicate filament threads may require some tension adjustments.
Regular polyester is mainly used for general sewing, extra-fine for machine embroidery, and cotton-covered polyester to give a cotton-like appearance with polyester’s strength.
4. Silk threads
Silk threads are an excellent choice when you want to sew delicate fabrics such as wool or silk. Silk threads are very delicate and can sew through these fabrics without leaving holes. These threads are made from natural silk fibers, and although they are fine, they are also quite durable. Some of the common types of silk threads are silk floss with a high sheen, silk ribbon for decorating, stranded silk, and twisted silk, which has numerous strands.
5. Nylon threads
Like polyester threads, nylon threads are synthetic threads that are often used in the form of a clear, monofilament thread. While better threads far outstrip their use in sewing and quilting, bonded nylon threads are extensively used for heavy-duty sewing and upholstery. This use is because they are flexible, and they have great strength and flexibility.
5. Metallic threads
Superior metallic thread is an excellent way to get a beautiful sheen when embroidering or quilting or doing other decorative sewing forms. High-quality metallic threads have a strong nylon core and are wrapped in a layer of rice paper and special coating.
How Do You Sew Thick Threads?
There will be episodes when you need to do some decorative work, but the decorative threads, ribbon, or cording won’t pass through the needle’s eye no matter how much you try. If you do not want to do hand embroidery in such circumstances, then bobbin work is a solid alternative.
Bobbin work is a technique that uses heavy decorative threads and places them on the fabric surface as free-motion stitches or as machine-fed stitches. As the threads are too thick to fit through the needle’s eye, this method allows you to sew with the thread wound around the bobbin and placed it into the bobbin case.
Tips For Successful Bobbin Work.
- Choose a thread whose thickness is uniform throughout. Uniform diameter will make it easier for the bobbin tension mechanism to work appropriately.
- Lower the bobbin case tension significantly. Ideally, the thread should feed slightly looser than the regular thread. An even better solution would be to buy another bobbin case used exclusively for bobbin work and set it to the required tension.
- if your sewing machine has an automatic bobbin winding feature, use that to wind the thread around the bobbin, as this will ensure that the thread is tensioned correctly. If you do not have this feature, then carefully wind the thread around the bobbin using the machine or by hand.
- Use the correct presser foot. Choose a sewing foot that will ride over the stitches more effectively as your produced stitches will be a lot thicker. Feet such as the open-toed foot will work well when doing bobbin work.
- For free-motion sewing, all you need to do is lower the feed dogs. Investing in an additional fabric stabilizer or using a hoop is also advisable. You can also sew with the feed dogs down for machine-fed sewing if you do not want free-motion.
- Avoid using stitches that come out too close together when doing bobbin work. Stitches that are too close together may bunch up the large thread. Star with a stitch width of 4mm and go from there. It would be best if you also did decorative designs with open, straightforward designs without a lot of complex stitching.
- If you plan to do a large stitching job, filling extra bobbins beforehand will help you keep any interruptions to your sewing at a minimum.
What Is the Thickest Thread On Sewing Machine?
Thread tends to become stronger the heavier it is, and for some heavy-duty projects, you will need stronger threads to get the best results. But this does not mean that all thick threads will be suitable for your use. The thread thickness you choose to use will vary depending on several factors, such as the type of sewing machine (home or commercial), which will determine your machine’s capability, strength, and the stitch appearance you are going for.
For home sewing machines, the heaviest recommended commercial size is V69. This commercial sizing is obtained by dividing the thread denier value by 10, as mentioned above. The size indicates the thread thickness, while any other given weight indicates the thread amount on the spool. While thicker threads increase your stitches’ visibility, going above the recommended value may also cause problems for your machine.
Apart from adjusting your machine’s tension before you begin sewing with a thicker thread, choose the right complementing needle. The general rule is to choose a needle whose eye is 40% larger than your thread thickness for maximum efficiency.
Do Sewing Machines Need Special Thread?
Choosing the best thread for your sewing machine will give you the best results and ensure that you will use your machine for a long time to come without problems commonly caused by choosing the wrong thread.
Before purchasing a specific thread, check whether your machine manufacturer has recommended any specific threads that will work well with the machine. Also, check the manual for any sewing thread limits provided. Different sewing threads work best with specific machines; polyester threads, for example, are not quite as suitable for heavy-duty machines for long periods as the thread can break though they work perfectly well with regular sewing machines.
Is It Better to Sew with Cotton or Polyester Thread?
With differing characteristics and origins, cotton and polyester threads are two of the most used threads for sewing. While each of these threads has its distinct advantages, your choice of one or the other will ultimately depend on which thread characteristics are most important to you now and which thread will best complement the project you are working on.
Cotton thread is produced from a cotton plant’s ball and can have different finishes to produce different results. Some of the finishes on cotton threads are:
- Mercerized threads allow the color to penetrate the fibers better.
- Gassed threads that are passed through an open flame to incinerate any loose fibers.
- Glazed fibers that are treated with a wax coating that gives the thread a glossy finish (not recommended for machine use)
- Cotton-wrapped poly to give the appearance of cotton with the strength of polyester.
Advantages of Cotton Thread
- Have various finishes.
- They become stronger when wet.
- They have great sewability.
- More durable under the heat of fast sewing from hot needles.
- Great for quilting projects as the lack of stretch will prevent loss of shape.
Disadvantages of Cotton Thread
- Cotton threads have low stretch.
- They tend to break if used on a seam with a lot of stress.
Polyester thread, in direct contrast to cotton, is fully synthetic fiber. Its all-purpose use makes it an excellent choice for both machine and hand sewing. However, it is not advised to use it with natural fabrics as it is more robust and can break down the weaker fiber over time.
Advantages of Polyester Thread
- It is more durable and has higher tensile strength than cotton.
- Hold color pigments longer.
- It slips through the fabric easily.
- A polyester thread is more resistant to sunlight, abrasion, and mildew than cotton.
- Can accommodate small amounts of giving with excellent recovery.
Disadvantages of Polyester Thread
- Polyester threads will melt at high temperatures.
- The thread kinks more easily.
One of the best qualities of the thread spectrum is versatility. You can choose from different threads tailor-made for specific fabric types and machines. Thick threads are also not rigid in their defining characteristics, and they occupy a wide range. You can easily choose a thick thread with amazing sewability for your machine by doing your due diligence.
So, can you use thick thread in sewing machine?
Yes! By carefully considering all the defining characteristics, using thick thread on your sewing machine should be as easy as ever. I hope this article has been helpful and informative. You can ask any questions you may have or leave feedback on this article in the comment section below.