What kind of thread you need for a sewing machine

What kind of thread you need for your sewing machine

In every sewing machine manual, you can find a chart that gives advice on the proper selection of threads and needles to the fabric. However, I have not yet encountered a table that can be used. Somewhere thread numbers will be given by Brazilian system, somewhere it is recommended to sew chiffon with thick threads Here is the table I made based on the data from Soviet textbooks “Material Science of Sewing” of different years, as well as on materials provided by Madeira and Gütermann.

Fabric Density, g/m 2 Thread count, #/Tkt. Thread number, Nm Number of threads, “Soviet” Needle number
Very light (crepe de Chiffon, chiffon, voile, cambric, chintz) 70. 110 180, 150 160/2, 120/2, 100/2 100 60, 65
Lightweight (calico, sateen, chemises, dress cloth, satin) 110. 200 120, 100 80/2, 65/2 80, 60 70, 75
Medium (flannel, tights, light weight suits) 200. 270 100, 60 65/2, 40/2 50, 40 80, 90, 100
Medium to heavy (corduroy, fine denim, suit fabrics) 270. 340 60, 40 40/2, 40/3 40 100, 110
Heavy (denim, gabardine, raincoat fabrics) 340. 400 40, 35, 30 40/3, 35/3, 30/3 30 120, 140
Heavy (heavy denim, coat fabrics, drape, tarp) 400 30, 20 30/3, 20/3, 30, 20, 140, 160

As you can see from the table, when sewing the thinnest fabrics you will be tired of looking for thread and when sewing denim with thick thread you will be tired of looking for needles. And most importantly, do not try to sew chintz “forty”. The beauty of the stitching in such a case is out of the question.

Unique data on the thickness of the threads, available in our stores Gütermann Top Stitch 0. 30/3Nm. 100tex Madeira Aerofil 5. 35/3Nm. 90tex Gütermann Extra Strong 0. 40/3Nm. 75tex DorTak 0. 40/2Nm. 50tex Gütermann Sew- all 00. 65/2Nm. 30tex Gütermann Tera 80. 160/2Nm. 16tex Madeira Aerofil 20. 80/2Nm. 25tex Madeira Bobbinfil 50. 100/2 Nm- 20tex

What they are made of?

Threads can be understood as twisted products that are made from fibers of synthetic or natural origin, they go to perform operations in needlework and sewing. Yarns connect knitwear and textiles.

Modern cords are made of combed yarn, spun and twisted several times. The finished cords are then subjected to bleaching and dyeing.

Conventional fittings consist of chemical and natural fibers, or sometimes a combination of both.

Consider some types and their properties in detail.

  • Cotton threads are represented by natural fibers (including linen) by 100% according to GOST. They are characterized by durability, environmental friendliness, absence of allergic reactions to the main components.
  • Nylon threads are made of 100% polyester. Their main characteristics. versatility, do not create lint, uniform throughout the length, strong, when using produce perfect stitch.
  • Staple or polyester yarns. Due to the fact that they are super elastic, they are used by masters in sewing knitwear.
  • Reinforced fittings are made of lavsan base with siblon or cotton.
  • Polyamide or kapron, polyester are considered waterproof and heat resistant, flame retardant. That is why coils with such yarns are used for sewing overalls.
  • Silk thread is used to perform the finest work in needlework.
  • Stretch or textured varieties are used in processing knitwear.
  • Resin thread is made of spandex with a polyester weave.
  • Thread for machine embroidery are available in spools of two types: the top. polyester, cotton, viscose, the bottom. from polyester filament.

Separately worth noting metallized threads, made from billets of metal. Usually used in embroidery. In a special group can be allocated holographic, with the effect of shrinkage, with special protection, water-soluble threads.

They are not used as often. only for certain specific products.


Yarns of natural origin are made from silk, linen, cotton, bamboo, wool. There are also a huge number of woolen varieties, which are mainly made from llama wool. Their main positive characteristics are strength and lightness. Pure material is not affordable to everyone, so it is mixed with other fibers.

No less popular are yarns made of angora, a downy rabbit. It is also fluffy and durable, but fluff does not attach well to the yarn, so it is most often used in combination with other fibers. Natural wool yarns are made from cashmere and merino. But they are usually combined with other raw materials.


For a long time they have occupied their special niche in the threads of polyester, as well as polyamide and polypropylene. They are distinguished by good twist, special strength, excellent texture.

They are often used in production for the reason that they combine with any fabrics, are used in overlock work. They are distinguished by high quality stitching.

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Combination fibers are often used, because they combine the qualities of chemical and natural yarns. They have different diameters and are used for any kind of work with any fabric. This is the most popular category of fittings.

The main combinations are cotton with polyester, reinforced yarn, acetate with polyamide and viscose.

Yarns are used for making various products. First of all they are chosen based on what kind of fabric needs to be processed.

Here is a rough classification.

  • For children’s clothing, decorative embroidery, patchwork, cotton-based yarns are used.
  • Polyester and nylon have a wide range of applications. they are purchased to work with different types of fabrics: with synthetic, cotton, wool.
  • Polyester base is used for swimwear, workwear, underwear.
  • Overlock threads are sold in large bobbins. This is because it is easier to use stretchy, thin types for winding on overlock.
  • Capron and polyamide varieties are used for sewing special heavy-duty garments.
  • Polyamide monofilament comes in white and color. It is widely used for beadwork, bracelets, balls. This thread is inconspicuous, there are no looping problems.
  • Silk fibers are used to create lace.

How to choose

For everyday clothes, dresses, pants should use the universal kind. They are designed for all major fabric types. They will not create unnecessary tension. At the same time their tension will be quite sufficient for such fabrics. Handbags, socks, t-shirts, shirts can be processed with this thread. In their sphere of influence will also include towels, tablecloths, napkins. They can be used to stitch the edges of linens.

For silk garments, translucent types will do. They dissolve well in the color of the fabric itself. Seams will become barely noticeable. The same threads are suitable for processing various types of underwear, dresses, sophisticated items. All kinds of garments which need a soft, delicate workmanship.

Elastic fabric types are treated with textured yarns. These are various kinds of sportswear made of stretch fabrics. Swimwear that stretches well, bathing suits. Stretchy synthetic athletic shorts. Such fabric is often needed for use in training, in gymnasiums, in competitions. Active movements mean more dynamic clothing materials. After all, if the fabric doesn’t stretch, it can tear under tension from such movements. Athletes often sweat, clothing can stick to the body. Here, even loose clothing is not immune to tear. And clothes made of stretchy fabrics won’t tear even if they stick to your body. It will only stretch. And textured overlock yarns are ideal for treating such garments.

What every thread is for

Polyester threads are strong, easy to pull and regardless of thickness, resistant to abrasion, withstands repeated tension, does not shrink. They are good for sewing almost all types of fabric, depending on the thickness of the thread. They can be made of cotton, fine wool, silk, linen, viscose, denim. Large range of colors makes it possible to use the thread for embroidery.

  • Reinforced polyester yarns are highly durable and are widely used for sewing cotton, silk, denim, fine and thick wool, as well as for finishing.
  • Polyamide thread is the strongest, and is used for sewing leather and synthetics.

Types of threads

There are several types of threads that can be divided into different categories. This division depends on what the fibers are made of. Each group has different strength (number of layers) and thickness (weight) of threads.


Very low stretch, excellent for cotton fabrics or sheets, but not for stretch fabrics.

IMPORTANT! Most cotton thread is mercerized.

This means that the fiber has gone through a series of chemical processes that increase luster. And also increase the ability to better absorb water and dye.

Polyester or nylon

Sturdy fibers with some stretch. They usually contain a wax or silicone finish. It allows the thread to slide through the fabric with little friction.

Applies to stretchy materials such as synthetics and knits. Cotton polyester yarn can also be used with most materials.

kind, thread, need, sewing


You can use this type for machine sewing as well as hand sewing. It will work with most materials. It is durable, yet stretchy, which makes it ideal for knitting.

A variety of polyester fibers are recycled yarns. Environmentally friendly, it is made of one hundred percent recycled polyester. It is as strong as polyester thread, with the same tension. Therefore can be used for the same projects. Recycled plastic bottles are used to make it; one bottle is about a thousand meters.


Elastic thread comes in different colors, but is used only in the bobbin. It must be wound by hand to get the right tension.


Fine but strong, ideal for silk and wool. Silk thread is smooth and thin, so it doesn’t leave holes in the fabric, and is ideal for sewing, especially for work seams. Gloss makes it ideal for decorative stitching.

Highly popular is the domestic brand “Gamma”, the products of this company are most accessible to the general consumer. Mikron and Nitka types are most commonly used for knitwear.

Mikron is a durable polyester, used for clothing, footwear, leather goods. Smooth texture allows for even and tight machine stitching. There are 912 m (1000 yards) on spools. Available in 60 colors.

Nitka. made of 100% silicone-coated polyester, resistant to wear and tear, available for sewing and overlock edging. 4570 m (5000 yds) are wound on reels. There are 242 colors in the palette.

German company ALTERFIL produces the product according to the special system Eko-Tex-Standart 100 and DIN EN ISO 9001: 2008. 100% polyester threads, available in several styles.

Reinforced is available with an “S” mark and is used for the production of high quality lightweight and outerwear.

Textured with the letter “B” is used for sewing and processing of knitted garments, there are varieties for very thin fabrics and universal sewing.

Elastic. very elastic in texture: stretchable by 55-62%, used for stretch fabrics, sewing tracksuits, underwear, swimwear.

Dip 20 semi is perfect for creating flat seams, available in 20 colors, with a characteristic soft glossiness.

Brilliant is a viscose stitch, often used for decorative seams. For stitching underwear or lightweight stretch fabrics.

The following brands are available for overlock sewing.

  • Coatsm, Nitex, Veritas. these are universal options, suitable for overlock and regular machine.
  • Nitex, DH, RainBow have a soft, stretchy, overlock-friendly thread, and their colors are huge.
kind, thread, need, sewing

How to make the right choice?

Overlock yarns are based on thickness and other features of the material itself. The range of thread sizes can vary from 50 to 120, for thin fabrics it is best to use the thinnest thread, for thicker, otherwise the integrity of the seam can be compromised, as the thread will be rubbed against the dense material and its rough edge.

When selecting threads, you need to assess them visually, try them for strength, and check the manufacturer. If the product makes an unpleasant impression, tears when pulled, and gathers in a lump when passed with the fingers, it is better to refuse such a purchase. To avoid buying a low-quality product, you should pay attention only to proven products of well-known brands, which include:

  • Amann Mettler. offers a range of translucent and transparent threads, in addition, there is a universal product, which is equally well used both in the sewing machine and overlock (the products also have textured threads, which are best for work with knitwear, due to their soft and delicate structure);

Foreign manufacturers specialize in producing the highest quality overlock threads, which are used by professional seamstresses. If you need a simpler option, the products of domestic manufacturers provide reliable and good threads, which will cope with the task, but will have a smaller set of positive qualities and their service life may be shorter.

SINGER START 1304 Sewing Machine. Threading

kind, thread, need, sewing

When stitching some material, you should use thread in appropriate shades so that the finish isn’t too noticeable, and the edge treatment looks as natural as possible. In addition to color preference, it is important to maintain the unity of structure and thickness, otherwise there are problems with the tension, and the seam comes out uneven and ugly.

To minimize the visibility of the overlock stitch, you can use semi-transparent and transparent threads, which merge with the material and become invisible.

There are several varieties of overlock threads.

  • For carpeting. overlocking provides an opportunity to reinforce the edges of the carpet or carpeting, preventing it from crumbling and unraveling the edges. In this case, a special loop stitch is used, and unnecessary edges are cut off in the process. Carpet overlocks have a good power output and processing speed can reach over 3,000 stitches per minute. Filaments in this case are used polypropylene, in some cases it is allowed to use kapron varieties.

To choose the right thread for your overlock machine, you need to consider the following factors:

  • The type of material to be worked;
  • the version of the needle that will be used in the work;
  • The amount of work to be done;
  • budgeted for the sewing of the product.

By analyzing all the factors and selecting the right thread in color, construction, and thickness, you can successfully overcast the edges and seams, obtaining the desired result.

Why choosing the right needle and thread is important?

If you have sat at least once at a sewing machine, you have probably noticed that a machine needle, unlike a hand needle, has a more complex structure. If you look closely, you will see that the front of the machine needle has a long groove (see the machine needle in the diagram below). Figure. 2. Construction of a machine needle). This is the groove where the thread is placed when sewing. Look at Figs.1 A-B-C, it shows a section of the needle when viewed from above (the top view of the needle in the section) and the thread.

With the right balance between needle and thread, the thread must fit into the groove to produce good quality stitches (see “Thread Thread Safety” on page 54). Figure. 1А).

If the needle is too thick, the thread will be too loose in the groove and the stitches may be skipped and the thread damaged (Fig. 1B).

A needle that is too thin will not allow the thread to lie in the groove, the thread will rub against the edge of the groove, which can lead to thread breaks (fig. 1C).

IMPORTANT! For quality machine stitching, the fabric and thread must match the machine needle number.

For light materials, use fine threads (embroidery thread) and a 0-75 needle. For medium-density materials, use sewing threads and needle 0-90. For heavy fabrics, use thicker threads and needle 00, 110,120.

When purchasing machine needles, pay attention to the markings on the machine needle package and the needle itself.

Specialty threads

Specialty threads exist for a variety of purposes. A few already mentioned above, but still ask in your local stores or at fabric shows, something new is coming out all the time. Here are some of them.

Glow in the dark thread

As the name already says, the thread glows in the dark, and is very interesting for innovative techniques in the embroidery or for outlining patterns on fabrics. Such an effect will not go unnoticed!

Such threads can be used for creation of unusual shapes in clothes and decorations. From the temperature of the iron such a thread shrinks, which gives a wrinkled effect to the fabric.

Water-soluble thread is used as ordinary thread, but dissolves without trace in water or on contact with steam. You can use them for temporarily joining details, for sewing on patch s, pleating, and for quilting and appliqué.

The main requirements for sewing threads: strength, elasticity, even twist, uniform thread thickness, resistance to abrasion, no rips and knots in the bobbin, color strength; for synthetic thread. heat resistance for use in high-speed machines.

  • Choose a good quality thread for every garment and save vintage spools. Old threads will deteriorate much sooner than modern fabrics, so you may need to repair the product, and thread is just right.
  • Choose appropriate needles (hand and machine) to thread and fabric. For example, machine needles are made for metallic thread and have an eye that won’t cut the thread, while “wool embroidery” needles have a long eye and are designed to work with embroidery thread.
  • Match your threads by composition. use cotton with cotton, polyester with synthetic fabrics, and silk with silk and wool.
kind, thread, need, sewing

You’ll find even more useful sewing tips on the website of Anastasia Coati’s Sewing School. Subscribe to free news and sew fashionable clothes with us!

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