Sewing Thread: 101

If you’ve ever encountered wavy seam lines or popped stitches, your thread could be to blame. This guide will help you decide which thread is best for your projects.

All-Purpose Thread

While there are a lot of types of thread to choose from, the good news is that most sewing projects simply require all-purpose thread. It’s suitable for both hand and machine sewing. All-purpose thread is also strong as it’s made from polyester but it still retains the matte look of cotton thread.


Silk thread is a natural fiber made primarily from silkworms. It’s strong and elastic. It’s best used for silk and other sheer and delicate fabrics.


Cotton is a natural fiber which makes this thread suitable for natural wovens. It’s advised to avoid cotton thread for fabrics with some stretch. If using with cotton fabric, keep in mind that the thread shrinks as the fabric does, so, wash finished garments with care.


Polyester is made of synthetic fibers and is classified as a plastic material. It’s produced through a chemical reaction which results in strong thread that retains its shape and can withstand high washing machine speeds. For these reasons, it’s a great choice for synthetic fabrics or fabrics with some stretch.



Rayon is shiny, strong, and lightweight. It has a soft hand and is often used for machine embroidery and free-stitching. It is known to be lint free and able to withstand temperatures of up to 203 degrees.


This fabric comes in a variety of fiber types. You can use it for anything you want to add a little extra something to.


Metallic thread comes in various textures and colors. It’s shine is partly from being produced using aluminum fibers. It’s commonly used for machine embroidery and can be used to add finishing touches to projects. Metallic thread is also available as an iron-on.


This thread is white but changes color in the sun. It’s main use is embroidery.


This thread is a type of nylon that’s made up using a single filament (as it’s name suggests). It’s great for invisible seam lines and works well with just about any fabric.

Heavy Weight


Heavyweight polyester is very strong and durable which makes it a good choice for projects involving denim, work garments, and flannel. It’s also heat-resistant and can withstand chemical damage.


Upholstery thread is 100% nylon making it resistant to sunlight, abrasion, and chemicals. The strength of this thread makes it suitable for working with vinyl, leather, canvas, and decor fabrics.



This thread is UV resistant and doesn’t retain water. Individual yarns may be made 50 or more filaments. This makes the thread strong, smooth, and flexible. For these reasons, it’s commonly used for outdoor purposes.


Nylon is similar to continuous multifilament thread. It’s lightweight, flexible, and strong making it suitable for heavyweight fabrics, fabrics with a lot of stretch, or projects with little ease (such as swim suits or yoga pants).

Other Thread Types


As its name suggests, this thread will dissolve in water. It can come in handy for temporarily holding fabrics and batting together securely while you sew in the permanent stitches.


Elastic thread is great for ruffles, gathering and shirring or any projects that require some stretch in the stitches.


Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

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