Saturday, September 10, 2011

sometimes learning is exciting and cool, other times it sucks nasty stuff

What kind of thread should be used for which kind of sewing?
This is a mystery that I've been working through by trial and error. Surprisingly I've found rather little information about it. Today however, this free download popped into my email inbox and has shed some light on the matter. (It's quite a good little e-book of sewing tips.)
Wish I'd seen it before some of my recent sewing with knits.
See, I've been drawn to cotton thread. I love me a natural fibre, and no-one seemed to be giving me compelling reasons to use something else. Besides, mightn't polyester thread potentially melt under a hot iron?
So anyway I sewed this with cotton thread:
Fig. Aaargh

That's twin needle stitching on the bottom hem of this top, which despite the wonky stripes and thanks to some encouraging comments - thank you! - I finished up and have been wearing a lot.
However. A couple of times in the putting-on or taking-off of this top I've heard that dreaded snap! of a thread being stretched to breaking point. See Fig. A above.
And now I realise that cotton thread has a lot less strength than polyester, and is not really the best option for sewing fabrics with stretch.
Silk thread is apparently very strong and has some natural give in it. I've always wondered what silk thread might be for. My local store doesn't sell it but I've seen a large bank of Gutermann silk thread at Spotlight. Is it really pricey? The hedonist in me rather likes the idea of sewing with silk thread.
Also in the sucky department is the fact I used cotton thread for my beloved Miz Mozelle, and when I was reaching around in the car to strap Clem into his seat, I heard that horrid snap! again.
Fig. Bummer
I guess the bias tape has more give in it than my cotton thread. (See Fig. B.)
What kinds of thread do you use? I'd love to hear some other opinions and advice, especially since I am keen to sew a lot more knits.
To end on a less frustrating note, here is a photo of some gingerbread, decorated entirely by Clem and his friend Summer from across the road. I was rather proud of my calm restraint in standing back and letting two three-year-olds slop coloured sugar about.

Totally worth it.

- Jane x

PS - I'm adding this a few days later in case anyone reading may find it useful - I just found this which suggests using woolly nylon thread in the bobbin when doing a twin needle stitch on knit fabrics. I will have to try that, along with polyester thread, and maybe I'll have better luck with my hems.


  1. Can't really help you with that one Jane. I thought the snapping problem was caused by using the wrong kind of stitch not the wrong kind of thread. For example, using a zig-zag stitch on seams which are likely to get stretched. This seems to work but obviously doesn't look as pretty, especially on a hem. I think the solution is an overlocker!

  2. I know my mum swears be her polyester thread. I find that cotton even snaps while I'm sewing so I steer away from it these days. Though I love natural fibres, I think this is the one case where polyester is better.

  3. That is Gingerbread Art. Absolutely stunning. Jackson Pollack would be drooling (hehe, I crack myself up) with envy and/or hunger.

    I do think polyester is stronger than cotton, but of course, no thread will hold up if it's under pressure from stretchy bias and knit. Not sure about silk thread, though - that's Advanced Sewing, ala Gertie's blog, and a bit beyond me, I'm afraid.

  4. Thanks ladies! I am still mystified by the silk thread thing. Why does it exist... except to sound exotic and like something you need to belong to some inner sanctum of sewing to understand?

  5. silk thread is used in embroidery, especially in Chinese embroidery

    1. Thanks Helly - and from what I have gathered more recently it seems some people use it for hand-sewing garment details where a very fine (closest to invisible) thread is preferred for the tidiest finish. I still haven't found an excuse for buying & using any silk thread yet though!


Hey, I would really love to know what you think. Go on!

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