Buying Guide: Sewing & Quilting Thread

Buying Guide: Sewing & Quilting Thread

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Skill Level:
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What to Know When Buying Thread

There are several types of thread. The project that you are working on will typically dictate the type of thread you will need. In most cases, you will need to use an all-purpose thread.Sulky Thread

JOANN carries 3 major brands of thread – Coats & Clark, Gutermann, and Sulky®.                 

Sulky® is used for machine embroidery. It's decorative thread is made from rayon and is not for Gutermann Threadbasic sewing. Coats & Clark and Gutermann both offer all-purpose sewing thread along with machine embroidery thread and several other specialty threads.

Thread Types:

All-Purpose ThreadAll Purpose - polyester or cotton wrapped polyesterCoats & Clark Thread
• Strong with a bit of give
• Suitable for most machine and hand sewing projects

Cotton - strong with no give and has a silky finish
• Suitable for basic machine or hand sewing projects
• Not suggested for sewing knits


Hand Quilting - 100% natural mercerized cotton
• Strong with a silk-like luster for HAND quilting
• Coated so it slides easily through layers of fabric

Machine Quilting - 100% cotton thread
• Strong with a silk-like luster suitable for machine sewing
• Especially good for long arm machine quilting

Silk - fine and often used for embroidery
• Ideal for sewing silk, wool and basting all fabrics
• Does not leave holes and is very flexible

Heavy Duty / Upholstery / Strong Outdoor - 100% polyesterGutermann Thread
• Perfect for sewing upholstery, vinyl, leather, and heavyweight fabrics
• Strong Outdoor thread is UV resistant for sewing items that are used outdoors

Jeans or Top Stitch - heavy-duty polyester or cotton covered polyester
• Used for decorative seams and ornamental stitches
• Change to a topstitching needle and larger needle size to accommodate the thicker thread.

Button & Carpet – strong and heavy hand sewing thread
• Coated to prevent tangling

Machine Embroidery - either rayon or polyester, for decorative uses
• Good sheen and very smooth
• Should NOT be used for construction of garments

Invisible / Transparent - either nylon or polyester
• Strong but nylon thread is not heat resistant (a hot iron could melt it)
• Can become brittle from laundering and exposure over time
• Comes in clear and smoke colorations
• Typically used when you don’t want the thread to be noticeable
• Can be a little difficult to work with

Metallic Thread

Metallic - used for decorative stitching or embroidery
• Can be used for hand or machine sewing
• Breaks easily.
• Try using Sewer’s Aid when sewing with metallic thread

Elastic - thread with fine elastic within it.
• Used for smocking or shirring


Other Tips:

• Thread should match the fabric in most cases. If you can’t find an exact match, select a color one or two shades darker.
• Darker shades blend in more and lighter shades stand out more
• When sewing a stretchy fabric such as a knit or spandex fabric, use polyester thread as it has some give to it.
• Do not use hand-sewing thread in the machine; it is for hand-sewing only.
• In most cases, the same thread should also be used in the bobbin. For machine embroidery, there is special bobbin thread that comes in black and white. When using top stitching thread, all-purpose thread is often used in the bobbin. But when sewing heavy duty items (canvas and upholstery) the heavier thread should be used for both the needle and the bobbin.

Looking for More? Shop these products below.

• Needles
• Bobbins
Bobbin Thread (if doing machine embroidery)
Thimbles (if purchasing hand quilting thread)