Here is the second part and as promised, I’ll be writing about topstitch thread, rayon, fusible thread, metallic and other threads you may have heard of such as darning cotton. Before we get into that, I did want to mention one thing I had not mentioned in the previous article found here.
There are two very basic types of thread: Natural and Synthetic. Natural thread comes from nature and include cotton, silk, wool, linen, rayon and hemp. Synthetic threads are polyester and nylon. It is worth noting here that natural fibers act differently in different climates, just like your clothes. High UV can discolor dyed cotton, etc. Keep these in mind as I go through some of the more unusual thread below.
Types of Thread Part 2
Rayon: Think embroidery. Because this fiber is not very strong and has no stretch, it is not useful for constructing much of anything really. It is, however very soft, shiny and holds up to very high heat well. Keep in mind this fiber doesn’t hold color very well. Uses: Embroidery floss and machine stitching.
Topstitch: Think visual wow. This term is used for a heavier thread that can be made from any of the previously mentioned types of thread. It’s also handy to use for hand stitching buttonholes on thick or heavy fabric. Uses: Bold statement topstitching on heavier fabric such as leather and vinyl, decorative topstitching and heavy duty utility stitching.
Fusible: Think basting. This is a great thread that has come along recently that can eliminate basting is some projects. It’s not stiff like some other fusible products and fuses with iron heat just like any other. It is typically used in the bobbin and once heated will release the top thread, so make sure that top thread is a slippery thread (i.e. NOT cotton…use some sort of synthetic monofilament). Uses: Applique fusing, patchwork fusing, pocket fusing, or anything you need to hold temporarily in place to top stitch on or adjust for final stitching.
Water Soluble: Think ruffles. So this is another recent addition to the thread family and quite honestly it’s pretty ingenious. Can you imagine no longer pulling basting stitches? Baste. Sew. Wash. Done. It can also be used for many of the same things that the fusible can be used for such as positioning applique’s, patchworks, and outer pockets. Uses: basting and temporary placements prior to final stitching of anything. Washes out.
Metallic: Think decorative. Who doesn’t like shiny? It’s like the nail polish glitter of fabric! The possibilities are endless for decorative stitching. This can be used in a sewing or serger machine. A larger needle should be used and tension adjusted, so make sure you use a test piece of fabric to get it right before final stitching. This thread can be used in all areas of a serger – upper looper, lower looper and any needle. Uses: Any decorative element you can think of from applique, shirring, flatlock, etc.
Darning Cotton: This is a very fine thread used for mending and darning. This thread is used to recreate the weave of the hole that has been created. This can also separate for even finer stitching. For darning socks and the like, you’ll want to use a darning egg or any household item that has the shape of a heel and will resist the poke of a needle. For mending, flat surfaces work fine. Uses: hand stitching method of repairing holes or rips in any fabric.
Elastic: This thread is as it sounds. Meant to be hand wound on the bobbin only. It is used nearly exclusively for shirring or any place you want a good stretch. Uses: Professional look shirring.
That’s a wrap for today. I’ll get part three in a few days. I encourage you to stick with the basics if you’re just starting out. Get comfortable with that and then move on to these. Although, the water soluble thread I would encourage anyone to use. I hope this has helped in your journey to thread usability. The next and final section will clear up the rest. Until next time….
Sew Jam On!