Sew Much Thread, So Little Time: Choosing the Right Thread for Sewing Machines

June 21, 2022

You've just brought home your brand new sewing machine. Naturally, you can't wait to start sewing all sorts of projects, but there's one small problem: you have no idea what kind of thread to use!

There are so many different types of thread out there, and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which one is the right one for your sewing machine. Using the wrong type of thread can cause problems, from the machine jamming up to the stitches not looking right. But don't worry, we're here to help.

If you're not sure what type of thread to use for your sewing machine, it's important to research before you start sewing. In this article, we'll teach you everything you need to know about choosing the right thread for your machine.

Types of Thread for Sewing Machines

There are different classifications of threads according to fiber and their uses. Therefore, we've created a list of highly used threads for you to decide which type best fits your sewing machine.

thread for sewing machine cotton spool

Cotton Thread

If you are going to sew on light to medium weight fabric, we highly recommend using 100% cotton thread for sewing machines. This thread is perfect for various sewing projects as it has a smooth finish and no stretch. In addition, the heat-resistant property ensures that you can press your work with a hot iron without worrying about damaging the thread. 

Polyester Thread

Polyester threads are a great choice for sewing any fabric because they can stretch and give, perfect when you need your seams tight or loose. Polyester doesn't produce any lint either. These qualities make it an excellent option over cotton thread for sewing machines. 

Nylon Thread

Nylon is a strong synthetic thread used in a variety of applications. You can work with this thread on different projects, including on heavy fabrics used in home décor. In addition, nylon is used to manufacture carpets, furniture, and automobile upholstery. The thread's high tensile strength makes it ideal for these applications. You can use this versatile, thick thread in a variety of applications requiring a strong, durable thread.

All-Purpose Thread

This thread type is an amazing blend of polyester and cotton, which you can use to sew any fabric type. The stretchy nature coming from the polyester helps with high heat when pressing your garment, while the softer fibers, thanks to 100% cotton, gives it a smoother appearance.

Metallic Thread

The use of metallic threads in sewing is a great way to create beautiful embellishments, embroidery, and quilting. You'll need a metallic needle and low sewing speed to avoid your threads breaking when using this. 

Silk Thread

Silk threads have a beautiful shine and can be used for all fabrics, but it's best known as an excellent sewing companion when working with delicate materials like silks or finely woven cotton. The thread size range on most sewing machines is 50–60. However, some specialty brands require smaller eyelet needles due to their tighter twist rate (which produce more tension). 

Rayon Thread

Rayon thread is perfect for adding a touch of luxury to your sewing projects. It has a beautiful finish that can look like silk, making it ideal for embroidering, topstitching, and monogramming. Though, it is important to note that rayon is extremely delicate and is more likely to break. 

Wooly Nylon

If you're looking for a thread that can handle stretchy fabric and still provide a soft, yarn-like feel, then wooly nylon is the thread for you. This textured nylon thread is specifically designed to expand and contract with tension, making it ideal for use with knit fabrics, activewear, swimwear, and more. But, to use this type of thread, you’ll need a serger.

wooly nylon thread on a serger

How to Pick the Perfect Thread for Your Sewing Machine

Sewing threads need to be strong enough to hold the fabric together, smooth enough so it doesn't damage the fabric, and consistent in diameter so it doesn't create uneven stitches. With so many different types of threads available, picking the right one will take a whole day in the shop. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing thread for your next sewing project.

Fabric Type

Any experienced sewer knows that the type of thread you use is just as important as the fabric you're working with. Different fabrics require different thread types to create a strong, durable seam. 

For example, a heavy-weight brocade will need a stronger thread than a piece of lightweight cotton fabric. Similarly, thread for knits needs to be able to stretch a little bit to accommodate the fabric's movement. Thicker, durable fabrics call for a thicker thread to create a strong seam that can hold up to wear and tear. 

Thread Color 

Are you choosing your threads between light and dark colors? Thread colors will depend on the look and purpose you are going for. Are you repairing a pair of ripped jeans? Or are you quilting decorative stitching? Choose a matching color if you want the sewing thread to blend in with the fabric. On the other hand, if you want the sewing thread to stand out and make a statement, choose a contrasting color. We recommend looking at your fabric and your sewing thread in daylight instead of artificial lighting, as the colors look entirely different in natural light.

Sewing Machine

Sewing machines differ in their type of application. Even industrial sewing machines can vary in their capabilities, with some being designed specifically for applications like embroidery. However, selecting the right sewing thread for your machine is critical to avoid malfunction. The wrong sewing thread can cause skipped stitches, broken needles, and other problems. Fortunately, there are many different types of sewing threads available, so you should be able to find one that works for your machine.


So, what kind of thread should you use in your sewing machine? First, ask yourself what kind of project you'll be doing. Do you want durable stitching? Do you need to repair, quilt, or embroider? All-purpose thread will do just fine for general use, but certain fabrics or projects are better suited to other thread types. 
If you want to get a little more specific with your thread choice, check out some of our other guides for tips and tricks on how to perfect your sewing skills. Happy stitching!

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