Sewing Machine Threads: Your Guide to Buying The Best Thread For the Job

Wondering which thread is best for your sewing machine? You machine is important but so is the thread you sew your projects with.

Using the right type of thread for the right garment and machine has a substantial impact on the quality and strength of the stiches you make, and this affects the overall quality of any item you sew.

Our guide will help you find the best thread for your sewing machine and fabric. We sieved through hundreds of thread brands so you won’t have to.

Best Sewing Machine Threads

We usually have a list of products in this section and discuss their qualities to help you make a choice. We will have a list of our favorite sewing threads at the end of this section, but we want to start by discussing the various types of threads, and picking the right type of thread for the project you want to work on.

So, strap in, read this section carefully, and take a look at our recommended products at the bottom of this page.

Types of Sewing Machine Threads

Threads can be classified into three broad categories depending on the type of material they are made from. You can then further classify the threads in the various categories based on strength and thickness.

The three broad types of threads include:

Cotton Threads

Cotton threads are suitable for projects that require very little stretching. They work great with delicate fabrics like cotton or lightweight fabrics like sheer. This is because cotton threads have no give, so they’ll break if you use them to sew stretchy fabrics.

Cotton threads usually undergo a finishing process known as mercerization, which is a chemical process that strengthens the thread and give it a glossy look. This process also increases the threads ability to absorb water and dye, which reduces the likelihood that it would run when washed.

Polyester and Nylon (Synthetic) Threads

These are highly durable threads with some give. This type of thread will typically have a silicone or wax coating that gives them a sleek and glossy finish. They go through the fabric with almost no resistance, which means they are less likely to damage your fabric when sewing.

They are ideal for sewing projects that use stretchy fabrics. Some polyester threads are wrapped in cotton, making them ideal for sewing all types of fabrics.

Custom (Specialist) Threads

They also make threads from other materials like rayon, wool, and silk. You should use these threads to sew their corresponding fabrics.

Essential Guide on Buying The Right Thread For Your Sewing Machine Projects

You’ve bought your sewing machine, fabrics, and you’re ready to go. The question is, which sewing thread should you use for your project? The thread you end up using makes a substantial impact on the quality of the items you make. This is something most experienced or trained sewers are aware of but maybe a foreign concept for beginners. By the way, you should check out our beginner’s sewing machine guide to help you buy the right sewing machine as a beginner.

With so many brands of sewing machine threads on the market, it can be a struggle to figure out the right one to buy for your project. Of course, you’d want one that matches the color scheme you’re after, but more importantly, you want to pick one that works well with the thickness and elasticity of the fabric.

Picking the right thread will determine the quality of your finished items more often than not, so make sure you get it right before you begin making stitches.

How to choose the right thread

Most people go with an all-purpose thread for most of their projects. And this is fine as long as you’re working with the most common fabrics out there.

Things change when you need to sew stretch and heavyweight fabrics like canvas, lycra, upholstery, and leather. We recommend that you use a thread made from the same material as the fabric in such cases. In fact, this is the rule of thumb for every type of fabric you work on.

So, if you’re working with 100% polyester, then choose a polyester thread with a similar thread weight as the fabric. We explain how to read a thread spool below.

The sewing pattern will sometimes come with instructions that specify the type and weight of sewing thread required for the project. The color of thread you use is a personal choice, but we prefer using one that as close to the color of the fabric as possible.

How to read the thread spool

When you buy a spool of thread, the end of the spool contains a trove of information. These include the brand, fiber content, and color number. Some spools will also indicate the thread weight (thickness) and the number of strands (plies) spun together to make the thread.

Threads for various types of projects

All-purpose polyester threads

This type of thread is made from 100% polyester and is suitable for both machine and hand stitching. They come in every color you can imagine, and are suitable for almost all types of fabric. They are durable, but elastic, which makes them an ideal thread for knitted fabrics like jersey and fleece. They work with needle sizes 70 to 90.

Environmentally conscious sewers may want to go for a recycled polyester thread, which is made with 100% recycled PET bottles. They make about one kilometer of thread from just a single PET bottle. These threads are just as strong, durable, and stretchy as those made from non-recycled materials. It is a great way to sew beautiful items while also helping to save our planet.

Topstitching thread

We recommend using a 100% polyester thread for topstitching. You need this type of stitching to be strong, and the polyester thread fits this requirement.

This thread also makes an excellent choice for decorative stitches like topstitching. They are colorful, glossy, and elastic, which are all good attributes of a decorative thread. Topstitching threads tend to be thicker than regular polyester threads, so use them with 100 to 120 needle sizes.

Heavy-Duty sewing threads

As the name suggests, they are suitable for sewing heavy-duty fabrics and multiple layers of fabrics. As such you’ll use them for projects that involve materials like leather, canvas, vinyl, upholstery, etc. So, they are well suited for sewing furniture upholstery, tents, tarpaulin, etc.

You should also use them when sewing denim, khaki, and other items that require very strong seams. Use them with needle sizes 70 to 100.

Cotton 50 threads

This is one of the most commonly used threads for sewing machines. You can class the size 50 as “medium thickness.” So, if it were a font, it would be the semi-bold font between regular and bold. You can use it with a wide variety of fabrics like linen and sheer fabrics. It has very little elasticity, so it is not suitable for stretch fabrics like lycra. Use it with size 60 to 80 needles.

Cotton 30 threads

They are suitable for quilting with a sewing machine, you can also use it for embroidering. You can get them in different colors, including multicolored ones. Works with needle sizes 80 to 90.

Jeans Threads

This thread is designed for heavy duty sewing machines. It is ideal for sewing items made from denim, such as jeans pants. Jeans threads work with any type of stitches, such as straight, zigzag, topstitch, and overlocks. You can get it in a variety of colors, and it works with needle sizes 80 to 100.

Silk thread

This thread is ideal for sewing with silk and wool. It doesn’t damage fabrics because of how smooth and delicate they are. It is strong and durable despite its fine nature. Silk threads make an excellent choice for tailoring and for making beautiful decorative topstitching. It works well with needle size 80 needles.

Elastic threads

These are great for shirring fabrics. You can get them in a wide variety of colors. This is a bobbin thread so do not use it as your main spool. You want to use one as close to the fabric color as possible because the stitching will be visible on the outside of the fabric.

Metallic threads

These threads are typically for sewing decorative stitches, making them ideal for embroidering. They usually make them from a combination of polyester and some other synthetic fibers Metallic threads are also ideal for making ornamental stitches on garments and upholstery. You can get them in a wide variety of colors, and they work with size 100 to 110 needles.

Overlock threads

They come on large spools because overlocking stitches require more thread than regular stitching. They are made for serger or overlock sewing machines. They work with size 60 to 80 needles.

Invisible threads

These threads are ideal for making seams where the stitching needs to be invisible. They are durable but stretchy and fine. You can get them in a light or dark color depending on the color of the fabric you’re working on. Invisible threads work well as top or bobbin threads. Use them with a size 60 needle.

Recommended threads – what are the best?

We recommend the best threads for sewing machines in this section. Go through and pick one that works well with your project, or you can just buy every one of them for your collection.

Cotton Sewing Threads

Polyester sewing threads