Thread Weight or TEX?

Posted by on September 6, 2017

When using different threads in the needle and bobbin we stand by the rule of using the same or lighter weight thread in the bobbin as is being used in the needle.  Following this rule helps the quilter achieve the best tension.  Since a 40-weight cotton thread has more drag because of the exposed fibers than a 40-weight poly thread I like to refer to the drag a thread has rather than just the weight.  So, a 40-weight cotton thread in the bobbin combined with a 40-weight poly thread in the needle would make good tension more difficult.  It is good to be aware of the fibers in the thread being used as well as the thread weight.

The most common weight of thread is determined by how much thread it takes to weigh a gram.  So, the finer the thread, the larger the number since it will take more fine thread to weigh a gram than a heavier thread.    The thread weight will be noted on the label with a # or wt. followed by its weight, such as #40 or 40 wt.

The TEX system of thread weight askes the question, “How much does 1000 meters of thread weigh?”  So, the heavier the thread, the higher the number.  This is the exact opposite of the weight measurement.  This will be noted on the label as TEX 30, or whatever the TEX measurement happens to be.  TEX 30 and 40 wt. are nearly the same.  TEX measurement is most often used on industrial thread labels.  Some companies note both measurements.

For best tension, consider the drag and the weight of the thread being used in the needle and bobbin.  Happy Quilting!

myrl

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Threads: The long and short of it

Posted by on July 10, 2017

lynn

Hello and thank you for joining our blog!!  These articles are written by our education team members in an effort to enhance your TinLizzie18 quilting experience (“Quilting Without Tears!”) because we at TinLizzie18 are committed to helping quilters of all levels realize their quilting dreams!

Thread is a huge and very important element in quilting, yet I am constantly surprised when quilters tell me “Oh, I just use the same thread all the time.” I assume because of the price or the lack of breakage, or because (they think) it doesn’t matter!!

Quilters, you have spent a great deal of time and money on your quilt tops.  Not using a complimentary thread to finish it off is like going to Tiffany’s, then wrapping the gift in newspaper with string. Really???  I agonize over my choice of thread just as much as I do over my quilting design, or as I did for my choice of just the right fabric, and you should too.  I am not promoting or recommending specific brands of thread, but I am naming some that I am familiar with so that you have something to compare other threads with.  So….here is the basic skinny on threads along with a few tips on tension and needles:

  • Long fibers are less fuzzy (use more tension)
  • King Tut is fuzzy (use less tension)
  • Permacore and Polyester threads are less fuzzy (use more tension)
  • If using Metallic threads on top, loosen top tension and use a smoother thread in bobbin (poly or tri-lobal poly or rayon)
  • If using Slippery top threads (tri-lobal polys or rayons), they are best paired with a cotton or a wrapped poly bobbin (rougher texture, less slippery – So Fine is a good choice).
  • Use thread nets with slippery threads both on the top cone and on the bobbin winding cone.
  • If using Slippery top thread with Slippery bobbin, consider hand tying & burying knots, or taking 7-8 tiny or overlapped stitches to start & stop, otherwise threads will slip until they become loose.  I have experienced even small overstitched starts and stops coming undone when machine washed.
  • Bobbin threads should always be equal to or lighter than the top thread.  Never heavier unless you are doing “bobbin work”.
  • Thread must come off spool or cone according to how it is wound.
    • Cross wound thread should feed up and the off top of cone/spool,
    • Stacked thread (most spools) should feed straight off of the side. You can purchase adaptive products that attach to your Tin Lizzie thread tree and allow the stacked thread spool to unwind properly.
  •  REMEMBER: Slippery threads paired with rougher threads are the best combination.
  • If specialty threads break too often and tension is good, consider using the next larger needle to reduce friction.
  • Make fine adjustments to tension with thread nets and by using extra holes in thread path.

SPECIFIC TIPS FOR SUCCESS WITH TRILOBAL POLY AND OTHER SLIPPERY THREADS

  • USE THREAD NETS ON TOP THREAD AND ON CONE USED TO WIND BOBBIN
  •  USE # 14, 16 OR 18 NEEDLES, BUT TEST FIRST***
  • IF USING IN BOTH TOP AND BOBBIN, YOU WILL HAVE GREATER SUCCESS WITH PREWOUND BOBBINS (AFTER REMOVING BACKLASH SPRING FROM YOUR BOBBIN CASE).  BEST TO HAVE A SEPARATE BOBBIN CASE.
  • IF USING YOUR OWN BOBBINS, REMOVE BACKLASH SPRING & ADD SILICONE ‘M’ SIZE MAGIC GENIE BOBBIN WASHER, AND WIND USING A THREAD NET ON THE CONE.
  • USE THE PIGTAIL
  • MOST PEOPLE LOOSEN THE TENSION, WHEN THEY SHOULD BE TIGHTENING BECAUSE THESE THREADS ARE VERY SLICK.
  • USE TITANIUM OR TEFLON COATED NEEDLE  (TL GROZ BECKERTS ARE TITANIUM)
  • IF USING A TOWA BOBBIN CASE, SETTING SHOULD BE IN RED ZONE (35-45)
  • TOP THREAD TENSION SHOULD FEEL SAME AS ANY OTHER THREAD WHEN PULLING FROM NEEDLE (Have thread above foot.  Foot down.  wrap thread around forefinger and hold thread directly behind eye of needle.  Now apply pressure to thread with thumb.  Needle should deflect very slightly and tug of thread should feel same as any other thread.
  • Other threads can create a “channel” in the eye of the needle, causing SLIPPERY THREADS to fray, so always use a fresh needle for SLIPPERY THREADS.

*** TO TEST NEEDLE: Before putting needle in machine, cut a piece of thread 2-3 feet long.  Thread one end onto needle.  hold one end of the thread up and the other down.  Needle should slide freely along thread.  If it catches at all, or doesn’t slide easily from end to end of the thread, the needle eye is too small or it could have a burr.  Either way, try a different needle.

And last but certainly not least!  Following is a handout given in our TinLizzie18 classes.  This handout was compiled by our head of Education, Myrl Breinholt and is published here with her permission:

 

THREADS

Spun: these threads are made with little fibers tightly twisted together into long strands and then two or more are twisted together to form the thread.  Most common are cotton and polyester.  Cotton fibers are short.  Polyester fibers are very long and must be cut into short lengths before the spinning takes place.  Mettler™ all-purpose polyester, Maxi-Lock™ and Gutterman™ are example of spun threads.

Filament threads: Silk is the only natural filament thread.  All others are man-made.  These fibers are all very, very long and can be made round or in other shapes.  These need little twisting to keep them together. YLI™ Ultra sheen is a good example of continuous filament threads.

Monofilament threads: are made with a single strand of fiber that is stronger and bigger than single strands used in the filament thread.  They are usually clear. Wonder Invisible Thread and Sulky’s™ invisible thread are good example.

Texturized  Threads are also filament thread, but rather than being twisted they are treated with heat and chemical to give them texture and bulk.  Woolly Nylon™ is an example of Texturized thread.

Core threads are combination of filament thread and spun thread.  These feel soft, but are made strong.  Dual duty™ and Signature™ are examples.

Laminate threads are multiple layers of polyester and are bonded together in sheets.  They are cut into tiny strips and wound on to spools forming a flat, shiny thread.

Metallic threads are a combination of materials bonded together for form a bright, colorful decorative thread.  Japanese have been making metallic thread for hundreds of years.  You can tell a good metallic thread by the way it drapes instead of twisting back on itself.

Trilobal Polyester: are extruded through what is called a spinneret.  It has tiny holes in it that the fibers are forced through.  The shape of the holes determines the shape of the thread.  Trilobal thread has three sides that catch the light and make for color filled with luster.  It keeps it color well in heat, light and is not affected by detergents and body oil.  Magnifico™, Fantastico™ and Glide™ are examples of trilobal threads

Weight refers to how long the piece of thread is when it weighs 1 gram.  A thread that weights 1 gram and is 30 meters long is considered a 30 wt thread.  A longer thread, maybe 40 meters long, that still weighs only 1 gram is considered 40 wt and is thinner than the 30 wt.  Weight sizes = the bigger the number, the smaller the thread.

Tex size refers to the weight of 1000 meters of thread.  If 1000 meters of thread weighs 25 grams it is a 25 Tex.  This means that if a thicker thread is 1000 meters it will weigh more, maybe 60 grams.  It is a 60 Tex thread.  Tex size = the bigger the number, the bigger the thread.

INCREASED TWIST
Although it is never printed on labels, thread twist is measured by the number of twists applied per meter. Why is this important? A loosely twisted thread requires less total fiber content, takes less time to produce, and is less expensive to manufacture. “Regular” cotton thread may have as few as 150 twists per meter. (Think of a budget thread that can easily be untwisted by rubbing it between your fingers.) King Tut has almost 7 times as many twists per meter, resulting in a smooth, consistent surface.

FYI
If stored correctly, thread will last many years.  Keep your thread out of direct sunlight and away from open windows.  Sunlight is a thread’s worst enemy.  Too much can make it dry and brittle.  Dust and dirt can build up on thread stored too close to an open window.

As a rule, filament thread, flat thread and metallic thread need much less top tension than cotton.  These threads are much more fragile and many of them have quite a bit of stretch to them as well.  Reducing the top tension on your machine will reduce the number of thread breaks and allow the thread to float on top of the quilt, rather than being pulled too tight.

Finishing:
Soft: only died and lubricated.
Mercerized: treated in a solution to increase is bulk and affinity to receive dye.
Gassed: Passing cotton thread through a flame at high speed to reduce the fuzz.
Glazed: cotton thread are treated with starches and chemicals under heat and then polished to a high luster.
Bonded: treating continuous filament nylon or polyester with a special resin that encapsulates the filaments.  It is a tough smooth coating that adds to the thread’s strength.

Helpful resources:
A Thread of Truth  www.ylicorp.com
Needles and Threads and Bobbins, Oh, My by Nancy Goldsworthy http://www.fil-tec.com/thread
http://www.sulky.com/index_us.php
http://www.superiorthreads.com

I hope this article enhances your quilting experience!

Lynn Bell
TinLizzie18 Educator

 

 

 

 

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