Buying and Exploring Threads

Posted by on October 6, 2014

From denim-weight threads to the skinny slippery lingerie threads, we thought you’d like to have a little bit of knowledge of the differences and benefits so that you could purchase the threads that will work best for your long arm and your project.

Strength—Take the end of the thread and break it. It should have at least the same standard strength as the regular piecing thread that you buy on the dressmakers spools at the local fabric store.

Ribbed or not ribbed— Run you fingers down the thread and feel for ribs, on the metallic threads especially. Threads that are man made often have a core and then a second winding around the core. The smoother the thread the less breakage you will have.

Shape of the thread cone— If there is no spool or cone for the thread to stand on then the spool was meant to feed off of a horizontal spool holder (you know, the kind with just a little tiny cardboard core.) You would have trouble at the bottom of the cone if it were on a stand without a cone because the thread pulls out from under the thread where it rests and sometimes snags. Some spools or cones are tapered and the thread jumps off the spool in hopping motion. You can take the jump out of the thread at the first 3 hole thread guide on your machine just by using all 3 holes. The cone shape or the way the thread is wound around the cone can sometimes cause this jumping. Also, be aware of the cones with the cut slots for holding the tail of your thread for storage or the coined edges. These rough edges can snag the thread and yank the spool right off of the thread tree. The cure for this is the spool caps. The spool caps fit right on the top of the spool pin on the thread tree and angle the thread away from the spool.

Colorfast—The reds, oranges and deep rich colors have been treated heavily to absorb the dye. Sometimes there is excess. If you hold the thread like dental floss and rub it across a light colored fabric scrap you can see if any color comes off.  If it does, don’t buy it.

Fuzz— Fuzz that you build up on your long arm sometimes has to do with the thread. Sometimes it has to do with the way the thread travels up and down as it sews. Some threads like Gutermann are run over a flame before it is spooled up and that burns off the fuzziness. It is one of the reasons that Guterman is a little more expensive, but sometimes worth it. Keep a paint brush or sewing machine lint brush handy and every time that you change the bobbin brush out the hook. Brush, brush, brush, until no more fuzzies are falling out of the hook.

Stretch— Threads like monofilament and metallic are stretchy; you can see it and feel it just by pulling the thread. You can loosen up on your tensions enough and use less thread guides to keep the thread from stretching. The stretch threads are usually a little weaker but can run on a long arm with the proper adjustments.

Storage and thread aging— Stores are told to rotate their thread stock every 4 months by the thread representative. If they are doing that then the thread that you purchase will be fresh and new. On the other hand we are told by the thread representative that the quality threads will last 200 years in a quilt. Store your thread out of the daylight. Don’t believe all those rumors about rejuvenating your thread after it is all dried out—get rid of the old stuff.

Price— You get what you pay for. If the thread brand as a whole costs a little more then it is probably a really good thread. Of course the industrial threads are made to last also and they are a little better buy.

Brand— The TinLizzie18 accessory box that comes with a TinLizzie18 product will have Superior Thread products in it. This is a quality thread. We also wanted you to know that just because we have just one brand in the box doesn’t mean that is the only brand it will run. The TinLizzie18s run a wide range of threads including fussy metallics.

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