7 Tips To Choose The Right Thread For Your Fabric

Looking to refill your sewing thread supply? If so, you’re not alone. Sewing machine needles and bobbins are just as essential as those little containers of bobbin thread that you wind around the spools on your machine. It always makes sense to have a healthy supply of these basic tools ready at hand.

You’ll want plenty of extra sewing machine needles and bobbins – even one per colour – for quick replacement when they become dull or broken via frequent use.

And who can argue with having an ample store of spooled and wound thread in assorted colours and weights for all types of projects? Indeed, nothing is more frustrating than running out of thread in the middle of a project!

How To Choose The Right Thread For Your Fabric

Whether you are a long-time sewer, or just learning to sew, this quick guide with seven tips will help you choose the right thread for your fabric.

1.  Choose A Size That Matches Your Fabric

Sewing threads come in different thicknesses called ‘weights’. The weight is usually printed on the label of each spool of sewing thread so it’s easy to identify. It’s important for you not to confuse thread weights with how big or small they are – no matter what their size, thread weights must always match your fabric choice.

For example, fine fabrics like silk and organza can be sewn with an extremely fine thread. They are nearly invisible when sewn on these sheer fabrics, however, the larger threads can easily break or pull out of thinner fabrics due to the delicate nature of the threads.

This will result in your project coming to an end prematurely.

Soft, medium weight fabrics like t-shirt jerseys and denim also need fine threads because the heavier threads make seams bulky. Likewise, medium weight fabrics should be sewn with medium weight threads (like cotton), not heavy ones.

Heavyweight fabric like upholstery or drapes requires thick thread like polyester or metallic braids to prevent them from sagging. In this case, it’s important for you to choose a matching thread thickness for your project otherwise it will come out looking unstitched and messy! 

2.  Examine The Label For More Details

Threads are usually identified by their number or name which is printed on the label of each spool of sewing thread. The lead photo of this blog post shows examples of spools with numbers where the number 6 stands for ‘fine’ thread (for fine fabrics like silk and organza).

70 stands for ‘medium’ weight thread (for soft, medium weight fabrics like t-shirts, cotton twill etc) and 90 stands for ‘heavy weighted’ or thick threads used to sew thicker fabrics like upholstery or drapes.

When using heavyweights in projects involving upholstery or curtains choose heavy threads that are strong enough to prevent them from sagging over time.

3.  Match The Needle Size To The Thread

Just as the needle and thread must match your fabric, so too does the needle size. Always choose a needle to suit your project material – not just because it’s colorful, or you like its shape.

For example: use sharp needles for sewing with silk and organza to prevent them from snagging on heavier fabrics such as denim and curtains; topstitch needles are used by home sewers who wish to create an extra decorative seam finish on denim, heavyweight canvas and leathers; ballpoint / microtex needles are popular choices that work well even on slippery synthetic fibres like spandex etc.

It’s important that you take care of your needles since they can easily bend and rust. Besides, needles should also be chosen according to the weight of your thread. No matter what size your needle is it should never be heavier than the thickness of your thread!

That’s why using a heavy-duty needle with fine threads will make stitching them tricky since there is too much friction between the needle and thread.

4.  Adjust The Stitch Length

To avoid skipped stitches or keep track of where you are up to in your project you need to adjust the stitch length on your sewing machine. There are several reasons for changing the stitch length: * If you wish to sew over thicker fabric use shorter stitches – this will help prevent puckering; if you want stronger seams – especially when working with leather or suede – the stitches need to be shorter, too.

If you want a good posture for sewing heavy fabrics use longer stitches – this will prevent backaches from leaning over your machine. When sewing with fine threads you should use slightly longer stitch lengths since it’s easier to break these delicate threads if the stitching is not secure enough.

The correct stitch length depends on the type of fibre that you are working with – it also varies depending on whether or not your material has a nap (for example velvet). According to Threads Magazine’s July/August 2013 issue “a low-pile velvet demands a much longer stitch than a flat cotton”.

5.  Adjust The Stitch Width

Just as the thread and needle weight must match your fabric, so too does the stitch width on your sewing machine. 

If you need a good posture for sewing heavy materials chooses slightly wider stitches – this will prevent backaches from leaning over your sewing machine. When using fine threads you should use slightly narrower stitches since it’s easier to break these delicate threads if the stitching is not secure enough.

6.  Cut Off The Excess Thread

Always cut off the excess thread as close to the stitching as possible – don’t leave ‘tails’ dangling loose because they can get caught or twisted inside your garment! If there are multiple colours of thread on a single bobbin, wind them all up together and snip them off one by one after a few uses instead of resorting to cutting strands one at a time.

 7.  Use A Zigzag Stitch To Finish Your Edges

A zigzag stitch is one of the most important stitches because it’s used to finish edges after cutting fabric, stabilize seam allowances or sew elastic etc. The wider your stitch size, the more stable your seams will be because you’ll have fewer skipped stitches. The stitch length should just about cover all the fabric edges in order for them to look smooth when viewed from both sides. After stitching use scissors to trim off any excess threads – don’t pull on them because this may damage the fabric!


To achieve the best results when sewing it is important that you choose the right needle and thread. Never use a heavy-duty needle for sewing with fine threads and always ensure that thicker materials are sewn using stitches that are slightly longer than your fabric.

Remember to adjust the stitch length to suit different weights of thread, fabrics and the type of stitching task at hand. If you follow these seven tips then all your seams will be neat, sturdy and durable!

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