Nylon vs. Polyester Thread

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Threads may all look the same, except for the color difference. Before you buy or use thread for your next project, a look at the different aspects of thread quality will make your crafting experience better. A deeper look at the difference between nylon and polyester thread will help you make the best selection for your project.



Fabric content, type and weight is a key factor when selecting the correct thread quality and type. Poor quality thread will fray, increase breakage and produce more lint. It will also prevent a smooth run through your sewing machine needle and may ruin your tension disc. If you feel some type of fuzz around your thread, this indicates it was produced with short fibers and is considered a weak thread. Note if the thread has a special finish, such as silicone or non-silicone, which may be beneficial for high-speed sewing. Keep in mind how much sewing your project will require when shopping for your thread. Fashion trends affect thread color selection and availability.


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Polyester Thread Function

Polyester or cotton-covered polyester works well for most projects. It is known for its strength, durability, low shrinkage and low stretch. It has a high resistance to sunlight and moisture, provides you with a smooth texture surface and colorfastness. The stretch factor is one of the key differences between polyester and nylon threads. Consider selecting an all-purpose polyester thread which will provide you with strength and elasticity. You may also consider a high-sheen polyester thread for machine embroidery projects. The high-sheen finish will give your project a rich appeal and style. For quilting, choose a cotton-covered polyester thread for its cotton appearance and polyester strength. Egyptian cotton is also popular with quilters.


Polyester Thread Types

Polyester thread comes in a several types. Extra-fine is for lightweight fabrics and for machine embroidery. Regular or all-purpose is for general sewing. Extra-strong is used for buttons, hand sewing heavyweight fabrics and most carpets. The buttonhole twist is suitable for topstitching, hand-worked buttonholes and sewing on buttons. When shopping for polyester thread, keep in mind that there are a variety of thread manufacturers and some are more expensive than others. For example, Gutermann 100 percent polyester thread is one of the most expensive threads, but quality is extremely high.


Nylon Thread Function

Nylon thread is known for it strength, flexibility and stretch. It is also resistant to chemicals, abrasion and sunlight. Nylon thread is used where strength is important, such as activewear, handbags, shoes, leather goods and upholstery. Always keep your fabric type and weight in mind when choosing thread. This is the key to securely sewing your project.


Nylon Thread Types

Nylon thread also comes in a variety of types. For example, if you are sewing a dance costume, bathing suit or other items made out of spandex and Lycra, consider using a woolly nylon thread. It is normally heat set with intense strength, stretch and memory. It is also great for rolled hems and edges, knits and lingerie. Translucent or transparent nylon thread generally comes in clear and smoke. This soft, fine thread blends well and is an excellent choice for top stitching quilts. It also works well for securing decorative stitch, overlock stitching, appliques and hemming garments. This nylon thread type has little stretch. When sewing upholstery, drapery, luggage, wallets, plastics, tarpaulin or vinyl, try working with a high-quality bonded nylon thread. Before purchasing this type, note that you may have to change your sewing needle size. For example, if you select the Conso #69 bonded nylon thread, it is one of the largest size threads available for sewing machine use.



When shopping for notions, ask for a fabric and thread chart. This handy guide contains valuable information, such as fabric type and weight, thread suggestions, as well as hand and machine needle information. If you are a beginner, this chart will be beneficial to your crafting experience.


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