Nylon Vs. Polyester Transparent Thread

Written by karen waggoner
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Nylon Vs. Polyester Transparent Thread
Transparent thread is a boon for quilters who quilt by machine. (quilts image by Christopher Martin from Fotolia.com)

Transparent thread is a joyful discovery for quilters who quilt by machine, whether in patterns or freestyle. It is equally pleasing to anyone who appliques by machine. Both nylon and polyester threads will disappear into the background fabric, making the stitches almost invisible except under very close scrutiny. For machine quilting, invisible thread calls attention to the patterns created by the quilting. In applique, transparent thread makes the process of attaching more fabric on top of a base fabric inconspicuous.

Advantages of Nylon

Transparent nylon thread is strong, can be used in the bobbin and wears well. It disappears just as it is supposed to. It is often used in machine embroidery and machine bead application because of its strength. It can be used to invisibly couch strands of other threads. Woolly nylon thread, a speciality product intended only for sergers, is used almost exclusively to serge decorative edges.

Advantages of Polyester

Polyester transparent thread will perform all the same functions as nylon thread. It is heat-resistant and can be ironed. It will not become abrasive although it will likely last longer than the cotton fabric around it. It does not discolour with age, does not become brittle and is more pliable than nylon. Polyester thread is often bonded--treated to prevent untwisting. This bonding treatment also lubricates the thread for smooth performance and makes the thread less likely to be affected by water and the growth of bacteria.

Disadvantages of Nylon

Nylon thread can melt when ironed or heated. Age can cause nylon thread to deteriorate; it can become brittle and break easily. In time it is possible that transparent nylon thread may take on a yellow or purple hue. Because it is less pliable than polyester, it can be difficult to handle, especially for hand sewing.


Always buy the best quality transparent thread, whether nylon or polyester, that can be found. Selections in reputable quilt shops or from Internet websites devoted to quilting supplies will likely be more dependable than those sold in discount stores. Do not try to use both polyester and nylon threads at the same time. Their performances, whether in needle or bobbin, won't be compatible and will stress the sewing machine or quilting machine.

Polyester Is Better

Overall, polyester transparent thread seems to have more advantages than disadvantages. It will be easier to handle because of its softness and will perform all the functions desired for transparent thread. It is no more expensive than nylon thread, and will last a long time without deterioration. Bonded polyester thread of good quality from a reputable retailer is likely to be more satisfactory than nylon.

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