Difference Between Mercerized Cotton & Crochet Thread

Updated July 19, 2017

In 1890 the two-step process of mercerization revolutionised the cotton industry. The mercerization process changes the shape of cotton fibres, creating different properties for the thread which makes mercerised cotton easier to work with and produces a better finished product.


In 1851 John Mercer discovered that treating cotton thread with a caustic soda solution improved the thread's strength. In 1890, Horace Lowe discovered that adding tension to the cotton thread while in the solution increased the thread's lustre and ability to retain dye. These processes are used together in mercerization.

Mercerised Cotton Thread

Mercerised cotton thread, also known as perle or pearl cotton, is a popular choice for crochet because of its lustre and strength. Home decor items such as tablecloths, doilies, bedspreads and curtains have a soft, satiny look and feel. Clothing for adults and children such as blouses, vests, hats, scarves and baby clothes, drape well and feel soft to the touch when made with mercerised cotton.

Crochet Thread

Crochet threads made of cotton, linen, silk, rayon and other fibres are popular because of the variety of colours, textures and thicknesses that are available..

The Difference

The generic term "crochet thread" refers to cotton, silk, and rayon thread used for crochet and includes mercerised cotton. Because of it's smoother finish, mercerised cotton is easier to work with than unmercerized thread.

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About the Author

Since 1984 Vivienne Montague has been writing computer training material and craft instructions. In pre-Windows days, she wrote a computer help and tips column for the Bluffs Monitor, a local newspaper in Scarborough, Ontario. Graduation from a secretarial course at O'Sullivan Business College in Montreal, Quebec, followed graduation from high school.