Cotton and cotton-covered polyester are common sewing threads. Each has a unique quality, pitfall and benefit to add to whatever your sewing project is. Knowing the difference can expand your sewing style and detail work of the project.
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Cotton Thread (Mercerized)
All-cotton thread is the oldest type of thread available. It is made from long staple cotton that is processed, spun and treated via a chemical bath to give it its trademark sheen. Cotton thread comes in different weights for embroidery, quilting, sewing and carpets and buttons. Pure cotton thread can take dye and it is anti-static. Cotton thread is mostly used for heirloom stitching on everything from quilts to clothing.
Cotton Thread Pitfall
Pure cotton thread cannot stand repeated washings in hot water. Even cold water will eventually break it down and the thread shrinks.
Cotton-Covered Polyester Thread
Cotton-covered polyester has the best of both worlds. It has the softness of pure cotton, dye acceptance and a sheen so it's smooth for sewing both by hand and machine and it is anti-static. Polyester thread is spun in a single strand so it has stretch. And because it's not natural it resists shrinking and stretches and does not degrade even after washing.
Cotton Covered Thread Pitfall
Some lower-priced versions shred when it is being used and will leave broken threads in seams if the tension and needle are wrong. Choose a high-quality name brand covered thread.
Glace thread is specially treated for upholstery, high stress and outdoor use. It's a thicker thread and is available in both cotton and cotton-covered polyester.
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