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The Fine Points of Thread Selection

(April 2007) posted on Sun Apr 01, 2007

Read on to find out about the kinds of threads available and discover the ways in which each can be effectively used.

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By Hajo Voeller

A rayon thread of good quality can be run at more than 1000 stitches/min with no thread breaks in simple designs and is colorfast in wash temperatures of up to 203° F. The 30-weight rayon thread is approximately 50% thicker than rayon #40 and can be used to save on stitches when filling in larger areas. Rayon in 12 weight is the thickest thread available. It's used for fancy outline stitches, special effects, and for serging (finishing).

Polyester is the thread of choice for embroiderers who base their purchasing decisions on cost alone. Polyester thread, which consists of 100% polyester filament, is a less expensive thread than rayon. Polyester is available on 1100-yard spools and 5500-yard cones, and it offers greater tensile strength (the force it can endure before breakage occurs) than rayon. In fact, its strength can be unforgiving when it comes to an intricate design, so tension on the machine will have to be adjusted accordingly. The most significant property of polyester thread is that it can withstand heavy-duty laundering, even in wash water that contains bleach. Polyester thread is available in many colors, and some manufacturers offer Pantone-matched threads. A 60-weight polyester is about 60% thinner than the general use #40 and is used for embroidering small lettering for monograms and for small or fine details. This finer thread provides clarity and definition to a properly digitized design.

Thread is a commodity that can work for or against you. Don't skimp on quality. You want your machines to run at optimum speed, which means minimizing the number of thread breaks. When you factor the time it takes to fix thread that is not running properly, rethread the machine, reposition the garment, and cue up the machine again, you're looking at an accumulation of operator hours that you are paying for while gaining nothing.

Specialty threads add value

Keeping ahead of the competition is as important in the embroidery industry as in any other, and one way to do it is to master specialty threads (Figure 2). Bringing the wow factor to your customers is probably the best way to maintain your lead. Working with these threads requires some patience, practice, and perseverance. Manufacturers can suggest which needle to use and which backing or topping will enhance the appearance of the decorated garment.


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