Hints and Tips on Threads

Choosing the right thread? With today’s choice being endless it can be unnecessarily confusing. The simple plain facts are all we need to concentrate on! We can break it down into two sections.

  1. Colour
  2. Type of thread-size and composition



Colour, when choosing the colour Plain fabric: Choose one shade lighter. Multi coloured fabrics choose the most prevalent colour. The exception to the rule? If you want to have the stitching as a feature, in that case its over to you! Choose a stand out colour!


When deciding on thread type we need only concern ourselves with thickness and composition, that is, cotton threads, nylon threads, metallic threads, polyester threads, silk threads, rayon threads.

Let’s start with thickness.

Around the world two measurement types are primarily used Alpha and numeric. Alpha starts at A (fine) to D (heavy). Numeric -50 a medium thread such as a cotton, as the number rises the finer the thread such as silk. Most commonly used in every day sewing are polyesters, cotton or a combnation of the two,polycotton. Polyester is good for synthetic products and stretch fabrics. Cotton wrapped Polyester is a good generic thread for most fabric, man made or natural. As a rule most day to day sewing can be achieved well with a 40 or 50 thread.

Machine Needles

What Needle?

Needle choice will make or break your project and if we get caught up in all the technical details of needles it could break us:)

Let’s break it down into simple parts.

  1. Needle Size
  2. Needle Type
  3. Parts of the Needle


Needle size

If you look at the chart below you can see there are two size systems in operation, European and American. Copy this and print off as a ready reference for your use. We often see manufacturers label 9/65 or 65/9 don’t get confused it is the same as the chart below. Choose your needle size according to the fabric, the finer the material the finer the needle!

Look at the chart for approximate needle size to match fabric!

Needle type

Sharp Point needle or regular sharp point needle.

Ideal for woven fabrics; will give you an even stitch, good for top stitching reduces ruffle or puckering. No suitable for wool or knit fabrics, its sharp pointed end will slice the yarns. Available in sizes 65/9 to 110/18

Ball Point needle

With a rounded point the Ball point needle is ideal for knit fabrics and most elastics fabrics. The rounded end pushes between fabric yarns; the stitch tends not to be as straight as a needle point. Avalable in sizes 65/9 to 100/16.

Universal Needle or mutlipurpose needle.

The universal needle has a sharp point that is ever so slightly rounded. Suitable for both woven and knit fabrics. Not the best choice for sewing.

Wedge point needle or leather needle.

Deigned for leather and vinyl, not for synthetic leathers or suedes, use standard needles for these products. This needle pierces a neat clean hole that closes around thread.

Available sizes 75/11 to 110/18

There are also needles for Denim, embroidery, metallic stitch and many more that will be covered in projects in the member’s area as we proceed.


Interfacing is a fusible (heat binding) or or sew in fabric used to shape, strengthen and stiffen fabric. Examples of places you would use interfacing with dressmaking would be:

  • cuffs
  • opening edges lapels
  • necklines
  • pockets
  • collars
  • waistbands.

When researching interfacing you will find advice to use a slightly lighter weight than the face fabric you are working with.

Not always!: There are many instances when we need to use heavy weight interfacing. See our members area in upcoming months for practical demonstrations!

Types of Interfacing

There are interfacings for furnishings, drapes, quilts and so much more. There are plain colours as well as a variety of printed products. Produced in both woven and non woven form, sew-in or fusible. The fabric as well as personal choice will decide which you use.

  • Sew-In When using a fabric that does not take heat sew-in is ideal. Adds stability while maintaining a degree of the natural fall and flow of fabric.
  • Fusible When you need just that touch more stiffness fusible is best. Fusible bonds with fabric!
  • Stretch Interface: provides support to elastic and knitted fabrics.
  • Leather and fur interface: yes there is an interfacing product for use with real or imitation leather and fur!! Provides a small degree of stiffness to garment. Hunt it out if your retail supplier does not stock it!
  • Light weight: suitable for new wool, silk, viscose, acetate or any difficult light weight fabrics. Tip: Make sure the interface you choose matches the care requirements of your fabric. E.g. silk fabric and fusible can distort the silk, when using fusible with silk only use low heat variant.
  • Medium to heavy: Medium will provide a good crisp finish while heavy is excellent for stiff applications such as sculptured lapels!

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