Different types of sewing threads and their uses in making stitches

Different types of sewing threads

As there are different kinds of sewing machines as well as other sewing-related accessories, there are also different types of sewing threads. Because due to the need of time, we now have different variations, which is why I outlined some threads for sewing and their functions so you know when to use them. 

Let’s get started. 

Different types of sewing threads – a comprehensive guide of 2023

1. Silk Thread

Silk threads are silky, shiny, soft, and lightweight yarn made naturally and artificially. Mostly silk threads are made from the cocoons of insects named Silk Moths. Every sewist can use silk thread with different sewing machine brands and hand sewing. 

Silk Thread

General characteristics

  • Breathable.
  • Elastic.
  • Shinny.
  • Smooth.
  • A soft texture.
  • Weighs little.
  • Thermal regulation.
  • Dry with speed.

Where to Uses ?

  • You can use silk thread for tailoring and decorating in fabric work. 
  • Moreover, if you plan to give your beloved ones an ornamental piece of cloth, sew it with silk thread to make it look more aesthetically appealing. 
  • You can use it for delicate sewing fabrics or for giving a finishing touch to invisible hems and seams.

2. Cotton Thread

Cotton threads are made from cotton and are among the most durable after passing through the process. All types of sewists, whether beginners, intermediates, or advanced, can use it for stitching different fabrics. 

Cotton Thread

General characteristics 

  • Durable.
  • Long-lasting.
  • A common choice for quilting.
  • Cotton doesn’t shrink.
  • Perfect for hand-crafting.
  • Cotton threads are thick.
  • It only creates a small amount of lint.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Non-toxic.

Where to Uses ?

  • Cotton threads are used to sew various fabrics, such as jeans, cotton clothes, yoga wear, t-shirts, and sportswear. 
  • You can use it for sewing natural fiber fabrics. 
  • You can use cotton threads for quilting projects and machine embroidery works. 

3. Metallic thread

You can use metallic thread to make different designs from sewing machines and handmade sewing. As the name implies, these sewing machines look metallic and are driven by a combination of silver, gold, or other metals with some other fibres to make them long-lasting and able to pierce tough fabrics. 

Metallic thread

General characteristics

  • Durable and tenacious.
  • Combination of metal and fibers.
  • To give clothes a brightening effect.
  • Cotton doesn’t shrink.
  • It is easily washable.
  • A resilient and elastic material.
  • Stretch ability is limited. 
  • Easily portable.
  • The shine of metallic threads never fades. 

Where to Uses ?

  • If you sew metallic thread fabrics, they will look shiny and pleasing. 
  • Along with hand and embroidery sewing, you can use it even in quilting. 
  • You need to have a specific needle so that this thread can tolerate it. 

4. Nylon Thread

These threads are synthetic, thin, lightweight, and used to sew fabrics such as vinyl, canvas, leather, etc. When comparing Nylon thread with polyester threads, I found Nylon ones are more sturdy and reliable, which is why sewists use it in tricky sewing. 

Nylon Thread

General characteristics

  • Resistant to wear and tear
  • Nylon threads can resist wrinkles.
  • Sunlight resistance is poor.
  • These threads don’t burn.
  • Thin and lightweight.
  • It is used to sew light to tough fabrics.
  • Durable and long-lasting.

Where to Uses ?

  • Mainly Nylon threads are used to sew different fabrics such as leather footwear, leather bags, sportswear, luggage and travel goods, and outdoor goods, 
  • You can use a type of Nylon thread named Wooly nylon for rolled hems on knits. 
  • You can also use Nylon threads to produce stretchy seams of bathing suits, etc.
  • Bonded nylon is used for sewing more rigid materials like a purse, parachutes, tents, etc.

5. Quilting Thread

Quilting thread is primarily used for quilting works, and it has a waxy coating on its upper surface to make it able to slide. They are usually made from cotton or polyester for visible sewing lines on quilting patterns. 

Quilting Thread

General properties

  • Wax-coated.
  • Good sliding quality.
  • No curling.
  • Reliable and long-lasting.
  • Thin and lightweight.
  • Smooth and fine.
  • For all types of fabrics. 

Where to Uses ?

  • Many sewists use quilting thread to stitch visible seams on quilted patterns. 
  • You can use this type of thread to make garments or upholstery. 
  • Quilting threads leave minor marks on the binding layers where they are sewn, giving a distinctive look to the fabrics.

6. Glazed Cotton Thread 

These cotton threads are modified in industries by adding sodium hydroxide while increasing their luster and dyeability. You can use them for hand sewing and quilting because they are thick and sturdy. 

Using these threads in any sewing machine is not recommended, as the glaze coating will rub off, causing jams in sewing machines. 

Glazed Cotton Thread

General characteristics

  • Wiry and will twist when unwounded.
  • It is perfect for hand-quilting.
  • Not for sewing machines.
  • Reliable and long-lasting.
  • They are the upgraded version of normal cotton threads.
  • Their upper layer is coated with sodium hydroxide.
  • The fibers have an extra sheen and are dye able.

Where to Uses ?

  • The main application of this class of thread is hand-quilting. 

7. Heavy-Duty Thread

Generally, this sewing thread is used to sew rigid fabrics such as canvas, tents, shoes, denim, leather, and other single or multilayered materials. They are a common thread strengthened with artificial fibres and chemicals to pass through thicker fabrics without breaking thread. 

Heavy-Duty Thread

General characteristics

  • Thicker and stronger.
  • It is engineered to make them rigid. 
  • It can pierce more challenging materials easily. 
  • Coarse threads.
  • Resistant to tearing and fading.
  • These threads can tolerate ironing. 
  • Made for more rigid fabrics.

Where to Uses ?

  • The primary use of Heavy-duty thread is to sew rigid materials such as canvas, tents, denim, leather, etc. 
  • Don’t use it on light fabric, as these threads will tear it apart. 

8. Embroidery Thread

Embroidery thread is a specialised thread that is hand-spun and used mainly for embroidery thread. Embroidery thread is specific for embroidery work and cannot be used with regular sewing works; however, one of its characteristics is that it has extra sheen compared to some other threads. 

Embroidery Thread

General characteristics

  • Good tensile strength.
  • Excellent luster.
  • Adaptable to scratches and abrasions.
  • Long-lasting and durable.
  • Perfect for embroidery work.
  • Not for routine sewing projects. 
  • You can use it in sewing machines as well.
  • Sunlight resistance.
  • Resistant to ironing (but be curios)

Where to Uses ?

  • Some projects we can stitch with it are cross-stitch, counted thread, needlepoint, smocking, crewel, applique, etc. embroidery thread is specific for embroidery work.

Other common sewing threads

  • Rayon threads
  • Polyester threads
  • Linen threads
  • Extra strong threads
  • Topstitch thread
  • Denim threads
  • Upholstery thread
  • Extra fine thread
  • Tacking thread
  • Serger thread
  • Bobbin fill thread
  • invisible/clear thread

Sewing thread colors

There are 250 colors of thread to choose from, but the most common ones are:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Black
  • Red
  • Pink
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Violet

You can combine these colors to make other colors.


This brings us to the end of this article, where I explained the different types of sewing threads, each with its uses. All sewing machine threads are not the same. Therefore you need to read them all to differentiate one from another. 

So thanks for reading.