Monday, August 16, 2010

Bag Making Basics Part 3 ...............Thread

We are going to follow the natural progression of order of Bag Making Basics.
After knowing the basic terms,the types of needles,I think it would not be fair if I didn't pay attention to threads!!
I know it does not sound as glamorous as researching types of gussets or adding zips( we will get there too in time),but imagine you are in a supermarket & suddenly you find your bag leaving a trail of everything you just bought through the big hole in the bottom of your bag!!!
Actually I am picturing it right now & am finding it pretty hilarious........I am imagining what all will be there in your bag........OK yes,I am visualizing naughty things;)
But hey..............its your fault ,you did not choose the right thread, if you had your bag wouldn't have given up on you!
So now that I have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that you need to choose your thread as wisely as you would the needle,here are the different types of threads which we commonly use.

COTTON:Cotton thread is in my experience the most common thread used worldwide because of the thread's strength, durability and ease of use. It leads to a well-defined line of machine stitches.Cotton threads  are available in a wide range of colors, and are used for sewing on light and medium weight cottons, rayons and linens. Cotton thread is also mercerized, it is a finishing process that makes it smooth and lustrous, also helping it to take dye better.The cotton threads come in medium thickness (yup,threads too have sizes for their thickness & you thought only you had a waist size to boast;)

 100 PERCENT SILK-Silk thread can be  chosen for its gorgeous sheen. It is one of the most trouble-free threads to use for machine sewing. Strong and durable, it does not stretch & adds a marvelous sheen to your sewing.I use it very regularly:) Its fineness makes it ideal for basting all fabric types, as it does not leave holes from stitching or imprints after pressing.
POLYESTER: It is a general purpose thread ( medium-weight ) used for the majority of projects that can  be sewn by a sewing machine. With a large variety of colors and spool sizes, general-purpose thread is ideal for use with most fabrics. Most polyester threads have a wax or silicone finish to help them slip through the fabric with a minimum of friction.
 I am adding a pic to compare a thin cotton thread & medium weight polyester thread ,see the difference in thickness & imagine the difference the threads will make to the strength of your bag's seam!

COTTON-WRAPPED POLYESTER: An all-purpose thread  for sewing on  synthetic or natural fibers or blends. The polyester core gives this type of thread strength and elasticity, the cotton wrapping gives it a tough, heat resistant surface.
EMBROIDERY -A wide, colorful array of embroidery threads are available.You can use it in a contrast colour for a dramatic effect.I have a big collection.

Now that you are conversant with the basic types of threads lets move on to size.Yup...........size does matter;)
This is a chart of all sizes of threads as well as needles .
After you go through the chart you arrive at the million dollar question,how to decipher this numbering system.Agreed that we women are from venus,but we have to do our sewing very much on earth!!!!!
Don't worry,this is what you need to know.........most sizing methods measure the weight of a given amount of thread. A spool of regular sewing thread might read "50/2" in the cotton-count method, "502" in the Hong Kong system, "90/2" in the metric system, or "T-21" in the Tex system.You can see all these conventions on the chart.The first number refers to the diameter of each individual thread strand, and the second number refers to how many piles or strands have been twisted together to make that particular thread. The higher the first number, the finer the strand. The second number represents the strength.Naturally,more the number of strands,stronger the thread.

Now a few things to remember before you buy a thread.

1.  Irrespective of the type of bag/purse you will be working on, it is imperative to buy a good quality thread. Pllllllllllease do not go in for BARGAIN spool of threads.The bargain will ultimately prove to be much costlier than the money you saved on a cheap thread. The fibers of the "bargain" thread splits easily while you're sewing and can cause knotting of the thread, breakage of the thread and will lead to a build-up of lint in the bobbin area ,all situations you DO NOT want to be in!!!!!

2. While  choosing the colour of the thread go in for a thread one shade darker than the fabric in order for it to blend in smoothly. If the fabric is a plaid or multi-color print, select the most dominant colour.Or go in for a completely contrasting colour for a bold statement like this.

3.One of the biggest problems you face while sewing is either the bobbin thread keeps breaking or the top thread keeps breaking,this happens when the bobbin or the top thread is not threaded properly.Most of the sewing machines use a standard way of threading which includes a series of loops & eyes,make sure that you have done it properly.The bobbin too should be inserted properly & of course the all important,thread tension.When you are sewing on heavy duty fabric it is wise to decrease the tension else the top thread will keep breaking.

4.Another important thing is the stitch width.For thin fabrics if you use big stitch width,the fabric will bunch up causing frills!!!!! You will end up creating your own design;)  On the other hand if you have a smaller stitch width for say leather,it will pierce it very closely increasing its chances of tearing.It will be visually displeasing too!!!!  Experiment a little with the tension on a scrap fabric to get the hang of it:)

4. Choose a thread which will be compatible with the fabric's structure and fiber content as well as the type of project being worked on.Heavy duty thread for heavy duty fabrics like denim,leather,vinyl,multiple layers of fabric due to pleating & medium weight thread for light to medium weight fabrics like cotton,silk,brocade.

5.Polyester thread is suitable for most types of fabrics. It has some elasticity, so it will stretch with knits and other stretchy fabrics.You need to keep in mind that even though it has more strength than 100 percent cotton thread, it does not have the heat resistance of cotton thread and will break down if it comes in contact with an iron that is too hot. It is a good idea to go in for cotton wrapped polyester as it combines benefits of both the threads.
I guess I have covered all the basics so far,if I have gone wrong somewhere,please bring it to my notice:)

  • Silk thread is often chosen for its gorgeous sheen. It is one of the most trouble-free threads to use for machine quilting. Strong and durable, it will not stretch, and is similar to polyester thread in that respect.


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