Choosing the Right Thread: The Best Sewing Threads for Heavy-Duty Applications

Close-up view of multiple spools of threads in various vibrant colors

Introduction to Thread

Choosing the correct PTFE sewing thread can reduce friction & frustration while sewing, increase the lifespan & strength of your project, place less strain on your sewing machine, plus countless other project benefits.

Read on for a rundown of various thread types and their recommended uses in these markets to determine the best quality thread for your project.


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Types of threads used for industrial sewing projects

  • PTFE and ePTFE Thread

      Threads crafted from PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and ePTFE (expanded PTFE) emerge as true contenders with their robust thermoplastic polymers. These threads showcase unparalleled flexibility, fortified resistance against chemicals, UV rays, and friction. What's more, their standout trait lies in their suitability for heavy-duty fabrics, making them the prime choice for applications like HDPE shade fabrics. The hallmark of these threads is their remarkable durability that ensures longevity even in the most challenging environments.

      • PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and ePTFE (expanded PTFE) are strong thermoplastic polymers
      • Both are flexible and resistant to chemicals, UV rays, and friction
      • Excellent industrial threads that outlast the rest (a good choice for heavy fabrics)
      • Carry lifetime warranties
      • Recommended for use with HDPE shade fabrics
      • PTFE threads are more expensive but last the longest
  • Polyester Thread (also called Dacron®)

      A heavyweight champion in the thread world, polyester thread—affectionately known as Dacron®—boasts an array of remarkable qualities. Its exceptional resistance to UV rays and water sets it apart as the go-to thread for outdoor projects. This thread's tenacity combined with its minimal stretch make it an indispensable choice across various industrial applications.

      A word of caution: While its merits are undeniable, keep in mind that dyed polyester threads may transfer pigment to vinyl surfaces. Vigilance in such scenarios is advised.

      • Polyester thread is UV resistant and water repellent, making it an ideal outdoor thread
      • Highly durable with low stretch
      • Great for most industrial applications
      • Be careful with dyed polyester thread as the pigment can transfer to vinyl surfaces
  • Nylon Thread

      A force to be reckoned with, nylon thread commands attention due to its inherent flexibility and an impeccable strength-to-size ratio. Its versatility shines when applied to indoor upholstery projects, where elements pose no threat. However, the spotlight truly shines on its suitability for fabrics shielded from the elements. For ventures into the great outdoors, it's prudent to explore thread types designed to embrace enhanced weather resistance.

      • Flexible with an excellent strength-to-size ratio
      • Recommended for use in fabric that is not exposed to the elements
      • A good indoor upholstery thread (not recommended for outdoor use)
  • Cotton Thread

      Embracing nature's strength, cotton thread makes its mark by forming an unwavering grip on fabric. When drenched, its unique trait of swelling prevents seam leakage, making it a dependable choice across a spectrum of sewing projects. As a general-purpose thread, its versatility knows no bounds.

      However, for projects that brave the elements, a thoughtful consideration of synthetic thread alternatives—possessing superior weather resistance—becomes an essential step towards longevity and durability.

      • A naturally strong thread
      • Grips to the fabric and swells when wet to prevent seam leakage
      • A good general-purpose thread
  • Construction

    Contruction thread

    The construction of sewing threads plays a pivotal role in their performance and adaptability to various sewing applications. Threads are meticulously crafted using different techniques, each imbuing them with distinct characteristics.

    • Continuous filament: Threads spun from a continuous strand of manufactured fiber. These threads excel in smooth and consistent sewing, making them ideal for projects that require impeccable finishing.
    • Monocord or monofilament: Single-ply threads with a ribbon-like structure, often used in double-needle machines due to their minimal twist. This structure ensures compatibility on both sides of the sewing machine, resulting in uniform stitching.
    • Spun or twisted: Threads crafted by intertwining multiple fibers, typically available in 2-ply or 3-ply configurations. The twisted structure imparts strength and durability, making them suitable for various sewing tasks.
    • Left twist: A “Z” twist or twist in a clockwise direction. Most of our thread is left twist unless otherwise noted. On a double needle machine, left twist thread goes on the right-side needle.
    • Right twist: An “S” twist or twist in a counterclockwise position. Our thread will be noted if available in a right twist. On a double needle machine, right twist thread goes on the left-side needle.

    Common Features

    • A bonded finish is applied to the fibers of a continuous filament thread for higher strength and decreased friction.
    • A soft finish means the thread has no fiber coating.
    • Lubricated thread allows for smooth sewing and needle heat resistance.
    • Thread that is UV resistant withstands fading and sun damage.
    • To shed water, a non-wicking or anti-wicking finish is applied to the thread (non-wicking repels water and prevents water absorption while anti-wicking provides an extremely water-repellent seam).
    • Thread that is heat set minimizes shrinking and expanding.
    • The elongation is the amount a thread stretches before it breaks. The higher elongation, the greater seam elasticity but there is more opportunity for skipped stitches and thread breakage.

    Applications

    PremoBond Thread Application
    • Shade (awnings, shade sails, enclosures, umbrellas)
    • Marine products (seating, boat tops, sails, covers)
    • Outdoor upholstery (patio furniture, cushions, umbrellas, furniture covers)
    • Indoor upholstery (sofas, pillows, drapery, quilting)
    • Tents and tarps, industrial covers
    • Signs and banners
    • Recreational gear
    • Apparel
    • Embroidery
    • General industrial projects using heavyweight fabrics

    Brand highlights

    PremoBond
    • Fil-Tec™

        • Bonded, continuous multifilament polyester
        • 30% stronger than industry standard
        • Available in thread and bobbins
        • Great for marine projects, awnings, filtration, footwear, luggage, geotextiles, tarps, and slings
        • Twisted PTFE
        • Limited lifetime warranty
        • Available in thread and bobbins
        • Great for marine fabric, awnings, upholstery, and shade sails
        • Bonded low-twist multifilament polyester
        • Cleans and protects against cracking and yellowing
        • Available in thread and bobbins
        • Great for marine fabric, awnings, upholstery, and shade sails
        • Bonded microcord polyester
        • Fills the needle holes when wet to prevent seam leakage
        • Use on vinyl, acrylic, and more
    • GORE®

        • Multifilament ePTFE
        • A heavy-duty option for awnings, marine, shade structures/sails, and industrial use
        • Comes in three styles (Tenara, TR, HTR)
        • Great for awnings, marine use, tarps, and furniture
    • A&E

        • Twisted multifilament polyester
        • Anti-wicking and UV resistant
        • Available in thread and bobbins
        • Great for awnings, tents, and marine fabric
        • Twisted, continuous filament, high-tenacity polyester
        • Non-wicking and resists bacteria, mildew, abrasion, and chemicals
        • Available in thread and bobbins
        • Great for tents, awnings, and outdoor upholstery
    • Coats®

        • Continuous filament bonded polyester
        • 20-33% higher maintained strength than standard lubricated threads and heat set
        • Available in thread and bobbins
        • Great for luggage, furniture, awnings, seat trims, and marine fabric
        • Bonded monocord Dacron
        • Ideal for zigzag sewing and can be used on both sides of a double-needle machine
        • Available in thread and bobbins
        • Great for light boat tops, outdoor fabric, and multi-head embroidery
        • Bonded, twisted, continuous filament polyester
        • Resists UV rays, mildew, rot, and bleach
        • Available in standard Dabond pre-wound bobbins and Dabond Nano thread (features an anti-wick finish to reduce seam leakage)
        • Great for awnings, sails, and tie downs

    Finding the best thread for common problems & solutions

    Sizes

    Industrial threads come in a range of sizes. Generally speaking, the larger the size, the thicker and heavier duty the thread is (which means more noticeable seams).

    Thread weight is the thickness of your thread. Thread weight can vary from fine thread to medium weight to heavy-duty weight. Heavier threads are coarser and work best for thicker fabrics.

    • Terms for sizing thread

          • Commercial (V) size:  The standard US measurement for twisted, bonded threads.
          • Denier size:  A sizing system used for continuous filament thread. Denier is the gram weight of 9,000 meters of thread, and is nine times the Tex Size.
          • Government size:  The US government's standard for sizing thread.
          • Needle size:  The minimum needle size needed for the thread.
          • Tex (T) size:  The weight in grams of 1,000 meters of thread.
          • Ticket (metric) size:  Equal to Metric 'M' thread sizes used in some countries.
    • An example (PremoBond thread # 543012)

          • Commercial (V) size
          • Denier size
          • Needle size
          • Tex (T) size
          • Ticket (metric) size
          • 92
          • 810
          • 120
          • 90
          • 30

    Final Note

    There's a lot of variation in thread, depending on what you use it for. The notes above are good general rules to follow when selecting heavy-duty or industrial threads.

    Make a decision? Choose from over 350 choices in thread and bobbins at Trivantage to tie up your next project.

    You'll also find fabric, thread nippers, and universal binders. Thanks for looking!

    Disclaimer:

    The purpose of this guide is to give fabricators some general guidelines and product information. Read all our Product Guides.

    This guide should not be considered as the sole source of information on thread. This guide is strictly informational.

    Please reach out to your local customer care team for more guidance.