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Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus?
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Sam Jones

Locale: London, UK
Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 02:55:32 MST Print View

Taking from the very interesting "thick thread problems re backpack 0- tips?" thread, I would like to try to reach an understanding of what threads go with what needles go with what fabrics. I know there are lots of thread threads, sorry about starting another. But as Harold said there are so many people saying 'G├╝termann is fine' or Mettler, or DMC, or C&C...

I am confused. Hobbes made the following, very useful comment.

- Quilt seams & hems: M50/M90/1.1 rip (uncoated) - Microtex 70/10 with Gutermann "SewAll" ie Mara 100 (Tex 30)

- Tarp & pack seams & hems: 1.3 sil (1.1 coated) - Microtex 80/12 with Guterman Mara 70 (Tex 40)

- Tarp tie-outs; pack attach points & buckles (shoulder, sternum & hip straps) - Microtex 90/14 with Gutermann Mar 70 (Tex 40)

Sadly the thread names just confused me again.
I own the following threads

- G├╝termann polyester, 100Nm
- Coats Duet Sewing
- Rasant 120

And the following needles

- Schmetz universal 80
- Singer 70/09
- Singer 90/14

What should I use and for what? The first couple of packs I made I used the Coats Duet thread because it was all I had. It seemed fine, I tried various needle sizes and broke a few of each. I don't know if that was because they were the wrong size or because I was new to sewing.

Last night I tried some of the Gutterman thread above, along with a universal 80 needle. It was awful. After a few stitches the top thread ended up in the fabric as it should be, but NOT through the eye of the needle! I guess it broke somewhere underneath and the needle couldn't bring it back up. That was sewing through a couple of layers of webbing, a layer of nylon and some mesh. Was this just the wrong application? Sewing through just a couple of layers of ripstop this setup was fine.

I was getting very frustrated and gave up for the night. Try again another day.

Sorry for the ramble. If someone could tell me what needle size to use with the three thread types I have that would be a great start. Maybe we can get a comprehensive table together.

Joel Hulett
(jhalan) - F

Locale: Midwest
Needle size on 02/29/2012 05:27:51 MST Print View

use a 110/18 or 100/16 jeans for all that. You can use anysize thread, these are the biggest needles a home machine will take. You can't put a big thread through a tiny needle hole on an 80, it will cut the thread. It could also be that your needle is getting worn, is it "thumping"? If it is its time to change the needle.
hope that helps

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 08:47:32 MST Print View

"- Quilt seams & hems: M50/M90/1.1 rip (uncoated) - Microtex 70/10 with Gutermann "SewAll" ie Mara 100 (Tex 30)"

can someone break this into english a bit? i'm hoping to do a quilt in M90 this year.

EDIT: also what is a good stitch spacing for m90

Edited by JakeDatc on 02/29/2012 10:04:58 MST.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 08:51:06 MST Print View

I'd like a little bit of a translation as well...

I have some M50 and M90 that I just got from thru-hiker that I am going to sew. I bought some "#9" needles for my sewing machine from the local sewing store. They were the smallest sewing machine needs that the store sold. I don't have thread yet.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 09:10:54 MST Print View

I always use size 9 needles

I occasionally replace it but I don't know why???

I always use the Gutterman thread from local fabric store

I have only had a few failures:

Ridge seams at corner of pyramid tent - silnylon stretches, thread breaks - but it didn't make any difference, fabric wasn't pulling apart there, it stayed together because of the guyline tie-out stitches - just the same, I now use a zigzag stitch the bottom one foot so it won't break

I wear these shorts all the time. Alternate between two. For years. The thread where it wears against my leg gets abraided so I resew it occasionally. Non-critical. The pocket is slowly tearing away from the main body. Again, non-critical, the opening is slowly getting bigger. I'll re-sew it some day.

The most critical connection is pack straps to main body. Two overlapping bar tacks with stitch spacing of maybe 1 mm. I don't see any threads breaking after maybe 100 days of backpacking. I also coated the finished seam with McNett Seam Grip.

Therefore, I conclude regular Gutterman is sufficient

Sam Jones

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 10:35:13 MST Print View

This is my problem though Jerry.

Is 'regular gutterman' the same as the Gutterman 100Nm stuff I have?

How does your size 9 needle fit into my 70 / 80 / 90 needle sizes? Does 9 = 90?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 10:55:34 MST Print View

I think 9 = 70

Sometimes I use 11 (= 80)

I don't think it really matters - your Gutterman 100Nm is probably just fine

Has to be 100% polyester

But, I am on one end of the spectrum of particularness - you might be better off listening to someone else : )

Try it and see how it works.

Sew a seam on scrap fabric. Make sure the tension can be adjusted correctly so top and bottom are even. Try ripping the seam apart. When I do that, it rips apart with some effort. With very light fabrics the fabric will rip instead of the thread

Ultra Magnus
(Ultra_Magnus) - F
Re: Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 11:33:29 MST Print View

Am I the only one that reads a thread like this and just ends up even more confused?

I used the regular Gutterman 100% polyester thread I get at Jo-Anne's (comes in many colors) and whatever need is in the machine, that my wife left there. She makes quilts, not our kind, but baby blanket types. Flannel, cotton, batting, etc., and stuff like bumper pads for the baby crib. I 80/11 comes to mind, or 90/something... So far, so good...

I tried some heavy duty Gutterman thread once, but had problems getting the machine to feed the fabric under the presser foot. The thickness of the thread was getting hung up on the hole the needle goes through on that plate the feed dogs are under. The fabric wouldn't feed and it'd just make a mess of everything.


Sam Jones

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 12:40:25 MST Print View

BM, no you are not the only one to get more confused.

So far we have Luke saying 100/110 for all threads, or Jerry saying 70/80 for standard Gutterman thread that might be the same as mine.


Jerry, the Gutterman I have worked fine on scraps, but through multiple layers of webbing and fabric (think backpack strap) it broke (with a size 80 needle).

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 13:28:55 MST Print View

Bonded 69 nylon with #16 jeans type needle will work in webbing and heavy fabric.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: Re: Re: Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 14:19:10 MST Print View

research was easy as falling off a log.
needle knowledge is openly found. right on the net.
we must all perform our due diligence to move things forward. : )

now gentlemen, that's a little hint right there ...


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 14:28:00 MST Print View

Hi Sam

Yeah, too many 'systems'.

I use Amann Rasant 120 with a Schmetz #60 needle for silnylon (tents, non-critical seams) and 8 momme silk (liners). This is very reliable.

I use Rasant 75 with a Schmetz #70 needle for key seams in my silnylon tents where strength is needed.

I have used Amann Serifil 100 thread, but it is tricky to handle and I suggest you don't.

I use a bonded 100% nylon with a Schmetz/Singer #100 needle for heavy pack fabrics and webbing (in an old Black Singer mind you). The label says 210D/3, but otherwise I am not sure what it is any more. It's a big 3000 m cone, and I have been using it for a long time. :-) I would not use a lighter thread here - eg Gutermann.

So-called 'button thread' is OK for hand-sewing, but not in a machine. It is too soft and has trouble at the eye of the needle.

I use Gutermann with a #70 or #80 needle for sewing Taslan fabric for clothing, mainly for the range of colours. It works for that, but I can't say I love it.

I have tried and discarded Coats threads: they shed fibres and make clumps on the thread which snags the eye of the needle and breaks it. Other cheap threads and pure cotton are even worse: avoid them. They don't survive very well in the outside weather either.

Do NOT try putting a cheap serger thread into a domestic sewing machine!


Edited by rcaffin on 02/29/2012 18:24:17 MST.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
specifics on 02/29/2012 15:04:22 MST Print View

"I use a heavier bonded nylon with a Schmetz/Singer #100 needle for heavy pack fabrics and webbing"

What thread is that precisely? That's the area that I got caught up in the too thick thread discussion, basically when you go to any fabric store, they only have one nylon thick thread, and that's the upholstery stuff, which is way to thick, and just will not work with home machines from what I can see.

Thanks for the specifics on the other threads though, that's helpful.

I'm so far not finding too much problem with Guterman, but I do suspect that some issues I have had sewing could have been the guterman, especially when bar tacking. But otherwise it's been fine, but I've just started with this stuff relatively speaking so I don't have much experience.

The #69 thread Dave from oware mentions likewise, what exactly is that, ie, can you provide a link to the precise thread online.

I believe one ground for the confusion is that there is a fairly consistent skipping over of key points re thread in myog threads, for example the tex numbers seem to be relevant but are rarely mentioned here, but are on a hammock forum I found while googling this issue.

Piece by piece.

It's amazing to actually look at just how many threads each company makes, making terms like 'heavy' or 'standard' almost totally meaningless unless qualified with enough specifics to allow anyone reading for example a myog to find exactly that thread, and to know what it is they found.

One thing that really strikes me is that many if not most outdoor fabric places do not give any of this information, quest doesn't, diy doesn't if I remember right, I believe none may. Would be very helpful, same as with silnylon weights etc, like, this is mara 70 tex 40 standard guterman, and so on. Or whatever the real numbers are. That way people could learn what it is they need to look for and what that actually is technically speaking. My guess is the matter doesn't come up much because most people just buy the stuff from quest outfitters or joannes, which also has basically zero technical information on the threads they sell beyond the names. I guess you can research it and find industrial suppliers that will show all the relevant info.

It's odd to consider the vast specificity of something like cuben fibers, dimension polyant, vs the almost totally random and vague thread descriptions, maybe that's an area that could be corrected. I know that's why I got messed up/confused.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: specifics on 02/29/2012 15:18:04 MST Print View

Well said Harold. There is insane minutia put into fabric types here and then very vague descriptions of what to put it together with.

it's like saying. Oh i sewed this quilt up with some nylon with a bit of fluffy insulation inside. no one would say that.

that was my only issue with Jamie Shortt's quilt pattern. It has everything detailed down to down per baffle but nothing about the thread, needles or stitching details (stitch per inch for example)

For people who this is not their business or experienced hobby these kind of details are extremely useful. For me, I haven't used a sewing machine since Middle school Home Ec class.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
It's alchemy on 02/29/2012 15:52:07 MST Print View

For example, tried to get some info for a friends machine. Asked the supply company-

"What needles do you have available for a Brother db2-b791-015a?"

This is the response.

"There's no certain answer to that question, but usually that machine class
will use a system 135X5:"

Ryan W
(mwilks) - F
Sources on 02/29/2012 16:19:38 MST Print View


In my opinion, stay out of the big box sewing stores unless you know exactly what you are looking for.

If you need normal light weight gutterman, then fine....otherwise turn to one of the usual sources.

If you decide to go the heavy duty route - Bonded Nylon Thread in V69 and T70 - and many other sources

If you are looking for an intermediate thread....pretty good strength and sewability on the home machines in my opinion try

Sizes are clear as day on the these site. It's only in the big box stored geared towards clothing and home projects that you don't find product information.

Hope this helps

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: specifics on 02/29/2012 18:30:23 MST Print View

Hi Harald

> What thread is that precisely?
Posting edited to explain.

I had better add an explanation here. I buy a lot of my thread from a commercial/industrial distributor, NOT from your average fabric shop. I buy Rasant 120 locally because they do stock it for customers who know what they are doing.

The first time I actually went to the distributor warehouse, and ended up having a long chat with a very old guy there. He was surprised to find that I did have some understanding of fabrics and sewing machines, and proceeded to talk for about half an hour. He had a lifetime of industrial experience and was willing to share it. I learnt a LOT.


(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: Thread / Needle / Fabric combination consensus? on 02/29/2012 21:05:56 MST Print View

Some points to add...

Some confusion is happening with the 100M info above. That refers to the length of thread on the spool, it's not a product number.

Bonded thread is for high speed industrial machines. It's regular thread with a coating on it so the high speed doesn't melt the thread. It's stiffer and harder to sew with. So unless you are using a high speed industrial, I would stay away from bonded.

Tex or T number refers to thickness of thread in layman's terms (mass in grams per 1000m). Depending on the manufacturer, the scale is sometimes reversed. Most commonly though, T40 is considered heavy duty and thick, while T30 is considered normal or what you might find on the sewing store shelf.

Gutermann is widely avail. at MYOG sources, so it is a good thread to talk about:

1. Gutermann Mara 70: (Mentioned above by R Wilks). Spool size 700 meters (765 yards): A heavy duty thread suited for cuben fiber, sil and dyneema. Tex 40 size (T40).

I use a 'sharp' (microtex) as opposed to 'universal' tip needle with cuben and sil, and a universal for anything knitted, like shorts, pants or wool. As for needle size. I use the Schmetz 90/14 most often.

From the Gutermann Catalog:

2. Gutermann Sew-All Thread: Spool size 100 meters - 1000 meters: A medium duty thread suited for low stress gear. Tex 30 size (T30). Comes in 400 shades. Recommended needle: Universal NM 70-90. Same construction as Mara according to scittlefield at DIY Gear Supply.

I don't use this thread. I like to keep it simple and use the Mara 70 thread above for everything.

From the Gutermann catalog:
thread 2

Edited by jhaura on 02/29/2012 22:42:11 MST.

Garrett Soper
(sope0021) - F

Locale: Northwoods
some more opinion on 02/29/2012 22:22:24 MST Print View

There are far more educated and successful MYOG people on here, but I thought I would throw in my opinion as far as what works for me.

For M50/M90/1.1oz/1.1oz sil ripstop I use 60/8 or 70/10 Schmetz microtex needles.

For Gore-tex I've been using 70/10 or 80/12 Schmetz microtex. I've also used these on light flag or pack cloth.

For fleece I use 80/12 or 90/14 depending on the thickness of the fabric.

These work in my older serger and in a newer but cheap sewing machine, and I haven't had any issues with needles and the stitching generally looks "correct".

I use Mettler Metrosene Plus thread on my sewing machine and Maxi-lock thread on my serger, again without any issues. My local store does not have Gutermanns, which I see recommended here all the time, but Metrosene has worked really nicely.

Garrett Soper
(sope0021) - F

Locale: Northwoods
a potentially useful chart on 02/29/2012 22:29:59 MST Print View

This chart by Rockywoods doesn't have some of the fabrics that are used quite often around here (i.e. low denier ripstops), but it has needle info for quite a few different outdoor fabrics and might be useful.