Have you ever tried figuring out the size of your thread?
If you look at the picture, you can see 3 spools of thread that are sized differently. Surprisingly, they are all the same thread thickness.
I always thought that the size on a spool of thread was how thick the thread is. It’s not. It’s actually a measurement that comes from the manufacturing process. The numbers don’t directly tell you Thread Thickness.
What do those numbers mean?
Okay, so what’s with the numbers? The numbers come from formulas that use the length and weight of the thread to create the number you see on the spool. You can see an example of how this works in my post about Thread Weight.
Manufacturers use some form of the physical weight of the thread to help track how much material (not the fabric kind) was used to make the thread. Great information for the manufacturer, but not as helpful for the folks sewing with it.
Lots of Different Sizing Labels
Something else that makes it hard to use the numbers listed on your thread is that there lots of different sizing labels that go with the numbers. Different manufacturers use different formulas. You can see some of the different size labels in the picture below: Wt, #, Ne, No, Tex.Having a bunch of different size labels means the average sewer can’t just compare them against each other. But there’s one more major challenge.
Differences in Fibers
Even if you can mentally juggle all those different sizing labels that have different formulas, different fibers change the results.
Seriously, some weeks I have trouble remember what day it is . . . there’s no way for the average person to easily make sense of the different labels and fibers to equate it all into a Thread Thickness.
I just want an easy way to compare Thread Thickness between different spools.
Looking for an Easier Way
Okay, I talked about why trying to use the sizing labels on thread spools isn’t an easy way to figure out Thread Thickness. Lots of different sizing labels and different fiber contents mean different results. (Oh, I almost forgot, some thread brands don’t even list a number size on their spools.)
I got to wondering, is there an easier way to understand Thread Thickness? Something more practical that quilters and sewers can just just glance at and use without getting boggled down with labels and numbers?
(Honestly, being able to say a thread is blank inches thick might be helpful for a few people but I think it’s meaningless for most of us. I logged over 1,300 measurements to create the cheat sheets down below. Even my brain got bored just looking at a chart of numbers.)
Comparing Threads against each other
It occurred to me that it’s more helpful being able to compare threads against each other, no numbers necessary. You can look on the cheat sheet and a see the different thickness in different threads. YLI Soft Touch was the thinnest cotton thread measured and it is second on the list. Floriani was the thickest thread I measured and you’ll find it on the bottom of the list.
I measured 26 different spools of thread from 12 different manufacturers. I took 50 measurements from each spool and averaged them to get an average thickness.
How to use the the Thread Thickness Cheat Sheets
The threads are arranged from thinnest to thickest on the chart. I used whole numbers to label the bars at the top. I thought the number 10 would be nicer than 0.001 (decimals seem to spook a lot of folks).
Remember, thinner threads will help your seams lay flatter and thicker threads offer more coverage when you are stitching on top of your quilt.
The long infographs at the bottom of the post all have the same information, just fun variations in colors. A few people on my Nosy Quilter Facebook page mentioned they wanted to see threads in alphabetical order, so the white sheet is in alphabetical order and should print out on a regular sheet of paper.
SewingMachinesPlus.Com carries Madeira, Mettler, Aurifil and Superior Threads. They also have a lowest price guarantee.
FatQuarterShop.Com carries Gutermann, Mettler and a larger selection of Aurifill. Their Gutermann thread comes in cones, not the little spools like JoAnns.
If you buy something from these two links, I’ll get a small compensation but you won’t pay more.(and the compensation will quickly disappear into my quilting projects and experiments.)
If you’d like to download Full Size Thread Thickness Cheat Sheet, you can use this link to a special album in my Google Photos and download it there.
I hope you find these Thread Thickness cheat sheets informative. If there is enough interest, I wouldn’t mind adding more threads. I would create a Cheat Sheet for Cottons and one for Polyester. LOL, this would keep the sheets from being a mile long.
What do you think, would you like to see more thread thickness to compare? And, are there any particular threads you’d like to see added?