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Polyester Thread Information

   

Contents

   
  About_Polyester_Thread- Use_Guide_by_Size Nominal_Weights  
  Polyester_Thread_Properties Size_Selection_Guide Mil_Spec_Polyester_Thread  
  Polyester Thread Sizes Polyester Thread Terms Polyester_Thread_Specifications  
   

   
   

About Polyester Thread--Polyester thread looks, feels, and performs like nylon thread. But, there is one important difference - polyester thread has superior resistance to sunlight (UV), mildew, and abrasion, This makes polyester thread the first choice for sewing, binding or wrapping anything that is consistently used outdoors or in moist areas. For example, you can use either nylon or polyester thread for automobile upholstery. But if your car is a convertible that is frequently driven with the top down, then you should use polyester thread. 

Polyester thread has excellent resistance to mildew and aging. Its resistance to sunlight (UV) is superior to nylon. But, there may be some loss of strength with prolonged sunlight exposure. Threads like Tenara™ will do better in the outdoors than polyester, but  they cost 5 to 8 times more than polyester, come in a limited number of sizes and colors, and have a plastic look.

 

Polyester Thread Properties--Polyester is a general purpose thread that does everything well. Like nylon, there are more specialized threads that outperform it in specific areas:

  • Strength-- A middleweight (Size 92) polyester thread has a tensile strength of about 15 pounds. At that strength there are very few people who can break it just by pulling. Commonly used threads such as polypropylene, spun polyester, acrylic thread, and cotton have tensile strengths ranging from 4 to 10 pounds. Kevlar is the exception with a 35 pound tensile strength. but, it costs $130.00 a pound compared to $24.00 a pound for polyester.

  • Fire retardance-- Polyester thread stands up to heat but is not fire retardant. It sticks at 440ºF and melts at 483ºF. Use our fire retardant sewing thread, Kevlar™, or Nomex™ when there is a critical need to protect against heat and fire.

  • Bleaches and Solvents-- Excellent resistance to bleaches and other oxidizing agents. Generally insoluble except in some pheolic compounds.

  • Acids and Alkalis-- Good resistance to most mineral acids. Dissolve with partial decomposition in concentrated solutions of sulphuric acids. Good resistance to weak alkalis. Moderate resistance to strong alkalis at room temperature. Disintegrate in strong alkalis at boil.

  • Mildew, Aging, and Abrasion--Not weakened by mildew, excellent resistance to aging and abrasion.

  • Elasticity--Polyester thread stretches about 26%. This means that 12 inches of polyester will stretch to 15 inches over time. This is usually good because it lets your seams adjust to movement and changes in temperature. Because polyester stretches, it may not a good choice for projects involving webbing or hanging things. Kevlar and waxed thread are better choices.

Polyester Thread Sizes - Size refers to a thread's thickness--not the amount of thread on the spool. As thread size increases it affects the thread's strength, diameter, sewing machine used, yards per pound, and visibility. Here are specifications for four sizes that illustrate this point.

 

Size 33

Size 69

Size 138

Size 346

Tensile strength increases

3 Lbs

11 Lbs

21 Lbs

53 Lbs

Thread diameter increases

0.0070 In

0.0107 In

0.0152 In

0.0258

Yards per pound decrease

12,200 Yards

6,000 Yards

3,000 Yards

1,300 Yards

Sewing machine requirements increase

Home

Home

Commercial

Heavy Duty

Needle size increases

12 to 14

16 to 18

20 to 22

26 to 28

Visibility increases

Low

Unobtrusive

Noticeable

Stands Out

 

Fabric and leather cost much more than thread. This means that you should usually select a thread size that is weaker than the material that you are sewing. Otherwise, you will be left with a great looking seam on a shredded fabric. There are two exceptions: (1) If safety is an issue both the thread and fabric should have the same strength; and (2) If you want stitching to be a focal point (e.g. sports car interiors) use a thread that is heavier than the material.

Here is the basic information the eleven sizes we stock:

 

Size

         
 

Commercial

TEX

Govt.

Class

Machine Type

Stitch Visibility

Needle Size

 

 

015

15

00

Ultra-Lightweight

Home

Inconspicuous

10 to 12

 

 

033

30

AA

Lightweight

Home

Inconspicuous

12 to 14

 
 

046

45

B

Lightweight

Home

Inconspicuous

14 to 16

 
 

069

70

E

Middleweight

Home

Noticeable

16 to 18

 
 

092

90

F

Middleweight

Commercial

Noticeable

18 to 20

 
 

138

135

FF

Middleweight

Commercial

Noticeable

20 to 22

 
 

207

210

3-Cord

Heavyweight

Commercial

Stands out

22 to 24

 
 

277

270

4-Cord

Heavyweight

Commercial

Stands out

24 to 26

 
 

346

350

5-Cord

Heavyweight

Heavy Duty

Stands out

26 to 28

 
 

415

410

6-Cord

Ultra-Heavyweight

Heavy Duty

Focal point

28 to 30

 
 

554

600

8-Cord

Ultra-Heavyweight

Heavy Duty

Focal point

30 to 32

 

 

Use Guide by Size--This guide is an alphabetical list of things sewn with polyester thread and the range of sizes they use. Work backwards from the material that you are sewing to the thread size that you need. Remember, thread size usually increases with material thickness, and that your sewing machine's capabilities may limit your choices.

    Size

A

 

015

033

046

069

 092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Amplifier Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archery Cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athletic Mats

       

       

ATV Cab Enclosures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Automobile Convertible Tops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Automobile Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awnings (light)

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awnings (most common)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awnings (heavy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         

B

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Back Packs

     

       

Banners (heavy)

             

Banners (most common)

           

         

Banners (light)

   

           

Bar Stools

     

           

Boat Covers

       

       

Boat Upholstery

     

         
                         

C

 

015

033

046

 069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Canvas (light)

 

               

Canvas (medium)

     

         

Canvas (Heavy)

           

Carpentry Aprons

     

         

Cat Collars

 

               

Cat Leashes

 

               

Cell Phone Cases

     

             

Church Pews

     

             

Corn Hole Bags

     

           

Costumes

             

Cowboy Boots (decorative stitch)

   

               

Cushions

   

           
                         

D

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

 

                       

Decorative Stitching

 

Dentist Chairs

       

         

Dog Beds

   

         

Dog Collars

     

           

Dog Harnesses

     

     

Dog Leashes

     

       

Drum Covers

     

           

Duffel Bags

     

         
                         

E

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Event Displays

     

           
                         

F

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

 

                       

Fishing Tackle

 

               

Flags

     

       

Fly Tying

 

               

Four Wheeler Cab Enclosures

       

       

Frame Tents

     

                         

G

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Garments

 

               

Gloves (casual)

 

               

Gloves (work)

   

             

Golf Cart Cab Enclosures

         

       

Guitar Straps

     

       

Gun Cases

       

     

Gun Holsters

       

Gymnastics Mats

       

         
                         

H

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Hammocks

           

       

Hemming

 

               

Home Sewing

 

             

Horse Blankets

       

         

Horse Saddles

           

Hunting Blinds

     

         
                         

I

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Inflatables

           

     

Instrument Straps

       

         
                         

K

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Knife Sheaths

       

 
                         

L

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Laptop Cases

     

         

Leather (light)

   

             

Leather (medium)

       

         

Leather (heavy)

         

Loading Dock Seals

           

Log Carriers

         

       

Luggage

       

       
                         

M

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Marine Upholstery

       

         

Market Umbrellas

     

         

Mascot Costumes

 

             

Menu Binding

     

         

Motorcycle Saddle Bags

       

       

Motorcycle Seats

       

         

Motorcycle Tank Bibs

     

         
                         

N

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Nail Pouches

       

       
                         

O

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Outdoor Furniture Covers

     

       
                         

P

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

 

                       

Party Tents

         

   

Patio Furniture

   

         

Pews

   

             

Place Mats

     

           

Pool Covers

         

Pool Table Covers

     

         

 

                       

R

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

 

                       

Restaurant Booths

       

       

Restaurant Chairs

   

           

RV covers

         

                         

S

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

 

                       

Sails (light)

   

             

Sails (medium)

       

         

Sails (heavy)

           

Sand Bags

     

         

Shade Sails

   

         

Shower Curtains

 

               

Sled Dog Harnesses

       

       

Snowmobile Covers

       

         

Snowmobile Seats

       

         

Spa Covers

       

       

Stage Curtains

       

       
                         

T

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

 

                       

Tailoring

 

                   

Tarpaulins

       

       

Tractor Cab Enclosures

         

       

Trampolines

           

         
                         

U

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

UTV Cab Enclosures

         

       
                         

V

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Victorian Tents

           

     

Vinyl (light)

 

               

Vinyl (medium)

     

           

Vinyl (heavy)

         

   
                         

W

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

Wallets

   

   

Work Gloves

   

             
                         

X

 

015

033

046

069

092

138

207

277

346

415

554

                         

X Ray Aprons

     

         
                         

Size Selection Guide--Work backwards from the material that you are sewing to the thread size that you need. This guide describes the things typically sewn with each size. In many case using a slightly thinner or thicker size work. Also, most home sewing machines cannot use threads heavier than Size 69.

Size

Description

Size 15 / 23

Ultra lightweight polyester thread used for bobbins, and sewing garments, flags, and banners. Tensile strength is 1.5 pounds for Size 15 and 2.0 pounds for size 23. Expect 30,000 Yards per pound for Size 15 and 21,000 pounds for Size 23. Inconspicuous stitching. Use with either a home or commercial sewing machine. Use a size 10 or 12 needle.

Size 33

Lightweight polyester thread used for bobbins, and sewing garments, flags, banners, patio furniture, and lightweight sails and tents. Tensile strength is 3 pounds. Expect 12,200 Yards per pound. Inconspicuous stitching. Use with either a home or commercial sewing machine. Use a size 12 or 14 needle.

Size 46

Lightweight polyester thread used for sewing garments, flags, banners, patio furniture, and sails and tents. Tensile strength is 7 pounds. Expect 9,500 Yards per pound. Inconspicuous stitching. Use with either a home or commercial sewing machine. Use a size 14 or 16 needle.

Size 69

Light-middleweight polyester thread used for sewing awnings , banners, flags, patio furniture, sails and tents. Tensile strength is 11 pounds. Expect 6,000 Yards per pound. Noticeable stitching. Use with either a home or commercial sewing machine. This is the heaviest size that most home sewing machines can use. Use a size 16 or 18 needle.

Size 92

Middleweight polyester thread used for sewing awnings, boat covers, auto interiors, banners, flags, patio furniture, sails and tents. Tensile strength is 15 pounds. Expect 4,500 Yards per pound. Noticeable stitching. Normally requires a commercial sewing machine. Use a size 18 or 20 needle.

Size 138

Heavy middleweight polyester thread used for sewing awnings, boat covers, pool covers, auto interiors, banners, flags, patio furniture, sails and tents. Tensile strength is 21 pounds. Expect 3,000 Yards per pound. Noticeable stitching. Requires a commercial sewing machine. Use a size 20 or 22 needle.

Size 207

Heavyweight polyester thread used for sewing awnings, upholstery, boat covers, pool covers, auto interiors, sails, and tents. Tensile strength is 31 pounds. Expect 2,100 Yards per pound. Stitching highly visible. Requires a commercial sewing machine. Use a size 22 or 24 needle.

Size 277

Heavyweight polyester thread used for sewing awnings, upholstery, canvas,  boat covers, pool covers, auto interiors, sails, and tents. Also, re-enforcing fabric and belts. Tensile strength is 44 pounds. Expect 1,500 Yards per pound. Stitching stands out. Requires a commercial sewing machine. Use a size 24 or 26 needle.

Size 346

Heavyweight polyester thread used for sewing awnings, upholstery, canvas, shoe leather, boat covers, pool covers, auto interiors, sails, and tents. Also, re-enforcing fabric and belts. Tensile strength is 53 pounds. Expect 1,300 Yards per pound. Stitching stands out. Requires a commercial sewing machine. Use a size 24 or 26 needle.

Size 415

Ultra heavyweight polyester thread used for sewing awnings, canvas,  heavy-duty upholstery, shoe leather, auto interiors, large sails, outdoor carpeting, and large tents. Also, re-enforcing fabric and belts. Tensile strength is 73 pounds. Expect 1,000 Yards per pound. Stitching highly visible. Requires a heavy duty commercial sewing machine. Use a size 26 or 28 needle.

Size 554

Ultra heavyweight polyester thread used for sewing awnings, canvas,  boot leather, large sails, outdoor carpeting, and large tents. Also, re-enforcing fabric and belts. Tensile strength is 98 pounds. Expect 630 Yards per pound. Stitching highly visible. Requires a heavy duty commercial sewing machine. Use a size 28 or 30 needle.

Polyester Thread Terms - Our product pages use technical terms to describe our thread. Here is a description of these terms and how they should affect your buying decisions.

Ply

A single ply of polyester thread consists of many hair thin filaments of nylon bundled or twisted together.

Left Twist / Right Twist

Most threads are made by twisting multiple plies to make the required size. Left Twist (or Z-Twist) thread is twisted to the left and works with almost all single-needle machines. Right Twist (or S-Twist) thread is twisted to the right and is used with some U.S. double-needle machines and single-needle machine needle machines in Asia. Twist does not matter in hand-sewing, tying, or reinforcing.

Bonded

When thread passes through a sewing machine needle the friction creates heat and may cause the thread to fray. A bonded thread has a coating that reduces friction. Bonding is helpful if you are doing high speed sewing with thread size 46 and higher. It does not matter if you are doing hand sewing.

Soft

A soft thread does not have a coating that reduces sewing machine friction. This is desirable if you are using thread with glue (e.g. fly-tying) because bonding interferes with some adhesives.

Monocord

A monocord normally has many hair-thin filaments, but is only one ply. That is why it’s called a monocord, and not a monofilament.  It feels smooth and is slightly flat or ribbon-like, and tends to be shiny. It is also suited for most double needle machines.

Non-wicking

This thread has a finish that resists liquids flowing through seams. There is a trade-off--some non-wicking finishes weaken abrasion resistance. You can minimize this problem by only using this thread when you sew high tension seams.

   

Nominal Weights--Industry norms allow polyester thread spool weights to vary by ±10% from the stated nominal weight. We follow this practice, but have biased our standards so that customers receive slightly more thread than less thread in most cases. The table on the right shows the range of weights, including the spool, for each nominal weight. When spools fall within these ranges we do not charge for overages or refund underages.

Weight In Ounces

Nominal Minimum Maximum

2.0

2.6

4.5

4.0

4.6

5.9

6.0

6.0

7.9

8.0

8.0

10.5

12.0

10.6

15.5

16.0

15.6

19.9

Mil Spec Polyester Thread--Some of our polyester thread is identified as Mil Spec. This means that the thread is made in the U.S. and that the manufacturer provides paperwork (called CERTS) that certifies that it conforms to MIL-DTL-32072 (formerly VT-285F). This certification is required when thread is used on government contracts. We stock Mil Spec polyester thread in military colors such as Olive Drab, Coyote, and Shade 1600 and can special order it in almost any color and size. Special orders have a four to six week lead time, a 23 pound minimum order, and a $2.00 a pound up-charge.

There are two things that we cannot do:

  • Provide CERTS retroactively for thread that does not have the manufacturers paperwork or has not been identified as Mil Spec on our site.

  • Give CERTS for regular two and four ounce "Juniors" that we wind in-house because we cannot identify these spools to a batch/lot. On request, we can do a special order wind where we identify the Juniors to a manufacturer's batch/lot and issue CERTS. There is a $2.00 a spool up-charge for this service.

Manufacturers have quality control programs to test their thread before it ships. In most cases regular thread is the same as Mil Spec thread. It just does not have the CERTS. Our American & Efird, Eddington, Service Thread, and Coats products are made in the U.S. Linhanyl thread is made in Brazil.

There are many other types of certifications for nylon thread that we do not support. For example, none of our thread is certified for parachutes or medical use and we do not offer certifications for aviation and automobile manufacturers.

Polyester Thread Specifications

Sizes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commercial

15

33

46

69

92

138

207

277

346

415

554

Tex

16

30

40

70

90

135

210

270

350

410

600

Government

00

AA

B

E

F

FF

3-Cord

4-Cord

5-Cord

6-Cord

8-Cord

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tensile Strength (Pounds)

1.5

3

7

11

15

21

31

44

53

73

98

Yards-Per-Pound

30,000

12,200

9,500

6,000

4,000

3.000

2.100

1.500

1.300

1.000

630

Diameter (Inches)

0.0047

0.0070

0.0080

0.0107

0.0124

0.0152

0.0186

0.0231

0.0258

0.0283

0.0330

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metric

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tensile Strength (Kilograms)

0.7

1.4

3.1

5.0

6.8

9.5

14.0

20.0

24.1

33.2

44.5

Diameter (Millimeters)

0.1194

0.1778

0.2032

0.2718

0.3150

0.3861

0.4724

0.5867

0.6553

0.7188

0.8382

                       

More Choices
         
 

The Thread Exchange
291A Merrimon Ave., Weaverville, NC 28787

 
         

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