Polyester Thread Buying Guide
Polyester thread looks, feels, and sews like nylon. You cannot tell the difference just by looking, and technical specifications like strength and stretch are very similar. This means that polyester works just as well as nylon in most applications including: upholstery, leatherwork, automobiles, banners and flags, sports gear, dog collars, horse saddles and tack, knife sheaths, gun holsters, fishing lures, and brief cases.
This guide specifically talks about industrial polyester thread, also known as filament polyester, or bonded polyester thread. There are other types of thread that are made of polyester including:
Embroidery Thread - We have many polyester embroidery threads on our Embroidering, Quilting, and Sewing Thread page featuring the Robison-Anton Super Brite Polyester in about 400 colors.
Spun Polyester - Much of the thread used for sewing garments is spun polyester sold under the names Maxi Lock and Excell. They look, feel, and sew like cotton. They are widely known as general purpose threads.
Selecting Polyester Thread
With polyester thread selection, understanding terminology, uses, limitations, and sizes are some of the most important considerations in order to ensure the best choice possible.
Polyester does better than nylon when you are sewing things that have prolonged exposure to sunlight (UV rays) and moisture. This means it is a better choice for sewing anything that is going to be used outdoors most of the time. It is important to distinguish between prolonged and occasional use. For example, a tent used for annual camping trips can be sewn with either nylon or polyester; a tent used to house a field operation for a season should be sewn with polyester.
Polyester thread has excellent UV resistance, but it does not provide the ultimate UV resistance. Pricey, plastic-looking brands like Sunbrella and Tenara that come with replacement guarantees will outperform regular polyester. Also, there are enhanced UV treated polyester and nylon threads that do better. None of this matters if the material sewn is not equally bleach and sunlight resistant. After all, the material makes up at least 90% of the content and cost of the item that is being sewn.
Uses for Polyester Thread
Polyester thread is popular because of its weather resistance, versatility, durability, and strength to size. There are applications where other types of thread may be better suited, depending on the conditions the end use will be under. This chart shows the most notable circumstances.
Normal Wear and Tear
Thread size is important because there are many considerations. The main ones are:
Polyester Thread Size Descriptions
Use the polyester thread by size description chart to determine machine capability. Home, commercial and heavy duty sewing machines have different thread and needle size limitations. This chart also describes in general way, the level of stitch visibility, and notes that are relevant to size.
The material that you are sewing costs far more than the thread. In most cases, it is better for the thread to break than to have the stitches pull through the fabric. This means that the weight of the fabric, in ounces per square yard, is the best way to determine thread size. Here are size recommendations for fabric and leather.
We sell most of our Polyester thread in 4 and 16 Ounce (1 Pound) spool sizes, also known as putups. The smaller putups cost more per ounce than the larger ones. But, they are a better choice for one-time jobs, casual sewing, people who need a stash of many colors, and experimenters. Polyester thread is sold by weight (ounces, pounds) - not yards. This is because the number of yards-per-pound decreases as thread thickness increases. Selling by weight means prices for a given size spool are about the same across most thread sizes.
Nominal Spool Weights
Industry norms allow Polyester thread spool weights to vary by plus/minus 10% from the stated nominal weight. This means that customers get slightly less or slightly more thread than the nominal weight shown on our site. This chart shows our nominal weights and the thread-weight range (including the spool's weight) for various sizes. When spools fall within these ranges, we do not charge for when they go over or refund for when they go under. It is important to note that we usually do not charge when a spool goes over the maximum tolerance, but we will always refund when they go below the tolerance.
Although 4 and 16 ounce spools are by far our most common spool sizes; other spool sizes are occasionally available. Even if a particular spool size is unavailable, this chart can help to estimate the amount of thread needed, or what is left on an already used spool.
All of our Polyester thread is wound on king spools unless otherwise noted. Most of our 2 and 4 ounce spools are wound in-house, and the spool sizes are consistent for those. Normally, manufacturer spool dimensions are consistent. There are some times one-off occasions where manufacturers will wind 12 and 16 ounce spools with different heights, but the base dimensions remain constant.
Use the Use by Size chart to find the best size polyester thread for many projects. It's also a great tool for new project ideas. The notes section also makes recommendations for types of thread that may be better suited in some cases. Selections in Bold are the most popular, and link to our shopping selections. In most cases, links in the notes sections link to related information pages unless otherwise noted.
Polyester Thread Information - All Topics