Why Having a Consistent Thread Matters

I’d guess everyone who works with thread in any fashion has their likes and dislikes when it comes to thread brands.   When you’re just starting out,  it’s hard to know which brand will serve you well and meet your needs the best. Some people buy thread based on what came with their machine.  Other embroiderers work more with colors they need to match rather than thread brands they like.  Certainly there are those who buy based on price, and the cheaper price always seems to win.  One thing that isn’t often considered,  but should be,  is how consistent the thread is.

A consistent thread is one that retains the same properties over time.  The hues of the dyes used to color the thread don’t change.  The tensile strength of the thread remains constant.  The cost of the thread stays reasonably steady.  The quality of the thread doesn’t vary from lot to lot.   What you got when you used the thread for the first time should,  if the thread is consistent,  be the same as what you get when you use the thread for the thirty-first time.  Being consistent is important for thread for several reasons.

Reason 1: Colors don’t change –  Anyone who’s matched a color for a customer knows the importance of color consistency.  Once you find the perfect color to match their logo or graphic,  you need that color to match every time you do an order.  Customers,  as we all know,  can be very picky about color matching.  The last thing you need is a thread color that changes a bit with every dye lot.  A consistent thread will maintain color integrity across dye lots.  The dye recipe will be precise and will be precisely followed.

Reason 2: Strength and durability – An inconsistent thread will have weak spots,  areas where the fibers are uneven or aren’t as thick.  It won’t hold tension as well and may be more prone to thread breaks.   A consistent thread, on the other hand,  will be even, without weak spots.   It will sew smoothly and thread breaks will be limited, and more likely due to design issues than the quality of the thread.  Consistent thread also generally causes far fewer thread breaks,  which results in much less downtime for production.

Reason 3:  Price – Consistent thread is unlikely to be the least expensive thread on the block,  but the quality will be worth paying a slightly higher price.  It’s also unlikely that the prices for a consistent thread will fluctuate much,  since the manufacturer will have sourced quality supplies and ensured their supply chain is secure.  While the price may be adjusted to reflect inflation or changes in the economy,  overall the price should stay pretty steady.

Reason 4:  Sew-out –  A consistent thread will sew out the same every time you sew a design.   It won’t sew perfectly one time and become a knotted mess the next. A thread you can rely on is one that can be predicted,  one that you know will create embroidery that will satisfy your customers.   If you constantly have to adjust tensions or mess with the machine to get the same results as a prior sew-out,  you’re losing time and certainly adding to your stress level.

In the end,  a consistent thread is one that performs the job for you best over the long term.   Yes,  a thread that stays consistent probably won’t be the cheapest option,  but a higher price will be more than justified by the faster production,  stable color and pain free sew-outs.

Time Travel Tuesday: Which Thread is Best

extra-35-picAmong the eternal questions that plague the machine embroidery community,  the question of which thread is best is probably the one heard most often.  Sometimes the question involves what type of thread works best,  and sometimes it centers more on which brand of thread is best,  but the answer required always centers around a comparison and a qualification,  something has to come out on top as “the best”.

A couple decades ago,  the answer to the which thread is best question,  at least when it came to type of thread,  would have been rayon.  Made from regenerated cellulose,  rayon was the thread of choice for a lot of embroiderers back in the day.   It had great shine and made embroidery pop,  but it wasn’t necessarily a strong thread,  or a washfast one.  Still, for a long time,  it was the only game in town.

Polyester,  in the time when rayon was king,  was primarily a matte thread,  dull and not considered a show piece thread.  Over time, though, manufacturers,  like Hilos Iris,  started working on creating a polyester thread with shine.  They also worked on strength and durability,  using trilobal fibers to make the thread both stronger and shinier.  The result was a polyester thread that could beat rayon at its own game,  a thread that equaled rayon in shine,  but exceeded it in colorfastness,  washfastness and strength.   While there are still die hard rayon users in the embroidery world,  a lot of embroiderers have switched to polyester.

Once an embroiderer settled on what type of thread to use,  the next question to be answered was which brand was best.   As with the rayon/polyester debate,  the choices for a brand of thread started out narrower and expanded over the years.  Madeira and Robinson Anton are brands that have been around for a quite a while.  American and Efird has been around for over 100 years.  Coats and Clark, in one incarnation or another,  has been around for quite a while as well.

As time went on,  new brands entered the market place.   Iris thread,  a trilobal polyester was introduced to the American market in 2007.  Fil-Tec introduced their Glide thread.   Companies started bringing in and selling cheaper thread from the Pacific Rim.  Suddenly,  embroiderers were spoiled for choice.  The question about which thread was best was heard more and more often.

The simple answer to the question of what thread is best is this:  the best thread is the thread that works most efficiently for you.  Different threads will sew out differently depending on what machine is being used.   The fabric being sewn, and how the design is digitized can also have an impact on how well a thread works.  The durability, colorfastness and washfastness of the thread should also be considered.   Thread breaks that slow down productions,  or colors that run can lead to lost business and lost time.

The biggest mistake embroiderers make,  in my opinion,  when considering which thread is best for them is placing price at the top of the list of things to consider.  Many shops may operate on strict budgets and price will need to be factored into the purchasing decision,  but placing price before how the thread sews out,  or giving price more weight than the durability of the thread, or settling for a thread that isn’t colorfast because it’s a thread that’s cheap accomplishes exactly the opposite of what’s intended.  Not all cheap thread is bad thread,  and not all expensive thread is great thread,  but the likelihood that a thread that costs more will also have more time, effort and quality materials in its construction should not be ignored.

One way to gather data for your decision about which thread is best for you without breaking your budget is to ask the thread manufacturer for a sample you can test.   Most manufacturers or distributors will be happy to send out a sample.   If you’d like a sample of Iris thread,  please contact us and we’ll be happy to get one out to you.

Save

Save