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  1. What brands of thread are available, and how do they differ?
  2. There are four commonly available brands of thread in America.
    1. Coats & Clark
      Coats & Clark thread is very widely available in many colors. Unfortunately many people feel that it's poor quality thread and not worth using. Your author's sewing machine won't even actually sew with it - it just jams up on a huge mess of thread every time your author tries. However, your author used it extensively with a different sewing machine and would have continued to do so (because it's usually cheap) if he had not purchased a new sewing machine.

    2. Guetermann
      Gutermann thread is manufactured in a number of countries around the world by a German company. The thread is thought to be of higher quality than Coats & Clark and many people feel that it's good all-purpose thread. It comes in very many colors, and several colors are available in very large, very economical spools. Your author has extensive experience with it and uses it most of the time, but notes that it does seem to have regular but minor imperfections. This hasn't stopped your author from buying it regularly.

    3. Mettler thread is manufactured in a number of countries around the world by a Swiss company. The thread is widely thought to be of superior quality with practically no imperfections. It comes in many colors and is manufactured of several different materials. Mettler brand 100% cotton thread is widely used in quilting. Mettler 100% polyester thread is sold under the brand name Metrosene. Unfortunately it isn't as commonly available as other brands, which is why your authors don't use it almost exclusively. It's also slightly more expensive than Gutermann.

    4. Sulky thread is (usually) rayon thread intended for embroidery. It has a shiny finish and generally looks very nice in finished embroidery.

  3. What fibers of thread are available, and how do they differ?
  4. [Tom writes:]
    1. Cotton - Cotton thread is commonly used for quilting. Cotton thread is weaker than most other commonly used fibers. This is actually considered an advantage, because if sufficient strain is put on the garment or quilt to make something break, it's better if it's the thread that breaks rather than tearing the fabric, because it's easier to replace a few stitches than to mend a hole in the fabric. Cotton thread is also somewhat softer against the skin than polyester thread. Some people feel cotton also goes through fabrics more easily than polyester.

    2. Cotton wrapped polyester - The theory of this is that it should give you the advantages of using cotton (nicer against the skin, slides easily through fabric) and the strength of polyester. In my opinion, it gives you the disadvantages of cheap cotton (frays more easily and makes more lint which can cause jams at the needle) with less of the strength of polyester.

    3. Polyester - This has become the de facto standard thread for sewing clothes. It's cheap, it's strong, and it comes in a great variety of colors. I use it regularly.

    4. Rayon - Rayon thread is used for embroidery. It's not particularly strong, making it unsuitable for garment construction, but it has a lovely lustrous appearance, giving an excellent sheen to finished embroidery. It is usually somewhat more expensive than most other fibers of threads.

    5. Metallic - Metallic threads are also used almost exclusively for embroidery. They tend to be extremely weak and as such are decorative only. They're notorious for breaking very regularly while sewing with them by machine. When purchasing metallic thread, if you intend to use it in a sewing machine, be sure you're not accidentally getting thread marked "for hand sewing only" as there asre some metallic threads which are too bulky to fit through a machine needle. Also strongly consider using special needles designed for use with metallic threads.

    6. Silk - People's opinions on 100% silk thread seem to fall into one of three categories - "Never use silk thread for sewing anything but silk fabric," or "Never use silk thread for sewing anything at all," or "I don't see the problem, I use silk thread all the time." The common complain is that silk thread is actually *too* strong, and that even the tension of the sewing machine can pull hard enough on the thread to actually cut the fabric. This is a definite and real concern. People who use silk thread successfully for sewing usually are using it for hand sewing, in which case it's not such a concern. Silk thread is also excellent for hand basting, as it slips easily and smoothly out of practically any fabric when it's time to remove the basting stitches.

    7. Nylon - There are two kinds of nylon thread commonly available. One is a very thin, usually transparent thread often sold as "invisible" thread. I find it scratchy and unpleasant, but if you really do need a thread that just disappears and you can't otherwise match the color, this may be your best choice. The other kind is known as "wooly" nylon and is commonly used in sergers and for other types of seams which will have a lot of thread in one area. After sewing, wooly nylon "puffs up" and becomes very soft and nice to touch and fills out space (good for when you want the thread to totally cover something such as a raw edge), yet it is still very strong.

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