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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Care & Feeding of Your Sewing Machine

Sewing Machine needles, thread and tension knowledge from 50+ years of sewing ….  Sewing has been my passion since age 14 when I ‘took off’ as my Mom tells the story. Since then, I earned my B.S. in Home Economics, and did custom dressmaking for many years while the kids were young.  It wasn’t until I opened a fabric shop and machine dealership at age thirty-eight that I really learned and came to understand some of the basic mechanics about sewing machines that could have made all those previous years far less tearful.   Read on…and, just maybe, what I have to share can even save you a repair bill.  Though most certainly, what I’ve learned and share here can make YOUR precious sewing hours more frustration-free!



1. Always buy more thread than you think you’ll need!  (Personally, I ALWAYS buy at least 2 or 3 spools!) If you’re a serious sewer, you’ll use it eventually.   Time is too treasured to run out and be delayed having to stop until you can get more.  Personally, I love and used to use exclusively is Swiss Mettler thread.  As of 2018, I can add that I also love and use Gutermann and Coats & Clark, and a NEW favorite:  Intressa from A&E.  I just did some price comparison, and where Metrosene is $2.75/164 yard spool, Intressa is $4.99/600 yard spool…AND, it is MADE IN THE USA!!!

I just took some time to do the math based on MSRP of my favorite threads, and here are the results comparing basic 100% polyester thread as I use in most of my sewing as I predominantly sew on knit, stretchy fabrics:

  1.  Metrosene (made in Switzerland) .o1682957/yard

  2. Gutermann (made in Germany) .01014625/yard

  3. Intressa (made in the USA)  .00831667/yard!

Sew…made in our own USA and far less expensive – that’s a no-brainer for me in the future!!!  

I’m a purist:  either give me 100% poly or 100% cotton or 100% silk.   The ‘default’ thread is 50/3 weight silk finished cotton mercerized thread. When I sold it these had purple printing on the spool.   The 50 tells us the weight of the thread and the 3 reveals that it is a 3 ply thread – three strands make up this single strand. This is a basic top quality thread that sewing machines were invented to sew with.  It is the perfect choice for cottons, wools, etc.  You may find it hard to find the full color selection available though.  Try your local quilt shop as this is a popular cotton sewing thread for piecing quilts.  The big thing is:  do NOT use decorative embroidery thread for garment construction!  AND… if sewing a knit – you MUST use a thread that stretches – likely 100%  polyester.

Here’s an interesting note for you:  back when I sold sewing machines, we were told to demo with 30 weight cotton thread – so that when doing buttonholes and decorative stitches, they looked more filled in.  30 wt thread is FATTER.  The lower the number on threads, the fatter the thread.  Go figure…..

The other thread I’ll stick in here is monofilament, ‘invisible