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  1. #1
    Senior Member Yakfoot's Avatar
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    Upholstery thread, a story

    In the process of being a beginner I got my M. in law's classic little Singer in working order but had to take it to the shop because of a thread breakage problem. I described it to the mechanic, he nodded, said he knew exactly what it was, grabbed a screwdriver, described a minor misalignment problem in a place where I hadn't been, gave it a tweak, put the screws back in, and away she went. He didn't charge me a thing. But, after fixing he he pulled out some of the top thread, pulled it between his hands...snap...he scowled at me. Then he tried the bobbin thread, same result, same scowl. "Good thread doesn't break like that", he said "its hard to break because it digs into your hand so hard."

    I figured it broke because it was ages old, but I had just been to Wal-Mart and picked up some shiny new Coats&Clark polyester coated polyester so I was bound to be good. I went home and gave my new thread the test: ...snap...easy as pie. It snapped almost as easy as the old cotton thread in the sewing box. Now I began to visualize sitting on the edge hem of my hammock and hearing popping sounds.

    Ok, not to worry, there is a "something Creations Sewing Shoppe" I've seen in town. So I go there and guess what, ...they don't carry polyester thread!! There is hardly a square foot of the walls that is not plastered with a quilt, quilting is all the rage, and they only carry cotton threads. The lady wants to know what in the world I am sewing. I tell her, she is greatly astonished, "hammock, your're making a hammock?", "nylon...you mean like ripstop?", "straps...you're sewing straps"? She thinks for a minute...a light comes on..."Upholstery thread, that's polyester, we have upholstery thread, its good and strong." Oh, hallelujah, saved at last!

    I go home with a couple of rolls and sure enough its thick and hell for stout. Threading it through a #11 needle it a real trial but I get her done. The little old granny of a machine i have is very high quality and actually handles the stuff pretty well after some tension adjustment. During the next hour or so of making practice hems out of extra fabric I learn a couple of things about upholstery thread. Number one: there is such a thing as too thick. The difference between the thickness of the thread and the thickness of the nylon fabric is such that a couple of rows of stitches of the big stuff feels like you just installed a miniature zipper on the hem. And, number two: there is such a thing as too strong. During the process of learning to use the machine and tinkering with adjustments I made several bird nests of thread tangles and broke the thread a couple of times...then WHAM...a really nasty one. When I managed to finally hack my way out I found that that the thread didn't break..it ripped the nylon fabric. Like I said, the thread is hell for stout.

    I love learning new things and have now formed some opinions re: the use of upholstery thread. IMO it is big time overkill for hammock nylon. You can use it if you don't mind bumpy hems and you don't screw up and rip something. It would probably be good for strapping if you use at least a #14 needle. You will be much better off getting some good quality but ordinary thickness poly thread to make hammocks and gear. Forget the upholstery thread. I just ordered some good stuff on line since there is no place in town to get it.
    Last edited by Yakfoot; 04-22-2011 at 17:06.
    "To turn from this increasingly artificial and strangely alien world is to escape from unreality. To return to the timeless world of the mountains, the sea, the forest and the stars is to return to sanity and truth." --Robert Burnham Jr.

  2. #2
    Member morticianfaller's Avatar
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    I had the same thing happen the first time I tried it. The upholstery thread was all i could find at the time and I really wanted to get started. I now have the correct thread and all is going well.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnSawyer's Avatar
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    Same here.. when I started, I thought "Stronger is better" so I bought heavy thread. Now I only use it when making straps...

    AHE and BWDD have Gutterman's thread at decent prices. Speer used to sell cones of the stuff. (can you say Lifetime supply?)
    "Do or do not, there is no try." -- Yoda


  4. #4
    Senior Member Yakfoot's Avatar
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    I pulled out the upholstery thread and put the Wally Word C&C back in to practice. I rolled up some fabric like a hem and ran three lines of stitches down it then pulled it as hard as I could, no problems. The fabric stretched but the thread held fine. But, hey, good stuff doesn't cost that much more, then no worries.
    "To turn from this increasingly artificial and strangely alien world is to escape from unreality. To return to the timeless world of the mountains, the sea, the forest and the stars is to return to sanity and truth." --Robert Burnham Jr.

  5. #5
    Senior Member te-wa's Avatar
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    nothing wrong with C&C for non loads. stuff sacks, its a charm
    ive been using the gutterman (t46 equivalent) upholstery thread for my quilts and for any durable needs for a couple years now. joann's has 50% off sales all the time.

  6. #6
    Senior Member hangnout's Avatar
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    If you want something stronger than standard Gutermann thread try the Tera 40 at BWWD

    It does not require major adjustments on your machine but is very strong. I used it on my last backpack and was very pleased

  7. #7
    Dutch's Avatar
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    Wanna get real crazy, try 92 pound test boot thread. I used it for the bridgeskin. It had a learning curve but once the tension was right it layed down real nice. You can see my stitches that's for sure. i have a cone from Speer and it serves me well. I am amazed at how long it lasts.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Yakfoot's Avatar
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    Wow Dutch, I'd be afraid of breaking something in the machine. Kind of like heaving a roll of barbed wire into a hay bailer.
    "To turn from this increasingly artificial and strangely alien world is to escape from unreality. To return to the timeless world of the mountains, the sea, the forest and the stars is to return to sanity and truth." --Robert Burnham Jr.

  9. #9
    Member Meteor's Avatar
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    I bought one of the big cones of Gutermann at Joanns, but the stuff is really easy to break with my hands. Too easy it seems to me. I went back and got some Gutermann heavy duty and some upolstery thread, thinking I'll try each. They seem to be exactly the same to me.

    I don't want overkill, but the stuff I got the first time - I just don't see how it could hold with the stresses of a body pulling on it. I hope I'm not making a mistake with the first project, but I guess I'll learn the hard way...

  10. #10
    Senior Member JohnSawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meteor View Post
    I bought one of the big cones of Gutermann at Joanns, but the stuff is really easy to break with my hands. Too easy it seems to me. I went back and got some Gutermann heavy duty and some upolstery thread, thinking I'll try each. They seem to be exactly the same to me.
    The only cones of gutterman's thread they have at my Joann's is nylon serger overlock thread... not really useful for anything else... maybe that's what you have...
    "Do or do not, there is no try." -- Yoda


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