Today we are so excited to have Aurifil Artisan Tighe Flanagan at the Auribuzz blog! He is sharing all about his experience working with various weights of Aurifil thread for garment construction and finishing. Take it away Tighe!
Like the Aurifil saying goes, thread matters. And, as I’ve expanded my sewing and quilting skills, I’ve learned that thread weight also matters! Being an Aurifil Artisan this year has allowed me to play with threads that I might not have invested in on my own as a typical home sewist. But as I make more projects it’s clear that investing in good materials makes sense, especially since we put in countless hours of work into our creations.
With that in mind, let me share what I’ve learned about thread weights with relation to my latest garment project, my blue linen blazer. This was my most ambitious garment project to date, and it was a great project to try a variety of thread weights that I wasn’t super familiar with.
As a quilter, my go-to threads are Aurifil 50wt for piecing and by 40wt for quilting. For my blazer I used both of those, but also used 12wt, 28wt as well.
General construction. When sewing a garment, putting the pieces together is construction. For this I like to use 40wt for medium weight fabrics. Think linen, interfaced cottons, etc. It’s also a great option for topstitching or understitching construction seams.
Light weight fabrics. I love sewing with cotton lawns. They’re lightweight and so comfortable to wear. They also make great linings. For garment construction in lightweight fabric use a 50wt thread. 40wt will work, but it might feel a bit bulky on the lightweight fabric!
Hand basting. Hand basting is one way to elevate your garment sewing game. It’s also stitching that no one will ever see, so it doesn’t have to be perfect! For this type of sewing I’ll choose either a thin 50wt or a thick 28wt or 12wt. For hand basting that I remove (like putting in a zipper or making a welt pocket) I’ll use a thicker thread, since it is more visible and easier for me to find and take out later. If it’s stitching that will stay in the garment (usually hidden in the seam allowances) I’ll use a 50wt thread so it doesn’t add any bulk to the garment.
Underlining (Interlining). I recently discovered the magic of underlining (or interlining) a garment. You can do this by hand or by machine, and it’s basically adding another layer to your main fabric, kind of like a sew-in interfacing. Since you’re typically sewing this in the seam allowance and the stitching will never be visible, use a 50wt thread to avoid adding bulk. (You can also remove these stitches after sewing the main construction seams.)
Button holes. I used 28wt for buttonholes for the first time. If you’ve ever added buttonholes on your domestic machine, you know that testing is key. Even the most basic machines will allow you to adjust stitch length, which is how much spacing is between the zig-zag stitches that make up the sides of the buttonhole. With a thicker weight, you will not use the same settings as you would with a 40 or 50wt thread, for example. Test until you get the results you like!
Buttons. After avoiding hand sewing at all costs for years, I’m a new convert to sewing on buttons by hand. Using a thicker weight thread will add strength and make the process go faster.
Tailor tacks (marking with thread). These stitches help you along the way constructing the garment. They may mark a dart or a pleat, or an important seam intersection. I like using a thick 12 wt thread since they will stay in the fabric better. I also like using a color that is similar to the main fabric (but not matching). As you remove tailor tacks, especially ones you have sewn over, there may be some thread fiber residue you struggle to get out. I use a pair of tweezers, but a low contrast color may hide any fibers you fail to remove. (Think of not being able to get red fuzz out of a white seam.)
As with any list of recommendations, try them out and see what works for you. I made my previous blazer entirely with 50wt and it’s held up great with lots of use.
You can follow along with my sewing projects on Instagram @tigheflanagan. There are also some pinned story highlights in my profile that demonstrate these threat weights.
Tighe Flanagan has a background in visual arts and Middle Eastern studies and loves to combine these passions through patchwork and quilting. His creative work is greatly influenced by a sense of place — those he has visited and researched as well as his home in Washington, DC. In addition to quilting and patchwork, Tighe enjoys sewing menswear and teaching others new skills and techniques.