15 Tips For Sewing With Heavy Duty Thread and When To Use It

When you have lots of layers to sew or you are working with some fairly thick or stiff fabrics, a heavy-duty thread can be your friend. The key is knowing when to use this thread and how to use it correctly. The wrong application can make using heavy-duty thread difficult and very frustrating.

One good tip to follow is to match the heavy-duty thread to the purpose and environment it will reside the most in. For example, you want to use an outdoor heavy-duty thread on outdoor fabrics because that thread is UV resistant and can handle other weather issues.

To learn more about using heavy-duty thread and get more tips, just continue to read our article. it has that information and more. Knowing when to use this type of thread will make your sewing projects last longer and look better.

Tip 1: When using heavy-duty thread in your top thread area, it is better to use regular thread in your bobbin. The tension adjustments are difficult to make when you go with heavy-duty thread in both the top and bottom thread sections.

Tip 2: After adjusting your tensions, you should insert a #18 jeans needle into your home sewing machine. This will handle the heavier thread better than a regular needle. Plus, it works better on heavier, thicker fabrics.

What is Heavy-Duty Thread?


This type of thread is specifically designed to handle high stress and tension. Like other lighter threads, it does come in a variety of weights and finishes and each weight and finish will work with different types of fabrics.

Heavy-duty thread is best used on those heavier fabrics you need to sew. An example of those fabrics would be duck cloth, canvas, and so on. The thread is also made to handle the high wear and tear those materials to endure every day.

Other uses for a heavy-duty thread would be for camping gear, luggage, and sports equipment along with similar fabric applications. One thing you should not do is confuse heavy duty thread with industrial thread.

The industrial thread is stronger, lasts longer, and more durable than heavy-duty thread. it is also not made for home sewing machines. It is made for industrial machines that work at higher speeds and longer hours.

Industrial threads are usually used for fireman’s outfits, parachutes, and rock climbing gear where safety has to be at its utmost highest.

Tip 3: When working with a heavy-duty thread you can wind your bobbin like always using either V46 or V69 heavy-duty thread. the latter number is the heaviest thread you can use in a home sewing machine while the first number is lighter.

What Weight is a Heavy-Duty Thread?

The key to understanding thread weight is that the higher the weight number, the thinner the thread will be. That means that if you are looking for a good heavyweight thread to use in your sewing project you need to be looking at those numbers closer to 15.

If on the spool you see numbers between 12 and 18 then you know you are looking at a heavy-duty thread. But as you can see by our tip #3, the numbers on thread spools do not always follow that rule.

To help you understand the difference the weight of the thread is determined by how long the thread has to be to make one kilogram of thread. If the thread takes only 12 kilometers to make one kilo then it is considered to be a heavy-duty thread.

If it takes 50 kilometers to make one kilo of thread then the thread is considered to be light. 40 weight thread simply means that 40 kilometers of that thread make up one kilo and on it goes.

To end any confusion, the V in front of the numbers in tip #3 indicate the thread is designed for commercial use, not home use.

Tip 4: You need to choose your sewing projects carefully. While you can use a heavy-duty thread on your home machine, those home machines are designed to work on medium weight or lighter fabrics and can handle about 3 to 4 layers only.

When to Use Heavy-Duty Thread


There are going to be those sewing times where you cannot use all-purpose thread in your sewing machine. After you have adjusted the tension and threaded your machine with heavy-duty thread, you are now ready to work on the materials that the thread is designed to hold together.

The first use is for seams that will always be under a lot of stress. Those seams need a strong thick thread to stay together. Next, you can use a heavy-duty thread on denim. When you are making jeans or denim jackets, etc., lighter threads won’t cut it.

After that, this thread can work on heavy woven fabrics, leather, canvas, and similar materials. The reason you use heavy-duty thread, which is generally made from polyester, is because they are resistant to tearing, fading, shrinking, and ironing.

Heavier fabrics get rougher treatment so they need a strong thread to hold up to that treatment.

Tip 5: It is possible to use upholstery thread instead of heavy-duty thread. They are technically not the same but they are about the same weight class and have similar strengths. This is good for furniture as nylon upholstery thread will have some give to it. That allows people to sit on the furniture without breaking the thread.

What Size Needle for Heavy-Duty Thread

There are several different sizes of needles you can use with heavy-duty thread. if you are using regular heavy-duty thread you may be able to get away with using the #110 needle. This is after you adjust the tension which you should budget about 30 minutes of your sewing time to doing.

Next, if you are using commercial or V46 or V69 thread, then a #18 jeans needle will handle that heavy-duty thread. Or you can go with a needle whose size fits the 70/10 to 80/12 range. This chart may help you out to match the needle to the thread weight you are wanting to use.

One of the interesting facts that come with matching the needle to the thread is that the needle size number goes in the opposite direction of the thread weight number. The higher the thread weight number, the lower the needle size number. The lower the thread weight number the higher the needle size number.

That means if you are using 30 weight or lower thread you will want to use a needle that numbers in the 100s. Not all needles will follow this pattern but you get the idea. You can’t match the needle number exactly to the thread number.

Tip 6: The type of sewing foot you use is also important when working with heavy-duty thread. An even feed foot, Teflon foot, or roller foot will lower the amount of slippage you get. But if you do not have those feet on hand, just about any sewing foot will work with heavy-duty thread.

Nylon Thread for Sewing Machine


This is a good heavy duty thread to use on any sewing project that requires the stitches to be strong and very durable. That means you can use it on denim, canvas, leather, vinyl, and similar fabrics including those heavy use materials like sportswear and so on.

Then nylon thread can be listed in several different sizes. You may be able to use the correct nylon thread without even knowing it. There are the regular size, the government size, and the tex size listings for this thread type.

The regular sizes are 25, 30, 46, 69. 92. 138, 207, 277, & 346; while the government sizes use A, AA, B, E, F, FF for the first 6 numbers in the regular size and then 3 cord, 4 cord, 5 cord for the remaining 3 numbers.

The tex sizes are just slightly off of the regular size nylon threads and they go 16, 30, 45, 70, 90, 135, 210, 270, & 350. These measurements should help you locate the right nylon thread size without too much trouble.

Tip 7: When switching to a heavy-duty thread you will need to change your stitch length. Some people use a baste stitch while others go to the longest stitch length possible on their machines. A wider stitch width is also advisable.

How to Sew With Heavy-Duty Thread

Using a heavy-duty thread in your home sewing machine is not that much different than using an all-purpose thread. You thread the machine the same way, you thread your bobbin the same way and you apply the right amount of tension.

The difference is that you have to make adjustments. Some people say to use regular thread in your bobbin so you do not have to waste time getting that tension set just right. But tension is going to be your biggest hurdle to overcome.

Then you will have to change your needle as a regular needle’s eye is probably not big enough to accommodate the thicker thread. Just make sure to insert the new needle all the way in and in the right direction.

Once you get all the adjustments made and you have solved all the problems that come with using heavy-duty thread, you should be able to sew like normal. The next key will be to make sure you have the proper foot on the machine.

While all sewing feet work with heavy-duty threads some just work better than others. Cutting down on slippage makes your sewing time go faster.

Tip 8: After you have made all your initial adjustments find a scrap piece of fabric and do a test. 5 or 6 stitches should tell you if you have everything set right for sewing with heavy-duty thread.

Using Heavy-Duty Thread in a Sewing Machine


When you go to use heavy-duty thread in your sewing machine, the setup is similar to using regular thread except you have to make those adjustments we just talked about. But there is more to using heavy-duty thread than just threading the machine and changing the tension and needles.

To have a better and more enjoyable sewing time, you also have to match the thread to the fabric and to the model of sewing machine you are going to use. Some home sewing machines may not take heavy-duty thread as they are not designed to handle anything other than regular thread.

Then some thread types, like polyester, may break on you if you sew with it for too long of a time period. You need to know a little bit more about heavy duty threads to make sure you avoid those types of issues.

Make sure you know the purpose of your sewing project as not all threads will give a little like nylon. They may be strong but when you use them on furniture material, the pressure could cause the strong thread to break because it had no give to it.

Tip 9: When looking for the right needle to use when you want to sew with heavy-duty thread, make sure the eye of the needle is 40% larger than the thickness of the thread. This will make sure the thread passes through the eye without trouble.

Upholstery Thread in a Sewing Machine


This is a good option when you take on those sewing projects that require heavier fabrics or multiple layers. Often upholstery thread and heavy-duty thread are used interchangeably so you are not going to lose strength or durability when you make the substitution.

This type of thread is strong, also thick as well as being able to match up with many different fabric colors. Plus, it comes in a variety of weights and thicknesses so you will have lots of choices.

Also, upholstery thread is made from cotton, nylon, polyester, and silk so you can make sure your outdoor furniture is top-quality despite the weather conditions in your region.

The key will be to match the thread to the fabric you want to sew. For example, silk upholstery thread should be used only with silk fabrics. Cotton with cotton materials while polyester and nylon can be used for a wide range of fabrics.

Just keep in mind that upholstery and heavy-duty threads are thicker and they may be more visible than you want them to be.

Tip 10: The thread size is actually the measurement for the thread thickness only. There should be a second number on the spool indicating the weight of the thread and how much thread is on the spool.

Tips for Sewing With Thick Thread

While we have given you a lot of tips already, it pays to get as many as you can. You never know what you will encounter when you change to a heavy-duty thread.

  • 1. common problems - switching to a heavier thread does not avoid those common problems that arise when you use a regular thread. You need to insert the needle correctly, watch for bent, broken, or dull needles, look for missed threading spots, and so on.
  • 2. clean and lubricate your machine - if you haven’t done those two tasks in a while it is a good idea to make sure your machine is clean and lubricated before you start using the new thread. Your sewing will go a lot smoother if you do
  • 3. Check your machine’s owner manual - not only will this help you balance your thread stitches, but it will also tell you if the thread you want to use can be used on your home machine. V69, a commercial thread, is the heaviest you can go on a home machine.
  • 4. Fabrics - heavy fabrics are not meant to be sewn on portable or tiny sewing machines. Even if you can use heavy-duty thread, at best they are designed to handle medium weight fabrics. You may have to change machines if you want to sew a lot of layers or heavy and thick materials.
  • 5. Thread - not all heavy-duty thread is meant to be used with every type of fabric. learn to match the thread to the fabric before you buy it.

Some Final Words

Your sewing project is only as good as the thread and stitch you use. if you use the wrong stitch or thread your sewing project may come apart at the seams-- literally. Using heavy-duty thread can save you a lot of future problems when it is sewn correctly.

The key will be in making those adjustments to the right setting and using the right needle. Your owner's manual should be able to help you out.

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