Sewing Threads are used for sewing, mainly in the textile sector. Depending on the respective application, different parameters determine the properties of a sewing thread. The application of the sewing threads ranges from simple household sewing machines to complex premium sewing constructions for the (large) industrial sector.
Sewing Thread Construction
After selecting the raw material, the properties of a sewing thread are determined by the following parameters:
- Construction Type
While the construction of the yarn defines the individual thread type, twist, ply and cord define the general construction parameters for all sewing threads. The same applies for embroidery threads.
Selection of raw materials
Textile fibers are available as staple fibers or as filaments. According to their origin, they are divided into natural fibers and industrially manufactured man-made fibers. Often - depending on their intended use - the respective positive properties of the individual fiber groups are combined by a targeted mixture of the two.
- natural fibres
- chemical fibres
The construction type is defined based on the different processing methods of the fibres and filaments (schappe or cut staple spuns, smooth continuous filaments, monofilaments, texturised filaments) and their combination. It is important to point out that the construction types are described based on the structure of a single yarn. In general, however, a finished sewing thread consists of two or multiple single yarns,which are twisted together.
With this type of sewing thread the single yarns consist of short, cut staple fibres, twisted together to form a thread. The most frequently used raw materials for this construction type are cotton, polyester and aramids. While natural fibres have a limited length (staple fibres), synthetic fibres are available either as cut staple or as schappe spuns. The filaments of schappe spuns are pulled lengthwise and break at the weak points. This results in irregularly long fibres (20 to 70 mm) with fibre ends of varying thickness. The surface of spun threads is very smooth. In case of cut staple spuns, the filaments are cut to a uniform length (approx. 40 mm, e. g. based on the model of high-quality cotton). The cutting of the fibres results in smooth and equally thick fibre endings. The spun thread obtains a textile look. 28 Cotton spun threads are primarily used for special applications in the apparel sector. The cotton sewing thread in the AMANN product range is MercifilGD. For technical applications, there are synthetic fibre yarns made of para- or meta-aramide. Well-known AMANN products: K-tech and N-tech.
Core spun thread
With core spun threads, the single yarns consist of a continuous filament core surrounded by fine fibres. In sewing thread production, this finished hank is called core yarn. The ratio of core to cover is usually two thirds to one third (the core is sheathed but not fully covered). This can vary according to the specific application field of the sewing thread. The continuous filaments that form the core are usually made from polyester. Very occasionally other raw materials may be used. The spun cover is made of polyester or cotton fibres. A polyester core with polyester cover would be referred to as a polyester/polyester core spun, whilst a polyester core with a cotton cover would be called polyester/cotton core spun. Polyester/polyester core spun threads may have a cut staple or schappe spun cover. The latter is however seldom in use today. Almost all polyester/polyester core spun threads have a cover of polyester cut staple spuns that are cut to a length of 40 mm to match high-quality cotton.
Like spun threads, core spun threads have a smooth and textile surface. Thanks to the combination of continuous filament core and spun cover, core spun threads are extremely high performing. Breaking strength and abrasion resistance are higher in comparison with spun threads. Core spun threads display an outstanding sewability and this provides for trouble-free processing, even in difficult applications such as multidirectional sewing operations and buttonholes in thin fabrics. Therefore, core spun threads are well suited for a huge spectre of applications. The polyester/polyester core spun thread Saba is among the most important products in the AMANN range of products. Rasant is AMANN's polyester/cotton core spun thread.
The single yarns are made of endless fibres (filaments) for continuous filament threads. Partially, up to 200 single filaments make up a single yarn (continuous filament). Raw materials are primarily polyester and polyamide, for technical applications other raw materials like aramids, polyethylene, polytrimethylenterephthalate, polypropylene and polyetheretherketone are used. While the coarser sizes are usually of 3-ply construction, the finer qualities mostly have 2-ply constructions (see Sewing Thread Construction/Ply). Thanks to their construction continuous filaments have a smooth, glossy surface and a consistent thread character. Furthermore, they display a very high breaking strength and abrasion resistance.
Continuous filaments are mainly used for Shoes & Accessories, Home Interior and Techtex. The main products in the AMANN product range: Serafil (polyester continuous filament) and Onyx (polyamide continuous filament). For Techtex: Nc-tech, Kc-tech, C-tech, I-tech, Zyex®. The apparel industry generally utilises only the finer counts. The major field of application here are overlock seams for cut edges and blindstitch seams. Continuous filaments made of trilobal polyester are a classic construction type for embroidery threads. The trilobal filament shape enlarges the light-reflecting material surface and ensures that the finished embroidery design has the desired gloss. Well-known AMANN products: Isacord
Continuous filament, texturised
For this construction type continuous filaments are crimped by a false twisting process. These texturised continuous filaments are mainly made of polyester or polyamide and are bulgy and bulky. Hence, they are often referred to as “bulk yarns”. The crimping of the continuous filaments also provides for a soft grip, a matt look and a high yarn or thread elasticity. Due to their special properties, typical fields of application are serging and flatlock seams in underwear and apparel production as well as edge covering of carpets. Well-known AMANN products: Sabatex.
Continuous filament, braided
In order to obtain a braided continuous filament, 12 to 16 filament yarns (continuous filament bundle) – depending on the ticket size of the finished thread – are wound together on so-called clappers in a circular weaving process. Therefore, it takes longer to produce a braided thread (18 times longer than the production time of a comparable non-braided continuous filament thread). Polyester is the most commonly used raw material for braided continuous filaments.
Thanks to their construction and the continuous filaments in use, braided continuous filaments have a smooth and decorative surface. They have excellent breaking strength and abrasion resistance. Braided continuous filament threads are used for decorative seams on shoes, upholstery and leather products. Because of their special construction type they accentuate the seam. AMANN's braided polyester continuous filament is Serabraid.
Continuous microfilament, texturised
For specially soft seams, a texturised polyester microfilament is recommended. Due to the multitude of fine filaments, the sewing thread becomes extremely soft and smooth, and the seams are barely noticeable. Well-known AMANN products: Sabasoft
Important: The filaments for sewing threads differ significantly from those for applications in 3D printing.
Sewing and Embroidery Production
The production of sewing and embroidery threads is a complex process comprising a number of production steps on different machines and production plants. The production diagram at the end of this chapter shows an overview of the main sewing and embroidery thread types in AMANN's production. In contrast to the general sewing industry, which is generally labour-intensive due to the operation of sewing machines, sewing thread production predominantly involves a high level of machine utilisation. Ultra-modern and often computer-controlled, fully automated production plants characterise the manufacturing process.
The production staff are required mainly for the feeding and cleaning of the machines. The production control is usually fully automated throughout most production steps. Malfunctions are detected by automatic sensors and remedied by the staff. Many production steps have long lead times. In contrast to the apparel production, for example, which calculates in minutes, some positions in the sewing thread production have lead times of several hours, sometimes even days. An optimised process scheduling and controlling is therefore essential for sewing thread production.
Today, sewing thread production refers to the processing of synthetic or partly synthetic preliminary products. Apart from few exceptions, threads completely made from natural fibres are of minor importance nowadays. Because cotton thread is the most important article it is included here in the production diagram at the end of this chapter as well as in the description of the production steps. The production methods for each sewing thread type (core spun thread, spun thread, continuous filaments, texturised continuous filaments, etc.) differ in their process chain and in specific production steps, which are necessary only for specific sewing thread types.
Seam plans for sewing threads
For each sewn garment, there is a special seam plan that emphasizes on the different seam types used in the particular garment. As many garments are produced similarly, there are also standard seam plans for certain applications. In the following, a standard seam plan and sketch of a blouse will be introduced.
A seam plan shows different numbers. Each figure corresponds with a certain seam type that is shown in the table on the right. For instance, number 1 refers to closing and topstitch seams and its corresponding stitch type, 301 lockstitch. Further, a standard seam plan usually contains a sewing thread recommendation that shows both, needle thread recommendation and bobbin or looper thread recommendation. Moreover, the needle size in Nm, or Needle size no. can be mentioned to enable an accurate sewing process.
In addition, a seam plan usually provides information on sewing thread consumption, also known as sewing thread demand or sewing thread requirement. The sewing thread consumption usually gives information regarding the total thread amount used for the particular application, as well as regarding the individual thread consumption of the single stitch types. In above shown standard seam plan of a blouse, the total thread consumption is up to 100-150 m, as closing and topstitch seams approx. sum up to 65m and serging seams approx. sum up to 55m.
Different seam plans can be found on the AMANN website, for instance here.
Sustainable sewing threads
In times of climate change, the importance of sustainable products has increased significantly, especially in the textile industry. As an important component of the textile industry, the increased demand for sustainability also places special demands on sewing thread manufacturers and the sewing thread itself.
Basically, products can be sustainable in many different ways. Sustainability can relate to the raw materials, the development process or the impact of the product on the environment. With sustainable textile products, it is more important than ever that they do not contain any harmful substances. Therefore, halogenated solvents or fluoroorganic compounds should no longer be contained in any textile products.
Textile manufacturers or manufacturers of textile components such as sewing threads can certify their products with STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® by Hohenstein Laboratories. STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is a testing and certification system for textile raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of processing, as well as the accessories used. The tests for harmful substances according to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® are always based on the intended use of the textiles and materials. Therefore, the following principle applies: the more intensive the skin contact of a textile (and the more sensitive the skin), the stricter the human ecological requirements must be met. Some companies even voluntarily subject their products to the particularly strict requirements for product classes I and II, when testing for harmful substances according to STANDARD 100, and thus, certify their products according to Appendix 6. Further information about STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certification is available on the website of Hohenstein Laboratories.
Furthermore, textile manufacturers or the manufacturers of textile components such as sewing threads can prove the health compatibility of their products by complying with the European Chemicals Regulation REACH to protect human health and the environment. REACH has been in force since 2007 and aims to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment. The REACH regulation is considered as one of the strictest chemicals laws in the world. Further information on the REACH regulation is available on the website of the European Chemicals Agency.
Raw materials for sustainable threads
As with standard sewing threads, there are also various raw materials for sustainable threads. Apart from sustainable aspects, the raw materials shall have quality characteristics (e.g. in terms of breaking strength, abrasion resistance and sewability) that are as identical as those of conventional sewing threads.
Threads made from recycled materials are among the most common sustainable sewing threads. These are made from 100% high-quality recycled materials. As of today, recycled PET for sewing thread production can only be obtained from the recycling of transparent PET bottles. The bottles are collected, freed from labels and caps, washed, shredded into pieces and cut into small chips. These are used to produce filaments/fibres, which in turn form the raw material for sewing threads.
Sewing thread manufacturers can make their production processes more sustainable, fairer and more transparent by having their production sites certified according to the Global Recycling Standard (GRS). This is an international voluntary full product standard that defines the requirements for independent certification of recycled materials, the product chain, social and environmental practices and chemical restrictions. The four GRS principles include traceability (supply chain, production, laboratory, administration), social requirement (social policy, legal requirements), environment (energy, water, waste) and chemicals (chemicals management, MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets), GRS restricted products). Further information on GRS certification is available on the Control Union Certifications website.
Well-known products, which are made from recycled raw materials and GRS certified, are for example Saba Recycled and Sabatex Recycled by AMANN.
A further step towards the production of sustainable sewing threads is the production of Cradle to Cradle® certified products. Cradle to Cradle Certified™, stands for a consistent, continuous recycling management, where no waste is generated, as the Cradle to Cradle® Certified products can be used either as biological nutrients in biological cycles, or they are continuously kept in technical cycles as technical nutrients. In the biological cycle, materials in the form of compost or other nutrients are returned to the biosphere, from which new materials can be produced. In the technical cycle, materials that are not consumed during use in the product can be reprocessed so that they can be used in a new product.
As of now, there are only very few sewing threads with a corresponding Cradle to Cradle® certification. The product called Lifecycle Polyamide by AMANN, for example, has received the CRADLE TO CRADLE CERTIFIED™ GOLD certification for the technical cycle. Therefore, Lifecycle Polyamide is a product that guarantees maximum recyclability, does not consume any resources and at the same time is characterised by particularly high quality. The raw material for Lifecycle Polyamide is obtained from recycled fishing nets and other textile waste. Since no materials that are harmful to health or the environment may be used in the Cradle to Cradle® production process, no silicones are used in the production process and only compostable dyes are used to dye the threads. Further information on Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM can be found on the website of Cradle of Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
Environmentally friendly sewing thread finish
In order to fulfil certain properties, sewing threads often require a special finish or equipment. One example is the so-called water-repellent finish of sewing threads. The so-called WR finish (WR=water-repellent) prevents the sewing thread from soaking moisture into the inside of a shoe or garment. Conventional water-repellent sewing threads usually contained environmentally harmful chemicals such as PFCs (perfluorocarbons). However, there are sewing thread manufacturers who already offer environmentally friendly WR finishes that do not contain any PFC and have their products certified according to the much stricter regulations of STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, appendix 6. An example of this is AMANN's WRe finish, and AMANN’s WRe range consisting of the products Saba WRe, Serafil WRe and Onyx WRe.
Sustainable packaging materials
The topic of sustainability also concerns the packaging materials used by sewing thread manufacturers, such as yarn carriers or cardboard boxes. These should also either be recyclable or produced in an environmentally friendly way, or be made of already recycled materials in order to complete the production process in a holistically sustainable way by delivering the product to the customer.
Manufacturers of sustainable sewing threads
AMANN Group, Coats, A&E
Manufacturer of sewing threads
The AMANN Group is a globally active manufacturer of industrial, sewing and embroidery threads and smart yarns. The company's headquarters are located in Bönnigheim in Baden-Württemberg. From universal sewing thread to high-tech special thread, AMANN offers a wide range for a variety of applications. In Germany, AMANN is the market leader in the industrial sector, AMANN is one of the three largest producers worldwide. In 2019, the company reported sales of EUR 200 million and 2,500 employees.
A&E Gütermann acts as part of Elevate Textiles, INC. Group that operates in both the United States, Mexico and China. Elevate Textiles is a portfolio company of Platinum Equity and therefore an association of different textile brands. With a global product range of fabric and sewing thread solutions, you deal with different areas of application.
Coats is a British company with German roots. Coats employs approximately 18,000 people in around 500 countries. Coats has a wide range of products, from sewing thread to medical seams and fiber optic cables.
Fairs for textiles & sewing threads
- Texprocess - At Texprocess, international exhibitors present the latest machines, systems, processes and services for the assembly of clothing as well as textile and flexible materials. Techtextil, the leading international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens, takes place parallel to Texprocess.
- Techtextil - At Techtextil in Frankfurt am Main, international exhibitors show the entire spectrum of technical textiles, functional clothing textiles and textile technologies. Texprocess, the leading trade fair for the clothing and textile processing industry, takes place parallel to Techtextil.
- IILF- The IILF (India International Leather Fair) in Chennai hosts an international trade fair for leather goods every year. Industry focus is leather, leather goods, shoes, leather and shoe machines. The main focus of the offer ranges from leather processing machines to leather aids, sewing machines and handbags, as well as fur skins and tools.
- Cisma - The Cisma (China International Sewing Machinery & Accessories Show) is an international exhibition for sewing machines and accessories. The branches of the trade fairs are textile machines and clothing machines and the product groups sewing machines, clothing machines and accessories, fabrics, CAD / CAM and media.
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