I take your questions by email and respond as best I can, and you all fill in the rest! This time, Julie asked...
Q: What type of thread do you sew with? Do you keep a stash of different colors of thread around for your various projects? Or do you buy matching thread when you are planning to sew something? I am a beginning sewer and have started with Coats & Clark all purpose thread, but I've read some negative things about it. I would love some advice on the best type of thread to use for general apparel sewing and how to keep a good stash of sewing thread.
A: I have a rainbow of thread colors that I keep around, and almost never buy thread for one project in particular anymore. When I moved out of my parents’ house I stocked up on thread colors I knew I would use—I have a couple shades of navy, a bright yellow, some pinks… pretty colors that I know I like. I have a huge spool of white Gutterman. I have a mix of Coats & Clark and Gutterman, since I too have heard bad things about Coats & Clark since I bought several spools of it, so I’m using it up and won’t buy it again. It’s harder on the machine than a higher quality thread (Gutterman is not the best, but it’s a good value and you can find it at JoAnn’s). At the Memorial Day Sale, and at other bigger sales, JoAnn’s makes it half off, so I just bought several new colors recently!
If you’d like some more scientific info, here’s a really cool article on About.com about thread types, including up-close photos of the fibers. There's another good article on this quilting site. I don't want to restate everything they've said, The cheaper brands are harder on your machine, so often if you’re having trouble with something, the sewing machine repair guys will ask you what thread you use—it could be the thread, not the machine!
I will say this as taken from the About.com article (October 21, 2000).
"As thread is guided through the sewing machine it passes through many eye openings and through tension disks. All the places that the thread travels have a purpose in maintaining the sewing machine's tension.... Below you will find views of various thread as seen through a microscope at 60X. As you view the various types of thread, think about how the thread passes through fabric and how the loose fibers, being stuck in the fabric, will weaken what is left of the thread."
Here's a sample from a bargain bin thread, Excell 100% Polyester. Lots of loose fibers that will wear on the machine and make it not run as smoothly.