40, 50, 60 and Why?! Thread weight, not age!

Hello everyone,
I hope this finds everyone safe and healthy!  I have continued on my organization mission, while trying to do some sewing and paperwork as well.  Previously, I talked about one of my time saving tips, winding bobbins.  Buying thread in cones (if your thread is available) is more economical, and makes it easy to ‘power wind’!  One of the things to remember about threads is that your machine has to like your thread.  Your machine will always win!

***As a side note for Mettler threads, a few years ago, Mettler changed the color numbers of their threads, along with the spool/cone colors.  Originally, all of the Mettler spools were white and the print color on the spools indicated the thread type.  60wt thread had green print, 50wt had purple print, 40wt had brown print, etc.  Now the actual spools are colored and the print is all black.  The color numbers changed as well.  I have a CONVERSION chart, if you are interested.  It helps of you have an old spool and need to get another of the same color! ***


Today I want to talk a bit about the different size threads that I use, and how I keep them organized.  Mettler is one of the threads that my machines likes, so I am using them as my example.  These are all 100% cotton threads, and going from left to right, I have 40wt (brown cone), 50 wt (purple) and 60 wt (green cone).   

You can see that the cones are all ‘the same size’…….   While they may look the same size, because the threads are different sizes, the amount of thread is vastly different!  The 40wt (brown) cone thread contains 1600 yds of thread.  The 50wt (purple) cone has 2000 yds of thread and the 60wt (green) cone has 3000 yds of thread!  Yes, the 60wt has almost twice as much as the 40wt thread (3000y v 1600y).  Thread weight does make a difference!


The 60wt thread is a thread that I use often.  It is great for lightweight fabrics – Swiss voile, Swiss batiste, Swiss flannel, lawn (Liberty of London, Regent Street, London Calling), etc.  It comes in almost 200 colors, so I can usually match pretty well.

50wt is another thread that I use often for medium weight fabrics.  Quilting cottons, along with broadcloth, fine wale pique’, etc. will work well with 50wt.  Again, they come in about 200 colors, so matching is not usually a problem.

40wt is a thread that is significantly heavier than 60wt, and noticeably heavier than the 50wt.  While it is always good to have different size threads on hand, just in case, I don’t usually sew on heavy fabrics, but I do consider the 40wt thread essential for my sewing stash.  It is perfect for GATHERS!  Use it in the bobbin for the 3 rows of gathering threads.  When pulling up the gathers, you should always pull the bobbin thread (the way the stitch is made, the top thread loops around the bobbin thread, so the bobbin thread is easier to pull and gather), and having a stronger thread in the bobbin, leads to less breakage!


To organize my bobbins and keep them from getting mixed up (I will talk about bobbin organization for colored threads in a different post), I use tiny knit hair bands.  I use colors that are close to the cone color – you can see that I used orange for the brown 40wt, purple for the purple 50wt., and green for the green 60wt.

I use the hairbands on all of my bobbins, to keep them from unraveling, but if I coordinate the colors of the bands to the colors of the cones, I can keep all of the bobbins in the same drawer, and be confidant that I am getting the correct weight thread when I pull one out of the drawer.

One other note – if you are using a large cone, you will more than likely need a separate thread holder.  Most sewing machines are not designed to hold cones of threads.  If you have a machine that has a horizontal feed, the cones are too big to fit.  If you have a vertical feed (spindle), the cone may sit on it, but the cones don’t fit correctly, and the thread come off horizontally, with the cone spinning as the thread unwinds.  The way cones are wound, the thread should come off vertically (top of the cone). Having a thread holder allows the cone to be stable, and to have the thread come off the the cone vertically (at the top of the cone).  You can see in the picture above, my thread holder sits behind my machine, with the thread feeding through the hold in the top of the holder, then up through the wire ring, then over to the machine.

Now that I have my new bobbins wound, I am going to try to get in a bit of sewing!

I hope to run into you soon!

Happy Stitching,