When I sit down to sew a stuffed animal I like to have all
the best tools and materials right at my fingertips. Sewing softies isn’t an
expensive craft and most of what you need is pretty humble and easy to find:
some soft fabrics, a needle and thread, scissors, a marking pen, and some
stuffing. If you really enjoy sewing softies, though, I think it’s worth it to
invest in a few high-quality supplies that will make the process easier and
will give the toys a more finished look and feel.
If you think about it, thread is one of the most important
materials in this craft. It’s easy to overlook the need to for quality thread,
or the benefits of having a variety of types of thread on hand, but spending a
few extra dollars to have these five thread types will pay off in an increase
in your satisfaction with what you make.
Here are my top five thread types for softie sewing. All of these are available at your regular, big box fabric store and in most quilt shops:
1. Extra-strong thread
I buy Gutterman brand extra-strong thread in all the
neutral colors (black, white, brown, gray, and beige). This thread is thicker
than all-purpose thread and I love it for closing openings and ladder stitching
parts, like ears and tails, in place. Nothing’s worse than stitching an opening
closed only to have the thread snap when you pull the last stitch tight! Use
extra-strong thread and this won’t happen again.
2. Waxed upholstery thread
Do you like to make toys with button joints? Get yourself a
5-inch doll needle and a spool of waxed upholstery thread. This thread is super
strong and the wax coating helps it hold its place. Pull it through a button
and it won’t slip out!
3. Perle cotton
I buy DMC Perle cotton, size 12, in all the neutral colors
and use it in place of embroidery floss
for embroidering eyes, noses, and mouths on softies. This thread is a twisted strand that can’t be
separated, unlike six-strand embroidery floss. Satin stitching is much easier
and smoother with Perle cotton and it’s shiny, too!
4. 100% cotton mercerized thread
A blog reader sent me this spool of variegated cotton thread
several years ago. I don’t often need the yellow color nor do I care much about
the variegation, but the strength of this cotton thread can’t be beat. I use
this for hand-sewing details (on ducks mostly because it’s yellow!) and I love
how you can pull it really hard and it doesn’t snap, but it’s still thin like
all-purpose thread. I’m going to get a few spools in neutral colors next time I’m
shopping for supplies.
5. All-purpose 100% polyester thread
This is my go-to machine sewing thread. It’s not very expensive,
it comes in a million colors, and I use it to machine sew every single softie I
make. Select a thread that is a shade lighter than your fabric so that the
stitches will be less obvious. I don’t love this thread for hand stitching on
softies because I find it tangles and breaks rather easily. Run it through beeswax to add some strength and prevent tangling if you do choose to hand sew
Any other thread favorites we should know about? Add them in
the comments. I love thread and I love experimenting with new products.
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Wendi Gratz says
I often use hand-quilting thread for sewing on buttons. It’s stronger than all-purpose, doesn’t tangle and it comes in a HUGE rangle of colors.
All in my sewing box! 🙂 Button and coat thread is a good one too.. really strong.
Yes! I need to pick some of that up as well. I used it when I was teaching a workshop at Gather Here and it was terrific. Thanks, Tim!
Is that similar to the 100% cotton mercerized thread I show here?
I love your blog! I am always learning something new. I have been buying craft floss for embroidery for a long time as it comes in lots of colours and doesn’t separate like embroidery floss, but I can only get it in multi-colour packs, and always run out of black and brown and have too much of the other left over. I never thought of using Perle Cotton! Thanks so much for sharing your expertise!
Thanks, Andrea. Give Perle cotton a try!
thanks for this post, I was just lamenting to myself that I bet there is a better thread I could be using and then I see this post 🙂
I can’t wait to catch up on the store envy post too, you always pick such great and relevant topics
Thank you Abby! This is so very helpful.
Thanks Abby for these great tips on threads. I use most of them although I hadn’t heard of the waxed upholstery thread & probably would not have thought to use it for making softies. Could you achieve a similar result with perle cotton thread if you ran it through beeswax?
I have some DMC #5 Perle Coton (I think it’s 5 – it comes package the same as the embroidery floss) that I uses for some things like the paw divisions on a cat or attaching an embellishment where I want the thread to be part of the embellishment, I haven’t considered using #12, I have always thought of it as crochet/tatting thread, will have to get some & try it out. 🙂
Abby Glassenberg says
12 is very nice for embroidering details like noses. The satin stitch goes really fast and covers well. Give it a try!