Thread is a tightly twisted strand of two or more ply of yarn used for hand and machine sewing. Some facts about sewing thread:
• The difference between thread and yarn is that thread is used to sew together garments and other products, while yarn is a collection of fibers that is woven or knit into textiles. All threads are made from yarn, but yarn is not made of threads.
• The first ‘thread’ to be used in sewing was made from animal sinew and plant fibers.
• There are three types of thread, animal, plant and synthetic, based on the materials they are made from.
• Silk is an example of thread made from animal products. The silk caterpillar weaves a cocoon made from silk that it produces. These cocoons are unraveled, and two or more strands are twisted together to form silk thread. Silk makes a very fine, stretchable and strong thread.
• Cotton is an example of plant fibers used to make thread. Fibers of cotton are spun into a fine yarn; two or more strands of yarn are twisted together to make the thread. Cotton thread tends to shrink and is not as strong as silk thread. The thread is singed over an open flame and mercerized (dipped in a solution of caustic soda) to improve its strength and give it sheen.
• Nylon and polyester thread are examples made from synthetic materials.
• Ninety-five percent of all thread of all kinds manufactured are used in industrial and commercial sewing.
• The development of the cotton thread industry in England was the result of a blockade during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. This prevented raw silk from entering the country, so no silk thread could be made for sewing. Patrick Clark invented a method for twisting cotton together to make sewing thread.
The original threads made by Clark were not strong enough to use in the new fangled sewing machines of the later 19th century. George Clark, a Grandson of Patrick, developed a six-stranded thread with the qualities necessary to be used in sewing machines.