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 with it.
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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