Which thread, S.P.I, etc. to use when sewing a shirt

Discussion in 'Andy's Fashion Forum' started by dang, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. dang

    dang Starting Member

    I've started playing around with altering a few of my shirts, sewing new buttons and such. The next logical step here is to try to sew my own shirt. I know it's quite a task, but I have some spare time.

    Anyway, the question that comes to mind is:
    1. Which thread is recommended for shirt stitching? Is is the same thread with regards to thickness/material throughout the shirt or should I use different for top stitching, side seams and whatnot?
    2. Which thread is recommended for buttons and button holes?
    3. What S.P.I (Stitch Per Inch) is recommended? I read that bespoke shirt uses up to 30 S.P.I but reading through the forum it looks like allot of people use 16 and maybe 22 for top stitching. Should I use different S.P.I for different seams? I know that fewer stitch per inch is probably to recommend when starting out and I'll probably go for that, still I wan't to know the "proper" way for when I'm there.

    Anything else to consider? Also I have David Page Coffin's excellent Shirtmaking book.

    Thanks in advance, Dang
  2. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Tech and Business Advice Guru

    United States
    New York
    East Hampton
    1] #50 Aurifil cotton
    2] HyMark Glacé #24
    3] Most seams 18-20 or you'll get puckering; Collar, Cuffs, Top Center (if properly interlined) 25-30
  3. PedanticTurkey

    PedanticTurkey Super Member

    To bring this thread back from the dead:

    Do you use a stronger thread for the shoulder seams, or is there some trick to it I don't know? The aurifil 50 doesn't seem strong enough off-grain.
  4. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Tech and Business Advice Guru

    United States
    New York
    East Hampton
    If you're breaking the Aurifil 50 your tension is too high, your needle too small, or you're sewing too fast. Strength comes from the quantity of stitches, not heavy thread. You should be using at least 15 s.p.i., preferably 18, on the yoke.
  5. PedanticTurkey

    PedanticTurkey Super Member

    Mr. Kabbaz, thanks for your response.

    In the aurifil 50's defense, I'm a newbie, don't really know how to sew, and I was trying to break it. So maybe it's not the thread. Still, I think I have the tension right, wasn't going too fast, was doing about 15 SPI, etc. I'll tighten the stiches up a little on the next one.

    As for needles, I've been using #10s and #10 "sharps." Does that sound right?
  6. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Tech and Business Advice Guru

    United States
    New York
    East Hampton
    Unless you are sewing 240s or 300s, switch to a 12 needle with the aurifil. 10 is too small to sew with any speed at all and 12 won't hurt the fabric. If by #10 (vs #10 "sharps") you mean a ball point needle, I wouldn't use it. Sharps are what we use on almost everything.
  7. PedanticTurkey

    PedanticTurkey Super Member

    They're Schmetz brand--home machine needles. They have "univeral" and "sharp." Copy on the 12s, though, I'll pick some up next time. Thanks again.
  8. andy b.

    andy b. Senior Member

    United States
    This thread (pardon the pun) interests me.


    What type of machine are you using?

    Andy B.
  9. PedanticTurkey

    PedanticTurkey Super Member

    I've got a Kenmore 18221 (IIRC). It's a pretty basic zigzag machine. It only makes basic bar tack buttonholes, but I think they're pretty good.

    I've actually almost finished a couple shirts (i.e., got the collar & sleeves on, etc.), but haven't done anything I'd wear yet. I've got nobody teaching me (in person), and I honestly don't even know anyone IRL who sews. So I have to figure some things out myself. It's slow going, but I'm getting there. Every weekend when I have time I get a little farther.

    If you're interested in giving it a shot I'll be happy to tell you everything I've learned so far. It ain't that much...
  10. S.Paul

    S.Paul New Member

    I'm interested in this thread also, Turkey, as I am looking to graduate from changing out shirt buttons to actually adding some darts/tailoring a few of my shirts to eventually making my own. I also have the book Shirtmaking from Coffin. Great questions so far and of course great answers from Alex K!!

    Sean Paul

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