Monday, March 10, 2014

Are You a Thread Changer?

If you've been reading my ramblings for awhile, you will know that I have a real thing about matching the thread to the fabric of whatever garment I'm sewing.  This is not just the thread used to stitch a garment together but this also applies to the serger thread used on the garment too.

When I'm colorblocking a garment, I use different threads for each section.  If the lining is a different color, then I change the serger threads and the thread on my sewing machine.  I know totally anal right?

I know that some sewists have talked about using gray thread in the serger since it blends so well with most colors that way they don't have to change the serger thread that often.  But me, it only feels right if the threads match or coordinate.  Here's a dress that I blogged about in 2009, where the thread was definitely changed for each portion of the construction. Alas it's no longer in my wardrobe...

So how about you?  Do you change your serger and sewing threads to match every project?  Or do you make do?  This is the Question of the Day so talk back to me!

...as always more later!




83 comments:

  1. Carolyn, waaaay back in the eighties I took a refresher tailoring course. Students made both a traditional hand tailored jacket and a machine sewn version of the same pattern. I will never, make that NEVER, forget a young student that serged all her seams with red thread, because the serger was already threaded with red. The jacket colour? White! Yep, the memory is seared in my brain. I've always been a matcher, at least as closely as I can! Now, if I had a colour-blocked garment, I can't say 100% if I would colour match each section, or if I would go with the dominant colour theme.

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  2. For me it depends. My serger is older so each threading means a few re threading to get it to work correctly. In general if I am sewing navy and black is on the serger I won't change it, but if the project is not even close I will match it as close as I can. The sewing machine thread is always changed to what I intend it to look like.

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  3. I am the opposite in terms of serging, I have red, black and white thread for the serger and only use these for specific projects. But in teerms of sewing thread, I have just about every shade.

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  4. I try to change all of my 4 threads on my overlocker to match but it depends if I have the colour. On the weekend I made some mint coloured, red coloured and orange coloured pants and only the orange has white thread on (apart from the outside needle of course). The other 2 have matching thread. Alas - I didn't have enough orange.

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  5. It is my preference to match color groups. Exact match is not necessary but I want serger stitches to blend not contrast. I also make sure I have finished specific colors before I sew something that needs another color so I don't have to change colors then change back right away. I do have colors like gray, tan and ecru that I could used to blend colors but I prefer to a better match.

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  6. Always!
    The sewing machine has thread that is an exact match to the fabric. The overlocker has the closest I can find. I don't use the large overlocker cones, I buy the cheaper 1000 metre spools of thread instead. I used buy four in each colour, but that overlocker died. The machine I have is old and only does a three thread.

    Someday I'll buy a Babylock.

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  7. When sewing I match, but serging...no. When I bought my 1st serger in the mid 80's I was told that gray, white, off white or black usually work and they have for me. The only color I've added is red...2 shades of red.

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    1. This us mostly the way I am, too, though I do have yellow, orange, and lavender, too.

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  8. I'm currently working on a colour block dress - red, purple and black, and have been changing the thread according to what I'm working on, sometimes changing back and forth. I've overlocked the seam allowances in red throughout though. Changing the sergers thread just seemed too over the top!

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  9. I'm OCD and it just has to match! And on the rare occasion I can't match, then I'm a blender ... and I have even been known to pull the old 'fabric-pen' trick to get the stitching colour just perfect ... J

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  10. I just used a multi-colored print. No one serger color was just right so I used four colors that looked quite nice.

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  11. I always try to match serger threads! Very OCD about it. And I have gotten quite quick at re-threading too. Except when I get distracted and start cleaning out all of the lint...

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  12. Most of the time, I use black or white thread on the serger, depending on the color of the fabric. If the serger thread may be visible when I wear the garment, like side seams of a non-lined jacket for example, I use a color matching the fabric. In this case, the challenge is not changing the thread on the serger, but finding the right amount of the right color for a moderate price.

    For the sewing machine, on the opposite, I'm able to change the color for each seam. It is rare that sewing thread doesn't match the fabric. And if I need a contrasting color for specific parts of the garment, I use the contrasting color only for these specific seams, and a matching color for every other seams.

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  13. I change sewing machine colors, but I change the serger thread less often. In fact, my choice of projects is often dictated by the color of thread already on the serger. ;-)

    I thought my serger died, so I bought a replacement. Then the sew-vac guy around the corner from my house managed to resurrect it for only $120 parts and labor. So now I have two sergers w/ two colors, ready to go.

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  14. Oh, I am most definitely a matcher. It feels wrong to me to go through a lot of effort and care making a garment to stop short and use unmatched thread.

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    1. Thank you! That perfectly sums up the way I feel about it!

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  15. I always match machine thread but on the serger i just use something close, like black on navy. If I'm sewing a whole garment on the serger I'll use matching reels of thread for the needles and the closest i have in serger thread for the loopers. Threading is easy on my serger, but I'm too cheap to have serger cones in all the colours,

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  16. Being a pedantic Virgo, I match my threads. It all started way back in 1992 when I made a gorgeous red wool crepe dress and I overlocked it in black. You could see it through the fabric! That started me off. I bought red. Then a few yrs ago, I found a little asian habby shop a few suburbs away that sold 5000m o/locker thread for $2. So I bought a few. Then I discovered he was going out of business and I bought all the colours I thought I would ever need. For $1 each. Heaven. :)

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  17. I only use white, black and 'natural' coloured thread in my overlocker (serger). Maybe one day I'll up my game and match, but not yet :-)

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  18. I like both the sewing machine overlocker threads to match the fabric. Generally, i use Gutermann brand and that gets a little expensive buying 6 reels at a time!! Sometimes, i'm able to find the match in Birch thread (Aust. haberdashery brand). I tend to buy the sewing threads to match when buying the fabric - although saying that, the last few lengths of fabric I've bought, i haven't bought the threads to match!

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  19. I always match my threads to fabric - going darker if a difficult match - greens can be hard to find. I often will blend if I cannot find just the right colour, I was lucky enough to get a huge range of colours when a manufacturer was closing down. My SIL won the threads and filled her car up wound down the windows and kept chucking it in!! Just love your blog!

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  20. I have four serger thread colours, off white, black, grey and red. I think with these four you can blend with almost anything. Thread colour is mostly matched, unless I have something workable in my stash. This sometimes means the bobbin is a slightly different shade to maximize the use of the matching colour. I also sew in colour patterns to minimize serger thread changing :) I'm lazy.

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  21. I always match my sewing thread and try to match the serger thread but at times I don't have the matching thread and then use the best match that I can.

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  22. I am definitely a thread changer. I insist on my threads matching the fabric. I typically use the 5 thread serger stitich on woven fabrrics. I buy 3 large spools from Wawak for the overlock stitch and 3 traditional spools: 2 for the serger chain stitch and 1 for the conventional machine. Because of these thread buying habits, I have 14 shades of green thread for the serger. The upside is, I can now shop my thread stash before buying more thread and I usually find what I need.

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  23. Yup, I'm definitely a changer/matcher.

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  24. Absolutely, must have matching sewing threads always, and often buy thread when purchasing fabric. Serging I have black, white, navy, pink, and ecru cones, but will somethings use small spools in a blend for greens/blues or yellow. I like everything to match!

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  25. Usually when new fabric comes in I cut swatches and place them in my wallet. I have two swatches there now :) when JA or H has a sale on thread then I buy. That way I have matching thread when the time comes to use the fabric.

    Serger thread? I have 4 each of black and white and 2 each of brown, grey, and two neutral colors. I blend between the shades if I can't match...

    I will probably never own an arsenal of serger thread.

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    1. You need to learn about the wonderousness of Wawak! Thread in a million colors that come to your house for a small shipping fee.

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    2. I had a big wawak order in my cart and then forgot about it! I should revisit :)

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  26. I change my thread...sometimes I even use a different color bobbin thread (if my project needs that, ie: when I lined a chocolate brown/pink pinstripe skirt with pink lining)

    I am still afraid of my serger (it's just a Singer mini-serger, but still intimidating) but I imagine I will change those threads as well

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  27. I have an old three thread serger and I hate trying to change the thread. I use black and white thread depending on the color of the material. I will use matching color thread on my sewing machine.

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  28. I make do with what is in the machine. Not only because I'm too lazy to change it, but because I have so much thread, I want to use it up, and not put away a half used spool of one color or another. When I empty a spool, I feel like I've accomplished something

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  29. I try to roughly match the overlocker thread but I don't fret about it. I have black, grey, navy, red, and white. Lately I've been getting sloppier about matching sewing machine thread too. I used to match exactly but that led to acquiring far too much thread. I haven't regretted the change of policy yet.

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  30. I can't tell a lie, I don't change my thread as often as I should and depending on the garment. I am doing better though!

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  31. The dress in your link is lovely - quelle surprise though, all your dresses are lovely! I don't have a serger, so I can't comment on that, but I do generally try to match my thread to my fabric. I have heard tale that it's not required (seams don't generally show after all), but it is how I was learnt and so it is what I do. Sometimes I will use a standard colour (black or white for instance), but not very often. However, when I have the good luck to use an overlocker, I go for black, white or grey. For a couple of reasons, but mostly because buying that much thread would be costly, and I wouldn't have the foggiest how much to get! Rachel :-)

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  32. I change my threads, especially the sm thread and mostly the serger thread. The serger thread doesn't have to be a perfect match, but I either match as closely as possible or I use a contrast thread, like red for jeans.

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  33. I'm with you, Carolyn -- I always change my thread. I just can't help it. And the beautiful rainbow collection of serger threads look nice on their spools on my wall, too. :)

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  34. Handmade Jane had a great tip recently - only need to change the left needle thread to match on a serger - some people use exactly matching Gutterman thread just on that one cone:
    http://www.handmadejane.co.uk/2014/03/overlocker-thread-tip.html

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    1. Thanks for the link! I read Jane's post but I have to tell you that I'm so anal about colors matching that only matching the seam's thread makes me itchy thinking about it! *LOL* In my world those looper threads must match too!

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    2. BTW, I'd never thought of this till I read Jane's post and now I'm a convert. Tried it this weekend and it worked really well - my looper thread was in the same colour family, but not close enough for my liking to use on the needle...

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  35. I want my sewing machine thread to match the garment. However, I have two sergers, a Coverstitch, a mechanical and a computerized sewing machine. If I use the sewing machine, serger, and coverstitch for an outfit, that's comes to at least 9 spools of same color thread if I wanted it all matched. Sometimes I wind bobbins with matching thread--which can lead to problems and they run out quickly. The serger colors I use are black, grey, tan, red, cream, and white. When hemming, I have matched the coverstitch thread to the item using my bobbin method. The newer serger's thread color gets changed as needed. The older serger is used for black or white (mostly black)

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  36. I don't have a serger, but yes, on the sewing machine I try to always match. It drives me crazy when I can't find a good match. I prefer certain brands of thread and I really dislike when I have to go outside of that and buy another brand for a better match. That is more a comment on the supply of my local stores than on the brands themselves, since ours often don't stock the full selection.
    And please, don't get me started on zipper colors!

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    1. Ooh, good point about matching zippers! I admit I am terrrrible about this. Unless the fabric really requires a match, I usually go with black or white invisible zippers.

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    2. That's why I use invisible zippers whenever possible!

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  37. I change my threads for every project. Otherwise, it feels like a "happy hands at home" project to me. I'm not saying this is the same for everyone, but it bugs me to be out of sync with my fabric. I sew pretty much with my "colors" so generally have a matching thread or fairly close anyway. Right now I have a top I'm working on that has a sort of odd color orange (too dull for my orange thread) and I have decided to use a brown serger thread, but it's making me itchy. I thread my serger and do all the work on that, and then take the spools off and thread the coverstitch to finish. I will say it's a pain to switch threads though. I can never quite get the tying off thing to work for me.

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  38. I am a thread changer on the serger and other machines. I've even been known to thread two machines for the purpose of matching wherever the demand arises.

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  39. Hahahahaha... well, I'm not much of a thread changer, to be honest! Many of my garments have been serged with turquoise thread because I love the color and it makes me happy to see little bursts of it inside an otherwise-boring navy dress. I only have serger thread in turquoise, navy, grey, and white, and I just choose whatever's closest. If I'm working on something a little fancier or on a summer dress or something like that in a brighter/lighter color, I'm not going to use the serger anyway, so I don't really feel like I need to match. :)

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  40. I absolutely change my sewing thread to match. I didn't think that was optional.... doesn't your Jr. High Home Ec teacher show up and glare at you if you fail to do so?

    I don't have a serger, so changing regular thread is pretty straightforward.

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  41. In the beginning of my sewing venture I hardly ever changed threads. Now, I will change the threads most definitely if the serger has cream thread and my fabric wrong side is black or blue. However, once in a while I will just change the needle threads if it is imperative that the color must match.

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  42. I like the idea of using smaller cones and having them match, rather than three (for my huskylock) big ones that kinda match/coordinate. That said, my serger is threaded up with grey, as that's the color of the dresses I'm almost always using it for (choir girls dresses)!

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  43. Not a matcher :) I do have black, white, red, med/light blue and purple cone threads so I mix and match those shades to get near the color. I only use the serger to finish seams if absolutely necessary. Lots of my seams are unfinished, inside a lined garment there is basically no serging. I have a mixed attitude toward sergers because I never even had one until about 3 years ago so it isn't really in my sewing mindset. Very handy for certain items, like denim, or inside shirts and knit t-shirts. In any case, I sometimes change the looper threads and leave the needle thread as white or whatever is there.
    On my regular machine I use a thread a shade away from the garment, in order to be able to see the stitching.

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  44. I do it all LOL !
    Sewing machine thread - always.
    Serger - hmm, needles - always, loopers - preferably. With enough available empty bobbins, I'll wind what I need. But if I don't have the exact match of thread or enough empty bobbins, I've been known to keep within the same colour family and/or use a blend. Grey is a staple in most of those cases for me. I have a few serger colors now, but, you know, 'not matching' is not bothering me as much as I thought it would. My OCD is limited to the needle threads apparently !

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  45. Sometimes I'll bother to change threads for topstitching -- but only if there's a drastic color difference, like black/white. Usually I just make do with something close enough, or with grey, or throw caution to the wind and use any old weird color I have hanging around for topstitching. For the inside of a garment? Even rtw doesn't always bother to make the construction or the serger thread match. No one is inspecting the innards of my hand-made garments except me.

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  46. i DO change, constantly, but it only matches in my head! HA!

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  47. Sewing machine = always match. Sometimes, if I have a fairly full bobbin with a close (if not an exact match), I'll use that bobbin to use it up.

    Serger = Always match the needle threads. If I have more than 2 cones of the color thread, I'll match the looper threads as well. Otherwise, I use a gray or closest-matching neutral color in the loopers.

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  48. Another fun quiz! I change it more than I don't. I mean, I've been known (with a neutral fabric and a neutral, but slightly different, thread colour) to leave the serger thread unchanged, but it's rare. It's got to coordinate well at least. mind you, this weekend, I was making a top for which I didn't have matching colour and I used the right colour (regular spool) in the needle, and a similar one in the loopers. I was not dissatisfied with the outcome.

    PS: With sewing vs serging, the colour must contrast or match. No in between.

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  49. When sewing clothing, I always change the color of the thread to match the garment as closely as possible, same with the lining. I rarely use a serger, preferring to enclose seams in French seams or Hong Kong finishes. I am a real fanatic about exposed fabric edges (even on the inside) - probably one main reason I do not get as much done as I would like. For quilt block piecing, I stick to a neutral that blend well with the fabric.

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  50. I use the same color. Now that may change thanks your your gray tip.

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  51. I always change the thread in my serger to match my project. It's much easier now that I have a Babylock Imagine!

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  52. I have black, charcoal, dk grey, grey, lt grey, ecru and white. :) I'm only sortof kidding. I discovered the delights of grey and it has helped immensely. I do try to semi-coordinate, but the grey works so often it's wonderful. Obviously topstitching is a whole different story.

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  53. I only match the thread if the thread will be visible, if everything is concealed in the lining, the best I do is get a colour that is not too much of a contrast to the fabric and I am good. I do know though that it has a better looking finish if everything is matched, but I am lazy like that.

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  54. I definitely change my threads. I'm currently sewing a black and white tunic dress where I'm making the facings a contrast color and the pockets. I'm using red for when I sew my contrast fabric ... and black and white for my main colors. I tried that serger trick with the gray thread, and honestly I was disappointed with the results. If I purchased a garment I would't purchase something where the thread didn't match. Even if were only visible to me. Why would I do less, especially if I'm spending my time and money to construct the garment on my own.

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  55. I do love some thread art for the color ambience not to mention being matchy matchy when it comes to thread. Hate looking at the inside of a garment and seeing serging in a different shade -ok if it suits someone else but not me. I got into a factory cone sell off in the beginning and also have gotten boxes of cones from zipperstop in odd shades that weren't in the selection of maxi lok. In the basic colors and some favorites I have enough to thread my coverstitch and the serger. I'm even worse on the embroidery and sewing thread collections. It makes me really happy to have every shade ever made in the world or at least I try. One bargain close out I got into was a whole room of shelves to the ceiling of new thread cones. The owner had a commercial contract sewing business and when he died unexpectedly, all of his shop was liquidated. I bought a lot and told everyone I knew but non sewing people aren't interested in that sort of stuff. His thread was considered all purpose weight and they used it to sew and serge so I use it quite a bit for home dec,crafts or even sewing if I don't have a sewing spool in that particular shade. I am hopeless when it comes to sewing stuff.Love thread. Sew on, so far the thread luny police haven't taken me away so I'd say whatever makes you happy with your garment. I do have more space than some do to accumulate sewing stuff and also some shop storage and you have the neat sewing cave but I would try harder to not be out of control if I didn't but it is wonderful to have those cones to just pop onto the machines and spool threads for days to choose from.

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  56. I change the thread color no matter what.

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  57. I change the serger thread, but I don't have four cones of all colors. Oftentimes I'll use sewing thread in the needles and a close match in the loopers.

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  58. I want my threads to match throughout the garment. It makes me happy when everything matches. I'm OCD enough that I won't start a project if I don't have the right shade of thread. Wawak keeps me supplied with the right shades of thread.

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  59. I'm a make-doer. However, I do think through my garment and which seams might be seen - like a slit in the skirt that might show what serger thread I used. Right now I'm working on a blue chambray shirt with tan top-stitching. I am NOT changing my thread to blue for the regular seams. I'm just making-do. :)

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  60. The sewing machine thread and the leftmost needle in the serger...I match as close as I can. The other three threads on the serger...well, I'll match it if I have it, I'll blend it if I don't.

    And I try to batch my sewing so I have to change the thread as seldom as possible. ;-)

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  61. I sew with neutral colors for the most part.... it has to be a special garment or a weird color for me to use something other than black, white, navy, or cream. The serger (when i get to use it since i share with my mom) is almost always white or black..... not really into buying 4 matching spools lol.

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  62. Oh yes. I match and change! I wait for the serging thread to be reduced, then buy up colours to match fabric that I have in my stash. If the match is not too good, I tend to hand sew lace over the seam to hide the threads!!!

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  63. When I entered exhibits in our county fair the judges gave me a complex about using matching thread. That lasted a long time. I use to use the tie on method of changing colors until my repair man told me to stop changing threads so much because the tie on knots was what was causing my tension to be unbalanced. Now I have two sergers, one threaded with white and the other with black. I haven't changed colors for about two years now.

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  64. Oh I always change threads. It is a real hangup for me.

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  65. When it comes to sewing seams, topstitching, hemming, and adding things like buttonholes, buttons, etc., I definitely go for perfect match thread - except when I'm deliberately going for contrast. When it comes to the serger, however, I admit I take shortcuts. First of all, changing thread in the serger can be a pain and if I'm in a hurry, I go with a thread color that's close, although probably not a perfect match. My main serger thread colors are black, white and beige. These three work for practically every sewing project I can come up with. In addition to the time it takes to change serger thread, it can also be a bit pricey. When you consider paying about $20 for each color change - roughly $4+ per cone of thread for a 4 thread serger - doing the perfect match thing for serger thread could be quite expensive. Besides... who sees the finished edges on our seams? Sometimes close but not perfect is the right thing to do.

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  66. I hate the look of stitching in lighter colors- so I'm all about thread matching as closely as possible. Ive even considered fabric markers for when the print makes the thread to visible!

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  67. I match thread as best I can with what I have on hand. If it is a bit off, so be it. If it is way too off, I'll shop for something closer. Since I usually sew with prints, I think this works for me. If I'm sewing a solid color, I a bit more particular with my matching.

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  68. I just finished a dress with a contrasting lining and I did change the thread when tackling the lining. Not so much for my serger though - I don't have that many cones because they are super expensive here. If I did have matching serger thread, I would totally change it up each time to match my fabric.

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  69. I love this question -- the replies are so fascinating!

    I only own a sewing machine, and yes -- I definitely match my thread to my project. There have even been times I've used two different colors in spool and bobbin thread because the two sides of the fabric were different colors!

    It's easy for me because I mainly buy fabric in the same few colors, and I replace my thread as soon as it runs out, regardless of how much fabric I have stashed in that color, or what projects I have on deck. When I buy fabrics outside my normal color scheme, I absolutely buy matching thread that same day. Easy peasy!

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  70. The sewing machine thread MUST match, same with the coverstitch. Exactly. No exceptions.

    The serger thread must be close. While thrift store shopping I came across 30+ spools of serger thread, of course I bought them all. I now have white, cream, gray, black, dark brown, purple, fuchsia, pale pink, royal blue, navy blue, red, burgundy and probably other colors I can't think of right now. It makes sewing so much more satisfying when the insides match the outside.

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  71. I like to match my threads to my fabric also. It makes it more professional looking in my opinion. Now, I do admit that I use white or black bobbin thread by Finishing Touch in my sewing unless it is going to show up. That way, I don't have to keep changing bobbin thread and have tons of bobbins with small amounts of thread in various colors. However, there are times when my bobbin thread matches my sewing thread. I buy thread when I purchase fabric and usually buy a pattern and all of the needed notions at the same time.

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  72. I am definitely a thread changer. However, I have 2 machines and 2 sergers, so I am lucky that I can load one with one color and one with the other.

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  73. I like to change colors. I just like to use all those pretty cones.

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  74. Sewing machine, yes. I like to match or go a shade darker. Serger is a different story. I only have navy and white thread, so it's one or the other!

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  75. I'm definitely a matcher or a blender. Even though it can't be seen on the exterior, it matters to me that the inside looks nice and pretty.

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