- Published: 27 April 2008
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Clara Hanson, age 13, of Dodge City, Kan., for her question:
HOW IS THREAD MADE?
Thread is made from strands of fibers. The fibers may be cotton, silk, wool, linen, rayon, nylon or other textile material.
Humans first learned how to make thread as a result of success in spinning fibers for weaving. We found that by twisting the fibers tightly, we could make thread.
The production of sewing thread involves the same basic steps as the production of yarn for weaving. The staple fibers, such as cotton or wool, are cleaned and then combed until all fibers are smoothed out.
The thin, threadlike fibers are then rolled over and over to form thick coils. These coils are put in the drawing frame, where they pass between sets of powerful rollers. The rollers draw the fibers out and press them into thin ribbons.
The ribbons then go to another machine, called the doubling frame, that presses them into fine, delicate strips. The strips are folded over, and again drawn out.
Next the strips are combed again to make them even in width. They are then wound on bobbins. Several strands are twisted together to form a coarse yarn, which is twisted tightly into the finished thread.
Manufacturers then bleach or dye the thread, wind it on wooden spools or bobbins and send it out to stores.
Cotton ranks as the most widely used fiber for making thread. The long fiber Sea Island cotton makes the best cotton thread.
Silks and man made fibers such as nylon and rayon start out as filament, or extremely thin yarn. They do not need to be combed and pressed. The filament yarn is twisted directly into thread. Then it is bleached or dyed and wound onto spools.
Special characteristics of man made fibers make them increasingly important in the field of thread.
Perhaps the most outstanding quality of thread made from man made fibers is that it has great strength and durability.
Thread made from man made fibers offers higher resistance to seam failure than ordinary thread. Also, it makes possible higher sewing speeds. For these and a number of other good reasons, this type of thread is being used more and more today in the manufacture of shoes and clothing.
For most sewing uses, thread is drawn out to make a single strand. But for heavier sewing, manufacturers twist two or more threads together to make two ply thread or heavier.
Humans first learned the art of weaving and perfected a system of spinning fibers for use in weaving. It was later found that by twisting the fibers tightly, thread could be made. We learned to use the thread to sew garments together.
Before we learned to sew with thread, we could only drape or tie fabric around our bodies.