Understanding Thread Types and Thicknesses

Posted: October 19th, 2019 by: h2

This convenient listing of the types of thread is at hammockforums.net but I’m preserving it here as well in case it goes away, and because I need this information myself for sewing projects, and always forget what the various mara and tera and tex sizes actually are, and how they interact and relate to things like needle sizes.

Note that the spools sold by ripstopbytheroll and diygearsupply work fine on regular sewing machines spindles though they tend to rattle around a bit, you can get around that issue by simply making a larger spindle to go over the regular thin metal spindle on the sewing machine if you find it annoying or hard to work with.

Units of Textile Measurement
G├╝termann Numbering System

1 tex = 1 gram per 1,000 meters = 10 dtex = 9 den
Nm = 1000/tex
The No./Tkt. is a development of the Nm, but does not inform about how many individual threads the ply-yarn has been produced. No. 100 may be a Nm 65/2 or a Nm 100/3 thread for example.

Mara 100 = Sew-all Thread = tex 30 = dtex 300(2) = two-ply yarn.
Recommended needle and needle size: universal needle NM 70 – 90 / #10 – #14
“Mara 100” is sold to industrial customers, “Sew-all thread” to end customers in retail shops.
The quality is the same, but the price in retail shops is often too high.

Mara 70 = tex 40 = dtex 400(3) = three-ply yarn
Recommended needle size: NM 90 – 100 / #14 – #16 [Note: I’ve used #12 for years, with no issues]
Mara 70 is sold to industrial customers only, but available here:

dutchwaregear.com gutermann-thread
ripstopbytheroll.com gutermann-mara-70

Mara 50 = tex 60 = dtex 600(3) = three ply yarn.
Recommended needle size: NM 90 – 110 / #14 – #18
Mara 50 is sold to industrial customers only, but available here:
ripstopbytheroll.com mara-50-thread

Tera 80 = tex 35 = dtex 350(3) = three-ply yarn.
Recommended needle size: NM 70 – 90 / #10 – #14
Tera 80 is sold to industrial customers only, but available here:
diygearsupply.com gutermann-tera
rockywoods.com Gutermann-TERA-80-Polyester-Thread

Tera 60 = tex 50 = dtex 500(3) = three-ply yarn.
Recommended needle size: NM 90 – 100 / #14 – #16 [Note: I’ve used #12 for years, with no issues]
Tera 60 is sold to industrial customers only, but available here:
diygearsupply.com gutermann-tera

Tera 40 = tex 75 = dtex 750(3) = three-ply yarn.
Recommended needle size: NM 90 – 110 / #14 – #18
Some household sewing machines don’t work with a #18 needle and Tera 40.
Tera 40 is sold to industrial customers only, but available here:
diygearsupply.com gutermann-tera

Kite Sewing 101 Recommendations. Also helpful for us:
kites4all kite-sewing-101

A quick cheatsheet reference:

Mara; Tex; Needle
220; ; 13; ?
120; ; 25; ?
100; 30; “10-12” (sew-all)
70; 40; “14-16”
30; 100; ?

TERA; TEX; Needle
80; 35; “10-14”
60; 50; “14-16”
40; 75; “16-18”
30; 100;
20; 150;
15; 200;
10; 290;
8; 375;

Quilt seams & hems: M50/M90/1.1 rip (uncoated) – Microtex 70/10 with Gutermann “SewAll” ie Mara 100 (Tex 30)

Tarp & pack seams & hems: 1.3 sil (1.1 coated) – Microtex 80/12 with Guterman Mara 70 (Tex 40)

Tarp tie-outs; pack attach points & buckles (shoulder, sternum & hip straps) – Microtex 90/14 with Gutermann Mar 70 (Tex 40)

More information, from Gutermann:

Thank you for your inquiry about the G├╝termann products you see in the various markets.

Mara is a MicroCore, Spun Polyester thread, made in many Tex sizes and is typically used for construction and decorative stitching on apparel, leather and accessories. The appearance of Mara is a low luster, matte finish with a ‘natural’ look of silk thread. The thinner Tex sizes are used for garment construction and the thicker Tex sizes are good for buttonholes, decorative topstitching (denim) and leather accent stitching on handbags, wallets, belts, etc.

Tera is a Continuous Filament polyester thread that is made in a different technique and is known for it silky, shiny surface, and strong resistance to abrasion. Tera is slightly stronger than Mara (pound for pound) in like Tex sizes and Tera is normally used for upholstery, leather stitching, outdoor fabrics (awnings, marine upholstery, umbrellas etc.

Both threads are made of 100% polyester, so they both have similar resistance to UV and chlorine, but normally Tera is more commonly used outside or in high sunlight exposure.

Sometimes, people use names that are confusing and normally, our Gutermann customers use the threads ‘proper name as shown on the cone or spool. Some retailers use descriptions of the thread that do not match the thread name and this is a little misleading. The Sew All thread you see in Joanne stores or other retail fabric shops is Mara 100 (Tex 30). The heavy topstitch or heavy duty Mara is normally Mara 30 (Tex 100), typically used for denim. This is also called jeans topstitch thread.
Tera is found in some retail stores under the name “Upholstery thread) and this is Tera 40 (Tex 75).

Most Distributors use the actual thread name like Mara or Tera and use the corresponding Tex size to describe the weight or thickness of the thread.
For hammocks, backpacks or similar applications, the Tera 40 is my recommendation. It is available in most of our Distributors and the color range is fairly wide. The thinner Tera threads are great for ripstop nylon as this fabric has a tendency to pucker – so the thinner the thread, the smaller the needle and the least amount of pucker. In that case, Tera 80 (Tex 35) is perfect. This thread is not as widely distributed as Tera 40, but should be carried by more Distributors in the future.

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