This time of year we often get questions about what type of thread to use for sewing or repairing outdoor items like deck chairs and cushions for benches and chairs. The constant exposure to the sun, chlorine and the elements are very demanding on fabrics and threads.

Coats Outdoor thread is a bonded polyester, designed for this purpose. It is actually the same construction as the thread awning manufacturers use. This thread is resistant to almost every form of weather-related abuse including UV rays and moisture.

It is a Tex 90, which is a very heavy thread—the heaviest that can be used on a home sewing machine.

Here are some tips when using Coats Outdoor thread:

  • Use a size 18 or 20 (110 or 120) needle
  • Use a longer stitch length, 6-8 stitches per inch, or 4 mm. A thick thread needs more space to form a stitch
  • Increase top tension
  • Sew slowly. The thread is thick and less flexible than all-purpose thread. Stitch quality will be better if you slow down!

About the Author

Lynn is Director of Consumer Services with Coats & Clark.

33 Responses to Sewing with Outdoor thread
  1. […] don’t mind your hard work falling apart after a season of use. (Read more about how to sew using outdoor thread at the Coats and Clark blog. I followed their instructions to a T except that I used a size 16 […]

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  4. what about the bobbin thread? use the same thread?

  5. Can I hand sew the canopy that exists on the frame of an outdoor swing?

  6. I am going to try and replace the seat fabric on my outdoor swing. I am glad I found this site so I can get the correct thread, I figure it;s worth a try . Any suggestions or hints would be appreciated.

  7. What thread do you use in the bobbin?

  8. Select Your Project + Outdoor Fabric Outdoor fabric is very different from traditional indoor fabrics often used in quilting, upholstering and garment sewing.

  9. I used outdoor thread several years ago without any problems. I recently bought some new outdoor thread at JoAnn’s to make some outdoor cushions. I am having a terrible time with it. I keep getting bird’s nest under the fabric. I have adjusted the tension but cannot get it to work more than a few inches before it gets bunched up again. I have a new needle size 18. I had a bobbin of outdoor thread left over from my previous project. It worked fine. I believe it is the same brand Coats and Clark. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Julie,
      What stitch length are you using? The outdoor thread due to its size requires a longer stitch length. A shorter length can cause the bunching up you are describing.

  10. I had no idea that I should be using a special thread when I sew outdoor accessories. The swing in my back yard needs a new canopy, and I thought about making one myself. However, I’m still a beginner with my sewing machine, and I think using such thick thread might be too difficult. Maybe I’ll look for a replacement canopy online first.

  11. Can I use this thread to sew mosquito netting? It will be outdoors, but I need to sew two pieces together and hem? If not, what would you recommend?

    • This thread may be too heavy to use on Mosquito netting. We would recommend our Coats Dual Duty XP general purpose thread. Polyester thread is more resistant to weather than a cotton thread.

  12. What type of bobbin thread do you use with the out door thread

  13. Hi Julie I am sewing using 90% shadecloth. I sewed yrs back outdoor awning but the cotton got rotten. I’m using a bernina machine old one now to sew with. What cotton is available for that machine for outdoors. Cheers John

  14. Hi lynne I have a bernina machine an older version and I used that to make the awnings we are using. Made of 90%shade cloth I used ordinary cotton which has now rotted out. Could the thread you are talking about work on my machine as I am now looking for a cotton or thread to resow the cloth. I await your response. Thanks John.

  15. Hi Lynn I also would like to say that I live in NZ and I hope I can get what you might suggest down here in new Zealand. John.

  16. Wherr can I buy the outdoor thread in Perth Western Australia?

  17. Would this be suitable for a repair of stitching on a trampoline mat. Thanks

  18. Do I need to adjust the bobbin tension? The finish I’m getting on the bobbin side is not as nice as the top side.

    • More than likely the adjustment you need to make if to the top tension. The thicker thread requires more tension on the top thread to pull it up from the bobbin, so increase the top tension and be sure to also increase your stitch length.


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