Sewing with Outdoor thread

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!

46 thoughts on “Sewing with Outdoor thread

  1. buty Reply

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  2. Reply

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  3. Robin Reply

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

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      Coats Outdoor thread resists weather and UV rays. It is also very strong and could be used to repair the canopy.

  4. Christine Reply

    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.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      Outdoor thread should be used in the top and bobbin.

  5. Ned Kimbriel Reply

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

  6. Julie Reply

    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.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      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.

  7. Kairi Gainsborough Reply

    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.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      Kairi, We can understand your hesitation, but if you be sure to use a large needle and longer stitches, you will be pleased with the results.

  8. Lynn Reply

    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?

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      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.

  9. John Reply

    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

  10. John Reply

    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.

  11. John Reply

    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.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      Unfortunately I do not know what is available in New Zealand, but suggest you look for a heavy duty polyester thread.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      This thread would be a great choice for repairing a trampoline mat.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      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.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      The type of needle will depend on the fabric rather than the thread, although, a topstitching needle works great with outdoor thread because the eye is larger.

  12. Cindy Chang Reply

    Hi Lynnrrowne:
    Before I buy the threads, would you please let me know whether I can use home sewing machine to sew sling material? I would like to replace the sling for my Patio furniture.


    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      Cindy, it can be used on a home machine. It is very important to use a large needle- Size 16 or 18 and lengthen your stitches when using heavy thread.

  13. Paul Lachance Reply

    Hi Lynn
    I am troubleshooting a problem using my Singer 20U. Using a cordura fabric with V-69 sailrite thread 1 oz (350 Yds )
    needle # 18 , Bottom tension( bobin) just tight enough to hold its weight. Upper tension extreme tight it takes two hands to pull the thread through. I get a stitch that is almost acceptable. I just purchased your C&C ART D71 outdoor thread T67 200yds , I wanted to know what would be the Tex size or equivalent ? . comparing the two threads together the D71 is half the size of the v-69 that I have and I am wondering if the V-69 is wrongly labeled. I am assuming that this thread D71 series is compatible with sumbrella material for Boating applications? Note the above comments mention a Tex-90 with a 18-20 Needle, I am assume that is another outdoor product, since the D71 series uses a 16-18 needle as per your site documention.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      Paul, Our outdoor thread is a Tex 90 and we do recommend at least a 16-18 needle. A topstitching needle is also beneficial due to it’s larger eye. The outdoor thread is compatible with fabrics such as Sunbrella. It is appropriate for boating applications. Be sure to lengthen your stitch for the heavier threads.

  14. Nevan Reply

    I have a simplicity sewing machine. The manual says to “not use thread weighted #20 or lower”. It can cause the machine to malfunction. Is this thread too much for my machine?

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      Outdoor thread is a 12 wt which would be below the recommended 20 wt.

  15. Doris Reply

    hi Lynn,just found your site, so interesting.i want to replace the seats on my golf cart,i have a peice of naugahide for the seats.Would i use a #Tex 90 and the 16- 18 needle? i have an older New Home, OlderMontgomery Ward machine. i also have a nindustral machine,that has been cleaned and adjusted, it works but i have never used it.i really would like to try it out what do you suggest?

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      We recommend at least a size 16, but for your use I would go up to a size 18. Be sure to use a longer stitch length!

  16. Cris Reply

    I am having a horrible time with the coats outdoor thread, I ams sewing on faux leather with a long stitch length 5.0 and a 16 leather needle all I get is bunches of thread underneath the fabric and stuck with machine stoping all jammed up. I changed thread just to see what would happen and it stitched ok so I’m assuming it it this thread. I love the look of this thread topstitched on the faux leather but gurrrr don’t know what to do? Any help is appreciated thanks.

    • lynnbrowne Post authorReply

      Cris, We are sorry you are having difficulty. Your stitch length and needle size is correct for the thread, although if you have a size 18 needle it would be worth a try.
      Most likely the problem is tension related. If you are getting loops of the upper thread on the underside, there isn’t enough tension on the top thread. Heavier threads often require a higher tension in order to pull up the bobbin thread.
      If the thread underneath is gathering up, it may be the bobbin tension. Loosening the bobbin tension allows the lower thread to flow more freely from the bobbin and reduces the tendency to pucker. Check your machine manual for adjustment instructions for the bobbin.

      If you are still unable to use the thread and want a heavy thread, try our Dual Duty XP Heavy thread.

  17. Cris Reply

    Thank you Lynn for your advise, I did go and try loosing the bobbin tension, I have a drop in bobbin so the manual did not give any instruction about adjusting the bobbin tension but I did find out how to do it by the little screw in the bobbin case. Thus I ordered a new bobbin Case for ‘regular’ thread and will keep this one for the heavy stuff. I also tightened the needle tension and I am having much better luck now thank you again I’m so glad I found this forum 🙂

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