What Is Upholstery Thread?

Malcolm Tatum

Upholstery thread is heavy-duty thread used to bind sections of material together while upholstering a piece of furniture. The thread can be made from a wide range of natural and artificial fibers and is available in a wide range of weights. Much stronger than standard sewing thread, the choice of upholstery thread depends on the type of material being used for the upholstery project.

An upholstered footstool.
An upholstered footstool.

One common type of thread used in upholstering jobs is nylon thread. Often transparent, the thread tends to resemble fishing line and offers a great deal of strength. When the job calls for making the seams as discreet as possible in the design, this type of thick thread is often a great option, especially if the choice of fabric is canvas or a something similar. Olefin and other synthetic fibers also work very well with this type of thread.

Upholstery thread is stronger than standard sewing thread.
Upholstery thread is stronger than standard sewing thread.

Cotton thread is another form of upholstery thread that is used for many jobs. This natural fiber thread can lend a soft look to the stitching in the upholstery. It is important to only use cotton thread that is preshrunk, so the stitching will remain flat. Also keep in mind that cotton does not stretch and is more subject to breaking than other types of thread. One advantage is that this thread is very easy to color, making it easy to match the shade of the thread with the upholstery material.

Polyester thread is one type of upholstery thread that manages to provide a great deal of strength while also offering a smooth and soft look to the stitching. Unlike cotton thread, the polyester is less likely to break under stress, will not shrink when washed, and will not fade when exposed to direct sunlight. In addition to upholstery projects, polyester thread is sometimes used as jeans thread.

Silk thread is ideal for upholstering projects using material that is somewhat delicate. This thread does tend to stretch a little more, but is also very resilient. The high sheen makes the thread desirable when the stitching is considered an integral part of the overall design for the upholstered piece.

When choosing the right upholstery tools for a project, making sure to use the right type of thread will make a huge difference in how the job looks once completed. Most of these threads can be utilized with commercial upholstery jobs as well as hand crafted custom upholstery projects. Upholstery thread is usually available at home stores and fabric shops where upholstery fabric is sold.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


@starrynight - It's great your mom was able to fix your couch for you. It's always cheaper to do something yourself than to pay someone else to do it for you.

I used upholstery thread to sew some pillows for my couch quite awhile back. I was going to just use regular sewing thread, but when I went to the fabric store one of the sales associates steered me in the direction of the upholstery thread.

I'm glad she did! I can tell the tread I used was a lot sturdier than regular sewing thread. I doubt the pillows I made would last as long with regular sewing thread as they have with the upholstery thread.


I have a huge purple couch that I've had for several years now. I spent over a thousand dollars on it, so I'm making it last as long as possible!

Awhile back, part of the couch started coming apart. Luckily for me, my mom is pretty handy with these matters. She brought over some nylon thread and an upholstery needle and had my couch fixed in a matter of minutes.

So far, the repair has held up great. And she left the upholstery thread and needle with me in case I need it again!


Whenever I need some heavy duty thread I look for Coats and Clark upholstery thread. I have been able to find this at most any fabric store and have found that it is very strong and holds up well.

Another thing I like about this brand of thread is that you usually have several color choices to choose from. There have been times when I have looked for a heavy duty nylon thread and didn't have much to choose from when it came to colors.

It is always better if you have a choice of thread that closely matches your material so it blends in well with whatever you are making.


My brother in law worked at an upholstery shop for many years. During that time it seems like we often had some kind of project for him to work on.

My husband is in and out of his truck many times a day and his seat gets worn out very quickly. We had my brother in law make a special seat cover for his truck.

I have no idea what type of thread he used when he made this, but the material was thick so it would wear well. It was probably some kind of nylon or polyester thread because you couldn't see the thread, but it held up very well over time.

Whatever he used worked really well as my husband was able to keep his seat looking like new while he had the truck.

When it came time to sell it and he removed the cover, you would never know the amount of abuse that seat took because the seat cover we had made really did a good job of protecting it.

Post your comments
Forgot password?