How to use Wooly Nylon thread in a Regular Sewing Machine

I have been sewing summer skirts lately.  I have hesitated to sew knit skirts in the past because it is difficult to hem them with out having the hem look wavy or rippling. But, I found a solution...wooly nylon thread! Have you heard of it?  Today I'm going to show you how you can use it in a regular sewing machine. Let's go learn about wooly nylon...

What is wooly nylon thread?

Wooly nylon is a type of stretchy thread that is made from spun nylon. It it is made up of many nylon fibers that make it appear to look "fuzzy" and thick like wool. It is also described as textured nylon that feels like soft yarn. When you stretch wooly nylon it narrows to the same size as normal thread. 

What is wooly nylon thread used for? 

Wooly nylon is manufactured to be used in a serger when sewing particularly stretchy fabrics such as in swim wear, leggings, and lingerie. If you look at a store bought t-shirt seam you will probably see it used there as well.  It is sometimes called different names depending on the brand you are buying. I picked mine up at Joann where the serger threads are stocked and it is called Maxi-Lock Stretch.

How to use wooly nylon in a regular sewing machine

There are a couple of ways you can use wooly nylon in a sewing machine. One way is using a twin ballpoint (stretch) needle with regular thread spools in the top and wooly nylon in the bobbin. This set up gives you a  double line of straight stitching on the top and a zigzag of the wooly nylon on the bottom. This produces decent results and is makes a seam that is stretchier than a straight stitch or stretch stitch with regular thread but not too much stretchier. I  also find that the hem ends up having a ridge between the top  threads that does not go away with pressing. That is not always the look I'm going for. 

Another way is to use wooly nylon as the top thread as well as the bobbin thread. I used this method to hem my 2 latest skirts and the results have been fantastic.  I sewed the hem in the photo above this way after finishing the raw edge on the serger. 

See my DIY Drawstring Skirt post for all the details. For the  Faux Wrap Skirt hem I sewed 2 rows of stitching to make it look like a double needle hem with no middle ridge.

There are a few tricks for using wooly nylon in a sewing machine though, so don't miss the following tips. Note: Not all standard sewing machines may  not be able to handle using wooly nylon as the top thread. Sometimes machines are picky. I encourage you to experiment with the following tips and it just might work for your machine.

Tip #1 Load the spool on the sewing machine sideways.

Never place the spool on the machine in the upright position as you would with a normal spool of thread. Always place it sideways so the thread can pull freely from the spool with the least amount of tension.

Because wooly nylon is stretchy, if too much tension is applied to the top thread your fabric will begin to gather as you sew. I learned this the hard way.  Practice on a scrap of knit fabric to see if it works for you.

Tip #2 Decrease the sewing machine tension.

It may be necessary for you to decrease the tension on the top thread to minimize the pull. I found that the stitches looked more even when I lowered my tension from 3 to 1 or zero. Refer your manual for instructions to decrease the tension on your own machine. 

Winding the Bobbin and Bobbin Tension

You may be wondering if you should hand wind the bobbin as you would when you use elastic thread. This has not proven necessary for me. I just wind the bobbin as I would any thread, just as long as the thread spool is laying sideways it should be ok. 

It is also not necessary to adjust the bobbin tension. Some machines have a pull out bobbin casing that has a little spring held on by a screw. You can loosen the bobbin tension by unscrewing it a little at a time, but I would say don't do it! In my experience, this never ends well.

That's all I have for today. I hope I answered your questions. If you have any more advice or information to share please leave it in the comments below.  I'm building a little library of my sewing knowledge. What would you like to learn about next?

Happy Sewing!

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  1. Thanks for your post! I have an older Bernina that doesn't have a place to put thread on horizontally. In that case, would you not reccommend using wooly nylon on the top of the machine? I could use it in the serger, but I don't have a coverstitch machine. Thanks!

  2. Your “twin” double rows look great! Thanks for this interesting post, I sure will try your suggestions.