Links to Sewing Supplies

Copyright 2005   Ronald B. Standler

Table of Contents


Pfaff sewing machines
Schmetz needles

There are different measurements for sizes of sewing needles in metric and American (i.e., Singer Sewing Machine Company) practices:
metric 60 70 80 90 100 110 120
american 8 10 12 14 16 18 19
The diameter of the needle in millimeters × 100 is the metric size, so a size 65 needle has a diameter of 0.65 mm.   The relationship of one American size per 0.05 mm is true only from 0.6 mm to 1.1 mm.


reissfestes Garn = extra-strong thread

I routinely use extra-strong 100% polyester thread: Gütermann and Madeira recommend needle size at least 100 with extra-strong thread, while Mettler recommends at least size 90.

Stronger Thread

There are two kinds of thread that are even stronger than the above-mentioned "extra-strong" thread.
  1. thread intended for buttonholes and top-stitching (in German: "Knopfloch- und Zierstich-fäden") that is sold: Gütermann recommends needle size 120 with top-stitching thread, while Mettler recommends at least size 110.   Alternatively, instead of using a Universal or Jeans needle, one can use a special Topstitching needle that has a large eye on a smaller shank (e.g., sizes 70, 80, or 90).

  2. When sewing heavy-duty (e.g., 1000 denier) nylon fabric, I have had good results with Coats Upholstery thread, which is 100% nylon, on 150 yard spools. Coats recommends a size 110 needle with this thread.

Notions = Nähzubehör

Notions (e.g., thread, needles, buttons, etc.) are called Nähzubehör in German.

Wright's ribbon, also has bias tapes for sewing over edges of fabric to prevent fraying.
Offray ribbon
Ribbon Factory fluorescent double-face satin


I tend to use heavy-duty fabrics. For example, I made a book bag out of Cordura® 1000 denier nylon fabric that lasted through three years of law school with virtually no detectable wear, while many of my classmates purchased a new book bag every year. I made a car seat cover and a bedspread from cotton duck cloth, a light-weight canvas. These kinds of fabrics are not sold in local fabric stores, whose customers mostly make clothing, curtains, etc.

American fabric stores give the density of the fabrics in "ounces per square yard", which is often — and improperly — shortened to "oz." To obtain the density in grams per square meter, multiply "oz/yd2" by 33.8


Since December 1993, I ordered most of my fabric from Rainshed in Corvallis, Oregon. They are a small, friendly store that specializes in fabrics for outdoor use.

The importers for Gütermann, Mettler, and Madeira threads do not import into the USA the full range of their threads. Also, some sizes and types of Schmetz needles are difficult to find in the USA. For these reasons, I sometimes order from a store in Germany.

I have ordered from Faden Versand in Germany, which has Gütermann, Mettler, and Madeira thread (including Madeira Aerofil Nr. 35 and Madeira Polyneon Nr. 40 on 400-m spools), and Schmetz needles.   With Euro 30 (about US$34 in Nov 2016) shipping cost outside Germany, this is an expensive way to get exactly what you want.

Other Stores

There are four large stores for sewing supplies in the USA:
  1. Jo-Ann has fabric, some Gütermann thread

  2. Michael's

  3. Nancy's Notions in Wisconsin

  4. In 2012 Clotilde merged with Annie's Craft Store in Texas

There are many small mail-order notion stores that sometimes have a better selection of specialty needles or thread than large stores.
In Germany: In the USA:
The following fabric stores have interesting websites, but I have not ordered from them:
Reflective tape:
Foam Padding:
The following stores have closed-cell Neoprene and polyethylene foams, used for cushioning delicate objects:
webpage created 9 Sep 2005, revised 21 April 2020

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