How is the thread thickness calculated? We are asked this question on an almost daily basis. It is not simple, especially as the calculation differs in function of the thread. In principle, France uses metric numbering (NM) since 1942 for cotton yarn: a thread measuring 1,000 metres with a constant weight of 1,000 grams. Thus a N°1 is a thread which weighs 1000 grams for 1,000 metres and, for example, a N°40 is a thread weighing 1,000 grams for 40,000 metres. But, for historical reasons, not all the producers follow this rule. You will find a detailed article in Madame Sajou's Diary.
Our Fil Au Chinois all purpose sewing thread is a made of polyester. For those who wish to know what they are using, polyester is a plastic material obtained by chemical synthesis. It was patented by two English chemists, Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson, in 1941, but the product was made public in 1946 due to wartime secrecy restrictions. Each country developped their own version, thus in the UK ICI produced Terylene, Dupont produced Dacron in the USA and Rhone-Poulenc brought out the French version, Tergal.
Fil Au Chinois patchwork thread is a polyester core wrapped with cotton, rather than a mix of these two materials. This waxed thread was specially developped with patchwork in mind. If patchwork has today become a veritable art form with codes and rules, it must not be forgotten that it was originally a home economics reflex - the recuperation of all sorts of fabrics to make into warm bedspreads or insulating wall panels. The technique is as old as time, and was extremely popular in Victorian Britain. The great waves of emigration took this tradition to the United States, where it was particularly adapted to a less industrialised country where all products were scarce and precious. After the Second World War, patchwork crossed the water again to become very fashionable in Europe.
As the name states, gloving thread was used in the past for sewing and repairing gloves. It used to be sold on small wooden bobbins, which we have now reproduced and can be found in our Miniature Wooden Bobbins section. Uses have changed, but the name remains the same. Nowadays, Fil Au Chinois gloving thread is used for patchwork and appliqué hand stitching. Its a waxed cotton, n°120, both fine and solid. You can find our explanation on thread numbering in Madame Sajou's Diary.
Our Fil Au Chinois n°40 metallized thread is for hand or machine stitching. It is made from a thin gimped metalloplastic strip. Metalloplastic signifies that it is not made of metal, but a metal-like material. A gimped thread is made of one thread wound around another in a coil. On this thread, the coil is so tightly wound that there is no space between the coils, which is why it remains intact, even when used on a machine.
The Fil Au Chinois polyester fancy thread comes in shaded colours or interesting blends of contrasting colours, perfect for patchwork and decorative embroidery. This 100% polyester thread is a filament yarn. Whether natural, artificial or synthetic, yarns are either spun or filament. With the exception of silk, most natural fibres are spun. They have to go through numerous treatments before being transformed into thread. However, polyester being a synthetic fibre can be treated by filament. The liquid base matter is passed through a channel (forming the thread) and once cooled forms a continuous fibre.
Tacking thread, as the name indicates, is used for tacking together different pieces of fabric before sewing them together definitively. Traditionally, the colour of the tacking thread is in stark contrast to the colour of the fabric, making it easy to see and remove.
Fil Au Chinois tacking thread is available in 6 colours. As it breaks so easily, it should not be used for sewing purposed other than tacking.
Fil Au Chinois perlé silk thread is glossy and resistant. It is traditionally used for buttonholes as well as topstitching on fabric or leather.
It can also be used for cross stitch, bobbin lace or braids and trimmings. It was also commonly used in days gone by: in tapestries the finer details like the faces and hands of the figures, the centres of certain flowers or animals eyes were sewn with silk threads to obtain a contrast with the wool.
Rayon used to be known as artificial silk. A law introduced in France the 8th July 1934 put an end to this practice at the request of natural silk producers, in order to avoid all confusion in the public mind.In reality, this "artificial silk" has nothing in common with real silk apart from the appearance. It is also known in industrial terms as continuous filament viscose. It is made from wood pulp so it is an artificial fibre but it is not synthetic, (petroleum produced fibres).It is a lightly twisted thread with a lovely sheen and characteristics close to cotton – it is not very elastic and the same dyes are used for both. Here is our Fil Au Chinois range with 30 colours.
We are lucky to have such a vast range of quality threads made in France. Linen, cotton, metallic, elastic, invisible etc. We are aware it is not always easy to find what you are looking for, so we have regrouped a diverse selection of threads for different purposes. A tour in this section will certainly in this section will fill your head with ideas.
The Lebaufil special cotton N°8, in white or ecru, is used for emphasis in boutis or trapunto. The roving is acrylic and is used for the same but for stuffing larger designs. Boutis is a technique of Provençal quilting. It consists of sewing a motif on two layers of fabric, usually white, and then stuffing the motifs to make them stand out. Generally, boutis, also known as Marseille quilting, is done on two identical fine fabrics, to give an illusion of transparency. It is similar and apparently inspired by the Italian trapunto, where the fabrics are thicker, so do not have the same translucid effect.
Two types of Lebaufil pearling threads: the classics in six translucent colours and also the famous Cordelastic which is slightly stretchy. This very resistant thread is perfect for bracelets, the elasticity enabling them to be worn without needing a clasp.
As the name suggests, these Lebaufil threads are made of metal. Not to be confused with the Fil Au Chinois metallized threads which are metallo-plastic.The gold, silver and copper are available in three diametres, the other colours in two. These threads are used for jewellery work and can also be used in crochet. Both the elastic and metal wire threads are a speciality of the Lebaufil brand, who have been making them in France since 1946. This company was taken over in December 2015 by Ets Toulemonde, already the owners of Fil Au Chinois, Laine Saint-Pierre and the Decouvit brand.
Lebaufil is a French brand of sewing thread. The company is situated in Roubaix and was taken over by Ets Toulemonde in December 2015. In the style of the period, the Lebaufil brand was created in 1946 basing their name on an older company: LEpoutre-WiBAUX FILs. Lepoutre was founded in 1860, specialising in waxing cottons and making twisted threads for textiles. In 1880, François Lepoutre took over from his father and was joined by his wife, Jeanne Wibaux.The Lebaufil brand was invented for the development of a new activity, notably elastic thread, extremely modern in the 1950’s. They were sold under the name Lastex.
Our display cases are made of wood, directly inspired by those found in haberdasheries of yesteryear. These display cases are available for almost all of the Fil Au Chinois sewing threads as well as our embroidery threads. Depending on the number of colours available in each range, you can choose between different versions, selections of the most popular colours or the whole collection.
ATTENTION: for lin câblé display cases, it is best to contact us before placing your order. These threads are extremely popular and it is difficult for us to have all the colours in stock. Sometimes the delay to receive a complete display unit can take months.
Linen thread is the historical thread of the Fil Au Chinois brand. When the company was founded by Philibert Vrai in 1847, sewing machines did not exist and linen thread made up the bulk of their sales. This explains the existance of different presentations, either on classic spools, capsules or even star cards, each with a different length of thread. When Toulemonde took over Fil Au Chinois in 2007, they were keen to conserve these different presentation, which constitute part of their historical heritage.