This is my experience of the threads used in my leatherwork. I will talk about the usability, look, and acquisition of threads I’ve used, from an Australian’s perspective.
*this post will be updated whenever I have the opportunity to try new threads out
Atelier Amy Roke
*My current and preferred thread.
EDIT (29/08/18): After conversing with several leatherworkers (such as dkkdleatherworks), I can no longer recommend Amy Roke thread. While personally my batch of threads weren’t affected, the quality of subsequent batches have apparently gone down.
Atelier Amy Roke is a leather working group from China. They produce tools, materials, hard-ware, craft-materials, and finished products along with thread. They have two lines of thread, linen and polyester. Both come in a range of sizes and similar colours, with slight differences in shades.
Threads by Atelier Amy Roke are of very high quality and come in a variety of sizes that will suit different sized stitching. Personally I use their 632 (0.45mm) line at 9SPI. These threads are round in shape, which I find preferable as it makes it less likely that I will pierce the thread while stitching.
I much prefer using the polyester line. To differentiate, I found them much easier to use than the linen threads as they were less likely to fray while stitching and even threading onto a needle was much easier. I found the polyester also glides much smoother while stitching and can make-do without being waxed.
I’ve also found that over time the linen threads are more likely to fray if they’re in a high-abrasive area (in my case on my watch-strap). Polyester threads in general have an easy fix for this in that you can easily burn off frayed pieces near an open flame.
Their linen threads are lightly waxed and are matte in colour while their polyester threads have a high gloss which gives it a seemingly magical ability to change shades depending on the angle in which they’re viewed.
A close-up side-by-side comparison of the polyester (blue) vs the linen (red), shows the linen threads looking wound slightly tighter, however it is hard to distinguish a noticable difference, especially on an item.
Both the polyester and linen lines come in a variety of colours and shades (about 30 in each line), however some colours are unique to each line (even if they have the same name). The Ruby Wine in linen looks nothing like it’s counterpart in polyester, which is a factor to consider when purchasing.
I ordered directly from Amy Roke using Tao Bao. The site is entirely in Chinese which makes navigation a little tricky (however Chrome’s auto-translate is a live saver here). It takes some figuring out on how to navigate the website, and payment is done in two stages (1. for the products, 2. for the shipping). Shipping is inexpensive and very quick, and once you become used to the structure and ordering system ordering more becomes a simple task.
From what I understand, you can also order directly by emailing Amy Roke, or through their English website (which tells you to email them anyway), however I found the prices through those routes were much higher (and not automated).
- The Mars Red and Tango Red in the polyester line are almost indistinguishable from each other in person. I would not suggest buying both.
- There are some colours available on TaoBao that are not listed on the official website (e.g. Grape). This changes depending on their stock levels.
- The polyester line has a green sticker on the spool while the linen threads have a blue sticker (not 100% consistent).
- The polyester line comes in 0.65mm, 0.55mm and 0.45mm, while the linen comes in 0.55mm, 0.45mm and 0.35mm.
- The linen threads cost about twice as much as the polyester threads
Ritza 25 (Tiger) Thread
Ritza 25 by Julius Koch, better known as Tiger thread, is a flat, waxed polyester thread.
Due to its quality, range of sizes and colours, it has become a very sought after in leather work.
Tiger thread is flat and comes pre-waxed in a number of colours and sizes. I have personally used the 0.6mm, 0.8mm and 1.0mm lines, however sizes can extend up to 1.2mm and as low as 0.4mm (Ritza 44 – machine grade).
These threads are braided very finely which makes the risk of fraying very low. They are very lightly-waxed which helps while stitching without gunking up a leather item. Since these threads are flat, the process of threading onto a needle is fairly easier, however I find myself piercing threads while I stitch.
I also like to stitch at 9SPI and have personally found that 0.6mm is slightly too large for that (0.4mm is designed for sewing machines and not available in many colours).
These threads have a slightly glossy shine to them. A close inspection reveals the multiple smaller threads wound together to form the main-body, which quite looks like a miniature shoe-lace.
Flattening the threads after stitching makes it harder to distinguish between round and flat threads, however there is still a minor difference in look.
Tiger thread comes in various colours, however there are not as many shades available compared to other manufacturers.
Tiger thread have been in the industry for many decades now, and have been a favourite for a lot of that time. As such, there are many different places to acquire the threads from other leather stores, to eBay and etsy. However, the threads are not easily available to purchase directly from the manufacturers.
- Sizes range from 0.4mm (Ritza 44), 0.6mm, 0.8mm, 1.0mm and 1.2mm.
- Not as many colours and shades available.
- Very easy to find a third-party seller.