Sustainable sewing-Could recycled thread be the future?

Interested in doing your bit to save the planet one stitch at a time?

If there was one product you could switch out from your sewing tool box to a more sustainable version, would you do it?

Polyester recycling process
This is something I asked myself when I read about the rPet thread range from Guterman. As a professional Costumier, I always use Guterman threads, because I know they perform well across the wide range of unusual fabrics I come across. For me performance is key, and so before making a switch to the recycled threads, I needed to test them to see how they compare.

Earlier this year, I used recycled polyester threads to sew up a range of projects with lots of different fabric types. The Guterman rPet range consists of” sew all” threads for machine sewing, and a “top stitch” thread. I use top-stitch for hand sewing which is a good benchmark for testing performance. There are many threads that just don’t cut it when hand-sewing, so I was really curious to see how both these threads compared.

Experiment 1- Cotton

A simple tote bag from some gorgeous striped Guterman fabric. Thread performed really well with no difference from the regular Guterman sew all. Cotton is however the most forgiving of all fabric, and even a poor quality polyester often sews up well, so further experimentation was definitely required

Sustainable sewing-Could recycled thread be the future?

Experiment 2- Waxed oilcloth

oil cloth wash bag

I gifted this wash bag sewn from British Millerain oil cloth. This cloth is treated with oil, and can be tricky to sew with. Again thread performed very well, with no difference. Since this is a robust fabric despite the oil, further testing on trickier fabric was needed.

Experiment 3- Jersey

Another recent gift was a Longley waterfall cardigan, sewn up in gorgeous teal Ponte Roma. Since this fabric contains some  lycra I thought it would be a good challenge for the rPet thread. Again, no difference in performance!

Longley cardigan

Experiment 4- Silk

Sustainable sewing-Could recycled thread be the future?

My final machine experiment was sewing up a silk satin pyjama shirt. It wasn’t the best quality silk, so this was a good challenge for the thread, but again the thread performed well

Experiment 5- Hand sewing

Since I hand sew a lot, I’m very particular about my threads! I tested the top-stitch thread on button and hems, and enjoyed using the rPet version just as much as the regular thread.

Sustainable sewing-Could recycled thread be the future?

So in conclusion I am totally going to swap my threads over to the recycled rPet version. Still need convincing? Here’s some hard fact and figures


  • One plastic bottle makes 1000 m of thread- that’s one bottle out of the ocean or landfill
  • The cost of these threads is THE SAME as the regular version ie £1.95 for a single reel, or £10.95 for the special 7 reel packs.

As a heavy thread user, it makes no sense for me not to use the recycled product. At the moment the colour range is only 40, but as more people take up using this product, then the range will expand. This one little switch really could help reduce plastic waste. You can find a local stockist via this e mail


I've just got back into sewing and I find your newsletter tips really useful so do please keep them coming.
Many thanks

1 Comment

  • Kate @timetosew

    02.07.2018 at 13:34

    I had heard about it and would definitely switch, but don’t know where to get it. Will email them to see (thanks for the email address). I always find things like this a bit chicken and egg, limited colour range + work required needing to find it vs actually seeing if there is demand. Not sure if rPET thread is being used in RTW – now that would be making a massive difference!