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Selecting Embroidery Thread

There are of course a myriad of different kinds of embroidery thread to use in your embroidery machine, and your final product depends highly on which thread you choose. All of your thread selection should actually be founded on availability, sewability, appearance, seam performance and finally cost. But remember that choosing a high quality over a lower quality will be reflected in your work which with bargain thread may turn out to be more or less having been sand papered! This cheaper thread will cause lint to accumulate in and on your work and it will be exceedingly unsightly.

Rayon As Opposed To Polyester

When embroidery machines first hit the market for non-commercial use, each of those machines recommended rayon thread. This was because rayon thread had the softness, luster and strength to go through such a machine and still produce a consistently beautiful stitch with great sheen. Today the favorite seems to be polyester because of its increased strength, as well as its resistance to abrasion, and chlorine bleach and other chemical reactions. Also, polyester has become lower in cost than its predecessor rayon. Of the two, polyester is much sturdier. One important caveat with polyester threads is for you to be careful of the polyester thread stretching too much depending on the tension you set your machine at. If it stretches too much once the thread gets to relax after you are done embroidering, you may find that your material has developed some unsightly puckers.

Silk threads were always chosen for high quality embroidery and that still holds true today. If you consider a silk material, you know that silk has a special sheen to it. That sheen is also imparted in silk embroidery threads. Silk has one advantage though that not everyone knows about, and that is that it is extremely difficult to break. Availability has always been poor and it still is, unfortunately, but at least today it comes in a myriad of different sizes. Silk always meant luxury and it still does.


As opposed to some books that recommend staying away from cotton threads for machine embroidery, just the opposite may be true. It works very well, and cotton threads do develop a very nice soft sheen. The ultra fine cotton threads may be too weak for use in an embroidery machine, thus choose perhaps a 30 or 50 weight cotton thread. You will find that this size is quite strong, and will provide excellent coverage.


Metallic threads cause the most screaming at embroidery machines, or so I am told. The reason is that they can and do break, catch in various things, and occasionally seem to strip themselves. The clue and best hint for using such threads is to pay extremely close attention to the tension of both upper tension and bobbin tension. Those who meet with success say that its best to have a slightly tighter bobbin tension than above.

In conclusion, evaluate all the types of thread carefully, and remember to always choose the highest quality possible so that you can take pride in your work. You’ll never regret taking the high road to beautiful embroidery.

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