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Embroidery Thread Choices

Contributor ,

electing an embroidery thread can be complicated; there are many different fibers and weights to choose from. We will try and help you to make this decision a little easier.

Your first choice to make will be the fiber that you are going to use. Each fiber has its pluses and minuses, so you may need to experiment in order to find the perfect fiber choice. You will have to consider thread density and the material that you are embroidering, and which type of thread works best in your embroidery machine. Sometimes the less obvious choice of thread will produce the best results, donít be afraid to try something different.

Rayon Embroidery Thread

Rayon thread is the single most popular fiber used

for embroidery. Rayon combines a durable high sheen, good usability in virtually every embroidery machine, and low cost. Rayon thread runs so well in so many machines that chances are high that you will love the smooth results that it creates. The most common size of Rayon embroidery thread is 40 weight, although 30 weight is also available. Some lines of rayon embroidery thread have hundreds of colors to choose from, and variegated embroidery thread

On the downside, rayon thread is not normally colorfast, and you should avoid using bleach, even bleach for colors, when washing rayon thread. Rayon also deteriorates over time, so store your thread in a humid area, like a refrigerator, if you live in a dry area.

Popular brands of rayon embroidery thread include Robison Anton, and Sulky.

Polyester Embroidery Thread

Polyester thread is the second most popular type of embroidery thread, and the gap in popularity between the two is small. Polyester embroidery thread is strong, inexpensive, and colorfast. It also stores more easily and last longer than rayon embroidery thread. They have a little less sheen than rayon thread, but more than cotton thread. Polyester thread will stretch when pressure is applied.

Polyester thread is also available in hundreds of solid colors and in variegated as well. 40 weight polyester thread is the most popular size, but 30 and 50 weight can be also be purchased.

Popular brands of polyester embroidery thread include Isacord, Mettler, Robison Anton, and Floriani.

Cotton Embroidery Thread

Most modern cotton threads are created from long

staple, mercerized fibers. That means that they start with the long staple thread, which tends to have fewer lumps of lint spun into the thread and itís also stronger and finer; and then the manufacturer uses the mercerization process to increase the luster and gloss of the cotton thread.

Cotton thread can break when pressure is applied, and it can fade in the sun. All cotton can shrink when washed, so be careful.

Cotton embroidery thread is available in a wide range of sizes, from 8 weight to 100 weight.

Aurifil, YLI and Gutermann are just three of the prominent manufacturers of cotton thread.

Silk Embroidery Thread

Silk embroidery thread is a beautiful, strong,

flexible fiber that can be the most beautiful thread available when it is used right. Silk is usually the most expensive thread that you can embroider with, so it may not be right for high density projects.

You need to be careful when washing silk, use a gentle soap and avoid all bleaches.

Manufacturers of silk thread include Tire Thread from Clover, Gutermann, and YLI.

When you have found the right thread you should keep a sample of a successful project stashed in your project drawer, with notes attached, so you can avoid starting all over in your search for the perfect embroidery thread.

Anne Carlson


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Red Rock Threads
Anne Carlson writes about thread for Red Rock Threads.


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