Choosing Suitable Machine Embroidery Thread

Always use quality embroidery thread, which are manufactured solely for machine embroidery. They're available in a huge variety of colors.

Some types of embroidery thread are more tricky to use than others, but usually a few slight adjustments can reduce thread breakage, looping and other unwanted issues. The three parameters which can effect breakerage level are:
  • Thread tension
  • Bobbin filament thread
  • Needle

  • Bobbin filament thread is usually of lighter weight than top thread, to allow less build up on the back of the embroidery, and help embroidery machine run better. We suggest to use polyester PREWOUND bobbins, instead of purchasing bobbin thread and winding bobbins at home. Experience shows that almost all embroidery machines perform better with factory-made bobbins. And therefore, since prewound bobbins cost almost the same like bobbin thread, there is no reason to spend time winding bobbins. Bobbin thread for machine embroidery is usually 60 or 70 wt, mostly made from polyester. Be sure to purchase quality, long-fiber polyester bobbins. SPUN polyester is bad, because it causes heavy dirt inside embroidery machine.

    Also, don't be tempted to use regular sewing thread for embroidery projects, thinking it is cheaper. Not only the results will be different (in most cases much worse), but eventually you will get your embroidery machine very "SICK".

    You may achieve different effects by taking advantage of thread weight. Embroidery threads come in variety of weights - from 30-weight rayon to 120-weight cotton. The rule here is: the higher the number - the finer the thread. If you need a 3-d effect and/or better fabric coverage, try using lower # of thread. And vice versa.

    Different thread fibers, like cotton and rayon , may have different thickness in the same weight. For instance, 40-weight cotton usually looks thicker than 40-weight rayon. The same is with polyester thread - since polyester thread is more elastic than rayon, it often appears thicker when stitched (but yet thinner than cotton). However, behaviour of thread in similar weight may slightly vary from brand to brand.

    Properties of most frequently used embroidery thread fibers:

    Rayon machine embroidery thread is a popular choice among embroiderers, because of it's appealing high sheen, widespread availability, consistent trouble-free performance and holding up to high-speed stitching without breaking or fraying. Rayon thread can be found in 40 & 30 wt., as well as in a wide range of solid, variegated and "twist" colors. The "twist" thread is composed of two or more solid colors twisted together to form a single strand, which adds visual effect of shading and dimension to embroidery designs.

    Polyester machine embroidery thread has a sheen almost comparable to rayon (just a little less shiny), and also comes in plenty of colors. Polyester thread is usually a little cheaper than rayon because of it's synthetic origin. They are colorfast, extraordinary durable and have high resistance to Chlorine and Bleach, which makes them the ideal thread for embroidering childrenswear, workwear, hotel and catering items, sportswear and any items that will be frequently and/or heavily washed. It won't shrink, fade or bleed.

    Cotton thread has a lovely soft sheen, unachievable with other fibers. Cotton can be purchased in a wide range of weights - from 30 to 120 wt. (120 wt. is considered heirloom quality), although the 30 to 50 weights are the most popular for their strength and sufficient fabric coverage. With cotton you may achieve subtle shading between colors within a color family, which may be extremely important when stitching complex designs with light and shade effects. The softer qualities of cotton thread are perfect for machine cross stitch. If you want your designs to look much like hand stitched cross stitch, it's better to use cotton thread.

    Metallic thread & glittery mylar thread is considered to be the most tricky, but it's a fantastic choice for adding sparkling accents to embroidery designs. They are available in a wide range of colors as well as holographic hues, which pick up light and color from surrounding objects and add spectacular luminous accents to machine embroidery. Some might perform better than others on your machine, so be sure to experiment to find the ones that performing well for you. They're well worth using. Sometimes they tend to break with high-speed sewing, so you may need to adjust the thread tension and use specialty needles for these types of thread.

    Silk thread is strong and stable, with an unmatched noble sheen. It's the best choice when embroidering on silk and other luxurious fabrics. Silk truly is the aristocrat of specialty threads, however it's more costly and hard to find. It combines the strength (but not abrasiveness) of polyester, the stability of cotton and sews smoothly without breaking. Silk threads are available in a wide range of weights, but the 30 to 50 wts. are the most suitable for machine embroidery.