Dealing with Metallic Machine Embroidery Thread

Dealing with Metallic Thread
Here are several tips for working with metallic thread. These rules apply to any thread brand. We hope that they help you to get the best out of your metallic thread, because metallics really are more tricky than regular embroidery thread.

If you experience any trouble with metallic thread, please try the following steps, in this order:

1. Make sure you are using a quality, new, SHARP "Metallic Needle." Metallic needles have a larger eye, which allows metallic thread to run smoothly. Often, this eye has Teflon coating, for even better effect.

2. If you see that the thread is coming off of a spool too easily, and is causing loops and knots at the very beginning, try using a thread net (spool net). These nets really help with looping issues, and they cost pennies. Here's how thread nets look like (the first photo shows a closeup of thread net on metallic thread cone, the second is a photo of cone with thread net in vertical position, and the last two pictures - in horizontal position):

Most metallic threads, especially the brands that have a high sheen and really are "metallic," have this looping issue. But it's easy to solve, while the benefits of using shiny metallic thread are huge.

Another possible solution to "early looping" problems is to use a QUALITY vertical thread stand (thread feeder), since extreme looping is especially noticeable on machines that have horizontally positioned spool. If you have a good thread stand, try it.

3. Machine speed should be reduced. Turn on the lowest speed your machine allows, and observe the results. Increase the speed little by little, to the point when it begins to cause thread breakage. Now lower the speed down a bit, to the point of good performance.

4. Make sure top thread tension is low enough for a metallic thread. Usually, metallic thread require a lower thread tension than regular embroidery thread. Decreasing thread tension can also help guard against shredding.

5. Make sure that your DESIGN is suitable for metallic. Many designs work badly with any metallic thread. When working with metallics, avoid designs with following properties:
  • Many overlapping objects that create 3 and more stitch layers
  • Designs with many small stitches
  • Designs with very dense areas

  • 6. Make sure that you're using an appropriate backing. Metallic thread usually works MUCH better with backings that have a Viscose or Cotton component in them. 100% polyester backings are usually quite sturdy, and create too much friction with needle and thread. This friction can cause unwanted thread breaks. Whenever you can, use a backing with a viscose or cotton component. Soft cutaway backings usually work best with metallic thread.

    7. Make sure that you're using a suitable type of fabric. One that is too thick or too dense, can cause unwanted friction, and therefore thread breaks. When working with metallic thread, always try to use soft materials and natural fibers.

    8. Some metallic thread work better if they're cooled in a freezer for several minutes before embroidering.

    Happy stitching!

    P.S. And here's a link to embroidery designs sets that have been digitized especially for use with metallic embroidery thread.