threads embroidery machine
threads embroidery machine

About threads on Embroidery machine

All About Thread

There are a lot of options when it

comes to embroidery thread. Choosing the right one can take a project from

ordinary to extraordinary. Read on to learn about thread and how to make the best selection every time.


For example, if 40 kilome- ters of thread weighs one kilogram,

then the thread is 40-wt. If a kilogram only holds 30 kilometers, then it’s

30-wt. The higher the number in

weight, the finer the thread is. Most

professionally digitized designs are in- tended to use 40-wt. two-ply thread. If a different thread is chosen, adjust- ments to the embroidery machine’s

settings may be necessary.

A good time to choose a finer thread is when you’re stitching dense

Ply refers to the number of strands that twist together to form the final

thread. Higher ply numbers will make a thicker thread — for example,

three-ply thread is thicker than two- ply thread.

Twist is the number of turns per inch the plys are twisted. A small twist number may cause fraying or break- age, while too many twists may cause knotting, looping or snarling. Quality thread has a well-balanced twist.

Denier is the measure of synthetic fibers. It’s the opposite of weight, in that weight is the length measure- ment of a fixed weight, and denier is the weight measurement of a fixed length — 9,000 meters, to be exact. Denier is measured in grams per ply. Most embroidery thread is 120d/2, which means that it is two plies of 120-denier fiber twisted


To make spun thread, cotton or polyester fibers are spun into single yarns and then twisted together. Spun thread usually produces lint. High- quality thread produces less lint than lower quality, and polyester produces less lint than cotton.

Core threads have a poly core with spun cotton or polyester fibers

wrapped around it. They have fuzz on the surface, but the continuous fila- ment core gives the thread strength and durability.

Textured thread is made of polyes- ter or nylon filaments that are mechani- cally textured for fuzz and stretch. This

thread type is voluminous, elastic, soft, full, thermally insulating and moisture- transporting.

Filament threads are made from multiple continuous strands of poly- ester, rayon or nylon twisted together. They have little to no lint and are soft and shiny. Rayon is the weakest fila- ment thread and isn’t particularly color- fast. Nylon melts easily, and it becomes brittle and tends to discolor over time. Polyester is soft, strong and colorfast.

Monofilament thread is a single strand of nylon or polyester. The latter has a higher heat tolerance than the former; nylon may melt under the iron.


Finishes are the final touch on the thread production process. Thread with soft finishes are dyed and lubricated.

Mercerized thread is treated in a solution to make the fibers swell, which controls tension, improves dye recep- tion, and adds luster and strength.

Thread that is gassed is passed through a flame to reduce fuzz and increase sheen.

Glazed thread has starches and chemicals added to it, which increases luster, strengthens resistance to abrasion and keeps the plies together. Glazing produces a glossy, hard finish to protect the thread, but the glaze can rub off and gum up the needle, so it is only recom- mended for hand work.

about threads on embroidery machine

Shrinking Thread

  • Formulated to shrink on contact with heat, producing a smocked effect.
  • Works best with running, stippling or zig-zag stitches, simple embroidery, grid, swirls and quilting designs.
  • Use steam generously when press- ing, but don’t touch the iron di- rectly to the thread unless you are prepared for it to shrink about 30% immediately. Stabilizing can help to control the shrinkage.
  • Use with soft, lightweight fabrics that gather easily for best
  • Available in 40-
  • Usually used in the
  • For maximum puckering, use as both top and bobbin threads and stitch with a 65/9 to 80/12

Glow-in-the-Dark Thread

  • Glows in the dark or under black light for up to 15 hours.
  • Picks up light from artificial and natural
  • Made from polypropylene or polyes- ter and comes in 30-, 35- and 40-wt.
  • Wash in cool water or dry clean; don’t use bleach.
  • Dry on low; use a press cloth when ironing.

Metallic Thread

  • Available in 40-
  • Use a 80/12 to 100/16 needle that is specifically for metallic thread, or use a titanium or topstitching needle.
  • Use with designs that have long
  • Best with soft materials and
  • Use cut-away stabilizer rather than tear-away.
  • Machine wash in hot water up to 140ºF; don’t use bleach.
  • Cool iron or dry


about threads on embroidery machine

Ultraviolet-Activated Thread

  • Charges with
  • May need up to 30 minutes to
  • Thread appears white or pastel when embroidered, but turns to a brighter hue when exposed to

sunlight; out of the sun, it will return to its original color.

  • Use in combination with regular embroidery thread to produce colorful designs.
  • Available in 40-
  • Should be used with a size 12
  • Machine wash in cool

Don’t use bleach or iron directly on the embroidery

Wool Thread

  • Only available in 12-
  • Is three times thicker than stan- dard thread.
  • Has a fuzzy, matte
  • Creates soft, fluffy textured
  • Use with medium- to heavyweight fabrics, such as wool, linen and lightweight
  • Combine with another fiber, such as acrylic, to give a crewel effect.
  • After stitching, the embroidery can be brushed to give the thread a soft, fluffy texture.
  • Use a 100 or 110 needle, very low tension and cut-away stabilizer.

Variegated Thread

  • Available in many colors, ranging from subtle gradations of one color (also called ombre) to bold and bright blocks of several colors.
  • Two different thread colors can be twisted together for a mottled

Silk Thread

  • Three-ply, reflective and
  • Comes in 50-
  • Limited
  • Use a 75/11 to 80/12 size

Bonding is the application of a spe- cial resin to continuous filament nylon or polyester thread. It produces a tough, smooth coat that resists abrasion and keeps plies secure.


Thread comes on small vertical spools, bigger spools, mini-cones, cones and king cones. Choose small spools if your goal is to collect a variety of colors. Large spools run smoothly and are a good choice for collecting basic colors. Thread unwinds more eas- ily from larger spools.

Larger spools may fit directly on some machines with either a vertical or horizontal spool pin, while others may require a separate, independent thread stand to sit behind or next to the machine. A favorite work-around for this is to place a large spool or cone in a cup or mug by the machine, which keeps it in place while allowing it to move as necessary.

Parallel-wound thread has each wind sitting parallel to the one before it. Each row of thread on the spool is one thread thickness below the previ- ous row. The thread unwinds from the spool one row at a time from top to bottom and back again. It works best

on a vertical spool pin. Using a horizon- tal spool pin pulls the thread over the spool end, which may cause twisting, kinking, fraying and breakage.

Cross-wound thread crosses over itself, winding in a Z-pattern up and down the spool. Place these threads on a horizontal spool pin so the thread pulls over the spool’s upper edge.


Wrap thread in plastic wrap and keep it in a cool, dry place (ideally 68º with 60% humidity). Keep it out of direct sun- light so it won’t fade or dry out — dry, brittle thread will break and fray.


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