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6 Most Common Types of Threads to Use for a Perfect Machine Embroidery Project

Let’s face it, selecting a machine embroidery thread is a Mars mission. The choices of threads, the number of available colors, sizes, and other intricacies can get you nightmares.

A well-rounded knowledge can help here. But wait. Do your research first.

Ask yourself a lot of questions. What kind of project are you currently working on? Specifically, what is the fabric type and the task required? As a general rule, match the fabric with the thread. A cotton thread on a cotton fabric, for example.

Then the task. Is it a quilt, custom embroidery, or just a free flow design for fun?

This will help you narrow down your choices.

To help you further chose the best thread for your machine embroidery, we at Excellent Digitizing have listed down some of the most common thread types. They are mostly used and recommended by industry professionals.

1.    Rayon / Viscose

Rayon is the most used thread in the embroidery business, and it gives the best result for most machine embroidery designs.

For a project where you don’t want to use natural silk, use Rayon as an alternative for similar results because they come with a soft, attractive sheen of silk. All the more reasons why it is most loved by professional embroidery digitzers

Also, it doesn’t screw up on high-speed stitching. Rayon thread is a good choice for elegant and gentle fabrics.

It is readily available in an incredible number of vibrant colors and usually come in 40 or 30 wt.

Apart from all the pros, it comes with some cons as well. Since it is made with cellulose, the color fades away over time, upon UV exposure and frequent laundering.

Another potential downside is its special requirement for care and storage.

You need a cool and dry place to store. Because of its lower elasticity, it instantly catches humidity. So, be sure to keep these things in mind if you decide to go for this in-demand thread.

2.    Polyester

Polyester is considered the toughest thread against bleach and fade. Yes, they will not fade as fast as the Rayon does.

So, if you are looking for a thread that is colorfast and amazingly durable, polyester should be your first choice. It is also suitable for children clothes, towels, linens, catering item, work-wear. This is because they can sustain the frequent wash and other “hard battles” so to speak.

Polyester threads are in the midpoint price range.

There are a variety of polyester types to choose from. Monofilament, Corespun, Filament, Trilobal, Spun, and Bonded Polyester. Let us discuss a few of them here.

  • Bonded Polyester:

Bonded Polyester is an outdoor sewing thread, ideal for open-air apparels and automotive upholstery. They are high in strength, stretch control and UV resistance.

  • Trilobal Polyester: 

This type of polyester is the best of both the worlds – extra sheen which doesn’t fade away like Rayon. This is a continuous thread with the twisted filament. Its triangle shape gives it the much needed extra shine.

  • Corespun Polyester

This is a solid polyester thread. Not to mention, the polyester is already a strongest of threads. It is simply a combination of filament core threads inside a spun polyester which provides the added strength to it. This makes it ideal for heavy projects like quilting.

3.    Cotton

Cotton thread is a natural fiber twisted from a cotton bowl, and so it holds the fabric tightly. The best version is long-staple Egyptian cotton that is exceptionally strong and free of lint.

This thread is the ultimate dream for commercial garment decorators. If you know how to digitize logo, run a machine embroidery on any fabric and bingo. Trust me, it mimics a hand embroidery but looks much cooler.

There are various qualities of cotton threads, so it is critical to choose the right cotton for your desired project. Choose this thread in cases where you desire a matte finish look such as home linens and cross stich motifs.

For quality job, size 50 wt is recommended. Don’t worry it carries a slight fuzz which easily compensates for its smaller size. It has a medium sheen and price point varies depending on the low to high quality. High-quality cotton threads are generally expensive but worth the money.

A word of advice: Whether the cotton thread label says Mercerized or not, always Mercerize this thread before sewing.

4.    Silk

Talking about natural fiber, silk is another natural fiber thread on the list. A cotton-polyester marriage – It is as stable as a cotton fiber and as luxurious as polyester fiber. Wait, the shine is much more magical.

This thread is embroidery digitizer’s lost love. Size of a whopping 100 wt makes a machine embroidery disappear.

For other machine embroidery projects, match the silk thread with silk fabric, and a weigh of 30 to 50 weight for amazing results.

It is on the higher price point and not easily available in the market.

5.    Nylon

Nylon threads are synthetic threads just like polyester.

They are great for sewing fabric, leather, canvas and vinyl and they come in a range of sizes from hair thin 15 to cord-like size 554. Their most popular size though is 69.

Nylon is not best suited for quilting or embroidery because it has a shallow melting temperature. During the process, it discolors into the blackish and sometimes yellowish shade.

A word of advice: Use Polyester fabric in these type of situations.

There may be some instances where you don’t have any choice but to use nylon for your project.

Bonded Nylon is your go-to choice in such circumstances.

6.    Metallic

Hands down it is one of the best embroidery thread under the sun.

Metallic is a special thread and require special attention to details. It also requires special needle, optimized stitching speed, and precise tension to create the desired output. In a nutshell, you have to sweat the small stuff.

A word of advice: For best results, use low stitching speed with a lowered tension and larger topstitch needle.

The luminous, heartthrob accents to embroidery designs worth all the extra effort. The wide range of colors and holographic hues made from the surrounding light and objects create mesmerizing effects. Its vibrant radiating shine will kill you from a distance.

Just like all good things, this thread is high priced.

The only downsides are that it is easily broken and may take you some times before you learn to handle it properly.

The number of thread choices and their characteristics sometimes leaves you overwhelmed. Therefore, it is highly recommended to do your project research before choosing any one thread. If done right, you can infuse a whole new life to your designs.