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Congrats on getting your first embroidery machine. Embroidery is fun and easy if you are using the correct supplies. As experienced embroiderers already know, there are a lot of threads to choose from and it can be very confusing to someone just starting out. This guide will help you pick the best embroidery thread to use on your machine and describe the different types available.
As a beginner, it's tempting to go out and buy the lowest cost thread you can find online; unfortunately, most of the time cheap thread is going to cause more problems than what you got in savings. Starting off with a high quality brand of thread like Madeira, will ensure you trouble free stitching from the start.
Cheap thread can break, fray, and stitch poorly. High quality thread is designed for strength, durability and performance on high speed embroidery machines. An excellent embroidery design begins with an excellent embroidery thread.
Buying a high quality embroidery thread doesn't mean spending a lot of money, Madeira thread is very affordable at only a few dollars a spool. We consider Madeira to be one of the best thread brands available. Why buy another brand and chance poor embroidery quality?
Embroidery thread is generally available in 3 main types of yarn: Rayon, Polyester and Cotton. There are also some specialty threads like metallic and fire resistant threads, but for the purpose of this article we are gong to stick with the main ones you will be using.
The choice for traditionalists and quilters. Cotton is mostly used by quilters looking to incorporate natural fibers. It's generally not as strong as rayon or polyester and the colors are usually not as shiny and vibrant.
Made from 100% viscose rayon, it is perfectly suited for embroidery on high speed multi-head embroidery machines and home embroidery machines. Rayon thread is known worldwide for high tensile strength and excellent glossy luster and is considered the most flexible of embroidery threads due to its softness and pliability.
Rayon can be stitched out in any direction, will lie flat in the most intricate of designs and run flawlessly without thread breaks when a good quality thread is chosen. Less abrasive than polyester thread, rayon is softer against skin and gentle on the working parts of your embroidery machine. It is tested to run an average of 400,000 stitches before a thread break occurs.
Made from 100% polyester, Madeira Polyneon polyester embroidery thread is strong and constructed of a specially developed raw material intended to eliminate looping, puckering and thread breaks. Vibrant colors are glossy, as well as resistant to chlorine bleach, making this thread ideal for commercial linens or any application where the end product will be subjected to harsh laundering. Polyester threads offer the best balance of cost vs. performance and are a great thread for beginner embroiderers.
Within the three types of yarn; cotton, rayon, and polyester you may see something called Variegated thread. You can learn more about variegated thread which is sometimes called multicolored thread here.
The thread weight is a way of describing the thickness of thread. The lower the weight number, the thicker or heavier the thread, and a higher weight number means a thinner or lighter thread.
Embroidery threads are usually available in several different thread weights, with 40 being the most common. The majority of embroidery designs are digitized for 40-weight thread. The 40 weight thread should be your go to thread for all around everyday embroidery.
The second most common is the finer and lighter 60 weight. You would want to use it anywhere fine detail or small lettering is required and for decorative stitching on delicate fabrics. When you have a design digitized, you should try to indicate which areas of the design will be stitched in 60 weight so that the digitizer can try to avoid having to use fill.
Most thread is available on two sizes: 1,100 yd mini snap cones also known as spools and 5,500 yd cones. You will get approximately 200,000 stitches out of the minis and about 1 million out of the larger cones.
It takes the yardage of five spools to equal the yardage in one large cone. Stock up on your everyday colors in the large cones and buy the minis for specialty jobs. If you have a single needle home embroidery machine, you will need to buy a separate thread stand to use the large embroidery thread cones.