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Selecting the Right Embroidery Thread

Submitted by : By TE Online on February 17, 2009 10:46 AM

Embroidery has always been a fascination for those who love embellished apparels and fabrics. With the growing use of embroidery machine, this craft has crossed all the limits of popularity. It is a general belief that the right fabric and right design are the two things that are essential for a good embroidery project. Embroidery Thread, however, is also an important factor for making a stunning work of embroidery.

Embroidery Threads – Different Varieties and Characteristics

Just as the fabrics are made from natural fiber as well as synthetic fiber, threads too are made from both the types of fibers. For selecting embroidery threads, there are many criteria such as sewability, seam performance and appearance, availability and cost.

machine-embroidery.jpg Rayon Thread: Presently, rayon thread is the most preferred thread of the embroidery lovers worldwide. It has great sheen, good availability, and trouble-free performance. It matches high-speed stitching without breaking or fraying. It comes in a wide variety of colors, from solid singles to mixed variegated colors. Solid colors when twisted together to make a single strand gives automatic shading and dimension to flat designs. Most of the rayon threads are available in a standard 40 wt. and 30 wt. When talking of thread sizing, the higher the number, the finer the thread. However, very fine rayon threads are not so strong. Most of the commercial embroidery is done with rayon thread only.

Polyester Thread: Polyester thread is more economical and more durable when compared to rayon threads. It comes in various colors and also does not shrink or fade. It's great for doing embroidery on kids clothing as it doesn't bleed. Its sheen falls between that of rayon and cotton and is stretchable to some extent. The most popular polyester thread size is 40wt, but 30wt and 50wt can also be easily found.

Cotton Thread: With its lovely soft sheen, the mercerized cotton thread too has a good performance. Although cotton thread does not stretch too much and breaks if pulled too tightly, it allows for a wide range of tension adjustments due to its texture. It's available in heirloom quality of up to 100 wt but finer threads tend to be weaker. 30 wt or 50 wt. cotton thread is appropriate for machine embroidery as it's stronger and provides better coverage. However, it fades in sun, and shrinks when washed. If opting for cotton thread, one should always go for high quality threads that are made with long staple cotton. They are softer, stronger and have higher sheen.

silk-embroidery.jpg Silk Thread: The royal silk thread is mostly used for embroidery projects involved with luxurious fabrics. It is soft, strong, stable, have enough elasticity and sews smoothly without breaking. It shines like no other thread does. Silk threads are available in a variety of sizes but the threads of 30 wt to 50 wt are appropriate for machine embroidery. The only limitation in their wide application is their cost which is very high. Therefore, they are mostly used for special projects. However, maintaining them is not too much a problem as the fabrics having silk thread embroidery can be gently washed in washing machine with a mild soap. Bleaching agents are not recommended as they can damage the threads. If anyway, one decides of using silk threads then only high quality threads should be selected as they can stand up to high-speed embroidery machines without breaking or shredding. Bargain bin threads are comparatively inexpensive, but are of poor quality, and will lead to wastage of time and frustration also.

embroidery-machine.jpg Acrylic Thread: Acrylic thread is stronger than the rayon thread but its feel is more rough than the rayon thread. It can be called a coarse thread and therefore is less preferred by many. The color of the acrylic threads don't fade easily and they are comparatively inexpensive too. If one is a beginner and is learning to do embroidery, acrylic threads can be used for good. However, a larger needle is needed to make the sewing go smoother with this thread.

Metallic Thread: Metallic thread has a core wrapped with a metal foil which might be coated with silver alloy. Color is added to this foil with a polyester film which may also be applied as an undercoating. It is one of the most durable types available on the market. As they have complex differing structure, some of them might perform better than others. However, one has to be very careful while using these threads for embroidery projects as the type of machine too affects their performance. The only way out is, to experiment with different varieties of metallic threads to find the one that is trouble-free in the user's machine. Once done that, they deliver amazing results.

metallic-thread-embroidery.jpg Mylar threads: Plies of film are layered together and cut into slices to form a flat filament and glittery mylar thread. Although durable, they tend to break under high-speed sewing. Mylar threads come in a wide variety of colors. One of their unique color feature is that of holographic hues, which pick up light and color from surrounding objects and add spectacular luminous accents to the embroidered product.

Special Effect Thread: Rather a new variety of embroidery threads, the special effects thread give special characteristics to the embroidery. Some of them give away crewel-like effect and some others are fluorescent neon threads. Some threads change their colors when exposed in sunlight, and some others glow in the dark.

All the above discussed threads have their own appeal. After knowing their characteristics, one can easily select the thread that suits the most to the embroidery project in hand.

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