Machine Embroidery Thread

Having owned my Brother embroidery machine for some time now I have discovered that there is a vast range of embroidery thread, however not all threads are created equally. Rayon and Polyester are the most popular embroidery threads available.  The main problem I have found with the various different brands of thread is the quality and their performance with my particular machine.

Whilst Brother and Janome threads are more expensive than many of the other widely available brands they both out perform all of the cheaper brands, I find I have far less breakages.  I am not saying the other brands are not as good; it’s just that my machine doesn’t cope well with these cheaper brands.

When using Madeira thread I have to use a thread stand, as my machine is not designed to accommodate their longer reels of thread.  I find the thread stand ends up on the floor, as it just doesn’t have enough weight at the bottom to it to prevent it being pulled over.  Madeira’s threads are made from a range of different materials Rayon/Viscose, Polyneon – Polyester and FS/Super twist – Metallic. Their latest thread Frosted Matt is made from Polyester with a Ceramic core.

I recently purchased some Domino thread – manufactured by J & P Coats, it’s one of the cheaper threads and I find it breaks more frequently and the thread pulls and puckers up above the needle.

I also purchased some T.S thread; I have not yet discovered who makes it.  It is very similar in performance to the Domino thread and costs about the same. It’s true what they say you really do get what you pay for.

Various brands of machine embroidery thread

Various brands of machine embroidery thread

Properties of most frequently used embroidery thread fibres:

Rayon machine embroidery thread is a popular choice among embroiderers, because of it’s beautiful high sheen, widespread availability, consistent trouble free performance and holding up to high-speed stitching without breaking or fraying. Rayon thread can be found in 40 & 30 wt., as well as in a wide range of solid, variegated and “twist” colours. The “twist” thread is composed of two or more solid colours twisted together to form a single strand, which adds visual effect of shading and dimension to embroidery designs.

Polyester machine embroidery thread has a sheen almost comparable to rayon (just not quite as shiny), it also comes in a variety of colours. Polyester thread is usually a little cheaper than rayon because of its synthetic origin. They’re colourfast, extremely durable and have high resistance to Chlorine and Bleach, which makes them the ideal thread for embroidering children’s wear and work wear.

Cotton thread has a lovely soft sheen. Cotton can be purchased in a wide range of weights – from 30 to 120 wt, although the 30 to 50 weights are the most popular for their strength and sufficient fabric coverage. With cotton you may achieve subtle shading between colours within a colour family, which may be extremely important when stitching complex designs with light and shade effects. The softer qualities of cotton thread are perfect for machine cross-stitch. If you want your designs to look like they’ve been hand stitched cross-stitch, it’s better to use cotton thread.

Metallic thread is considered to be the trickiest, but it’s a fantastic choice for adding sparkling accents to embroidery designs. They come in a wide range of colours. Some might perform better than others on your machine, so be sure to experiment to find the ones that performing well for you. They’re well worth using. Sometimes they tend to break with high-speed sewing, so you may need to adjust the thread tension and use specialty needles for these types of thread.

Silk thread is strong and stable, with an unmatched noble sheen. It’s the best choice when embroidering on silk and other luxurious fabrics. Silk truly is the aristocrat of specialty threads, however it’s more costly and hard to find. It combines the strength (but not abrasiveness) of polyester, the stability of cotton and sews smoothly without breaking. Silk threads are available in a wide range of weights, but the 30 to 50 wts are the most suitable for machine embroidery.


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