Thursday, July 9, 2015

What machine embroidery thread should I use? and where can I buy it?

There are a lot of different types of embroidery threads you can use. Today I am going to share all I know about embroidery thread. I'm still learning myself but I hope this can help you get started.

There are different brands of embroidery thread and different fiber content. Some embroiders have some very strong opinions about them. Some embroiders say their machines are picky and will not sew with poor quality thread. If you are having trouble with your machine (thread shredding, breaking, puckering, looping), try out some higher quality thread and see if that fixes your problem. Of course the higher quality stuff costs more, so try to find what you like best that fits your budget. Just make sure you always buy embroidery thread, NEVER regular sewing machine thread, and especially not serger/overlock cone thread. Those threads are not made for embroidery machines, they have a LOT of lint and will gunk up your machine.

These are the brands I have heard most about, and what people generally say about them.

I hear the best things about

I've heard good things about

I've heard complaints about
Coats and Clark

Besides brands, you need to be away of fiber contest. Machine embroidery thread can be made out of polyester or rayon fibers. Polyester threads are stronger, won't shrink, fade, or bleed, holds up to chlorine bleach, and usually is cheaper. Rayon, on the other hand, has a beautiful sheen (shiny!) and is softer on your machine for less wear and tear. There isn't a right or wrong on Polyester verses Rayon, just personal preference. Even the experts disagree. Allstitch has an interesting article on it here if you are interested in more. There are other threads like polyneon that is made from polyester but supposedly offers the same silky shine as rayon. Like I said, it's all personal preference.

Personally, I have tried Coats and Clark polyester, Sulky rayon, Gunold polyester, and Maderia polyneon. I like Maderia the best. Gunold and Sulky are tied for second, they are great but I have had some thread breaks. Coats and Clark goes in third place, it works well, but I've had some thread breaks and a teeny bit of looping. I plan to try more brands. I am going to recommend what others told me. Try out several brands before investing in an entire collection of thread. You would hate to buy a 100 spool set only to find out that your machine hates it. Updated to add: I tried Metro thread and I really liked it. I would put Metro in 2nd place.

*Some threads just shred more easily such as reds (not sure why) and metalic thread. For those, you will want some Sewer's Aid but I'll talk about that in another post.

One more thing about thread weight. Embroidery thread usually comes in 40wt or 50wt. The bigger the number, the thinner the thread. Your bobbin thread is 70-90wt and is very fine.

Now that you know all your options of WHAT you can buy. WHERE can you buy it?

Local Shops
Embroidery Machine Dealers: going to be a little more expensive here but they are more likely to carry the nicer brands and it's always nice to see a color in person when you are looking to match a certain shade.

Joanns or Hancock: You will find the machine embroidery thread right next to the regular sewing thread. They carry sulky and coats and clark brand thread. Their threads occasionally go on sale and and they offer 40% coupons. (note that Hobby Lobby is not included- my local HL does not carry embroidery threads perhaps yours might though?). The cost of a 180 yds 30wt sulky rayon thread at Joanns is $3.59

Walmart: if your Walmart has a fabric section, you will probably be able to find a limited number of Coats and Clark brand embroidery thread. Not my top choice, but if I'm in a bind and need thread quick I'll pick some up from Walmart.

Shopping online is great. You can find higher quality brands for MUCH better prices. The downside is you'll have to pay for shipping and you cannot see the exact color you are going to get (it can be frustrating to realize that the cream you thought you were buying is actually a very light gray!). Most of these shops also sell other embroidery supplies like stabilizer.

Allstitch This is where I purchased my 40wt 1,100 yd cones of Madeira thread. I was very happy with the fast shipping time, though their packaging was a little funky to be honest. It seemed like they pulled a crumbled box from their recycling pile to shove my threads into even though they didn't fit. It just didn't look very professional, but if it saves me money I'm happy. They carry Madeira polyester, polyneon, Rayon, and even glow in the dark thread. The 1,100 yd cones cost $2.26

Mr. Vac & Mrs. Sew: I've never purchased from them, but they come highly recommended. They carry Polystar thread. A 50wt 1000 meter cone is $2.99

Ken's Sewing Center: Again, never personally purchased from, but have heard very good tings. They carry Exquisite and Madeira thread. A 1000 meter cone of Exquisite cost $2.50 right now

Wawak I like to buy sewing supplies from Wawak, stuff like zippers, serger thread, woly nylon thread. So I tried their Gunold embroidery thread. I must tell you, their website is terrible. It's really difficult to find what you are looking for. The best way I have found is to just get their catalog and then use the catalog to look up the product numbers. They also carry a small selection of Mardeira colors. Honestly, I probably won't buy Gunold again. Not that it's bad or anything, there's just better thread out there. A 1,100yard spool of 40wt Madeira thread cost 4.89, a 1,100yd 40wt polyester Gunold thread cost $2.19

Metro Embroidery Never purchased from these guys either, but this is where you can buy metro thread. Update: I purchased from Metro Embroidery and had a very good experience. They offered a lot of shipping options, the cheapest for me was $10 USPS priority express. Honestly, I'd rather wait two weeks for my package and pay less, so I wish they had offered that option. My thread came very quick and nicely packaged. I liked their website too. Their metro mini spool (1000m) 40 wt polyester thread is .89 at the time of writing this post. This is probably the cheapest thread I have found, and I liked it better than Coats and Clarke, Gunold, and Sulky. I'd definitely recommend purchasing this thread.

Thread Art was also recommended to me, but I have not tried yet. The cones are not listed as any brand, so I'm not sure how to describe it, generic? store brand? A cone of 1000m Rayon thread is currently $1.49

I hope this helps to get you started. Try some out and let me know how you like it in the comments. I will keep updating this I as I try more brands.


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