rayon machine embroidery thread is the most popular choice among embroiderers because of it’s appealing high sheen, widespread availability, consistent trouble-free performance and holding up to high-speed stitching without breaking or fraying. rayon can be found in 40 & 30 wt., as well as in a wide range of solid, variegated and “twist” colors. the “twist” thread is composed of two or more solid colors twisted together to form a single strand, which adds automatic shading and dimension to embroidery designs.
polyester machine embroidery thread has a sheen almost comparable to rayon (just a little less shiny) and comes in a load of colors. polyester’s usually a little cheaper than rayon because of it’s synthetic origin, for all you pennypinchers. they’re colorfast, extraordinarily durable and have high resistance to chlorine and bleach, which makes them the ideal thread for embroidering kids’ clothes, work clothes, tablecloths, sportswear and any items that will be frequently and/or heavily washed. it won’t shrink, fade or bleed.
cotton machine embroidery thread receives high marks for stitching performance and it’s lovely soft sheen. also, cotton is available in most wide range of weights – from 30 to 120 wt. (120 wt. is considered heirloom quality), although the 30 to 50 weights are the most popular for their strength and sufficient fabric coverage. with cotton you can get subtle shading between colors within a color 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 much like hand stitched cross stitch, it’s better to stitch them with cotton thread. or don’t be so dang lazy and just stitch them by hand.
metallic and glittery mylar thread is considered whimsical among stitchers, but it’s a mainstay in my sewing boxes. it’s great for adding sparkling accents to embroidery designs, and is available in a wide range of colors as well as holographic hues, which pick up light and color from surrounding objects and add spectacular luminous accents to machine embroidery. some might perform better than others on your machine, so experiment until you find the ones that aren’t a bitch for your particular machine. sometimes they can break with high-speed sewing, so you may need to adjust the thread tension and use specialty needles for these types of thread. and slow the hell down.
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 is considered the aristocrat of specialty threads, but don’t hold that against it. it’s very expensive and pretty hard to find. what i like about silk is that 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 sizes, but the 30 to 50 weights are the most appropriate for machine embroidery.