In all textile arts, the thread is the crucial link that holds everything together, literally and figuratively. And while just a basic thread will do the job, good quality, a job-specific thread can elevate your work to the next level. But can job-specific threads only be used exclusively for what they are marketed for, or does their range of function expand beyond that? So, the question is, can you embroider with regular thread.
Yes, you can. Although embroidery threads are undoubtedly the best for the job and are specifically designed to give the best performance in embroidery projects, this does not mean that all other types of thread are out of the picture. Regular thread can work as well for embroidery.
As long as the right adjustments are made to cater for the change in function and the difference in properties between these two thread types, you can not only embroider with regular threads, but they can add a whole new dimension to your work.
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Can All Purpose Thread Be Used for Embroidery?
Yes, it can. You can use all-purpose thread for embroidery as long as you consider the relevant factors. For example, a regular thread is a little thicker than an embroidery thread, and you should consider how to handle and translate this to embroidery to get the best results.
Is Embroidery Thread Different from Normal Thread?
Yes, it is. Embroidery thread is a special thread made for use in embroidery, while a normal thread is used for sewing. Although you can use all-purpose thread for embroidery, there are distinct differences between these two thread types that highlight their manufacture for use in either embroidery or regular sewing projects.
Some of the main differences between embroidery and sewing thread include areas such as
The purpose is the most obvious difference between these two threads. Embroidery thread is mainly made for embroidery work, while a normal thread is used for regular sewing work. Embroiderers can use embroidery thread for work such as needlepoint, shadow work, cross-stitch, whitework, and blackwork. On the other hand, you can use sewing thread for garment construction and fixing tears and openings.
Embroidery thread sizes usually range from 30 to 50, while the regular weight for regular cotton sewing threads is 50, with size 40 for polyester threads wrapped in cotton. The thickness size difference is also one of the main challenges of using regular thread for embroidery as they are much thicker and may cause embroidered designs to look crowded and stacked on.
Embroidery threads usually have a high sheen because of the looser bend, which makes them an attractive choice for the decorative work of embroidery. On the other hand, sewing threads are usually dull regarding the brightness of the colors, apart from a few special exceptions.
Regular sewing thread is also stronger than embroidery thread, which, while relatively strong, is not as strong as regular sewing thread. An example of this is rayon, a popular embroidery thread that is weaker than regular thread when wet.
Embroidery threads are generally less expensive than regular sewing threads, some of which can be quite costly.
Can I Use Thread Instead of Embroidery Floss?
Yes, you can. Embroidery floss is a cotton embroidery thread that has been mercerized and has six individual threads that you can separate. You can embroider using thread instead of embroidery floss, although your embroidery may lack some of the desired decorative effects provided by embroidery floss. You may witness some of these changes in the sheen, which is more prominent in embroidery thread.
When embroidery, you can use any number of strands depending on your preference for thread thickness and embroidery patterns. This thread is among the most popular for embroidery since it is affordable and available in myriad colors.
Embroidery floss is commonly used for surface embroidery, cross-stitch, satin stitch, and counted thread embroidery techniques. Several great brands provide excellent embroidery floss, though it is important to note that there may be variations in quality, weight, and finish.
Also, while most embroidery floss is colorfast, you must confirm this before starting any project. You can also consider coating your floss in a thread conditioner to protect it and keep it from tangling.
Can I Use Cotton Thread In My Embroidery Machine?
Yes, you can. While synthetic threads are perfect for machine embroidery, threads made from natural fibers such as cotton threads can do an excellent job in machine embroidery with proper care. Napped fabrics, particularly suede, provide a great base to showcase designs you have embroidered using cotton thread.
One of the main deterrents to people using cotton thread for machine embroidery is the automatic assumption that cotton thread breaks as you are working. The main reason threads break is the friction as the needle continually penetrates the fabric, producing heat and causing weak points on the fabric.
However, you can easily minimize or altogether reduce such breaks by investing in good-quality threads with longer twisted filaments and offering fewer possible breakpoints.
Synthetic threads are better built to withstand higher friction before they eventually break. Depending on your machine manual, you could also use thread lubricants that coat the thread, making it smooth and helping it glide through the eye with minimal friction and fraying.
Another deterrent is the lint that cotton thread produces as you stitch. However, for most sewers, the final product when using a cotton thread outweighs any inconvenience that it may cause. You can also frequently clean the lint from the presser foot as you change thread colors.
Below are some special handling tips that you can use to avoid having any problems when stitching and to help you deal with them if they do occur.
- Tension- check the upper tension of your machine before you start sewing with any new thread. You can check this by doing a test run of stitches on scrap fabric that is the same as the one you plan to embroider. If your thread covers the bobbin thread on the wrong side, then the tension is too loose. Problems such as bird-nesting and looped and bunched fabrics are also some of the problems you might see if you have improperly balanced tension.
- Needles of the wrong size or those bent, nicked, or worn can cause your sewing thread to break and fray. A good standard rule regarding needle replacement is to change them after about four to five hours of sewing.
Is Embroidery Thread Thicker than Regular Thread?
As mentioned above, regular sewing thread is generally thicker than embroidery thread. The difference in thickness between these two threads is one of the major reasons why you cannot use sewing threads for embroidery projects that require very dense work, as they will be too thick to use. However, you can find both embroidery and sewing thread within a large range of thicknesses.
An easy way of knowing the relative thicknesses of different threads is by using the thread weight, which is among the most common methods for threads measurement. This thread weight is a measurement of length. The length of the thread is usually divided by a set weight to get a precise measurement for the thread weight. For example, a 40-wt thread means that 40 kilometers of that thread weigh 1 kilogram.
Typically, the higher the thread weights, the thinner the thread will be so that a 100-weight thread will be thinner than a 40-weight thread. A lower weight is heavier than a higher weight because it only takes a lower thread length to weigh one kilogram.
The thread weight can be useful in many ways in embroidery, such as stitching light designs in areas with heavy stitching or creating a contrast to make a thicker thread stand out from the rest.
Do You Split Embroidery Thread?
Yes, if you prefer to. Splitting embroidery thread refers to separating it into its strands from a larger grouping of strands. An example of this is embroidery floss, which is among the most common embroidery thread. The thread comes with six separate strands that you can separate from the bunch.
You can consider several factors to help you determine how to strip your embroidery thread and what fabric thickness to use. These factors include:
1. The Fabric Count.
The fabric count of your material is the first indicator that will help you know how many strands you should separate your thread into. The most common fabric counts are provided for Aida cloth. For this material and even weave fabrics, here is how you determine the number of strands you need to strip the thread into.
For fabric counts of:
- 11 – 3
- 14- 2/3
- 16- 3
- 18- 1/2
- 28(more than two threads)- 2
- 32 (more than two threads) – 1/2
- 36(more than two threads) – 1
Most experts recommend starting with an 11 0r 14 count fabric if you are a novice, making it easier to see big stitches.
2. The Design Pattern.
Depending on the design pattern you are working on, your pattern key will determine the number of strands you should use. For example, when you are working on a cross-stitch project, there are pattern instructions that you must follow, failure of which to do so will likely have significant consequences.
If you do not use enough strands, the fabric may show through the cross-stitches you are making. Also, if you use too many strands for your material’s fabric count, you will find it increasingly difficult to stitch. The thick thread may also ruin your fabric due to pulling it too hard while getting the thread through the material holes.
To avoid making such mistakes, you can use a reference book that offers tips on fabric count and the number of strands you should use.
3. The type of stitch
Some types of stitches will require a higher or lower number of strands. An example of this is the single thread chain stitch, in which you can only use one strand of embroidery thread. You need to use one strand because this stitch is usually used to do details or stitch garment components such as hemming and attaching buttons.
On the other end, we have the multi-threaded chain stitch, which will need around three to four strands of embroidery thread. You can use this stitch on heavy fabrics that need extra strands to provide strength and thickness.
Is There Special Thread for Embroidery?
Although the thread type can seem like a trivial matter, the thread you use will determine the quality and look of your embroidered work. Considering various factors such as the thread type, weight, material, and fabric type, you can build yourself a profile on the right type of thread to use for your project.
Below are some of the embroidery threads you can choose from.
Rayon is one of the most popular thread choices among embroiderers. It has high tensile strength and is considered one of the most flexible threads due to its pliability and softness. Part of its popularity is its inexpensiveness, which makes it an affordable option for large and small projects.
Rayon fibers also have a luxurious sheen and are soft to the touch making for a beautiful presentation. One downside of using rayon fibers is that they may fade over time.
Cotton thread is a long-time favorite in traditional embroidery. It is a great choice if you are looking to have a matte finish on your embroidery compared to a high sheen thread like rayon. Some of the popular cotton threads you can choose from include:
- Stranded embroidery cotton, also commonly known as embroidery floss, comprises six individual strands that you can separate to adjust the thickness.
- Perle cotton is mainly used for surface embroidery and needlework. However, unlike the embroidery floss, Perle cotton thread is not separable, but you can choose from different thicknesses, with the lower numbers indicating thicker thread. This thread also comes in various colors like floss, with each color shown by a brand-specific color code.
Polyester embroidery thread is a strong thread produced from a specially crafted raw material to help eliminate thread breaks, puckering, and looping. It is a great option if the final product will be subjected to some harsh laundering as the thread is resistant to chlorine bleach. For novice embroiderers, polyester offers the best cost vs. performance balance.
Its mention inspires and calls to mind the heights of luxury. Silk threads occupy an unmatched niche in appearance and function. Although silk threads are thin, they have high strength and stability coupled with an unmatched luster. To get thicker threads from silk, you will have to layer it and use it to couch thicker threads.
Wool is an embroidery staple in cross-stitching, needlepoint, and crewel embroidery. The yarn weight of wool often refers to its thickness, with o being the thinnest and seven being the thickest. The yarn with 0 weight comes in 3-ply, and you can separate it to adjust the thickness. You cannot separate tapestry yarn, although it has a similar thickness to the 3-ply Persian yarn, making it a good choice for needlepoint.
6. Metallic Threads
Metallic threads are an excellent way to add another beautiful dimension to your embroidery. It is often used as a highlighter for surface embroidery and, apart from the standard colors, can come in copper, gold, platinum, and silver.
However, metallic threads can prove challenging to work with as they wear out quickly and easily snag. You can avoid these problems by cutting shorter threads and stitching with fewer strands.
7. Variegated Threads
Variegated threads combine several shades of color in the same yarn. These threads can come in a wide range of materials such as silk, cotton, or wool. When used creatively and cleverly, these threads can create an amazing design for your project.
Is Embroidery Thread Colorfast?
In this context, the word ‘fast’ refers to the permanence of the thread color when exposed to different conditions. Colorfast means that the dye in the thread will not run when it is exposed to water.
The embroidery threads that are more likely to bleed are machine embroidery threads and threads based on rayon. These threads are likely to bleed if you applied their dye after making the yarn ad not likely bleed if you applied the dye before you made the yarn.
What’s the Difference Between Embroidery Floss and Sewing Thread?
The differences between embroidery floss and sewing thread are just as had been mentioned above between embroider thread and normal thread. Embroidery thread is generally less expensive, thinner, and has more sheen than regular sewing thread.
What Type of Thread Is the Strongest?
Nylon thread is an excellent choice for sewers looking for a strong, durable, and reliable thread. You can use nylon thread for heavy-duty sewings, such as athletic gear, upholstery, and bags. We take a comprehensive look at the properties of nylon that give it its durability.
- Regular Wear and Tear
Here is a look at how nylon responds to various factors that cause gradual wear.
- Elongation – Over time, nylon will stretch up to about 26%, which is beneficial as it allows the fabric’s seam to stretch along with the fabric.
- Sunlight and mildew – While nylon has great mildew resistance, prolonged sunlight exposure causes the thread to deteriorate, especially if the seams are exposed. However, specially treated UVR nylon has better performance after long-term UV exposure.
- Heat- Prolonged exposure of nylon to temperatures above 285F causes its deterioration, and it starts to melt at temperatures of 485F to 500F.
- Abrasion- nylon has great abrasion resistance.
2. Chemical Resistance
- Except for hot mineral acids, nylon is generally unaffected by most mineral acids. It dissolves with partial decomposition in concentrated hydrochloric, sulfuric, and nitric acid solutions and is soluble in formic acids.
- Nylon has great resistance against hydrocarbons like diesel or gasoline.
- You can generally bleach nylon in most solutions, although it is usually insoluble in most organic solvents and soluble in some phenolic compounds.
Some nylon configurations, such as monochord nylon, offer around 10 to 14% more strength. It is a single ply of thread and is thinner than regular nylon for sewing with a reduced stitch appearance. On the other hand, bonded nylon can resist fraying heat and friction due to high-speed sewing through the protective coating that is on the thread.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have an Embroidery Hoop?
An embroidery hoop is one of the most crucial tools for embroidery. Hoops help in achieving optimal fabric tension and prevent thread puckering and a host of other problems. However, if you do not own a hoop, you can use several other methods to keep your fabric taut as you embroider. These methods include:
1. Using a Frame
Frames are usually made from wood, and the fabric is pinned or stretched to keep it taut. There are three standard frame types that you can choose from which are:
- Stretcher bars work n pairs and have a toothed bar at the end of each bar. You can mount the fabric here in any direction and use thumbtacks to maintain fabric tension proportionally.
- Scroll frames that have extender bars that determine the amount of fabric you can work on at once. You can adjust the fabric tension vertically and horizontally.
- Slate frames work like scroll frames with the fabric tension adjusted horizontally using the lacings and vertically using the holes in the bars.
2. Maintain Tension Using Your Hands.
You can also maintain fabric tension as you embroider by stretching out the fabric between your thumb and forefinger. While this method does not work well on large projects, you can use it with considerable success for smaller projects.
3. Using Interfacing
Interfacing applied to the fabric provides an extra layer of support and structure to the fabric you are embroidering. This application thus allows the fabric to handle the stitching well without distortion.
Why Do You Split Embroidery Thread?
When splitting embroidery thread, you first remove the number of strands that you intend to stitch with one at a time and then put the strands together again when you are threading the needle. Separating them may seem like a futile task. Why split the embroidery thread only to recombine it later?
Well, separating the individual strands from each other will give a more consistent and fuller stitch coverage when you start stitching. When the multiple strands are packed together, there is a natural twist to the thread. Pulling the strands apart and then recombining them helps fluff the floss for thicker and fuller stitches.
So, with this advantage, how do you separate floss correctly? Below are steps you can follow to strip your embroidery thread.
- Cut your floss into a 15-to-18-inch piece. If your floss often gets tangled when you are stitching, you can work on this by using a shorter piece.
- Using your thumb and forefinger, loosely hold the cut length of floss and fan out the individual strands.
- Separate one individual strand and pull it up and out of the thread. Even if you need more strands for your project, we recommend being patient and pulling the strands out one at a time, and repeating the process for however many strands you need.
- You will see the remaining thread bunch up under your fingers as the individual strand slides out.
Are Embroidery Needles Different from Sewing Needles?
Yes, they are. There are some differences between these needles that make each more suitable for their tasks. Different types of needles are used in embroidery, depending on the type of embroidery you are doing. Some of these needles include:
- Embroidery needles have sharp tips and eyes larger than regular sewing needles to comfortably accommodate embroidery threads and sharp tips to penetrate tightly woven fabrics.
- Tapestry needles are usually ball-pointed when you want the needle o slip in between the thread instead of piercing them. They are commonly used for even weave fabric pulled thread and drawn work technique.
- Chenille needles have some similarities to embroidery needles, such as the large eyes and sharp points. However, they have long eyes and are shorter than regular embroidery needles.
- Darning needles have a smaller eye and are longer than anything like that. They are mainly used for huck embroidery and darning.
- Huck embroidery needles have a ball-pointed and angle head for the needle to pick up and pass through the floating threads in huck embroidery.
How Do You Start Embroidery Thread?
Taking the time to start your embroidery thread well will help your embroidery project wear and look better. Knots in your embroidery project can cause the backside of your project to look untidy and bumpy, and you can often feel these bumps on the front side of your work.
Another significant problem with having knots on your work is that it can cause unraveling and losing stitches after some time with use or laundering.
One of the best ways to start an embroidery thread is by using a temporary knot. This knot has the double advantage of allowing you to start stitching without risking pulling the thread through while it secures it in place helps keep your work tidy. The two basic types of temporary knots are the away and waste knots.
The away knot is done 3 to 5 inches from the location where embroidery begins, and the knot clipped after stitching the embroider. You then thread your needle using the tail and weave it through the stitches on the fabric’s back.
The waste knot is placed on the front of the fabric and the tail drawn out on the backside to work over. You will lock the tail of the knot in place as you work towards the knot you are covering, and once it is secured, trim the knot.
Do not be afraid of embroidering with sewing thread just because it is not designed, marked, or marketed for embroidery. Look at a thread that you find interesting and run with it. Experiment on this thread and later try combining different thread weights, types, and combinations to see how it turns out. Still, the main question is,
Can You Embroider With Regular Thread?
Yes, you can! The variety of texture, color, and finish that regular threads introduce will allow you to unlock another world full of creativity in your embroidery.
We appreciate you taking your time to get through this article and hope this article has been informative and answered your questions on this topic. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, you can leave them in the comment box below.