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Choosing the Right Machine Embroidery Thread, Part 1

2nd September 2010

Choosing the Right Machine Embroidery Thread, Part 1

When it comes to choosing the proper machine embroidery thread for the job you have in front of you,  there are a lot of choices.  It isn’t only a choice between brands,  it’s also a choice of the type of thread you want to use as different threads produce different effects.   The material used to make the thread can also have an impact on the success of the final design. Machine type may also play a role in the thread you elect to use, many people swear that their machine does not like or will not run well when a certain brand of thread is used. Finally you have to consider the material into which you’ll be sewing.   All of these factors can have an impact on your choice of thread.

Let’s start with the brand of thread you use.   There are a variety of different brands out there,  which are manufactured in a variety of different places and which are sold at many different price levels.   When choosing a brand of thread,  you should investigate a few different things.    The first thing you should do is get a sample of the thread and run it in your machine.  Watch how smoothly it runs.  Keep track of breaks or birdnesting and other thread problems.  Take note of how much time it takes to run a standard design, do you have to slow down the machine for the thread to run its best?  Do you spend a lot of time rethreading your machine after thread breaks?  After you’ve gathered this data,  look at the color and sheen of the thread.  Are the dye lots consistent?  Is the thread redyed?  Finally, keep in mind that cheaper isn’t always the best choice.  Saving money on the original purchase price doesn’t really save you money if you lose production time due to poor quality thread.

Next let’s discuss the effect you want the thread to produce.   If you want embroidery that sparkles,  metallic thread is probably the way to go.   If you want variations in color and shade,  you may want to investigate variegated thread.   Glow in the dark thread is popular during Halloween.   Color changing embroidery thread can be fun on garments that will spend a lot of time in the sun.   Special effect thread is a great way to add a unique accent to your embroidered piece.

You should also keep in mind that you need to make a decision between the two most popular types of machine embroidery thread,  rayon and polyester.    For many years rayon was the thread of choice and , for some people it still is.   One of the reasons that rayon thread was so popular for so many years was the shine the thread produced.   The drawback to rayon thread is that it tends to be less durable and less color and wash fast.   For durability and color fastness, you best choice may well be polyester machine embroidery thread.   There are also polyester threads,  like Iris UltraBrite Polyester,  that have a shine that matches any rayon embroidery thread on the market.

This concludes part one of this discussion.  Next week we’ll cover machine type,  material type,  and a few tips that may help your thread run more smoothly no matter what type or brand you’re using.

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