The thread that you use can make or break your project. Read through and use this information as a guide to Thread Know How. Threads are listed by type, fiber and weight. Specific thread types for embroidery are recommended for both the top and bobbin.
Embroidery thread is used on top only for most embroideries. Bobbin thread should always be used in the bobbin area unless the embroidery needs to be reversible such as on a quilt, towel lace designs or other projects where both sides of the embroidery will be seen. 40 wt. rayon embroidery thread is the most popular thread used in embroidery. The sheen gives a nice look to the embroidery and the 40 wt. is the standard for which most embroidery designs are digitized. Use a size 80 or 90 Universal or Embroidery Needle when embroidering with 40 wt. rayon threads. Sulky and Robison Anton are two companies that produce 40 wt. rayon thread. Do not use bleach or a bleach alternative on the garments embroidered with rayon thread; they are not colorfast. We recommend using polyester thread for embroidering.
40 wt. polyester embroidery thread is preferred by most people for use on children’s wear, towels, swimwear and other items that are washed often and may be subjected to bleach. It is a more colorfast thread, and can have a high sheen to it. It is a bit stiffer thread and less likely to fray when stitching at a high speed. Think of it as a polyester wrinkle free garment. It is made to resist wrinkles. The polyester thread works the same way but it is not as soft as rayon. When using polyester thread you may need to adjust your tension settings. Use a size 80 or 90 Universal or Embroidery Needle when embroidering with 40 wt. polyester threads. Exquisite, Sulky and Robison Anton are three companies that produce 40 wt. polyester threads.
35 wt. rayon threads are available for use with red-work type designs. It is a slightly heavier thread that can be a solid color or a twist of several colors twisted together. Use a 90 Universal or Embroidery Needle when embroidering with 35 wt. rayon thread. Aurifil makes a 40 wt. variegated poly thread high-sheen premium trilobal polyester thread. This thread gives absolutely no lint and no issue with thread breaking. Its perfect for Long-arm Quilters.
40 or 50 wt. cotton embroidery thread is sometimes preferred for embroidery designs with a less shiny, matte look. As long as it is a good quality cotton embroidery thread, it will embroider nicely without any tension adjustments. Many people prefer to embroider with cotton top and bobbin when quilting a quilt with an embroidery design. Use a size 80 or 90 Universal or Embroidery Needle when embroidery with 40 wt. or 50 wt. cotton threads. Aurifil, Robison Anton and Mettler produce 40 and 50 wt. cotton threads for embroidery.
25 and 30 wt. cottons are heavier weight threads. The weight is preferred for designs like red-work which is embroidered with an outline straight stitch. The heavier weight thread gives it a nice look. Use a size 90 Topstitch Needle when embroidering with 25 wt. or 30 wt. cotton threads. Sulky’s 30 wt. cotton thread is available in Blendable colors which are multicolored thread with irregular color changes for beautiful quilting and color shading. Robison Anton offers many colors in 25 wt. cotton quilting threads that are suitable for specialty embroidery designs.
12 wt. and 28 wt. cotton is a very heavy thread. It is used in red-work and other straight stitch designs or designs that are digitized for heavier threads. For stress-free embroideries, use a spring foot and be sure to use a size 90 or 100 Topstitch Needle. Sulky’s 12 wt. cotton comes in solid and Blendable colors. Aurifil 28 wt. cotton come is 270 different colors.
Metallic and glitter threads are specialty threads that add nice highlights to certain sections of a design. Use a size 90 or 100 Metallic Needle. Most metallic threads stitch best in a vertical position. They behave better if you give them a longer distance to unwind. Slow down the speed of your machine and/or use a touch of Sewer’s Aide™ if thread becomes unruly.
Bobbin thread comes on spools for you to wind onto your own bobbin or pre-wound bobbins. Embroidery bobbin thread is very light weight and can be nylon, polyester or cotton. Always use bobbin thread when embroidering unless you need the embroidery to be reversible. In that case, wind a bobbin to match the top thread. Because bobbin threads are lighter weight than regular embroidery thread, you may need to enlarge a design to make it less dense and/or adjust the tension when using a matching thread in the bobbin. OESD™ produces a 100% polyester bobbin thread in white or black that you can wind onto your own bobbins.
Aurifil 50wt. cotton thread can also be use as bobbin thread.
Sewing thread for garment construction, quilting, etc., is usually a 50 wt. thread. It may be all cotton, cotton covered polyester or 100% polyester. Always buy a good quality sewing thread. A good quality thread is smooth, made from long fibers twisted together and does not have knots or other irregularities in it. Sewing thread is not recommended for embroidery designs. Aurifil, Mettler and Güttermann produce a good quality sewing thread.
Thick, heavy specialty threads like button and carpet thread, upholstery thread and hand quilting thread are all treated for hand use and do not work well for machine stitching. We do not recommend that they be used at all in your sewing machine.
Jeans Stitch thread is a heavier thread that is made for jeans. You can use it in your sewing machine on top with a like color match of regular sewing thread in the bobbin. You may need to make adjustments on the top tension depending on your sewing machine. Use a 90 Jeans Needle when sewing with this type of thread.