What is Embroidery Thread: Types and Tips for Use


Embroidery Thread

Embroidery Thread has different types in some of the associated terminology.  Different materials and manufacturing methods of embroidery thread can produce different results in finished designs. Northwest Custom Apparel uses Robison Anton super-strength rayon embroidery thread in all of our embroideries. Moreover, we can order different thread types of embroidery thread to meet customers’ specific requests.

Northwest Custom Apparel Design uses Robison Anton RayoEmbroidery Thread.


Rayon Thread – Thread formed of thick rayon has long been a standard in the embroidery industry and comes in several weights and grades. Embroiderers must ensure their embroidery thread is designed for high-speed Tajima embroidery machines, as some grades may break under modern high speeds and tensions.

Inventory your thread weekly

Polyester Embroidery Thread

Polyester Thread – Made from artificially created fibers derived from petroleum products, it comes in several grades and sizes. Generally stronger than rayon, polyester tends to elongate before bursting or breaking. This stretch can cause specific loop formation problems under improper tensioning. The lubricity and elongation of this thread also can cause it to loop when sewn with stitches placed too tightly together and/or sewn with too small a needle eye and too light a take-up spring snap.

Stretching of Polyester Thread

Also, after extreme stretching, many brands of polyester will contract back to their original size and cause a type of pucker around sewn areas. Polyester fiber melts before burns and suffers less from UV exposure than other threads. Colors are generally colorfast and can handle bleach. Still, some may react to dye strippers in commercial laundries if combined with certain industrial chemicals used at wearer work sites.

Full Back Embroidery can use 100,000 stitches in a design

Cotton Thread – Made of natural fiber cotton of high strength, this comes in several grades and sizes (twists). It does not elongate when stretched but breaks instead.

Dyes may be colorfast. The lubricity of this fiber is low, but it will cause lint to form from abrasion rather than stretch. This thread is considered the standard for fine monograms. The machine’s hook area requires regular cleaning if you are using cotton bobbins.

Metallic Thread – This thread is usually a rayon core wrapped with shiny Mylar strips to offer a metallic sheen. The dyed under the thread does not sparkle or glitter if the Mylar strips off the core. As a rayon core, it offers little elongation, and many brands break easily under higher tension. Because of the Mylar stiffness, thread breaks from uneven flow through the needle, and off-timing problems with the hook are common. This is one of the more expensive threads to produce and use.

Other Types of Embroidery Thread

Yarn – Thread that is generally thicker than standard embroidery weights and may not have a consistent or tight twist. Composite yarns may include a weave of metallic Mylar into the fiber for a flecked appearance.

Poly/Cotton Thread – A blend of cotton and polyester, giving a thicker buildup, less elongation, and good strength. Straight cotton colors sheen compares to rayon and modern polyester. Embroidery colors are usually colorfast and bleachfast. It is sometimes used for bobbins.

Acrylic Thread – Acrylic is a type of embroidery thread that is made from manmade acrylic fibers; this thread has a durability of wear over that offered by rayon but may not be as tough as polyester. It is offered in two weights for embroidery. Some colors may not be colorfast. It melts before burning and may suffer sun rot from UV exposure, mainly if treated with chemicals used to protect the vinyl.

Inside Northwest Custom Apparels Embroidery Shop Seattle

Embroidery Floss – Embroidery floss is a type of embroidery thread with a loosely woven yarn, usually measures in deniers and used for merrow machine edges on patches. Likewise, rayon or polyester offers good sheen and colorfastness.


Elongation – A property measured by how far embroidery thread will stretch under tension when sewing before it breaks. Often memory will allow a thread to return to regular length if allowed to sit under pressure. This elasticity, if higher tensions, make elasticity not alluring for sewing.

Lubricity – A measure of how much lubricate the thread is to pass through the eye and sewing area. Thread generally passes 80 or more times through the needle eye, and the garment pulls by the take-up lever and spring-in action with the needle to make a stitch. So, how slick it is in the running through the eye is essential to surface wear on the thread and stitch formation if low lubricity causes elongation and loop problems.

Equally important, pass the thread through a silicone lubricator to increase the thread’s lubricity. Furthermore, to transfer the lubricant to the thread and needle as it sews, try using a piece of backing with lubricate.

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Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.


Alicia Wada

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Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Ruth Nhoung

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Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Steve Deland

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Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

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Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.


Sothea Tann

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Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


Brian Beardsley

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Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


UT Tri Tran

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UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


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Kanha Chhorn

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Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

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SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.