A Quick Lesson on Embroidery Thread

Embroidery Thread Shelf

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.

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Polyester Embroidery Thread

lyester 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.