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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Thompson

7 Expert Tips for Choosing the Right Embroidery Thread for Your Project

Embroidery projects, whether executed using commercial or domestic machines, demand careful consideration when selecting the ideal thread. The thread's colour, texture, and type will impact the final design's appearance and longevity. In this article, we will discuss the differences between commercial and domestic machines, and provide seven expert tips to help you choose the perfect embroidery thread.

Commercial vs Domestic Embroidery Machines

Before diving into our tips, let's distinguish between commercial and domestic embroidery machines. Commercial embroidery machines are typically more powerful, durable, and designed for high-speed, high-volume embroidery production. Domestic machines, on the other hand, cater to home users and hobbyists, with fewer features and a lower speed.

These differences in machines can influence the choice of thread, as certain threads may be better suited for high-speed commercial machines, while others may work better on domestic machines with lower speeds.

Tip 1: Understand the Different Thread Types

Knowing the various thread types available is crucial for selecting the right one for your project. Here are some common embroidery thread types to consider:


Rayon threads are popular for their sheen and extensive colour range. While they produce beautiful embroidery designs, they can be less durable due to their thinness. Rayon threads are suitable for both commercial and domestic machines.


Polyester threads are more durable than rayon and resist fading and shrinking. Although less attractive than rayon, when combined, the two can produce visually appealing designs. Polyester threads are compatible with commercial and domestic machines and are an economical option.


Cotton threads offer a wide range of tension adjustments and have a pleasant sheen. They are generally more suited for domestic machines and work well for machine embroidery, but thinner threads above 50 wt. may lack durability.


Silk threads are strong and provide a luxurious sheen. While they can be used on both commercial and domestic machines, their limited availability and higher cost make them ideal for luxury fabrics.

Tip 2: Delve into Thread Weight

Thread weight is crucial in determining the final appearance and texture of your embroidery. It is measured in weight (wt.) and refers to the thickness of the thread. The higher the number, the thinner the thread, and vice versa. Thread weight can affect the design's detail, density, and coverage.

Commercial Machines

Commercial machines often require a heavier thread, such as a 30-40 wt., to ensure durability and better coverage. Heavier threads can withstand the high-speed stitching of commercial machines and create more pronounced textures in the final design.

Domestic Machines

Domestic machines can handle lighter threads, such as a 50-60 wt., which produce finer details and less dense embroidery. Lighter threads are ideal for intricate designs or when working with delicate fabrics. Remember that lighter threads may be more prone to breaking, so it is essential to choose a high-quality thread and adjust the machine's tension settings accordingly.

Tip 3: Focus on Tensile Strength

Tensile strength refers to the force a thread can withstand before it breaks. For commercial machines, it is vital to choose a thread with high tensile strength, as it must endure high-speed sewing without breaking.

How to Test Tensile Strength

To assess a thread's tensile strength, perform a simple test by suspending a strand and sawing it with another strand until it breaks. The faster it breaks, the lower the thread's quality. This test can help you identify threads that are suitable for your project and avoid unnecessary thread breakages during embroidery.

Tip 4: Evaluate Elongation

Elongation is the degree to which a thread can stretch before it breaks. Threads with the right amount of elongation will not break too easily but will also not stretch excessively, ensuring optimal performance on both commercial and domestic machines.

How to Test Elongation

To test a thread's elongation, hold a strand between your hands and stretch it until it breaks. Observe how much it stretches before breaking. Threads that break too quickly or stretch too much may not be suitable for your embroidery projects, as they can lead to poor stitch quality and tension issues.

Tip 5: Prioritise Sheen and Colour Fastness

The sheen and colour fastness of the thread contributes significantly to the embroidery's appearance. Here's how to evaluate these factors for both commercial and domestic machines:


The sheen of the thread refers to its shine and luster, which can affect the overall aesthetic of the embroidery. When selecting a thread, consider how its sheen will complement your design and fabric choice. Threads with a high sheen, like rayon and silk, create more visually striking designs, while threads with a subtle sheen, like cotton, produce a softer, more natural look.

Colour Fastness

Colour fastness refers to a thread's resistance to fading or bleeding when exposed to various factors such as sunlight, washing, and friction. Select threads with high colour fastness to ensure that your embroidery designs maintain their vibrant colours over time.

To evaluate a thread's colour fastness, consult the manufacturer's specifications, or perform a simple test by washing a small embroidered sample and observing any colour changes. High-quality threads should maintain their colours without significant fading or bleeding.

Tip 6: Examine Sewability, Seam Performance, and Appearance

Thread selections should be based on sewability, seam performance, and appearance. Threads that perform well on commercial machines may not be suitable for domestic machines due to differences in speed and functionality. Test threads on your specific machine to ensure optimal results.

Tip 7: Factor in Availability and Cost

Finally, consider the availability and cost of the threads you're interested in using. Commercial machine operators might prefer readily available and cost-effective options, while home users may have more flexibility to experiment with unique and higher-priced threads.


Selecting the right embroidery thread for your project is vital in achieving stunning and durable embroidery designs, whether using commercial or domestic machines. By considering factors such as thread type, weight, tensile strength, elongation, sheen, and colour fastness, you can make informed decisions that will enhance your embroidery work.

Remember that each project may have different requirements, so always adapt your thread choices to suit the fabric, design, and intended use of the embroidered piece. By investing time in researching and selecting the best thread for your needs, you can create embroidery masterpieces that impress with their detail, texture, and durability. With practice and experience, you'll be able to make expert thread choices that elevate your embroidery projects to new heights of craftsmanship and artistry.

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