Embroidery thread can add a beautiful and decorative touch to your sewing projects, but using it in a sewing machine can be a bit different from using regular sewing thread. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to use embroidery thread in a sewing machine successfully.
Choose the Right Embroidery Thread:
Select high-quality embroidery thread that matches your project’s design and color requirements. Embroidery thread comes in various materials, such as rayon, polyester, and cotton. Ensure it is compatible with your sewing machine.
Check Your Machine’s Compatibility:
Not all sewing machines can accommodate embroidery thread. Check your sewing machine’s user manual to verify if it can handle embroidery thread. Embroidery machines are specially designed for this purpose.
Prepare Your Machine:
Clean your sewing machine, including the bobbin area, to remove any lint or debris that could affect the thread’s smooth flow. Ensure your machine is in good working condition.
Choose the Correct Needle:
Use an embroidery or metallic needle, specifically designed to work with embroidery thread. These needles have larger eyes and are more suitable for thicker threads.
Wind the Bobbin:
Wind the bobbin with embroidery thread, following your machine’s instructions. Make sure to wind it evenly and not too tight. Use a bobbin that matches the thread color for a cleaner finish.
Thread the Machine:
Thread your sewing machine as usual, but pay extra attention to the threading process. Follow the thread path as indicated in your machine’s manual, ensuring the thread flows smoothly through all the guides and tension discs.
Adjust the Tension:
Embroidery thread is usually thicker than regular sewing thread, so you may need to adjust the tension settings on your machine. Test your machine on a scrap piece of fabric to find the right tension setting that prevents thread breakage or puckering.
Test Stitches and Tension:
Before starting your project, it’s essential to test different stitches and tension settings on a fabric swatch with embroidery thread. This will help you achieve the desired look and stitch quality.
Use a Thread Stand:
If you encounter issues with the thread unwinding unevenly or breaking frequently, consider using a thread stand. This will provide a smoother and more consistent thread flow.
Slow Down Your Sewing Speed:
When sewing with embroidery thread, slower sewing speeds can help prevent thread breakage and ensure precise stitching. Adjust your machine’s speed accordingly.
Monitor Thread Tension Throughout:
Keep an eye on the thread tension as you sew. If you notice any issues like looping or thread breakage, stop and make the necessary adjustments.
Secure Thread Ends:
To prevent your embroidery thread from unraveling, secure the thread ends by backstitching or tying knots at the beginning and end of your stitching.
Thread Stand or Cone Holder:
When working with large cones of embroidery thread, it’s helpful to use a thread stand or cone holder. These tools ensure the thread feeds smoothly from the cone to the machine, reducing tension issues and thread breaks.
Bobbin Thread Choice:
While you wind your bobbin with embroidery thread, consider using a lightweight bobbin thread. This can help balance the tension between the top and bottom threads, resulting in cleaner and more precise embroidery.
Bobbin Tension Adjustment:
Some embroidery machines allow you to adjust the bobbin tension. If you experience issues with the bottom thread showing on the top or vice versa, adjusting the bobbin tension can help achieve a more balanced stitch.
Stabilizers are essential when working with embroidery thread, especially on delicate or stretchy fabrics. These materials, like tear-away or cut-away stabilizers, provide support and prevent puckering during stitching.
Experiment with Thread Weight:
Embroidery threads come in various weights, from thin to thick. Experiment with different thread weights to achieve different effects in your embroidery designs. Thicker threads can create a bold, raised texture, while thinner threads offer finer detail.
Thread Color Changes:
If your embroidery design involves multiple thread color changes, be patient during the process. Follow the machine’s prompts for changing colors, trim thread tails neatly, and secure the ends to avoid unraveling.
Proper hooping is crucial for embroidery success. Make sure your fabric is taut and smooth within the hoop. This ensures accurate alignment of the design and prevents fabric distortion during stitching.
Maintaining Machine Cleanliness:
Regularly clean your sewing machine while working with embroidery thread. Thread lint and residue can accumulate quickly. Cleaning prevents jams and ensures smooth thread flow.
Store your embroidery thread properly. Keep it in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. You may also consider using thread organizers to keep your collection organized and easily accessible.
Practice and Patience:
Like any skill, using embroidery thread in a sewing machine requires practice and patience. Don’t be discouraged if your early attempts don’t meet your expectations. Keep practicing, learning, and experimenting to refine your skills.
Use Embroidery Software:
If you have a computerized embroidery machine, consider using embroidery software to digitize and customize designs. This allows you to create unique and personalized embroidery projects.
Maintain a record of your embroidery settings, such as thread tension, needle choice, and stabilizer used, for each project. This documentation can be valuable for future reference and troubleshooting.
Types of Embroidery Thread
Thread Weight and Needle Recommendations
Needle Size (Metric)
Needle Size (US)
Lightweight and silk fabrics
Fine or delicate fabrics
Decorative stitching on any fabric
Thread Tension Settings for Sewing Machine
Upper Thread Tension
Bobbin Thread Tension
Adjust as needed for balanced stitches
Fine-tune for smooth stitches
Use a metallic needle for best results
Tighten tension for cotton thread
Gentle tension to avoid stressing delicate threads