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Embroidery Threads

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Embroidery Threads

Different types of hand embroidery threads

Hand embroidery threads come in various materials and textures. They come in a myriad of colors and different thicknesses too. Store your threads carefully and away from sunlight to avoid the fading of color and its quality. With good care, you can keep and use your threads for many years. See those silk and wool threads in this post?- they are 20 years old! The Rayon ones are 15 years old.

Knowing what thread to use in your project will help you in making your project beautiful. Here is a list of the most common ones.

  Stranded Embroidery Cotton: These are the most common embroidery threads. It comes in a myriad of colors, each identified by a color code. The color codes are different for each brand. The popular brands are Anchor and DMC.


The Stranded Embroidery Cotton is also called ‘the embroidery floss’. It is made of 6 strands that are separable and often separated to adjust the thread’s thickness as required for the embroidery. For reference, 1 strand of embroidery floss is excellent for needle painting, while all the 6 strands are applied on needlepoint.

Learn: How to separate the embroidery strands.

  Perle Cotton: These are, probably, the next popular thread in hand embroidery. They too come in a variety of colors and each color is indicated by a color code specific to the brand. They are commonly used in needlepoint and surface embroidery.


The thread is not separable. They, however, come in different thicknesses, each marked by a size number. The thicker the thread, the lower the size number. For a reference, Size #3 Perle cotton is roughly the size of 6 strands of embroidery floss, and size #12 of embroidery floss is roughly the size of 1 strand of embroidery floss.

  Metallic: Beautiful, but a wild child, the metallic thread is often used as a highlighter in surface embroidery. It is used in combination with the other embroidery threads. Gold, silver, copper, and platinum are the most popular colors, though they can come in standard colors.


Metallic threads can be a challenge to work with. It not only wears easily but also tangles and snags as quickly. So, here are some tips- Cut shorter lengths of thread each time. Use fewer strands to stitch. A big needle will definitely help in reducing the thread friction as it passes through the fabric. Damping the threads lightly will help, or use a thread conditioner to tame this wild thread a bit. Patience is essential to work with this thread. Avoid using this on fabric that undergoes heavy or frequent washing.

  Novelty Threads: Novelty threads are similar threads with fancy textures and are used as an addition over other embroidery work. These threads can come in cotton, synthetic, wool, and can include laces too!  
  Rayon: Rayon threads are synthetic and have a high sheen. It got popular because it is inexpensive and is mainly used in Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery. This thread is manufactured so that it gets a ‘z twist’ in contrast to the ‘s twist’ on a cotton thread. Due to this, many embroidery stitches need to be modified in their technique to maintain the outcome.
  Crochet: Crocheting can be done using any kind of thread. The crochet thread in turn can be tried for hand embroidery too. It could wear off easily while passing it through the fabric often, and so, shorter lengths are cut in order to save from the loss of sheen.

Other Threads

Floche: Floche (pronounced flosh) is, probably, a more sophisticated version of the regular stranded cotton. It comes in a similar way as the regular stranded cotton but is much softer, shinier, and more luxurious. Floche is made of five strands, but they cannot be separated. It can also be expensive.
Ribbons: Ribbons come in a variety of kinds and can be made of silk, cotton, or synthetic. The most common ones used in embroidery is the satin ones. They come in a variety of colors and has a smooth feel and sheen to it. They carry in their thicknesses and are selected based on the kind of project you are using it for.