Tips for Embroidering With Metallic Thread

Tips for Embroidering With Metallic Thread

Last week, Bonnie shared her success in embroidering with a certain brand of metallic thread. Don't worry if you have some other kind in your stash. I'll give you some tips on how to make them work!

Metallic thread is so beautiful but can be a beast all of its own. Sometimes you have to treat it carefully to avoid problems.

Use the Right Needle

When friction builds up on any kind of thread, shredding and breaks can happen. Using a needle specifically designed for use with metallic thread can help reduce problems caused by heat build up during embroidery.

A 90/14 topstitch needle is another option. An elongated eye and deeper groove helps to keep threads stitching smoothly.

Slow Down Your Machine

Another way to reduce friction and tangles is to slow down the stitching speed of your machine. Even the best of threads stitching at high speeds can have problems. 

If you are not sure how to slow your stitching speed, consult your manual or talk to your dealer.

Use a Thread Stand

Thread stands and serger sponges help to keep all types of threads from pooling on the bottom, getting tangled, and breaking or snapping needles. 

See Bonnie's tip for using a serger sponge here! Don't have a serger sponge? Bonnie shows you how a pool noodle works just as well here.

Thread stands help to relax thread before it gets to your machine. That can be especially helpful with metallic and other specialty threads as they can kink as they are unwound.

If you don't have a thread stand, place the spool of thread in a cup, on the floor, and then thread your machine. That gives the thread time to adjust properly before entering the machine. (Note: Be sure to place the cup behind the machine and not on the side where the thread would be in the path of the handwheel.)

Change the Thread Rotation

Threads wind off of the spool in different ways. Some threads unwind in a clockwise fashion, others counter-clockwise. Because of the characteristics of metallic thread, this can be particularly bothersome for some brands.

If your thread is giving you issues, take it off of the thread spool and turn it around. Sometimes, just changing the way it unwinds allows it to feed better and stitch smoother. 

Adjust Tension

You may need to loosen the upper tension a bit if all of these options fail. Make sure you are using a standard bobbin thread as metallic thread in the bobbin can be tricky.

What do you do differently when stitching with metallic thread?

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  • Bonnie Welsh - November 12, 2019

    Brenda—Here’s a direct link to the video I mentioned below. I’m guessing that your metallic thread was getting hung up along the path and pulling the bottom thread to the top. Check it out here:

  • Bonnie Welsh - November 12, 2019

    Brenda—I’ve never heard of Exquisive thread. But if you’re only seeing a tiny bit of metallic on the top, then it sounds like your upper tension is very tight. Are you sure it didn’t get hung up in the upper thread path while sewing? Or hung up on the spool cap? That’s normally what causes that type of issue. Maybe checkout my video on thread and needle breaks to see if you get any ideas there under my Tuesday’s Tips. (Left panel on this site.)

  • Brenda Melahn - November 12, 2019

    Bonnie — I use the Exquisive thread also (on Babylock Destiny) — my metallic gold I embroidered on my granddaughter’s Anna Apron (fabric like they use for reusable bags) pulled the bobbin thread (white) up and you could only see a fleck of gold here and there. The fabric?? I tried it with tear away stabilizer and then with stabilizer and topper — nothing worked — I used a paint pen, but wondering what you think.

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 18, 2019

    Suzanne—Some threads are just more brittle that is true and patience is needed for sure. However, I hope if you run across King Star metallic thread, you’ll give it a try because it’s so easy to work with. =)

  • Suzanne Seale - June 18, 2019

    I have patience knowing this is the nature of the beast.

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