This post is also available in: French
Machine embroidery offers many creative possibilities. And special effect threads multiply these possibilities. In this post I tried 5 machine embroidery special thread types. I show you the results and give you technical tips for each of them.
For most machine embroidery projects we use the standard thread of thickness #40. It can be rayon or polyester. It is strong, lustrous and available in many hues.
Once you master this standard embroidery thread you may want to try other types of thread. But choosing needles and machine embroidery settings may be confusing. So if you don’t know where to start with these different threads, have a look at the tests I made. I give you the features and technical tips for each type of embroidery special thread.
Firstly, if you have a thread with special texture, you should lower the upper tension and the speed. You could also put the spool in vertical position. This allows the thread to run smoothly. It is also recommended to disable the automatic thread cutter. The textured threads, in particular metallic threads, may damage the cutter.
For these trials I used the same machine embroidery pattern and the same fabric. The fabric scraps are from one of my worn out jeans. I find that the denim fabric highlights the fancy threads. The embroidery pattern is my ‘Love’ manuscript triple point design. You can find it in different sizes and formats in my etsy shop .
Spectra Madeira : An Holographic Thread (also named Madeira Jewel)
Spectra is a very thin foil of polyester, so it doesn’t look like a classic thread. I don’t know exactly how it works, but the material reflects the light in different colors. So it looks very shiny and festive!
Because it is more fragile than standard embroidery thread, this thread works well with outline or low density designs. Also, you have to lower the upper tension and speed for this type of thread. Putting the spool in vertical position could also help.
The thickness of this holographic thread is #40 and the needle recommended is a needle for metallic thread of size 90/14.
Halloween Madeira : A Phosphorescent Thread (also named Madeira Luna)
In daylight the Halloween thread looks like a classic matt white thread. But in the dark it magically glows. To get this firefly effect it has to stock sufficient light before.
It is a nice effect to add to a children room decoration or an embroidered pillowcase for example. You can easily stitch it like a standard machine embroidery thread.
The thickness of this phosphorescent thread is #40 and you can use a standard embroidery needle size 75/11 or 80/12
Heavy Metal Madeira : A Robust Metallic Thread
Heavy Metal belongs to the metallic threads family. It is thicker and more resistant than a standard metallic thread. This type of thread resists intensive washing and outdoor uses.
Because it is more fragile than standard embroidery thread, this type of thread works best with outline designs and low density patterns. Putting the spool in vertical position could also help.
As for every metallic thread, it is safer to lower the tension and the speed of your machine.
This thread’s thickness is #30, a needle for metallic thread size 90/14 will work best.
Supertwist Madeira : A Voluminous Metallic Thread
Supertwist is a textured metallic thread with a 3D aspect. Its material is made of 70% polyamide and 30% metallic polyester. This type of thread gives a sparkling and luxurious look to your design.
As a metallic thread, it is suited for outline designs and low density patterns. You should lower the machine’s tension and speed, and place the spool on a vertical holder.
The thickness of this voluminous sparkling thread is #30, the recommended needle is a needle for metallic thread size 90/14.
Ombré Madeira Rayon : A Multicolored Thread With Shade Variations
Ombré material is a classic rayon #40 for the texture. The difference with standard Madeira Rayon is its color. One Ombré thread spool contains several lightness of a single color.
The color changing shows well on an outline pattern. Using this special thread makes your embroidery unique and more fun than the standard solid colored thread. I think it could especially please children as my daughter asked me to use different colors for the ‘Love’ design.
And you, what type of special effect thread would you try or have you already tried?