Back to Basics - Embroidery Threads

So, for me there's only really two types of threads I like to use for Embroidery... I know there are literally hundreds to choose from... Maybe one of these days when I'm feeling adventurous I might try some other styles, but for now these are the two I use the most.

Embroidery Floss - There's several colors to choose from, almost an endless supply it seems at times. There's even hand dyed versions like Weeks Dye Works that offer even more color options! The standard for floss is a 6 strand bundle that you then separate into the amount that you desire. Typically it's either 2 or 3 strands for the most popular applications.
* Pro - There are so many choices in color, you can always find the perfect color. The hardest part is deciding which colors to bring home with you! Also, being able to choose how many strands to use offers you the possibility to add the look of more texture within a project. You can really get a 3D effect with this thread.
* Con - Having to separate the strands is a pain to me - there I said it - a pain. Once you separate the strands and use 2 for example, the floss may want to keep separating, knotting, etc. It might take some getting used to working with this versus using only 1 strand of other threads.

Pearl Cotton - This is my go-to embroidery thread. Pearl Cotton comes in several colors and a few different sizes, the most popular being size 8 followed by size 5. I use size 8 for all of my stitcheries, it's equal to about 2.5 strands of embroidery floss. The thread is a wound thread that has a slight sheen to it and you only need one thread to get the job done. For this thread it's best to use an Embroidery needle that has a larger eye and a sharp point.
* Pro - You only have to use one strand of thread and it comes in several color to choose from (not as many as Embroidery Floss, but there's plenty to choose from)
* Con - The colors available may not match perfectly to your project, however most of the staples should be readily available, or something close that works. Remember though, you don't have to match the exact shade, but something close to it. After it's made, you may never know the difference!!!

Other tips that I have for these threads are:
* Cutting the thread - when cutting the thread off of the spool, ball , etc., Cut the thread at an angle and it will help to thread your needle!
* Twisting thread - if your thread seems to want to twist and knot while you are stitching, change the direction of the thread when you put it on the needle. What I mean is - most threads have a designated twist to them as they are made. They are designed to work best coming off of the spool, as if the needle is at the open end and the knot is a the cut end. If you do this and it doesn't work, then swap the direction of the thread. Knot the open end and put the needle on the cut end.
* Unrolling - The best tip for the balls of Pearl Cotton to keep them from unrolling that I have found is using a small hair tie (either those tiny rubber bands or the squishy mini scrunchy things) to wrap around the ball. They're the perfect size and keep everything neat and organized!!!

That should do it! I'll be back soon with my favorite knot of all time that changed my life!!! I have taken into account that I am right-handed and some people are not, so I will do two versions in a step by step picture tutorial, one for lefties and one for righties. And then with some help I will attempt a video of it too!

I'll keep adding in some tips from time to time for threads (there's a TON of topics to cover!) but I'm planning on moving onto other topics soon, like squaring up blocks, deciding on a quilt size if you're altering from the pattern, and putting on square and even borders effectively. Keep those ideas coming and I'll be sure to feature the topics you've asked for soon!


  1. Just a hint from an old needlework teacher. When separating out your strands, hold the main bunch of six in whatever your off hand is and pull out, one by one, however many strands you need. Do not pull the main bunch away from the one you need, pull the one you need from the main bunch.

  2. One more thing you may want to mention. Most hand dyed fibers are not color fast, so you wouldn't want use them if you will be washing your piece.

  3. Oh, you have to try Sassa Lynne! It is the most fabulous perle for stitching, comes in wonderful variegated colors, and is color fast procyon dyes. It comes from England, but there are several people here who stock it, like Evening Star. Also Caron Wildflowers. And if you want a really wonderfully smooth thread, try some 50-50 silk wool combinations. Yum!


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