Posted on

Not all glow-in-the-dark machine embroidery threads are created equal.

Party favor t-shirts with glow-in-the-dark thread.
Party favor t-shirts with glow-in-the-dark thread.

Why is it that I feel compelled to create ridiculous, personalized, embroidered party favors for my kids parties?  As if I don’t have enough projects.  Fortunately with this last one, I can at least say that I learned a valuable lesson – albeit the hard way: not all glow-in-the dark embroidery threads are created equal.

I had been intrigued by the notion of embroidering with glow-in-the dark thread for a while so when my daughter decided to have her birthday party at the glow-in-the-dark golf course – how could I resist NOT stitching something for the attendees in glow-in-the dark thread?

My plan was to keep in simple.  I created a straight-foward 1-color personalized design for the t-shirts that I purchased for next to nothing at JoAnns, Then I started cranking out the shirts.  Everything was going fine… until – I RAN OUT OF THREAD!   Normally this is not such a big deal – but it was the Sunday morning of the party and the fabric store where I bought the original glow-in-the-dark thread was closed.  UGH.   So I ran to JoAnns as soon as it opened and was surprised/thrilled that they carried it.  When I got back home – I carried on stitching the t-shirt that I had left in process on my machine.  Finally – I finished all the shirts.

Fortunately – the girls loved their t-shirts and immediately put them on over the clothes to wear to the glow-in-the dark golf course.  But when we got to the venue I was surprised/horrified to see that some of the shirts glowed and some of them didn’t.  And the shirt that was stitched half with the original glow-in-the-dark thread and half with the JoAnns brand half-glowed.  Interesting.

I have learned my lesson when it comes to embroidery with glow-in-the-dark thread and won’t be buying the JoAnns brand anymore.  Fortunately eight-year-old girls are not tough critics and really couldn’t have cared less.

Posted on

Identical thread but the shades don’t match…what’s up with that, Mettler?

Last week some ladies at work asked if I would be willing to monogram a set of towels for another coworker (Linda) who is getting married in the next few weeks. I was more than happy to contribute to this gift because I’m very happy for her.  You see – a few years ago Linda lost her first husband to cancer, so it is wonderful to see her in love again.

Barbara, another coworker, picked up a set of towels and gave them to me at work. We then conferred on thread color for the monogram, clarified the lettering and finally I took them home with me. Naturally, I left the project until the last minute so I had to get up super early the morning I needed to have them at the office.  It was all going well – I cranked out three out of the four towels. But when the fourth towel was being stitched, I heard by embroidery machine stop. It took a second for me to notice what the problem was: I ran out of embroidery thread.

OMG. How many times am I going to make a stupid mistake? I had a full spool of thread when I started the project, so I thought I would have enough to do all four towels.  Clearly I was wrong. I had to give Linda the gift with only three of the towels complete with a promise to deliver the fourth one once I was able to buy some thread that matched.

On Saturday I headed over to Make it Sew in St. Louis with the empty school of Mettler cotton embroidery thread with the mission to match to buy another spool of the exact same thread. The good news was that they had the same color thread, but the bad news was that the thread looked very different from what I recalled stitching. When I got it home my suspicions proved correct. This thread, although it was the same brand and number, it was a totally different shade. What’s up with that???? Thread companies just arbitrarily change the color of a thread even while keeping the number the same?  Has this happened to anyone else?

2014-01-11 14.44.47
Exact same thread – totally different shade.

I ended up bringing my hooped towel back to the fabric store to match the thread with a different brand.  I was concerned about mismatch within the monogram so I ended up ripping out the incomplete monogram on the fourth towel and restitching it with the new thread, and you really couldn’t notice a difference with thread color among all four towels.

Linda loved the towels and was touched that we had all gone through all the effort.  And she certainly didn’t notice the difference in thread.  But after this ordeal – I have a new policy.  No monogramming a set of towels unless I have two spools of the same color thread on hand.

Completed monogrammed towel
Completed monogrammed towel
Posted on

Getting ready to appliqué with glow-in-the-dark thread. Hot tips!

A few weeks ago I bought some glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread.  And, while I have had lot of IDEAS about what I might do with it… (astrological symbol t-shirt), I have never actually used the glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread.  I have worked with – or at least tried to work with – metallic embroidery thread and found it to be a major pain in the ass.  So, I thought, before I get started – I would check in with the experts and see if I could get any pointers.  And I am so glad I did.

Here’s what my Facebook embroidery friends had to say:

“Treat it like normal thread.  But – don’t iron it! It melts with the heat of the iron!”

This is great to know – because since I was thinking of using the glow-in-the-dark thread on a Christmas gift – I might have ironed the t-shirt prior to wrapping to make it look a bit more presentable.

Another friend offered this suggestion.

“If there was a problem with [the thread] breaking try using a needle for metallics.”

Oh wait – there are special needles for sewing with metallic threads?  Again – good to know – maybe it would have worked a little bit better had I used the proper needle last time I tried to embroider with metallic thread!

My Facebook embroidery and appliqué friends also had a lot of project ideas in mind for ways in which they planned to use or had used their glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread.

“Gonna do a Ghostbusters emblem on a sweatshirt for my son and I thought it would be fun to do the ghost in glow in the dark.”

“[Glow-in-the-dark thread is] great fun! Kids love their names on pillow cases, and Halloween and fireworks designs lend themselves well. Have fun!!”

“I have used it and love it! it is also great for stars and satin outlines”

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the tips. I’m ready to give it a try.

Posted on

Three reasons why you shouldn’t sew with embroidery thread


The other day I was trying to finish a skirt for my daughter (the skirt that I made from the reject dress with the funky flowers appliquéd on the front).  There was very little sewing involved in this project.  All I had to do was fold over an inch of fabric for the waistband casing and feed some elastic through.  The problem?  i didn’t have any regular red thread to match the skirt.  Ugh! So I just decided to use some red embroidery thread instead.

This got me thinking – why don’t I ever use embroidery thread for sewing. There has to be some good reasons as to why this is not a good idea and I came up with three reasons.

1) Embroidery thread and regular sewing thread are wound differently. I think there must be a reason for this.  I believe that the different types of winding effect how the thread makes its way through the machine.  If a spool of thread is wound for embroidery it probably unwinds in a way that is suitable for embroidery and not regular sewing.

2) Embroidery thread is more expensive than regular sewing thread.  Um… why waste the more costly embroidery thread for regular stitching?

3) It’s probably more noticeable.  Most of the time you want your stitching to blend into the garment you are sewing.  With the extra sheen on the embroidery thread, it’s going to be more apparent. So, again, not the best choice.

Anyway – I am curious to hear your insight.  Do you ever use embroidery thread for sewing?  If so – when and why?



Posted on

How can you tell if you have enough thread to stitch out an embroidery design?

Running out of embroidery thread while stitching out a design
Running out of embroidery thread while stitching out a design

Last night I had the most frustrating experience that a machine embroidery enthusiast can possibly have; running out of thread in the middle of stitching out a design. I knew that I was taking a risk trying to use this particular green thread because it was a bit low on the spool, but I went for it anyway. Big mistake.

I was just about done stitching out a flower on one of my new Walmart tunic dresses and I ran out of green thread. UGH!  So I texted my sister (who also does machine embroidery).  After bitching at me for getting her out of bed – she offered her green thread that she thought might be close in color.  Well, thanks. But no thanks.

In this particular situation only a perfect match will look correct. The thread that I ran out of was a Mettler cotton green embroidery thread – #952 to be precise. My sister’s thread was a Singer polyester thread.  I learned a while ago that cotton embroidery thread is a bit thicker then it’s polyester counterpart. So not only would it have a different book, it would also have a different thickness. The reality is I needed the exact same Mettler cotton embroidery thread in this particular color.

After I ran out of the thread, I thought to myself… WHAT A DUMB ROOKIE MISTAKE. So I asked my Facebook peeps if there was a surefire way to know whether you had enough thread on the spool to complete stitching on the design. So far no one has a surefire method – just some tips to help try to avoid having this situation occur – which is not all that helpful at this point… but good tips nonetheless.

 “Just watch my thread sew and get used to seeing how the thread is wound. I have only ran out of thread while sewing at home a handful of times. If it is a color that I frequently use, I always make sure that I nave extra.”

“Very difficult to gauge what’s left on a spindle so keep two of your popular colours in stock.”

“I honestly just look at the spools. If I have a small spool I’ll use it for tack down but replace it before the ss.”

Fortunately thread colors are numbered so by specifying the thread number and type I thought I could find the exact same one, and fortunately this was the case.  I called my local sewing store (Make it Sew in St. Louis) and (HOOORAYYY!!!) they had the exact Mettler cotton thread that I needed.  I ran out there this afternoon and picked up another spool of #952 Mettler Cotton 60 weight cotton embroidery thread and was able to complete my project.

So… lesson learned.  I will always make sure I have plenty of thread before relying on a thread to complete a design. But if anyone has a good method for determining if there is enough thread on the spool to complete the design, I’d love to hear it.

Posted on

Five questions and answers about bobbin thread for machine embroidery


When I first started doing machine embroidery – I was never sure of what type of bobbin thread to use. Eventually I learned that there was bobbin thread designed exclusively for machine embroidery but, still, I wondered why it was necessary to use this special bobbin thread. After doing a little research and a lot of embroidery and appliqué – I think I have found the answers to my questions and hopefully some of yours.

1) What makes embroidery bobbin thread different from regular thread? It is a lot thinner. Typically machine embroidery bobbin thread is 60 weight, whereas embroidery thread is typically 40 weight.

2) Why is bobbin thread thinner than regular thread?  The thinness of the bobbin thread allows you to stitch out a design without having it bulk up. Why add extra weight to the design?

3) Won’t the uneven weights of the bobbin thread vs. the embroidery thread screw up the tension in the machine? Actually – the uneven weights of the thread work in your favor when embroidering.  The imbalance in weight causes more of the embroidery thread to be pulled to the wrong side of the stitched design, ensuring that you will not see the bobbin thread on the front side of the design.

4) Is it necessary to match the color of the bobbin thread to the embroidery design? No.  The light bobbin thread weight helps to prevent the bobbin thread from showing up within the stitched design.

5) Why does my bobbin thread seem to last a really long time?  Because the bobbin thread is so thin – you can wind a lot of bobbin thread on a bobbin – much more so than with regular thread which is why it lasts much longer than you might expect.  This is also the reason why it seems to take so dang long to wind an embroidery bobbin… it’s a lot of thread!

Happy embroidering, everyone!


Posted on

When do you set the spool of thread horizontal vs vertical on the sewing machine when doing machine embroidery?

Until recently, I did not pay much attention to the location of the spool of thread on my embroidery machine.  You see, there are two different locations for the thread, either the vertical or the horizontal thread holder. The location I chose depended on my mood, the weather… who knows – but I never gave it much thought.

Location of the thread on the embroidery machine
Location of the thread on the embroidery machine

A couple of incidents recently changed my thinking.  More than once when embroidering with Isacord thread in the vertical position, the thread got stuck and the needle broke.  So I moved the thread to the horizontal position and it seemed to work much better.  Ever since I had that realization, I have placed my thread in the horizontal position.  I simply assumed that this is a better way to set up your thread when embroidering and I handled all my thread in this manner.

My sister shed some light on the situation for me.  This week while shopping for a new screw for her embroidery hoop – she picked up a juicy bit of information from the ladies at her favorite Collinsville, Illinois fabric shop.  (Don’t know the name – haven’t been there yet – but I am slated to have lunch with my sister over there in a few weeks and I’ll be checking it out).  Anywhoooo.. the big news.

Stacked thread goes on the horizontal thread holder and wound thread goes on the vertical holder.  

Cross wound vs. stacked thread
Cross wound vs. stacked thread

Aha!  This makes sense.  The reason why my Isacord embroidery thread seems to work better when placed in the horizontal position is because it is cross wound – not stacked. I got it.

Thank you to the ladies in Collinsville for clearing that up for us. Now that I know where I am supposed to place my thread – there is no going back.  You just spared me some needles and a lot of frustration.


Posted on

I finally found a source for machine embroidery thread

I have been in need of making an embroidery thread purchase for a while but mulling over what type to buy and where to buy it from for the past couple of weeks. First – I needed to decide what kind of thread to buy. I thought I liked only the cotton machine embroidery thread, but the more I have been embroidering the less I am finding that to be a strong preference. Also – there are not that many sources for cotton machine embroidery thread.

I decided that my sewing machine handled my Isacord (polyester) thread fairly well and being that I had several cones of it already – I thought adding to my Isacord collection made the most sense.

Also – for the type of embroidery I do – i would prefer to have larger cones of colors I like. I don’t tend to stitch out designs with a lots of blends and subtle color changes.  I tend to stitch out simpler graphics that don’t require specific thread colors so I tend to use the colors I like more frequently.  So – fewer colors needed but more of the colors I like.

Now – where to buy Isacord machine embroidery thread?  I considered buying embroidery thread through eBay, but upon more thorough inspection – I didn’t see any great buys.   Then I discovered which I thought had great prices and just about every imaginable color of Isacord thread… so I went for it.

Once the thread arrives in a few days – I will report back on my purchase.

Posted on

Favorite thread types for machine embroidery

Ok – remember a few posts back when I was trying to figure out what thread to buy? Well – I still haven’t made a decision. I have been looking at different on-line retailers, trying to educate myself, but still haven’t bought any much needed thread.

When it comes to thread, machine embroidery enthusiasts have a STRONG opinion…. I posted a question to my machine embroidery Facebook groups about preferred thread brands and if buying thread off of eBay was a bad idea. The gist of what they said was that – if it’s a name brand you like – go for it.

Other sources recommended for buying machine embroidery thread online were and

Favorite brands of machine embroidery thread included Madeira, Isacord, Floriani, Janome, Marathon

Least favorite brands of machine embroidery thread are Coats and Clark, Sulky, Guterman

I was warned that sometimes brands of thread advertised as name brands aren’t always what they seem.

[i bought thread from an eBay retailer] and I now have a whole load of thread that I can’t use. It was a recognized brand, but what wasn’t made clear is that it from a subsidiary company in India. Having said that, I have also bought Brother thread, which was fine. A rule of thumb is if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Many people warned that buying cheap machine embroidery thread would lead me straight to “snap city.”

Don’t buy the cheap ones!! I have 300+ reels sat in a box completely unusable grrrrr

Mine are in a dump somewhere!

Only one person had good luck with “cheap” machine embroidery thread.

I must be the odd one out lol I’ve bought the “cheap” ones & got on fine with them x

Ok- I really MUST buy some thread now!

Posted on

Three new things I learned about machine embroidery thread

Now that I am spending so much time in my sewing room, I have been making more of an effort to make it less of a dump. To that end, I decided to clear off some space on my table top and purchase another thread holder for the wall.

Now that I got my threads organized I am in the market for some more thread. But what to buy? I think I have finally figured out how to tell the different threads apart.

But since that I wrote that blog post, I have learned a few more things about thread. I asked the lady at Make it Sew fabrics in St. Louis for some guidance on how to tell the different thread types apart. Polyester and rayon look very similar. One way to tell them about is that Sulky thread is actually rayon.

Cotton embroidery thread tends to be thicker. Also, I now know that at least with Mettler thread, the word “cotton” is actually written on the label. I think cotton is my favorite type of thread for embroidery. It tends to fill in shapes nicely. Cotton embroidery thread has a reputation of breaking easily, however I don’t tend to have this problem.

Finally, the last revelation I have had recently when it comes to thread, is that it pays to use good quality thread. I have considered purchasing a set of embroidery threads from different discount sources on-line but after learning more about thread, I don’t think I will do that. In fact, the Bernina manual recommends only working with certain brands of threads such as Mettler, Isacord and Gutermann.