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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?

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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
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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.

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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.