What is the best machine embroidery thread?

By on June 28th, 2021
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Looking for the best machine embroidery thread? I’m here to help! But, what do you want – the long answer or the short answer?  Let’s start with the short answer and if you like it – you can move along.

The best machine embroidery thread is one that both you and your embroidery machine like.

There.  That’s it. That’s all there is to it.

Not satisfied with that answer?  Then let’s dig a little deeper.

What is machine embroidery thread?

Machine embroidery thread is thread designed to stitch out designs on an embroidery machine. While it might look the same, at first glance, as regular thread, it is quite different due to its unique weight and sheen.

Most sewing thread is 30 wt whereas machine embroidery thread is typically 40 wt.  And despite the higher number, it is actually thinner than sewing thread. It’s designed to glide through the machine and the needle without any friction.

The sheen on machine embroidery thread also differs from it’s regular sewing counterpart. Regular sewing thread is a bit dull compared to the shiny sheen of most machine embroidery thread.  The exception is cotton machine embroidery thread which has a duller appearance than its rayon or polyester counterpart.

So can you sew with machine embroidery thread and embroider with sewing thread?

Yes and yes.

While machine embroidery thread won’t be as strong as regular sewing thread, you can certainly sew with it.  It might just look a bit shiny.

And if you try to embroider with regular sewing thread – it will probably look pretty dull.  It might also screw up the tension on your embroidery machine.  So, polite pass as far as I’m concerned.

What is good quality machine embroidery thread?

A good quality machine embroidery thread is one that has an attractive finish, doesn’t fray and become hard to work with, and most importantly doesn’t break!

Keep in mind that machine embroidery thread serves a different purpose than sewing thread. While regular thread functions to hold a garment together, machine embroidery thread is literally the “paint” you are using to create your embroidered art. Good quality stuff will make your stitched out designs look better while being easy to work with. Although it may not have the strength of regular sewing thread, it still  needs to be durable enough to not break when stitching out the thousands of stitches that make up an embroidery design.

Essential Supplies for Machine Embroidery

What is the best type of machine embroidery thread?

Most machine embroidery thread is made of 100% polyester. But not all.  Some is rayon, and some is even cotton.

Cotton is the dullest of the three option. Because it doesn’t have that shiny appearance it can look very luxurious, especially when used to monogram a set of towels.

Rayon and polyester are more similar. However rayon is a bit smoother, softer, finer and less abrasive than polyester, and has a more natural look. It also tends to perform better than  polyester when used to stitch out fine details like small letters on fine materials, like handkerchiefs.

It’s all fairly comparable in price.

What is the best brand of machine embroidery thread?

This is clearly a subjective questions.  Different people have different favorite brands based on their own experience. There are many different brands that machine embroidery users consider the best, including: Madeira, Floriani, Isacord, Simthread, Metro, Robinson-Anton, Hemingworth, Marathon, Sulky, Exquisite, Glide, Gutterman and Kingstar.

So, in order to try to get some consensus on the matter, I decided to survey 100 embroidery machine owners to see what they preferred, hoping that their answers would lead me to a clear winner.

Well, I was wrong.

Their responses were all over the place. Here’s how they broke down.

Preferred brands of machine embroidery thread*

Madeira 19.5%
Floriani 11.7%
Isacord 11.7%
Simthread 10.4%
Metro 9.1%
Robinson-Anton 9.1%
Other 6.5%
Hemingworth 3.9%
Marathon 3.9%
Sulky 3.9%
Exquisite 2.6%
Glide 2.6%
Gutterman 2.6%
Kingstar 2.6%

*Data is based on a survey of 100 practitioners. 

So you see – there is no one clear winner.  There are quite a few “best” brands. And, based on the huge response I received, it appears that many are quite brand loyal.

Insightful comments about specific brands

When people remark that they like a specific brand, it helps to know exactly why. When I created my survey, I asked for people to explain why they felt the way they did. And, I found the following information to be insightful and informative.

Hemingworth

Hemingworth machine embroidery thread comes in a huge range of colors, and always stitches beautifully. Many people really love the clear spool covers that it comes in as it keeps it from unraveling and stays dust free.

Exquisite

Exquisite is pretty, durable, never breaks & not too expensive. The 5000 meter spools are not much more expensive than their 1000 meter counterparts.

Isacord

Isacord has a reputation for never shredding and having colors that are true to their color chart. Some people report that Isacord runs smoother than other brands on their embroidery machines. It’s a great utility thread.

Floriani

Floriani has a beautiful sheen and an enormous range of colors.

Metro

While Metro is a full-service embroidery supplier, they also have their own brand of embroidery thread.  It is very reasonable, stitches out great, and you can purchase a sample card with real thread! It’s affordable, durable, vibrant, very easy to embroidery with, and looks amazing.  They also ship out product very fast!

Robinson Anton

Robinson Anton is known as a higher end brand.  It is often suggested by dealers because it stitches out so nicely.  Hey they want their machines to look good!

Madeira

Madeira threads are silky and colors are vibrant. It does not tend to break or shred or cause problems with most embroidery machines.

Simthread

Simthread is probably your most affordable option.  It comes with a good choice of color and stitches beautifully. You can also buy a lot of different types of Simthread variety packs on Amazon.

Getting the most out of your machine embroidery thread

Keep in mind that any thread is going to perform best when it’s well cared for and handled properly.  If you store embroidery thread on open shelves, it will collect dust. Then, when you start stitching, you introduce that dust into your embroidery machine.  And a dusty machine will never perform optimally.

It pays to put in some though about how you store your machine embroidery thread.

Old embroidery thread can also get very brittle. So if you are getting frustrated by your thread breaking frequently when embroidering with 20-year-old embroidery thread, that thread may just be past its prime.  You might need to pitch it.

Before you write off any brand or type of machine embroidery thread, you should first consider other reasons why your thread might be breaking or bird nesting.  Frequently, these problems have nothing to do with the brand or type you are using and is most often due to other factors.

Oh – and here’s another fun fact.  Darker colors tend to perform worse than their lighter counterparts.  So if you are testing out a specific brand, be sure to try different colors.

So are you ready to invest?

If you are just getting started and want a large variety pack of machine embroidery thread, you may just want to go with a big set of a decent brand that is liked by people who use your same brand of machine. It’s a good idea to make sure you can buy individual spools from the collection so that you can replenish your stock as various colors run out.  New Brothread on Amazon is great, but the only kicker is that certain colors are really hard to find single replacements for, and you end up having to buy another set just to get the ones you need.

My biggest takeaway is that there are a lot of different REALLY good brands out there. Avoid any brand not advocated by other users, and steer clear of any cheap Walmart varieties. Then once you find one a brand you like, stick with it for consistency in appearance across all your work.

Enjoy! And happy stitching!

xo

Julie

Machine Embroidery Thread

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