Mastering the Art: Using Embroidery Thread in Your Sewing Machine

Ever wondered if you can use embroidery thread in a sewing machine? You’re not alone. It’s a common question for sewing enthusiasts and beginners alike. After all, the vibrant colors and sheen of embroidery thread can be quite enticing.

Embroidery thread and sewing thread aren’t quite the same. They have their unique properties and uses. But does that mean you can’t use one in place of the other? Well, let’s delve into that.

Key Takeaways

  • Embroidery thread and sewing thread have distinct characteristics making them suitable for specific tasks. Embroidery thread, often made from rayon or polyester, is softer, more pliable, and has a lower twist, which lets it lie flat, reflecting more light for standout designs.
  • Sewing thread is typically made of cotton or polyester, and is designed specifically for sewing machines to create sturdy, durable stitches, with high twists, and without shiny sheen, unlike embroidery thread.
  • The two threads vary significantly in weight, sheen, twist, and the materials used: embroidery thread is thicker with high sheen, uses a lower twist, while sewing thread is thinner, has a lower sheen, uses a high twist and can be either cotton or polyester.
  • While you can technically use embroidery thread in a sewing machine, it’s not always ideal due to the potential for thread breakage and machine damage. However, it could be a good choice for a project where aesthetics are more important than durability.
  • The successful use of embroidery thread in a sewing machine requires certain adjustments: using lighter tension due to its delicate nature, using a larger needle to prevent thread fraying or breaking, and constantly testing your settings before committing to a final project.
  • Besides these, regular machine lubrication and tension adjustments to increase the feed dog’s control of the thread flow are also some important steps when using embroidery thread in a sewing machine.

Understanding Embroidery Thread

Upon looking at embroidery thread and sewing thread, you might think, “A thread’s a thread right?” However, embroidery thread and sewing thread aren’t the same thing. They have key differences that affect their usability and your final product.

Your first thought might be “Isn’t it just about the color?” Embroidery thread does come in a wider variety of colors and sheens. But it’s more than just aesthetics – it’s also about the thread’s properties that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

When it comes to thread composition, embroidery thread is typically made from rayon or polyester. Rayon has a brilliant sheen and a silky smooth finish while polyester boasts extreme durability and color-fastness. Furthermore, embroidery threads are often more pliable and softer than standard sewing thread, aiding their passage through challenging, intricate designs without snapping or shredding.

So you might wonder, “What’s the twist?” Quite literally, the twist in the thread! Embroidery thread tends to have less twist than sewing thread, which allows it to lie flat on the fabric. This flatness results in more light reflection, thus giving your designs a vibrant, standout appearance.

Keep these key aspects in mind:

  • Embroidery thread is typically made from rayon or polyester.
  • Embroidery thread is more pliable and softer compared to sewing thread.
  • Embroidery thread has less twist, allowing it to lie flat on the fabric for vibrant designs.

Given these details, you can now better understand why substituting sewing thread for embroidery thread in a machine may not produce the same results. These unique characteristics are optimized for the specific task of embroidery. However, this doesn’t mean it can’t be used in conjunction with your sewing machine. The question is, how? Onward to the next section.

Understanding Sewing Thread

Let’s delve deeper into the world of sewing threads. These are the unsung heroes of your everyday sewing project. Ironically, even though they seem inconspicuous, they are one of the most crucial elements that affect the final outcome of your sewing projects.

Sewing thread is, at its core, a type of thread specifically designed for usage within sewing machines. The usual suspects when it comes to thread material for sewing include cotton, polyester, or a combination of both. Unlike embroidery thread, sewing threads don’t showcase a high sheen. They exist for one main purpose – to create strong and durable stitching that holds your fabric together. Your choice of sewing thread can potentially affect the integrity and longevity of your sewing projects.

Sewing threads typically come with a higher twist than embroidery threads. This high twist ensures the thread strength required to certain substrates together. Furthermore, the higher twist minimizes the light reflection off the thread’s surface. Hence, sewing threads don’t enhance your designs with a shiny or glossy finish like the embroidery threads do.

Sewing threads tend to be slightly thinner than embroidery threads. Thread thickness or weight is an important factor in determining the suitable thread for a given project. The common choices are thread weights from 40 to 50. The higher the number, the thinner the thread. A thicker thread would create a more visible seam line, while thinner threads blend more into the fabric.

Learning how to choose the right sewing thread for your projects is essential. Here’s a quick guide to help you make an informed choice:

  • Purpose: If you’re intending to create a visible, bold line, go for thicker threads. For decorative stitching or topstitching, considering using threads that proclaim a higher sheen like embroidery threads.
  • Fabric weight: Always pair your thread weight with fabric weight. Heavy fabrics need strong, thicker threads while light materials pair well with thinner threads.
  • Thread composition: Remember, polyester threads offer high strength and durability while cotton threads offer a more subtle appearance and high heat resistance.

Key Differences Between Embroidery Thread and Sewing Thread

Embroidery thread and sewing thread, while seemingly similar, possess key differences that directly influence their suitability for various tasks. Each type of thread is specifically tailored not merely for distinct roles but to maximize performance based on these roles.

Embroidery Thread: Known for its sheen, embroidery thread is primarily aesthetic-oriented. It’s designed to stand out with vibrant colors and a high level of light reflection. Generally, it is thicker, given its primary role is embellishing designs onto fabrics. Rayon and polyester are commonly used materials, and they often have a lower twist, which enhances the sheen.

Sewing Thread: On the contrary, sewing thread is all about durability and functionality rather than flashiness. It’s crafted with a higher twist, leading to increased strength – ideal for holding pieces of fabric together firmly. It is typically thinner and available in various weights, dictating seam visibility. The most common materials used for it include cotton and polyester.

Key Differences:

The key differentiator lies in their weight, sheen, twist, and the materials used. Here’s a table tabulating these differences:

Embroidery ThreadSewing Thread
PurposeDecorative stitching, EmbroideryConstruction stitching
SheenHigh sheenLow sheen
TwistLow twistHigh twist
MaterialsRayon, PolyesterCotton, Polyester

Choosing between embroidery thread and sewing thread boils down to the nature of your project. If you’re dealing with decorative stitching or embroidery, the former perfectly suits your needs. However, for construction stitching or to create durable seams, you’d want to lean towards using sewing thread. It’s crucial to match the thread characteristics in line with your project requirements to get the results you are aiming for.

In your sewing journey, understanding these key differences and making the appropriate thread selection ensures not only high-quality output but also prevents potential machine damage.

Can You Use Embroidery Thread in a Sewing Machine?

Embroidery thread and sewing thread serve quite different purposes. They exhibit distinctive characteristics like material composition, weight, sheen, and twist which distinguish them significantly. But what happens when you use embroidery thread in a sewing machine? Is it negative all the time or can it be a good creative choice?

Technically, you can use embroidery thread in a sewing machine. Your machine won’t explode or breakdown outright. However, it’s important to consider the effects on your fabric and machine over time. Embroidery thread is designed for beauty, with vibrant colors and a high sheen. It’s perfect for decorative stitching but it’s not optimal for construction stitching because it lacks the high twist present in sewing thread.

Sewing thread, on the other hand, has been engineered with one central focus: durability. It has a higher twist and is ideal for creating sturdy, long-lasting seams. Using embroidery thread instead can lead to breakage in the thread, unusual noise from the machine, or tense operation, all of which can contribute to potential machine damages.

If you are creating a project where the aesthetic quality of the thread matters more than its durability, using embroidery thread in the machine might be a valid decision. The catch here is you need to tweak some settings.

Here are two quick tips when using embroidery thread in a sewing machine:

  • Use a lighter tension. Embroidery thread is usually more delicate and has less twist, which means it will break more easily under high tension.
  • Use a larger needle. The delicate nature of the embroidery thread means it can easily fray or break, using a larger needle can help alleviate this issue.

Playing with these settings will help you get the best results but remember, these changes can affect the overall appearance of your work.

In the end, the key takeaway is that while you can use embroidery thread in a sewing machine, it’s necessary to understand the implications. You’ll need to consider the project at hand, the stitch durability demands, the risks involved, and the appeal of the end product to make an informed decision. It’s all about striking the perfect balance.

Tips for Using Embroidery Thread in a Sewing Machine

Once you decide to embark on the journey of using embroidery thread in your sewing machine, it’s crucial to make certain adjustments to ensure you achieve the best possible results. Here are some invaluable tips you’ll need to follow.

Firstly, adjust the tension settings. Embroidery thread is thinner and smoother than regular sewing thread. The tension discs of your sewing machine might not properly grip the embroidery thread if it’s set to normal sewing tension. You’ll need to increase the tension slightly so the feed dog can effectively control the thread flow.

Secondly, consider changing your needle. While it’s encouraged to use a size 11 embroidery needle, you might find that a larger or smaller needle works best for your particular project. The idea is to use a needle that allows the embroidery thread to flow through freely, thus reducing the likelihood of thread breakage or fraying.

Keeping your machine lubricated is, of course, essential. Embroidery thread can create excess friction which may lead to your machine overheating. Regular oiling should prevent this.

Lastly, test your settings. Embroidery thread can behave differently under different conditions, so it’s worth doing a small test run on a sample fabric before committing to your final project. This rehearsal will enable you to refine your settings for optimal results.

To sum up those steps in a table:

1.Adjust the tension settings
2.Change your needle
3.Keep your machine lubricated
4.Test your settings

By applying these tips, you’re already halfway through the challenge of successfully using embroidery thread in a sewing machine. The other half? That lies in your creativity and patience. Mastering this technique not only adds a new dimension to your sewing projects but also broadens your horizon in the realm of textile arts. Applying embroidery thread in sewing opens a window to a world of possibilities that are waiting for you to explore.


You’ve now got the know-how to use embroidery thread in your sewing machine, taking your textile projects to new heights. Remember, it’s all about adjusting the tension settings, choosing the right needle size, and ensuring your machine is well-oiled. Don’t forget to test your settings on a piece of scrap fabric first. With these steps, you’re ready to tackle any project with confidence and creativity. So go ahead, thread that needle with embroidery thread, and let your imagination run wild. You’re not just a sewing enthusiast; you’re an artist. Keep experimenting and keep sewing. Your fabric canvas awaits your next masterpiece.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use embroidery thread in a regular sewing machine?

Yes, you can definitely use embroidery thread in your regular sewing machine as long as you adjust certain settings appropriately and conduct regular machine maintenance.

What adjustments should I make to my sewing machine before using embroidery thread?

Before using embroidery thread, you should adjust the tension settings and needle size on your sewing machine. It will help to prevent thread breakage, skipping stitches or puckering fabric.

Do I need to lubricate my sewing machine more regularly when using embroidery thread?

Yes. Regular lubrication of your sewing machine is critical for its optimal performance. When using embroidery thread, keeping your machine lubricated becomes even more important.

Should I test the embroidery thread on a sample fabric first?

Absolutely! Testing the tension settings, needle size, and thread type on a scrap piece of fabric before working on the actual project can save you from potential mistakes and wasted materials.

How will using embroidery thread in my sewing machine expand my creative possibilities?

Harnessing embroidery thread in your sewing projects enables you to create unique designs and textures, which can bring a new level of creativity and aesthetics to your textile arts.