Characteristics of Various Embroidery Thread Types
Which Thread is Best?
Choosing the Right Backings and Facings for Every Job
How do I estimate Thread Consumption?
How do I estimate Stitch Count?
Embroidery Stitch Types
Common Embroidery Sewing Problems; Possible Causes and Solutions
Thread Recommendations for Embroidery
Any thread product that will sew successfully on lockstitch machines employing Stitch Types 301 and 304 will usually work for embroidery applications.
When a lustrous appearance is preferred for embroidery, the most popular thread types are:
- Continuous filament trilobal polyester
- Mercerised cotton
When a matt appearance is preferred, an apparel thread can be used.
- Polyester wrapped poly core
- Cotton wrapped poly core
If apparel sewing threads are used for embroidery these need to be carefully tested to avoid garment issues. These threads are developed for industrial sewing machines where speeds can exceed 4,000 rpm. The quality and quantity of lubricant used in these sewing threads is different to that of embroidery threads and helps to minimise the friction and abrasiveness while the machine is running at these higher speeds. If apparel sewing threads were to be used for embroidery the lubricant can potentially migrate from the thread and stain the fabric. The lubricant used for embroidery threads is lower and more tightly controlled to allow high performance, outstanding quality, and to minimise the risk of stains.
Trilobal polyester and rayon continuous filament embroidery threads are now in widespread use all around the world.
Polyester threads, in particular, are now becoming more popular because of their ability to withstand more demanding washing and dry cleaning performance standards. Polyester has advantages over rayon in terms of superior dry and wet strength, abrasion resistance and shade fastness / colour retention.
Coats provide an extensive, creative product range in embroidery and embellishment threads. Metallic sewing threads are a popular modern choice, especially suitable for decorative stitching on all kinds of denim wear and provides a brilliant appearance for special effects. Whether metallic, glow in the dark, reflective or matt effect embroidery, it is your choice.
|Tensile Strength Rating||Excellent||Good||Good||Good|
|Colour Fastness to Sunlight||Excellent||Excellent||Good||Good|
|Colour Fastness to Bleach||Excellent||Good||Good*||Poor*|
|Comment||First choice for garments likely to be laundered frequently in bleach and for workwear subject to abrasion and regular industrial laundering; also for footwear and sports clothing.||Used when lustre is not important. First choice for matt finish embroidery.||Recommended for use on cotton where thread/fabric shrinkage compatibility is a factor and for applications where high lustre is not required. First choice for garment dyed embroidery.||Still a choice for some embroiderers in other markets because of the relationship they have with the thread supplier. Due to its poor abrasion resistance and colour fastness to bleach, it should never be a first choice.|
*Unless specifically dyed with dyestuffs which exhibit minimum colour loss or colour change when exposed to bleach.
Trilobal polyester threads have significantly higher breaking strength as compared to rayon and can be run at sewing speeds exceeding 800 Stitches Per Minute (SPM). With rayon threads, machine speeds cannot usually exceed 600 SPM. As a result trilobal polyester threads greatly enhance machine productivity.
|Application / Effect||Thread Type||Thread Property|
|Hard wearing applications
(e.g., workwear, footwear, rugged sportswear, denims, leather garments)
|Trilobal Polyester||High abrasion resistance
Good all-around colour fastness properties
|Children's garments and embroidered emblems||Trilobal Polyester||Gives more volume to satin stitches and a slight 3D effect|
|Industrial workwear garments||Trilobal Polyester||Greater resistance to chemical change|
|Highly lustrous embroidery||Trilobal Polyester
|Cotton garment over dyeing||Mercerised Cotton
|Same dyestuffs can be used for dyeing Cotton and Viscose Rayon|
|Thread / fabric shrinkage compatibility for cottons||Mercerised Cotton||Similar fibre characteristics|
|All cotton soft furnishings products (e.g., bed linen, table coverings, etc.)||Mercerised Cotton
|Greater heat resistance|
|Lightweight fabrics, silks, crepes||Viscose Rayon||Soft feel, finished pattern|
|Matt / dull finish on embroidery||Polyester-Polyester Corespun||High abrasion resistance
Good all-around colour fastness properties and matt appearance
The above table is to be used as a guide. In most cases, a garment manufacturer will be called upon to achieve a combination of objectives (e.g., sheen, strength, abrasion resistance, etc.). In such cases, the appropriate thread which satisfies all the major criteria will have to be chosen.
Just about everything you embroider will require a backing or facing or a combination of both.
- Backings are used to help support the fabric as it is stitched. Backings continue to support the design once it is sewn.
- Facings are used on fabrics with high wales, like corduroy and some knits. Facings help to compact the wales so the stitches do not disappear between them, keeping the wales and picks of fabric from protruding through the design.
Stability of the garment fabric, stitch density, colour, stitch length, stitch speed, size of the embroidery and stability of the design are just some of the variables that can influence backing selection.
Fabric stretch is probably the most important factor in selecting backings. The backing must be stable enough to prevent movement during the stitching process. A fabric's structure (weave of knit pattern) is apt to be a better indicator of stability than weight alone. Backings are available in different weights. Please check with a backing supplier to ensure you are making the right choice for the fabric being embroidered.
The most common types of embroidery backings are:
- Cutaways - for non-stable fabrics
- Tear-aways - for stable fabrics
- Peel and Stick - for those hard to hoop places
- Hydrostick - for fabrics containing lycra, elastane or spandex
Tests reveal that on an average you can expect to use about 6.0 metres of thread per 1,000 embroidery stitches. This average will be affected by length of stitches, needle and bobbin tension and fabric thickness.
An estimate of 2.3 metres of bobbin thread per 1,000 stitches is a good starting point. This assumes that, like most embroiderers, you use undyed bobbin threads. Bobbin thread tensions are tighter than needle thread tensions.
Estimating or guessing at potential stitch counts in digitised embroidery designs is just that - 'guessing'. It can be done and there are a few methods on how to estimate accurately, but there is no foolproof way of knowing prior to digitising how many stitches an embroidery will have.
- You can purchase a plastic see-through grid with 1 " blocks. Place this grid over the artwork and count the number of 1" blocks that the grid covers. Then from a chart that accompanies the grid you can see how many stitches per 1" block. This method provides an estimate as it does not take into consideration the type of stitches being used within the design.
- Or, you can multiply the length by the width of a design. Next multiply that number by 2. This is equal to the amount of 1,000 stitches. For example: 1 ½" (length) x 2" (width)= 3"; then 3 X 2 = 6. This particular design would have 6 - 1,000 stitches or 6,000 stitches.
- Different stitch types will have different stitch counts. In general a square inch of a solid block of colour will have roughly 1,250 stitches of fill. A linear inch of a satin will have 200 stitches while a linear inch of running will have 50 stitches.
- Lettering a standard block without serifs at¼" tall will have roughly 100 stitches per letter, while ½" lettering will be double. If the font is a serif type, there will be approximately 125 stitches per¼" letter and then 250 stitches for a ½" letter.
This chart defines the number of stitches per letter per different letter heights. For example, one letter at 5mm height has approximately 90 stitches. Two letters at 5mm height has an approximate combined total of 180 stitches.
There are only three types of stitches you need to consider in computerised embroidery:
- Fill Stitch - Multiple lines of walking stitches that fill an entire area; blocks of coloured areas
- Satin or Column Stitch - A series of zig zag stitches that form a letter, line or shape (1 mm - 7mm); such as most lettering or borders wider than 1 mm.
- Running or Walking Stitch - A single, straight stitch that provides detail. Used for outlining small items and widths less than 1 mm or simply to walk from one part of the design to the other.
What does it take to make a good embroidery?
The following is a list of things to. check while ascertaining the quality of your embroidery.
Pick up the embroidery- twist and roll it; see what it feels like. Is it flexible?
The embroidery should fit together and be properly aligned, without gaps between the borders.
Puckering in and around the design does not belong. The fabric should be smooth all around the embroidered area. Puckering can be caused by a tight thread or fabric tension; too wide satin stitches; a dull needle; an unstable fabric (none or wrong choice of backing) and structural jamming.
- Good Stitch Density
Stitches should be tight and hold together. ff there is a lot of show through between stitches or you can pull them with fingernail; they are too long and will degrade quickly when the garment is laundered.
- Adjusting Stitch Density
Each thread has a unique linear density and has the ability to cover a piece of fabric in a different way. The same thread will cover different fabrics slightly differently, so if you are using the same digitised design on different fabrics, it is important to test the design on the particular fabrics.
If the stitch density is too high you may experience thread breaks. If the stitch density is too low then 'gaps' and 'grins' will appear and the fabric colour shows through the embroidered area.
Points to remember:
- Using a combination of underlay and cover stitching uses far less stitches than using cover stitching alone therefore always use underlay for large fill areas.
- Using the correct stitch density will result in a significant saving of unnecessary stitches; an area sewn at a density of 0.55mm uses 20% less stitches than a density of 0.40mm.
- Each fabric will have a slightly different ability to absorb stitches from a particular thread.
- Balanced Tension
If there is puckering or pulling of the material around the design, look for proper tension (a balance of top thread and bobbin thread). Turn the garment over to see if there is a balance. You should see 1/3% white stitches in the centre and a balance of coloured stitches on both sides of the white stitches. Too much bobbin will also show on top of the design. If you do not see a balance, tensions are not set correctly.
- Proper Finishing
Check to see if threads are all clipped and any topping material is removed from the design. Check the backing to see if it properly supports the embroidery, and the excess backing has been removed. Cutaway backings should be clipped at a uniform distance from the edge so as not to look hacked off and should not extend over a half inch or more from the embroidery.
|Thread breaks, slides up one ply above the needle eye||1. Burr on hook
2. Point of hook too far from needle
3. Machine threaded incorrectly
4. Incorrect needle bar height
|1. Replace or polish hook
2. Adjust distance
3. Rethread machine correctly
4. Adjust need bar height
|Top thread is pulled to the back of the garment, creating a thread pile-up at the back||1. Tension too tight
2. Machine threaded incorrectly
3. Dry hook race
|1. Adjust tension
2. Rethread machine correctly
3. Lubricate race
|Excessive thread breakage||1. Incorrect thread timing
2. Incorrect needle bar height
3. Burr on hook
4. Tension too tight
5. Needle incorrectly installed in needle bar
|1. Adjust timing
2. Adjust needle bar height
3. Replace or polish hook
4. Adjust tension
5. Reinstall needle. Make sure scarf of needle is facing the hook
|Stitching does not follow pattern outline||1. Bent needle
2. Hoop loose in frame
|1. Replace needle
2. Tighten hoop in frame
|Frame board shifts out of alignment while pattern is running||1. Machine running too fast||1. Adjust machine speed.
(If pattern is not programmed to slow down, use the computer to change to slower speed).
|Flat or hidden stitches||1. Tension too tight
2. Nap or pile fabric tends to hide thread
|1. Loosen tension
2. Use temporary transparent film topping material to make stitches stand up
|Needle holes in garment||1. Material loose in hoop
2. Thin material
3. Too many stitches for point of cut
4. Burred needle
|1. Make material tight in hoop
2. Add tear-away backing (most applications) or cut-away backing (preferred for delicate fabrics, knits and sweaters)
3. Change pattern for satisfactory look
4. Replace needle (light/medium ball point)
|Difficulty threading needle||1. Eye too small for thread||1. Use over-sized or round-eye needle)|
|Difficulty using metallic threads||1. Needle eye too small
2. Tension too tight
|1. Use needle with oversized eye
2. Loosen tension
3. Use mesh sock around thread on cone
|Thread pigtailing||1. Top tension too tight||1. Adjust for min. tension (trap twist and push back between top/middle tensions)
2. Use mesh sock around thread on cone
|Looping||1. Too many stitches in pattern
2. Tightly woven material
|1 . Reduce stitch count
2. Adjust tension for greatest consistency
|Thread pulls out of needle after trimming||1. Lint in thread holder
2. Tension too tight
|1. Clean thread holder
2. Loosen tension
3. Sew at least three slow stitches after each trim to anchor thread
Please contact your local Sales Office to find out more about our embroidery thread options.