Dive into the fascinating world of machine embroidery thread! Discover the ins and outs of thread weight, types, and top brands to make your next project shine.

Introduction to Machine Embroidery Threads

Starting your journey in machine embroidery? One of the first things you’ll notice is the huge selection of threads available. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, knowing your threads can make a big difference in your embroidery.

With so many options, choosing the right thread can feel overwhelming. This guide will walk you through thread weight, types, and the best brands, plus tips on how to use them.

What is Thread Weight?

What is Thread Weight?

Thread weight, or “gauge,” tells you how thick the thread is. You’ll see a number on the spool or package that indicates this. The higher the number, the thinner the thread. For instance, a 60-gauge thread is finer than a 40-gauge one.

Common Thread Weights

  • 30-Weight: Thicker, great for bold and standout designs.
  • 40-Weight: Standard for most embroidery projects.
  • 60-Weight: Thinner, perfect for small and detailed work.

There are other weights, too, like 50-weight for general sewing and 12-28 gauge for top-stitching and hand-stitching.

How Thread Weight Numbers Work

The numbering system is based on length: a 60-gauge thread needs 60 kilometers of thread to weigh one kilogram, while a 40-gauge needs only 40 kilometers. So, the higher the gauge, the finer the thread.

Best Thread Weight for Embroidery

Most designs are created for 40-weight thread, making it the most versatile. It’s also great for thread painting and sketching.

Spool Sizes

Threads come on spools of various sizes. Standard spools for home sewing machines hold 500-600 meters of thread. If you do a lot of embroidery, larger spools or cones (2000-5000 meters) are more cost-effective.

Spool Extensions

Big thread cones might not fit on your machine’s spool holder, but spool extensions can help. Some machines, especially quilting and embroidery ones, can handle these extensions. Free-standing spool holders can also be used with any machine, making it easier to use larger cones without constantly changing spools.

Multi Color Machine Embroidery Thread

Types of Machine Embroidery Threads

Rayon and Polyester

  • Rayon: Shiny and perfect for decorative and clothing projects. It’s smooth and creates a beautiful finish, ideal for embroidery that stands out.
  • Polyester: Strong and colorfast, ideal for items that get washed often. Polyester threads are known for their durability, making them great for items like towels and kids’ clothes that need frequent washing.

Both are available in 40-gauge and are highly recommended. Brands like Gütermann and Fujix King Star offer excellent rayon and polyester threads.


Cotton threads give a soft, matte finish, making them great for a non-glossy look. Brands like Aurifil and Superior King Tut are top choices. Cotton is breathable and blends well with natural fabrics, making it a favorite for quilts and delicate clothing.

Specialty Threads

Some threads are trickier to use but add unique effects to your work.

  • Silk: Natural shine and strength, perfect for delicate fabrics. It’s luxurious and great for high-end projects but can be a bit more challenging to work with due to its slippery nature.
  • Metallic: Adds sparkle but can be challenging to work with. Brands like Brothread offer reliable options. Metallic threads can give your designs a festive look but may require a specialized needle to prevent breakage.
  • Variegated: Changes color along the thread, creating cool effects. Simthread has a great selection. This thread is perfect for adding dimension to your designs, making them look more dynamic and interesting.
  • Monofilament: Translucent, perfect for invisible stitching. Sulky and Superior Threads offer good options. It’s great for securing fabrics without being seen, ideal for quilting and delicate appliqué work.

Popular Thread Brands

Choosing quality brands ensures your thread is strong, doesn’t shred, and holds its color well. Here are some top brands:


Known for its durability and vibrant colors, Gütermann is a reliable choice. It’s widely available and trusted by many embroiderers for its consistent quality.


Isacord threads are strong, have a wide color range, and are easy to use, making them a favorite among embroiderers. Their threads are designed to minimize breakage, even during complex designs.


Sulky offers bright colors and a variety of weights, perfect for any project. Their threads are known for their sheen and are particularly popular for decorative work.


Mettler threads are consistent in quality and affordable, with a good range of options. They offer threads that work well for both embroidery and general sewing projects.


Budget-Friendly and High-Quality Options

  • Best Economy Buy: Multi-spool sets from brands like Brothread. These sets often include a variety of colors, providing good value for beginners building their thread collection.
  • Best Quality Buy: Trusted brands like Gütermann and Isacord. Fujix King Star is also excellent but may not be available everywhere. Investing in high-quality threads can save you time and frustration by reducing issues like breakage and poor stitching quality.

Thread Painting and Bobbin Thread

For thread painting, 40-gauge rayon is often the best choice. When it comes to bobbin thread, lighter weights like 60 or 70 are common to prevent bulk on the back of your embroidery.

Recommended Bobbin Threads

  • Superior Threads Bottom Line: Fine, 60-gauge, and ideal for bobbins. It’s strong yet thin, preventing excess bulk.
  • Sulky Bobbin Thread: Lightweight and perfect for embroidery. It’s designed to work smoothly in the bobbin case, reducing tension issues.
  • Fujix Bobbin Star: Great quality, but availability may vary by region. This thread is known for its smoothness and reliability, making it a great choice for consistent stitching.

Tips for Building Your Thread Collection

As you gain experience, you’ll find your favorite threads. Here are some tips for building a solid collection:

  • Invest in quality threads to avoid problems like breakage. Cheap threads might save you money upfront but can lead to frustration with poor results.
  • Collect compatible threads in terms of weight, sheen, and appearance. This ensures that your projects look cohesive and professional.
  • Use the right needle type and size for your threads. Different threads require different needles, and using the correct one can prevent problems like skipped stitches and thread breaks.

Embroidery Thread Storage

Understanding Thread Care and Storage

Proper storage and care of your threads can prolong their lifespan and maintain their quality.

Storage Tips

  • Keep Threads Out of Direct Sunlight: Sunlight can fade the colors and weaken the fibers over time.
  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Humidity can cause threads to become brittle or moldy.
  • Use Thread Boxes or Racks: These keep your threads organized and tangle-free, making it easier to find the right color when you need it.

Thread Care

  • Check for Expiration: Threads can degrade over time. If they break easily or seem dry, it might be time to replace them.
  • Avoid Dust: Dust can settle on threads, making them dirty and causing them to perform poorly in your machine.


Mastering machine embroidery means choosing the right thread. With the knowledge from this guide, you’re well on your way to creating stunning embroidery projects.

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