Top Stitching With Embroidery Thread (possible)
Contrary to an old weaver’s myth, embroidery thread can be used for top stitching on a sewing machine. Several brands of embroidery threads are available for use on standard, simple home sewing machines. Polyester, cotton and rayon threads tend to be a bit stronger than regular embroidery thread but all can be used for top stitching with good results.
Using regular sewing thread for embroidery
You can use regular sewing threads for your hand stitching. The results are much like working with embroidery threads and yield a distinct appearance. Don’t be afraid to use regular thread with most embroidery projects for a distinctive finish.
Sewing vs embroidery thread
Embroidery thread is more decorative in appearance when compared with regular sewing thread. Embroidering thread is typically shinier, with more vibrant colors, and is available in more textures than sewing thread. As a result, regular sewing thread is generally stronger and more durable than embroidery specific thread whether it’s cotton or polyester.
The best thread type for your sewing machine
Polyester thread is best to use for sewing synthetic fabric on your sewing machine. This is because Polyester can stretch a small amount making it more forgiving than cotton. Also, Polyester thread is less likely to shrink when compared with cotton thread. For natural fabric, cotton thread with a Polyester core works extremely well.
The best thread for embroidery
Stranded cotton thread, sometimes called embroidery floss, is the preferred thread for embroidery. It is the most commonly used thread on embroidery projects, including cross stitch, because of durability and ease of use. 6 individual strands of fine cotton thread are combined to make a single embroidery floss.
Cone thread use on your sewing machine
Cone thread as it’s most often referred to is just regular sewing thread on a larger spool. You can use “cone thread” on your home sewing machine though it’s likely you will first need to add an attachment to make it work properly. Cones of thread are larger than regular spools of thread and may not fit on your standard spool holder.
Cotton vs Polyester sewing thread
Cotton thread is stronger and softer than Polyester thread making it the better sewing option for most applications. That being said, cotton thread doesn’t stretch as much as Polyester thread so it is more prone to breaking. This is something you need to consider when choosing your sewing thread.
How to identify Polyester thread
Identifying polyester thread is simple – Reading the label will typically tell you of your thread contains nylon, cotton or polyester. However, if there is no label, carefully burning the thread end in a well ventilated area works for identification purposes because Polyester thread melts, it doesn’t burn.
Thread types (and number) to use on a serger
Regular thread DOES work on a serger sewing machine, but will run out more quickly. The number of threads to use at one time depends on the machine. A 2-4 serger sewing machine requires two to four threads, depending on setting. Likewise a 3-4 Serger requires a minimum of three and maximum of four threads and a 5 thread serger machine requires five threads.
The best starter sewing thread (most commonly used)
In speaking with other seamsters I find that 50 weight polyester cotton blend thread is the most commonly used thread, for most project types. It is suitable for use with a wide range of fabrics, including stretch. With experience preferences change but for starting out you can’t go wrong with a good polyester cotton blend thread.