How to Choose Embroidery Thread Types

How to Choose Embroidery Thread Types

How is it already August? Welcome to this week’s blog post regarding all things thread! Are you excited to learn how to choose embroidery thread types? My name is Melissa and as a member of the Creative Team, I’ve learned about some fun variations of the thread you use for your embroidery designs, and some insider tips you may not have known!

Visual Variety: A Little More on Machine Embroidery Thread Choices

Choosing the threads and materials we use to incorporate into our designs has always been one of the most fun elements of working at Anita Goodesign. As an educator, I often get asked at events the types of threads we use in our designs to get such stunning stitch outs. Now, I wanted to touch on a few of the major embroidery thread types that you’ll find floating around our work spaces, and what changing it up could mean for the look of your designs!

Embroidery Thread Type – Polyester

The most commonly used thread type in the Anita office is polyester thread. This thread type provides great resilience at high speeds, stitches out beautifully, and is known for its high sheen due to the lubrication on the thread. For our polyester embroidery threads, we love Floriani due to their massive list of 300 colors. When you create as many embroidery designs as we do, a large color selection is key!


As another fantastic embroidery thread type for frequent embroiderers, rayon has a stunning look to it when stitched out just like polyester thread, but with a slightly less “plastic” look to it. Rayon has a wonderful way of stretching to how it is stitched, allowing it to lie flatter to the fabric while also maintaining a lovely sheen! 



Insider Information: Rayon creates less friction and overall wear and tear in your machine. For this reason, Robinson-Anton’s Super Strength Rayon is the most used thread type within the artwork of Stephen Wilson Studio.


Pretty easily summed up as clear thread, this special thread type is mentioned frequently in our quilting or project instructions to help finish off your designs. Most commonly purchased in clear, this thread also comes in a darker, smoke shade. When used within embroidery designs, you can create a unique, overstitch look to your embroidery with the clear thread, and it’s ideal for sewing shut openings when turning projects or finishing off a quilt.

Embroidery Thread Type – Cotton

cotton, machine embroidery designs

Quite literally spun cotton, this thread provides s such a lovely, homey look to your designs. With minimal shine, cotton is a great way to take your stitch outs back to the basics with softer looking textures. We love cotton on farm or animal themed designs, baby items, or even hand stitched collections to mimic the thread look in hand embroidery.


embroidery thread types, glow in the dark

Break out celestial designs or fun, kid-themed stitch outs for this thread type! Charge it up under a light, then watch your stitches illuminate in dark spaces! We don’t venture into glow in the dark too often, but when we do, it’s always a fun time.

Back in our April 2018 All Access, we released a design set called Prehistoric Fossils and the Creative team had some fun hiding in the fabric room with a flashlight testing the glow on our dinos! Stitch out stars or other spacey designs in this thread for a truly out-of-this-world look!

Embroidery Thread Type – Twist

machine embroidery, machine embroidery designs

Quite literally, this thread is a twisted pairing of two (or more) embroidery thread colors, combined to create a fun, color shifting look in your designs. Certain shades can even convey the look of animal fur or other textures, so definitely give these a go for anything nature-inspired or animal themed!


embroidery thread types, variegated

Variation is the spice of life, right? This thread is sure to change up your normal looks for something more unique. Variegated thread is created through a special dying process to the thread, allowing for multiple color variations or specs to appear in the coloring. These threads are fun for unexpected color surprises, tie dye looks or even a subtle ombre effect. Not a fan of synthetics? These threads also come in metallic and natural types as well!

Metallic Thread

metallic thread, anita goodesign

Who doesn’t love a good sparkle?! Metallics create one of the most sought after looks, whether it be for the holidays, a celebration, or just to add a pop of flair to your embroidered project or design. Some people, on the other hand, hate metallics because of their finicky needs when running in machines.



Some top tips I’d love to share for metallics are to keep your machine speed a little lower than what you’d normally run it on. This will help with friction and breakage in the thread, as well as allowing you to keep an eye in how it’s looking when running.

To help further with the breaking problem, try standing your metallics up on a thread stand at least a foot away form your machine (yes, a whole foot or even two is fine)! Letting the thread travel a bit before reaching your tension system will allow for any kinks or curls to unwind on its path to your machine.

Holographic Thread

machine embroidery thread types, holographic

Lastly, this fun variation of a metallic look is EXTRA sparkly! We love holo thread for a totally different look in our designs, or when we’re feeling a little extra excitement is needed! Created with plastic, this thread actually performs best when running at a higher tension level since it is so slippery and smooth!

The increased tension will help the thread have more “grip” in your machine’s tension system, allowing it to lay the stitches smoothly. This thread’s tensile is actually quite impressive so don’t be shy to try this special thread in anything that needs that extra “wow” factor!

This concludes this week’s blog post. So many embroidery thread types, so little time! Which one will you use for your next machine embroidery project?

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