What thread do I need for embroidery?
My designs are embroidered using mostly six-stranded embroidery cotton or floss. There are various brands of six- stranded cotton thread – Anchor and J&P Coats from Britain, Cosmo from Japan, DMC from France, Finca from Spain and Sul- livans from Australia (there are probably others) – but I stick with DMC as it’s widely available and there are more than 500 solid and variegated colours in the range.
How do you start embroidery thread?
This type of embroidery thread is made up of six strands twisted into one thread. It’s really versatile as it can be split into different numbers of strands. Your stitching can be quite bold and distinctive or really light and fine depending on how many strands you use. It comes in a large variety of colours and is relatively inexpensive, so you can build up a good collection.
I roll my thread on to floss cards, which I store in floss boxes to keep them organised, clean and in good shape. Then I unwind a length of thread, divide it into the number of strands I need at the card end and slide a finger between the strands and down the length of the thread to separate them, cutting only the strands I’m going to use at the card end. A good length is 40cm or so, but see what works for you. I often cut longer pieces to save having to end off and start again halfway through a line of stitching. But I only began doing this once I was more confident in my stitching ability. If you get a lot of knots in your thread, use shorter pieces.
Can you use any thread for embroidery?
You can stitch with the strands as is after you’ve split them from the six, or separate them into single strands and then regroup them. I let the stitch determine which I do, separating into individual strands for stitches where twists in the thread will show (eg, back, blanket, satin and straight stitch) and leav- ing them as is where it doesn’t really make a difference (eg, stem and chain stitch). Separating the strands gives the stitches a smoother look as the strands lie neatly alongside one another.
Six-stranded thread has a natural twist to it, but it can become too tightly twisted as you work. You’ll know this has happened if your stitches start to look thin and scraggly. Either spin your needle between your thumb and forefinger to untwist the thread or turn your hoop upside down and let your needle dan- gle until the thread has untwisted itself naturally.