The Avid Embroiderer Presents - Oh Those Holidays and Metallic Threads. An Emoji for Christmas

There are hundreds if not thousands of blogs regarding metallic threads. Holidays bring them out of the woodwork, so here is my latest statement on metallics.

They usually aren't rayon or polyester. OK, I am done with that. . . My next blog is in two weeks, see you then.

Well, I suppose I should give a little more information.

You may want to whip something similar to this lovely gown. It is a mere $9,000 and has a limited quantity available. Check here for ordering info.

Or, you could knock this one out while the kids are at school. I figure one afternoon should be adequate.


Moving right along - there are many facets to metallics that need your consideration. Here are my observations and what I have learned from reading and subsequent testing:
(In no particular order)

  • Metallics are different with each manufacturer. Some manufacturers even make multiple types of metallics.
  • Old metallics (IMHO, 1-2 years is the limit) likely need to be discarded.
  • New techniques and fibers have made significant improvements in the sewing action and the visible results.
  • Most designs are digitized for the 40 weight rayon or polyester. Changing to metallics changes all the embroidery rules.
  • If the design is too dense, thread breaks can and will occur. Density is a no-brainer. Some embroidery programs can show the density in a color format.
  • They function poorly with abrasion (fabric and stabilizer); and, they are out of sorts with small stitches.
  •  For better results, find a design digitized for especially for metallics.
  • Modestly increasing the size of a design will make metallics easier to work with.
  • Needles need to be created with a large eye. I recommend using a 90/14 embroidery needle. Any machine can have its own 'personality' so knowing that will help in selecting a needle.
  • If using twisted or round metallics, lower the upper tension at least 1 setting.
  • When using flat metallics, tension may need to be more than 1 setting. Your 'discovery sew' will tell you what you need to know.
  • I personally still have issues with flat metallics. Both horizontal and vertical spool stands cause the flat metallic to twist. If anyone has a suggestion to stop twisting, please let me know in the comments below.
  •  Slow down the stitching in your machine. Speed is a demon with metallics.
  • Use as soft and flexible a stabilizer as your design allows. If in doubt, your 'discovery sew' will give you some ideas of what will work.  Adhesives are also a poor choice.
  • Baste around your design, with rayon or polyester, so that the fabric and stabilizer are one. In this case, you can do three bastes, one on the outside of the design, one about halfway to the center and a third, if possible, about 1" from the center. If you set your basting stitch to at least 5mm, they will be easily removed. Inner basting can be left on if it is under the design stitches.
  • Use of silicone, from the automotive section of the store, on your thread will also help. Silicone does not stain nor remain visible on the thread or fabric. Once it is dry, the only thing left is a slippery surface. Silicone has no variances and leaves no residue, it is different from oil. The cost of a 16 ounce can from the automotive section is the same as the 2 ounces bottle of 'stuff' from your embroidery shop. They are the same thing.
  • Use polyester for the bobbin. Polyester is a little more flexible and gentle than rayon. Use an invisible thread for even better results.

Don't be dissuaded from the use of metallics, they really give a 'jeweled' tone to your projects, year round.

My freebie for this blog is NOT metallic thread friendly. I am nowhere ready to do something that sensitive. (I am barely able to do simple things!)

Beginning to cost like Christmas The Avid (225.2KB)

Did you see this idea? It is really clever:  You can get the designs for $.59 each, a bargain, quick sew and easy project!!

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