can i use embroidery thread for sewing

Can I Use Embroidery Thread for Sewing?

Embroidery thread may seem too delicate for regular sewing, but it can add beautiful dimension and detail when used strategically. Let’s look at what embroidery thread is, how it differs from regular cotton sewing thread, and the best ways to incorporate it into your sewing and embroidery projects.

What is Embroidery Thread?

Embroidery thread is a lightweight, lustrous thread for hand and machine embroidery. It comes in cotton, rayon, polyester, and metallic varieties like rayon embroidery or polyester embroidery. Embroidery thread is mercerized, which gives it a subtle sheen. It is thinner than regular sewing thread, which allows for more detail in embroidery work and cross-stitching, but it also lacks the strength of all-purpose cotton thread or polyester thread for regular sewing.

Two types of embroidery thread – stranded and non-stranded – are collectively known as embroidery floss. Stranded embroidery floss comprises six loosely twisted strands of pearl or perle cotton that can be separated. Using just one or two strands allows for different weights and effects. A non-stranded embroidery thread, like that found on spools, is a single unified strand.

Differences Between Embroidery Thread and Sewing Thread

Differences Between Embroidery Thread and Sewing Thread
Photo Credit: freepik

There are a few critical differences between embroidery thread and the regular sewing thread you typically use in your sewing machine or for hand sewing.

Sewing thread is more robust, heavier, tightly spun, and explicitly woven for construction seams and high-strain areas. Embroidery thread is too lightweight for sewing main seams or projects that will endure a lot of wear and washing. The lighter-weight thread tends to stitch out poorly and needs long-term durability.

Embroidery threads like rayon embroidery thread or polyester embroidery thread come in far more colors, striations, metallics, and special effects threads than regular cotton thread or polyester thread for sewing. It is dyed to produce vibrant hues suited for decorative embroidery work. Sewing thread comes in more limited colors meant for blending into the fabric.

Finally, embroidery thread has a beautiful sheen, while regular cotton thread has a matte look. This lends a luminous, dimensional effect to machine embroidery designs or hand embroidery stitches.

When to Use Embroidery Thread for Sewing

While too weak for construction seams, embroidery thread can be ideal in specific sewing applications:

Decorative Sewing

Embroidery thread is perfect for adding texture, color, and visual interest to your sewing projects. Use it when hand-sewing decorative stitches, embellishments, or sashiko stitching. Machine-embroidered monograms, applique shapes, and border details also pop nicely in embroidery thread.

Lightweight Fabrics

Sheer, delicate, and loosely woven fabrics like chiffon or crepe de chine can benefit from the lightweight strength of embroidery thread for sewing seams and hems. The thread prevents puckering, distortion, and bulk on these fabrics.

Bobbin Thread

While too weak to act as the top thread, embroidery thread like cotton embroidery thread makes an excellent bobbin thread when sewing lightweight fabrics. Pair with regular polyester sewing thread to minimize bulk in seams while subtly allowing the decorative bobbin thread to peek through.

Tips for Sewing with Embroidery Thread

Embroidery thread requires some adjustments to your regular sewing methods. Here are some tips:

  • Use sharp, fine embroidery needles to pierce the thread cleanly without fraying or shredding it.
  • To prevent puckering, bunching, and breakage while sewing, you must reduce the tension on your machine. You can achieve this by using lightweight thread.
  •  Try a thread conditioner like Thread Heaven to lubricate the embroidery thread for smoothness and even feeding.
  •  When winding embroidery bobbins, do so slowly and wind the thread loosely to prevent extra tension.

Best Uses for Embroidery Thread in Sewing

Here are some of the best ways to incorporate embroidery thread creatively:

  • Decorative topstitching – Use contrasting rayon embroidery thread or metallic thread on top to add interest
  •  Embellishing – Hand-embroidered details, motifs, and lettering with stranded cotton floss
  •  Quilting lightweight quilts – Add texture with variegated polyester embroidery threads
  •  Applique and reverse applique – Define shapes with bold or blending embroidery threads
  •  Thread painting – Build up dimension and shading with rayon embroidery threads
  •  Alter store-bought items – Personalize with creative machine embroidery stitching


Can I use embroidery thread in my regular sewing machine?

It is possible to utilize embroidery thread in a standard sewing machine. Use the appropriate needle size and reduce the tension to prevent puckering or breakage.

What needles work best with embroidery thread?

Embroidery needles sized 70/10 or 80/12, with sharp and fine points, are the most effective. The blunt point pierces the thread cleanly.

What fabrics work best with embroidery thread?

Embroidery thread is ideal for lightweight, delicate fabrics like chiffon, crepe, lace, and linens. Avoid heavy canvas, denim, or stretchy fabrics.

Can I use embroidery thread for construction seams?

No, embroidery thread is too lightweight for seams on clothing or projects that need durability. Use regular all-purpose thread for construction.

How do I wind an embroidery thread bobbin?

Wind embroidery thread bobbins slowly and loosely so the thread feeds smoothly. Overtight winding can cause tension problems.

Should I reduce tension for embroidery thread?

Yes, reducing the top thread tension prevents puckering, breakage, and uneven stitches with lightweight embroidery thread.

Can I mix embroidery thread with regular thread?

You can use embroidery in the bobbin with regular thread on top. But avoid using embroidery as the top thread with the standard in the bobbin.

What kind of hand needles work with embroidery thread?

Use sharps or embroidery needles with a short, sharp point. Longer needles can split the thread.


While not strong enough for general construction techniques, embroidery thread can make your sewing projects stand out when used strategically. With some adjustments to your tools and sewing methods, both machine embroidery and hand embroidery with threads like rayon embroidery thread, polyester embroidery thread, or stranded cotton floss can bring your projects to the next level through decorative stitching, textural interest, and beautiful embellishing. Let your creativity run wild!


Main image: freepik

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 169

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