can you use embroidery thread for sewing

Can You Use Embroidery Thread for Sewing?

Embroidery thread looks gorgeous on the spool with its sheen, variegated colors, and pretty display. Should you use embroidery thread for your regular sewing projects? It is possible to use embroidery thread for sewing if you are cautious. While it works beautifully for decorative stitches, embroidery thread like embroidery floss or pearl cotton has drawbacks when used for everyday construction sewing. Read on to learn the pros and cons of using thicker machine embroidery thread and tips to sew successfully with it.

What Exactly is Embroidery Thread?

Before deciding whether embroidery thread can substitute for regular sewing thread, it helps to understand what distinguishes the two. Embroidery thread is a more robust, thicker thread made to stand out.

Regular all-purpose sewing thread is made of fine, lightweight cotton or polyester thread. It comes in the standard 50-thread weight. This allows it to seamlessly move through the eye of the needle and the tension discs on sewing machines. It also results in neat, barely visible stitches perfect for construction seams.

Embroidery thread is purposely heavier to provide more noticeable decorative stitching. Common embroidery threads like floss or pearl cotton are 30 to 12 thread weights. Materials like rayon thread and polyester embroidery thread are used to provide a beautiful sheen. The metallic thread has a high gloss and matches real metal’s glittery effect. Variegated threads give an ombre color effect. All these thicker threads are too dense to ply as easily as regular thread.

Pros of Embroidery Thread for Sewing

Pros of Embroidery Thread for Sewing
Photo credit:

Using embroidery thread for general sewing has some advantages:

  • This produces visible decorative stitches. The heavier weight and sheen of the embroidery thread allow it to stand out. Stitches will be visible rather than blend into the fabric. This lets you genuinely highlight any decorative topstitching.
  •  There is a vast range of colors and textures available. The embroidery thread is made to be showy. You can choose glossy or matte finishes along with variegated ombres. Metallic thread adds real glitz. The color palette tends to be more extensive than the regular thread.
  •  It’s very durable and robust. Embroidery thread is made of synthetic materials and has a thicker diameter, which makes it more durable against wear and tear. It works well for projects that need to be extra sturdy, like bags. Densely stitched embroidery won’t loosen up over time.

Cons of Embroidery Thread for Regular Sewing

While embroidery thread has some high points, it also comes with drawbacks:

  • Too thick for regular sewing machines. Trying to sew embroidery-weight thread in a standard home sewing machine can be problematic. It’s like forcing rope through the eye of a needle! The thread can shred, tangle, or break.
  •  It can easily break needles. Just as the thick thread can get damaged through the eye, it can harm the needle. Flexible, thin universal needles are no match for stiff embroidery threads.
  •  Creates puckering on lightweight fabrics. A thick thread pulled through flimsy fabrics causes the material to gather and pucker around stitches. This distorts the drape.
  •  Not suitable for internal seams or construction. Seam allowances and hems need to be as invisible as possible. Bulky embroidery thread will add uncomfortable bulk.

Tips for Sewing Successfully with Embroidery Thread

If you want to work embroidery thread into certain aspects of a sewing project, here are some tips to make it function:

  • Use an appropriate needle. Consider heavy-duty options like denim, topstitching, or actual embroidery needles. The large eye and sharp point accommodate thick threads.
  •  Loosen the top thread tension. Adjusting the tension on your sewing machine will prevent breakage and uneven stitches. Err on the side of lower stress.
  •  Use a stabilization backing with lightweight fabrics. Interfacing or stabilizer will prevent puckering of delicate fabrics around the heavy embroidery stitches.
  •  Reserve embroidery thread for decorative topstitching or accents. Limit use to areas where the bold, thick stitches enhance the design.
  •  Stick to regular thread for internal seams or long seams. The thick thread will add unpleasant bulk on seams that must remain flat and flexible.

Best Uses for Embroidery Thread in Sewing Projects

Here are some ideal applications for embroidery thread:

  • Decorative topstitching and embellishing
  •  Quilting accents
  •  Applique edging
  •  Monogramming
  •  Buttonholes
  •  Accent topstitching on edges or seams
  •  Decorative edge finishes like blanket stitch

Embroidery thread excels at decorative stitching, where visibility is more critical than seamlessness. It can make unique stitches pop beautifully in hand embroidery, cross stitch, and surface embroidery projects.

The Final Verdict: Yes, You Can Use Embroidery Thread for Sewing with Caution

Embroidery thread can be incorporated into regular sewing projects – with some precautions. While too thick for constructing a garment, embroidery thread adds customizable beauty through decorative stitches.


Is embroidery thread weaker than regular thread?

Embroidered is a regular sewing thread due to its thicker diameter. It can break more easily when used in a sewing machine that is not equipped to handle thicker threads.

Should I use a larger needle with embroidery thread?

Yes, using at least a jeans/denim needle will help prevent breakage and snagging when using thicker embroidery threads. An embroidery needle specifically made for embroidery threads is ideal.

What fabrics work best with embroidery thread?

Sturdy fabrics like denim, canvas, and quilting cotton work well with embroidery thread. Very lightweight or silky fabrics may pucker with the thicker thread. Interface or back with stabilizer if needed.

Can I use embroidery thread in the bobbin?

You’ll get the best results by using regular sewing thread in the bobbin so it moves smoothly. Match the embroidery thread weight in the bobbin only if you are doing specialty embroidery stitching.

Follow the tips above to adjust your sewing machine, needles, thread tension, and fabric choice when using embroidery threads. Reserve it for unique accents and embellishing. With some thoughtfulness, embroidery thread can make your sewing projects pop!

So, while embroidery weight threads like floss or pearl cotton aren’t suitable for sewing whole projects, they can beautifully elevate your sewing when used strategically. Taking the time to adjust your tools and techniques will ensure success. Just remember, when in doubt, reach for the regular sewing thread. But don’t be afraid to get creative and add special touches with embroidery thread!


Main image:

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 169

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *