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Thread Types

Thread Types

Thread comes in many styles, weights, and compositions. Understanding the differences can help determine the appropriate thread for the job.

NOTE: Manufacturers and suppliers often have fact sheets with sewing tips, design settings, and needle recommendations on their websites. This is very useful in learning to use a variety of thread types.

Thread comes in a few compositions. These have different properties that can drastically affect sewing and quality.

Video Demonstration:

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Polyester thread has become the standard thread for Melco embroidery machine users.

  • Stronger than other threads
  • Fewer thread breaks when sewing
  • Colourfast and resistant to chlorine making it ideal for garments that are washed frequently. It is perfect for uniforms and corporate apparel.
  • Comes in a wide variety of colours

NOTE: Polyester thread is recommended for use with your machine to achieve full sew speed and prevent thread breaks.


Metallic threads are often used to add a bit of sparkle to a design.

  • High sheen or sometimes a matte finish
  • Can be more problematic to sew with
  • Requires lighter densities and longer stitch lengths
  • Usually requires slower sew speeds and larger needles

Wool/Acrylic Blend

Usually a heavier thread, these threads can be used for a more natural or hand look.

  • Unique look
  • Can be more problematic to sew with
  • Requires much lighter densities and longer stitch lengths
  • Usually requires slower sew speeds and larger needles


Rayon threads are made of natural fibers and can have slightly higher sheens than polyester.

  • Wide variety of colours
  • Beautiful Sheen
  • Less strength than polyester
  • Not chlorine resistant
  • Usually requires slower sew speeds

Thread Weight (Thickness)

Thread is commonly referred to by its weight. In many cases, this is a number beside the type. For example, you might find a “Poly 40”. This number usually means that it would require 40 kilometres of thread to weigh 1 kilogram. With this method, the higher the number, the thinner the thread.

  • 40 weight thread is the industry standard for embroidery. Most stock designs are digitized for use with 40 weight.
  • 60 weight thread is excellent for fine details and small lettering.
  • 12 weight thread is very thick and can work well for a hand embroidery look.

Each thread weight will require different needles and design specifications.