Machine embroidery with metallic thread can be tricky, even for experienced embroiderers. If you don’t know how to do it, it leads to tangled thread and ruined fabric if done incorrectly. It is common to face issues such as fraying, looping, tension problems and thread breaks, which can be quite frustrating. This is miserable because everyone loves metallic thread’s sparkle, and it’s bad that it discourages many from using it.

But now, anyone with any machine can successfully do machine embroidery metallic threads if they follow some tips and tricks.

This blog will discuss everything you need to know about using metallic thread for machine embroidery projects.

Table of Contents:

Types of Metallic Threads

There are different types of metallic threads for machine embroidery:

The majority of metallic threads have a metallic filament wrapped around a base core thread (typically polyester, rayon, or nylon) to create a sparkling effect. However, some metallic threads look like they are made entirely of foil and produce a more shimmering appearance.  

Several types of metallic machine embroidery threads are commonly used. Some of the most popular types include:

Rayon Metallic Thread:

This type of thread is made from a blend of rayon and metallic fibers. It has a soft, silky texture and is available in various colors.

Polyester Metallic Thread:

This type of thread is made from a merge of polyester and metallic fibers. It is very durable and has a high sheen.

Nylon Metallic Thread:

This type of thread is made from a blend of nylon and metallic fibers. It has a very high sheen and is often used for decorative stitching.

Blended Metallic Thread:

This type of thread is made from a blend of different kinds of fibers, including rayon, polyester, and nylon, as well as metallic fibers.

Flat Metallic Thread:

This type of thread is made from a thin strip of metallic foil wrapped around a rayon or polyester core. It has a flat, ribbon-like texture ideal for creating intricate designs.

Variegated Metallic Thread:

This type of thread has multiple colors of metallic fibers blended together to create a unique and eye-catching effect.

All-around, machine embroidery with metallic threads can add a touch of luxury and glamour to clothing, home decor items, and other embroidered designs.

Why Machine Embroidery with Metallic Threads is Tricky?

Machine embroidery with metallic threads is tricky due to their unique characteristics. Following are some reasons which create hurdles for machine embroidery with metallic thread.

  • Metallic threads are often thicker and stiffer than regular embroidery threads, which can cause tension issues when used in a machine.
  • If the tension is too tight, the metallic thread can break, while if it’s too loose, the stitches may appear uneven or loose.
  • Sometimes, metallic material in these threads makes them prone to breaking or shredding, causing them to catch on the machine’s parts and fray.
  • The stiffness of metallic threads presents a challenge as they pass through the machine, often leading to breakage or tangling during embroidery.
  • The speed at which the embroidery machine operates can affect the performance of metallic threads. Operating the machine too fast can cause the thread to tangle or break.
  • Needle size can also be a factor, as a smaller needle size may not be ideal for metallic threads as they may shred the metallic content or cause friction against the needle, resulting in thread breaking.

Therefore, machine embroidery with metallic threads requires attention to detail and patience, as well as the use of specialized metallic threads and adjustments to the machine’s settings.

Tips & Tricks for Machine Embroidery with Metallic Threads

To overcome the above issues while dealing machine embroidery with metallic threads, there are some tips that can be used, such as using a larger needle size, reducing the machine speed, adjusting the tension, or using a specialized metallic thread designed for machine embroidery. It is also recommended to test the thread and make adjustments before starting the actual embroidery project.

Always Use the Right Type of Machine Embroidery Needle for Metallic Threads

If you find the thread frequently breaking, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong machine embroidery needle or the needle is becoming dull. Because while working with machine embroidery with metallic threads, it’s essential to use the correct type of machine embroidery needle, specifically when embroidering at high speeds. When you embroider, the thread makes constant friction against the metal surface of the needle.

If the eye of the needle is too small, it may cause the thread to break or fray, making it difficult to embroider. So, it’s best to use a needle with a larger eye and also a wider groove. 

There are two types of needles that can be used in machine embroidery with metallic thread, a metallic needle specially created for working with metallic threads and a topstitching needle. The larger eye on both needles helps the thread to go through with less friction.

Metallic machine embroidery needles are specially designed to overcome problems with metallic threads. They have a polished eye that prevents friction and, helps the thread flow smoothly, and avoids shredding. The special front groove also helps to reduce thread breakage.

Apart from which type of needle you use, it’s essential to change it from time to time when working on machine embroidery with metallic thread. This will stop the needle from becoming dull and causing the thread to break.

Dull needles can develop scratches and burrs that can entrap and break the metallic filaments. Err on the side of caution because even the tiniest burr might cause issues.

Try to Embroider Slower with Metallic Threads

If your embroidery machine is much faster, you are more likely to experience thread-breaking or shredding problems. Thus, you are recommended to adjust your embroidery machine to stitch at a slower speed.

Even though the design takes longer to stitch out due to slower stitching, this is still far preferable to having to rethread every few minutes when threads break!

Slowing down the stitching speed not only reduces complications but also makes it easier to spot any mistakes and correct them before they affect your design.

Lower the Tension to Embroider with Metallic Thread

Adjust the upper thread tension of your embroidery machine. Because the metallic threads are so tiny, so excessive tension might easily cause them to break. Because of this, it’s important to work with a loose top tension when using metallic thread.
The thread could, however, loop on the bobbin side if the tension is too low, leaving an ugly mess. Once the stitches have formed equally on the top and bottom of the fabric, make the required changes. When embroidering with metallic thread, it’s important to loosen your machine’s tension for optimal results.
Instead of making significant adjustments right once, start small. You can consider how changing the tension affects thread feeding without performing a stitch-out by manually attempting to feed your thread through the machine after each adjustment.

Select Designs with Low Density

Use embroidery designs with low density, as low-density designs have fewer stitches in a given area, which makes it easier to complete machine embroidery with metallic threads.

Use embroidery digitizing software to decrease the number of stitches and the overall size of the embroidery design. This is an excellent option if you’re working with a design you love.

Try to stay away from embroidery designs with very dense stitching or stitch layers. Metallic threads can make embroidering these designs challenging, leading to a less-than-stellar final product.

Instead, seek designs with fewer layers and equally space the stitches out over the design. This will make it much simpler to stitch with metallic threads and produce an embroidery that looks cleaner.

Select the Right Fabric & Stabilizer When Using Metallic Thread

Choosing the wrong fabrics or embroidery stabilizer can also lead to frustration and wasted time. When machine embroidery with metallic thread, it’s important to always select a fabric with a smooth surface and minimum gap. This will prevent the metallic thread from slipping into the fabric.

A smooth fabric will make it easier for the metallic thread to pass through the embroidery machine, decreasing the chance that it will break. A nice alternative is quilting cotton, as well as silk, linen, or organza.

Avoid using materials with rough surfaces like corduroy or materials with naps like velvet because the silver thread may become tangled in the nap. Also, stay away from knit and stretchy woven textiles.

It is recommended to use a thin, tear-away stabilizer when stabilizing. This will support the delicate silver thread without being overly bulky.

Test Your Settings Before Starting Embroidering

One of the things you can do in advance to prevent troubles before starting any embroidery project is to verify the metallic thread, needle, fabric, and design combination. Also, testing your embroidery machine settings before starting a project is always the best way to make sure the best possible results. 

But it’s also not always possible. In that situation, you can set the machine using the tips above and start the project by making a few stitches and seeing if something needs adjusting. If you run into any problems, note what didn’t work and adjust accordingly for future projects.

Final Words:

With these tips in mind, you will achieve the best possible results while machine embroidery with metallic threads. Just take your time, use the correct settings, and use the proper supplies. With a bit of practice, you’ll be an expert at using metallic thread in no time.

If you are still experiencing metallic thread breaks even after implementing all of the above tips, it is recommended to check the thread path to ensure that there are no bits of thread stuck in there. Also, check the bobbin area for debris. Make sure to feel the spool’s caps to ensure that there aren’t any rough or sharp areas.

Finally, adjust the bobbin and top thread tension to achieve better results. Always keep your metallic threads away from extreme heat, light, and cold.