The World of Threads – Part 3

Synthetic Fibers

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21 thoughts on “The World of Threads – Part 3

  1. This month we continue our discussion by talking about the world of threads made from “synthetic fibers” – I’ve often heard them referred to as “specialty threads”. Let’s first discuss what we mean by a synthetic fiber – for embroidery threads, this is any fiber that is man-made (usually made from chemical compounds) vice those fibers made by animals or plants that is twisted or spun into a thread. Today there are all kinds of synthetic fibers being used in embroidery threads. There are also threads that are made from a blend of two or more synthetic fibers or made from a blend of both natural and synthetic fibers.

    Next, let’s discuss the various types of threads made from synthetic fibers. The most common synthetic fibers used are: nylon, polyester, acrylic, spandex (also known as Lycra), viscose (this is considered semi-synthetic since it is a manufactured fiber made from natural materials), and rayon (this is considered semi-synthetic since it consists of plant materials but requires chemicals for its production process). There are also threads made from a combination of synthetic fibers such as: rayon/metalized polyester, viscose/metalized polyester, nylon/polyester, rayon/polyester, nylon/viscose/polyester, In addition to these, there are several threads that use a combination of natural and synthetic fibers such as: wool/metalized polyester, cotton/wool/acrylic, silk/rayon/metalized polyester, rayon/cotton/polyester and wool/nylon blends. Please feel free to add any that I missed by replying here.

  2. I’m sure most of us have used at least one of these types and have some in our stashes.

    Please join the discussion and share, by replying here, the following about threads made from synthetic fibers and combinations:
    • Look at the threads in your stash – what synthetic fiber threads or combination threads do you have?

    • I was amazed at the percentage of my stash that fell in this category of threads. I realized that most of my “metallic” threads that are not Kreinik, actually fell in this category. The primary synthetic fibers are made from nylon, polyester, or combinations of fibers. Just to name some of my Rainbow Gallery threads – Flair, Very Velvet (regular & petite), Silk Lame Braid (regular & petite), Entice, Glisten, Frosty Rays and Rainbow Tweed. I also have Rachel from both Caron Collection and Needle Necessities.

    • In our combined stash, Mary Krueger and I have about 100 spools of Kreinik metallics and many, many of the Rainbow Gallery lines. In the last few projects of the Canvas Master Craftman Program, it was required that we use some “specialty threads,” so that requirement really increased our stash.

  3. Please join the discussion and share, by replying here, the following about threads made from synthetic fibers and combinations:
    • What are your favorite thread companies that provide these types of threads?

    • Hi, everyone,
      I realized after I looked at the list of fibers listed under each topic that I have been using a selection of then in my two latest projects this year. The first project used cotton, silk, wool- silk blends, braids and metallic ribbons. My current project uses all of those threads plus variegated and hand dyed threads, but also velvet ones. Those are interesting to work with.
      Sometimes I choose classes and projects because they use threads I haven’t worked with before.

    • Rainbow Gallery is definitely my “go to” company. That being said, I prefer the Kreinik metallics to Rainbow Gallery’s Treasure Braid. It seems easier to handle and doesn’t fray as quickly when you’re stitching with it. Also, Rainbow Gallery has the annoying habit of discontinuing thread lines.

  4. For our next challenge, related to these types of threads, let’s continue to use any of the 3 wonderful stitch samplers (cross, straight & diagonal) that Marilyn Owen shared at https://www.needlepoint.org/page/HUMs
    If you don’t want to use these, you can use any pattern (to include one already stitched) or just a doodle cloth.

    CHALLENGE: Explore the differences between using a thread made from one of the other synthetic fibers (nylon, rayon, polyester, acrylic or any of the blends identified above) and a thread made from one of the natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, bamboo, linen, etc) for the same set of stitches and share your “findings”. Here are some questions to help with your explorations.

  5. CHALLENGE QUESTION #1 – How did the look of cross stitches change between the synthetic and natural fiber threads? Did you see a difference between a thread made from a synthetic fiber and a thread made from a blend of natural and synthetic threads? Did you see a difference between a thread made from only one synthetic fiber (such as nylon or rayon) and one made from a combination of synthetic fibers (such as ones that add metalized polyester)? Did it change the texture? Did it change the appearance?

  6. CHALLENGE QUESTION #2 – How did the look of straight stitches change between the synthetic and natural fiber threads? Did you see a difference between a thread made from a synthetic fiber and a thread made from a blend of natural and synthetic threads? Did you see a difference between a thread made from only one synthetic fiber (such as nylon or rayon) and one made from a combination of synthetic fibers (such as ones that add metalized polyester)? Did it change the texture? Did it change the appearance?

  7. CHALLENGE QUESTION #3 – How did the look of diagonal stitches change between the synthetic and natural fiber threads? Did you see a difference between a thread made from a synthetic fiber and a thread made from a blend of natural and synthetic threads? Did you see a difference between a thread made from only one synthetic fiber (such as nylon or rayon) and one made from a combination of synthetic fibers (such as ones that add metalized polyester)? Did it change the texture? Did it change the appearance?

  8. CHALLENGE QUESTION #4 – Did you use the equivalent number of strands for the different threads? If not, did you need more or less to get the effect you wanted?

  9. CHALLENGE QUESTION #5 – Can you give an example of something you’ve stitched previously where you successfully substituted a synthetic thread (or combination thread) for a natural fiber thread? Would try that if you stitched it again?

    • I am more likely to choose specialty threads when I’m working on canvas as opposed to linen. I like the flexibility you have with the bigger holes.

  10. Check back frequently as we continue to explore other types of threads and discuss challenges encountered. Please let us know what threads you would like to explore by replying here!

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