The World of Threads – Part 5

Rayon Fibers and Silk Ribbons

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18 thoughts on “The World of Threads – Part 5

  1. Silk ribbon embroidery is so beautiful that I took three different classes from our chapter. However, I hated it so much that I gave away all the threads to a co-worker.
    I have used silk threads in class pieces and found some to be easily snagged and tangled. Others handle like the cotton equivalents (eg. au ver a soie). I usually choose cotton threads for a kit because of the price difference.
    I enjoyed Brazilian embroidery in the 1980s and still have all my threads. The colors and feel of the threads was appealing and I liked the fact that I could machine-wash clothing with Brazilian embellishments. I like the new designs that include beads but I haven’t done a piece in several years.

  2. This month we continue our discussion by talking about the world of threads made from rayon fibers and silk ribbons. When I think of threads made from rayon fibers, I traditionally think of these only being used in Brazilian embroidery. When I think of silk ribbons, I traditionally think of these only being used in Silk Ribbon embroidery. Over the years, both of these types of threads are being used in more and more types of needlework to include needlepoint/counted canvaswork. In the past, there were very few companies that produced these types of threads because of their limited use. Today there are many companies (both small and large) that make these types of threads for many uses.

  3. I’m sure most of us have at least tried using one of these types of threads, either on our own, part of a class kit or purchased kit.

    Please join the discussion and share, by replying here:
    • Which of these types of threads have you tried and how were you introduced to them?

    • I was introduced to them in a class to learn ribbon embroidery. While I liked the look of the threads, I didn’t like stitching with them, and I didn’t like to do ribbon embroidery. Give me something counted every time! I think that sums up my contribution to this topic.

      • Sorry. I have to log in to WordPress because of my former connection as the chapter president and it does weird things…..

        Anyway. I was introduced to Brazilian embroidery when I was a regular attendee of my primary chapter, Silver Valley Stitchers, in northern Idaho. I HATE rayon threads, especially those used for Brazilian. Needless to say, I avoid those at all costs. Other blends that have rayon in them (some of the Rainbow Gallery threads) I can tolerate for short periods of time.

        As for ribbon embroidery, using silk ribbon, I discovered this form of embroidery at the same time and I love it. I love the 3D effects of it. The ribbon is a bit fussy to work with but a light iron usually makes it very usable.

        As for other forms of silk thread, it was love at first use for me. It is beautiful and luxurious and finishes so much differently than cottons. I do have to keep an emery board handy for my always rough hands but I still love working with silks.

    • No favorites on the rayon.

      YLI ribbon used to be the go-to for silk ribbon but I’m not even sure if it’s available any more. My absolute favorite for silk ribbon and silk threads, although their inventory and color choices are a bit limited due to the handmade nature of their manufacturing process, is Treenway Silks out of Denver. GORGEOUS stuff!!! Nice to work with their product and their owner, Susan!

      Also, of course, are Au Ver A Soie and Rainbow Gallery for good, reliable, quality silks, especially solid colors.

      I absolutely avoid Gloriana, if I can, as I have found it to not be very durable on larger projects. It shreds and comes apart. The colors are rich and beautiful, which makes me sad when I have to bypass it. If I have to use it, I order extra, as you have to use shorter lengths and go through more of it than “normal”.

  4. For our next challenge, related to these types of threads, find a pattern that illustrates the effects from using a multi-colored thread vs a solid thread. If you need some inspiration, try one or more of the following or other possibilities on our resources page (
    • One of the free Brazilian embroidery patterns at
    • One of the free patterns provided by Little Owl SmARTcrafts at
    • Free beginner pattern called SweetHeart from Cottage Quilts at
    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 effects created by the use of rayon and/or silk ribbon threads in techniques other than the traditional ones of Brazilian embroidery and Silk Ribbon embroidery and share your “findings”. Here are some questions to help with your explorations.

  5. CHALLENGE QUESTION #1 – What kind of pattern did you choose for your exploration (geometric, figure, ornament, landscape, etc)? Did you achieve the look you wanted? How did the addition of those threads change the texture and/or appearance?

  6. CHALLENGE QUESTION #5 – Have you found any drawbacks for using these types of threads? Would they stop you from considering using them in the future? If so, why?

  7. CHALLENGE QUESTION #6 – Is there a specific type of pattern or embroidery technique (other than the traditional types identified) where you are more like to use these types of threads? If so, what type?

  8. CHALLENGE QUESTION #7 – Did use of one of these types of threads influence your choice of ground cloth for your selected pattern or embroidery technique? If so, how?

  9. 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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