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You’re in a pinch and need to finish a sewing project.
However, you only have the specific color you need in your embroidery thread stash, not your sewing thread collection.
Can you use embroidery thread in a sewing machine? Yes, but not for all sewing tasks.
Read on to discover what projects you can sew with embroidery thread, what types of thread to choose, and how to troubleshoot!
Can you use embroidery thread in a sewing machine?
Yes, you can sew with embroidery thread in your regular sewing machine!
However, while machine embroidery thread is perfect for adding decorative stitches, quilting, or top stitching to projects, it’s not recommended for use in seams.
What about hand embroidery floss?
While not ideal, you can technically feed embroidery floss through a sewing machine.
But first, you have to separate one strand from the floss and hand wind it onto a bobbin or small spool to use as your top thread.
Since hand embroidery floss threads are so short, it’s pretty time-consuming to separate and then wind bobbins with such small amounts of thread.
Furthermore, a single embroidery floss thread is not nearly as strong as sewing thread, so it should not be used for seams either.
Embroidery Thread vs. Sewing Thread
Here’s how the two types of threads differ so you can understand the limitations of using embroidery thread in a sewing machine.
1. Fiber Composition
Embroidery thread is made most commonly of rayon or polyester.
Meanwhile, sewing thread is more likely to be cotton, polyester, or a combination of the two.
2. Strength and Durability
Compared to sewing thread, machine embroidery thread is designed to better withstand the higher stitching speeds required with machine embroidery.
However, it’s not manufactured to be as strong as sewing threads, so it shouldn’t be used for sewing seams or garment construction–unless you want to risk wardrobe malfunction at a high-stress garment seam!
3. Thread Characteristics
Embroidery thread is softer, smoother, and more lustrous than sewing thread, which is why it’s perfect for decorative applications.
And, since embroidery threads are designed to stitch designs composed of stitches, they are better than sewing threads at laying flat and providing coverage on fabric.
As such, you can also use them for free-motion embroidery on your sewing machine or when adding satin stitches to applique borders.
There are generally fewer sewing thread colors available in product lines than embroidery thread colors, and more fun specialty embroidery threads are available.
Both are available in similar weights, although sewing threads have more options in the very large thread weight ranges.
Types of Embroidery Thread You Can Use for Sewing
Embroidery thread comes in various weights, but the most popular are 30, 40, 60, and 90 weight thread.
Any of these can be used as the top thread on a sewing machine, although the thinner ones will be more difficult to work with.
Here are some of the best embroidery threads for your sewing machine.
1. Polyester Embroidery Thread
One of the most popular types, polyester embroidery thread has many lustrous colors available and is one of the stronger types of embroidery threads.
2. Rayon Embroidery Thread
Rayon used to be the preferred and most popular embroidery thread due to its even more gorgeous sheen.
However, it’s losing its popularity to polyester embroidery thread, which is less likely to fade or bleed when washed.
3. Cotton Embroidery Thread
Cotton embroidery thread is natural (rather than synthetic) and is most commonly used for machine embroidery in its 30-weight thickness.
Since it has a matte finish instead of the glossy sheen of polyester or rayon, it looks very similar to sewing machine thread.
In this case, I’d recommend just using sewing thread!
4. Specialty Embroidery Threads
Other types of embroidery threads that will work in a sewing machine include:
- Silk thread: expensive and challenging to find
- Metallic thread: super shiny and fun but difficult to work with
- Glow-in-the-dark thread: glows when the light turns out but only in various shades of yellowish-green
- Variegated threads: made specifically for an embroidery machine but provides a similar look to variegated sewing or quilting thread
- UV color-changing thread: changes colors in the sun
5. Embroidery Bobbin Thread
Embroidery bobbin thread is usually a higher weight (60wt or 9wt, depending on the machine brand) and thus thinner and more prone to breakage.
Again, while not the best solution, it’s still possible to run it through a regular sewing machine as the top thread.
Tips for Sewing with Machine Embroidery Thread
Choose an embroidery needle, like a Schmetz size 75/11 machine embroidery needle, for most machine embroidery threads.
Switch to a topstitching or metallic needle if stitching with metallic, glow-in-the-dark, or other specialty thread types. (Learn more about how to stitch with metallic thread.)
Depending on your bobbin thread, you may also need to adjust the tension.
Can you use sewing thread in an embroidery machine?
Using sewing thread in an embroidery machine is not recommended, as it can break during high-speed stitching and leave fuzz in your machine.
While you can, you really shouldn’t unless you are in an actual bind.
As you can see, it’s perfectly fine to use machine embroidery thread on a sewing machine, and it’s even encouraged if you’re trying to add decorative stitching.
Just follow a few simple rules, and don’t expect to use embroidery thread at seams with great results!