Sewing Machine Fun is reader-supported! If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Glow-in-the-dark thread is perfect when you want to embroider or sew something that’s going to be in the dark! For example, Halloween outfits, party outfits, pajamas, Christmas ornaments, sportswear, and even nighttime workout clothes.
You can use glow-in-the-dark thread when doing decorative stitching or quilting with a sewing machine. Or, you can load it into your embroidery machine to make fun, glowing designs!
If you’re wanting to stitch a sewing or embroidery project that glows and fluoresces neon, here’s more information about this fun thread type. I’ll also cover how to use glow-in-the-dark thread, which can be more finicky to sew with than regular thread!
Glow-in-the-Dark Thread Facts & Details
This really cool type of embroidery thread comes in a wide variety of colors and weights. The most common weights are 30wt and 40wt, and common colors include white, yellow, green, orange, blue, and pink.
And, most major brands of machine embroidery thread produce their own line of glow-in-the-dark thread. For instance, Coats & Clark, Simthread, Gutermann, Isacord, Mettler, Sulky, Wonderfil, Gunold, Madeira, and many more can be found online or at your local sewing shop.
Not all glow-in-the-dark threads are made equally, though. Different brands have different fiber materials and characteristics. Thus, they vary in everything from the intensity of luminescence to the shade of neon green they glow. And, not all machines love every brand of thread, glow-in-the-dark or not. So, you may need to try a few to find the one you like best.
While Coats & Clark is the best glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread I’ve tried on my machine (I’ve not tried more than a few brands, though!), the color selection is limited at our local JoAnn to white or yellow. I’ve now switched to using the Simthread glow-in-the-dark thread from Amazon. It’s significantly less expensive, has more color options, and with some machine adjustments, it stitches great.
How does glow-in-the-dark thread work?
When exposed to natural or artificial light, the chemicals in glow-in-the-dark thread “store” this light energy and then emit it once the lights dim.
To achieve maximum phosphorescence, first, activate the thread by placing it in sunlight or a well-lit room. For most thread brands, the intensity of the glow is related to the type and length of light exposure. So, longer times in the sunlight rather than shorter times in artificial light produce a longer-lasting and brighter glow.
After the lights are dimmed, the thread fluoresces for at least 10-15 minutes or even longer, depending on the brand. The intensity of the light emitted will wane over the next several hours until the thread is recharged with light.
If you have a black light, though, you can evoke a brighter, more continuous glow!
What colors do glow-in-the-dark threads actually glow?
One sad thing about these threads is that they all have similar greenish, glowing hues when the light’s turned off despite their daylight color differences.
In fact, the whitish, yellowish threads glow the brightest, and the threads that have color dyes added into them don’t glow nearly as bright. Because of the creative photography I had to do to get the above picture, they look fairly similar in intensity and slightly different in color. That’s not the case in reality.
How to Use Glow-in-the-Dark Thread
If you’re a pro with using metallic embroidery threads, you can treat glow-in-the-dark embroidery machine threads similarly.
While you might be able to run them through your machine with no problem and no adjustments, if you’re experiencing problems, here are some tips to help!
1. Consider a Thread Stand
If you’re having problems using a horizontal spool holder, try standing the thread up vertically on a thread stand for better feeding.
2. Use a Thread Net
If you’re standing your thread vertically to feed, the slippery thread has a tendency to fall and pool around the bottom of the spool as it’s coming off.
If it pools and gets stuck at the base, the thread then stretches, shreds, and breaks. Not good!
To prevent this from happening, place a simple thread net around the glow-in-the-dark thread to get more even feeding and prevent issues.
3. Best Needle for Glow-in-the-Dark Thread
If you’re using 30wt thread or are having problems with thread shredding, switch from an embroidery needle to a needle with a larger eye. I like to use topstitching needles in either size 80/12 or 90/14 depending on the fabric I’m embroidering.
4. Designs for Ideal Luminescence
Just remember, the larger number of stitches in an area of your fabric, the bolder the glow.
If you want max glow-in-the-dark properties, use a design with dense fill stitches or a thick satin stitch border for applique. A lightweight running stitch isn’t going to shine as well in the dark in comparison.
5. Compare the Thread Weight With Design Specs
Most embroidery designs are digitized with the thinner 40wt thread in mind. If you’re using a thicker, 30wt glow-in-the-dark thread, you may need to edit your design if you want to showcase small details.
6. Slow Down the Stitching Speed
If you experience thread shredding, breaking, or your needle becomes unthreaded, slow down the stitching speed on your embroidery machine.
7. Decrease Tension
Glow-in-the-dark threads may also benefit from decreased upper tension. Releasing the tension discs allows the thread to pass through more easily without catching.
Always test this first before you start messing with your machine settings, though!
Caring for Glow-in-the-Dark Thread
Many specialty threads are sensitive to high heat, so check with the manufacturer of your thread to know if you can press it or wash and dry it on high heat.
One good thing, though, is all glow-in-the-dark threads should be washable in cold water and last many, many washes. Avoid the bleach, though!
Fun Extra Embellishments
If you’re wanting to really make your embroidery pop, you can add other fun fluorescent embellishments to it. For instance, stitch on glow-in-the-dark fabric or add glow-in-the-dark heat-transfer vinyl or fabric paint.
I hope these tips for using glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread have gotten you pumped to start stitching new neon, fluorescent projects! Happy embroidering!