May '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 9 M A Y P R I N T W E A R 5 5 I f you ask 10 embroidery operators what the best machine embroidery thread is, it's entirely possible you'll get 10 differ- ent answers. Some answers will be based on price. Others will be based on lost pro- duction time due to thread breaks. A few an- swers will most likely be inspired by a large stock of a particular thread and the dread of converting colors to those that a switch to another thread would require. One or more people will champion a particular brand of thread because their machine simply 'likes' that brand and runs better than when its threaded with other brands. The determi- nation of what the 'best' brand of embroi- dery thread is depends on a lot of factors and can be complicated by things like the number of stitches in a design, the size of the design elements, the desired look of the finished piece, and the fabric or item onto which the design is being stitched. Decid- ing the best thread for any individual user is obviously an individual choice, but there are some qualities of a thread that should be examined before that choice is made. PICK YOUR POISON One thing to look at when deciding which thread is the best thread for your project is the fiber from which the thread is made. Here are some common fibers and their characteristics. Polyester: Polyester thread is rapidly re- placing rayon as the thread of choice for machine embroiderers. At one time it was less popular because it had less sheen than rayon, but since tri-lobal polyester thread has been introduced, that issue is no lon- ger valid. Tri-lobal polyester thread offers a sheen that rivals rayon while also providing increased colorfastness and durability. Rayon: Once the most popular choice for machine embroidery, rayon has begun to lose ground to polyester. Rayon was long known for its vibrant shine but cannot match polyester when it comes to durabil- ity and colorfastness. Some people choose to use rayon because it has been touted as a natural fiber, which isn't exactly the case. Rayon is made from viscose, which is wood pulp that has been chemically treated. So, while it technically has an element of na- ture, the addition of chemical treatment negates much of that designation. Cotton: Cotton is a natural fiber, which makes it popular for those who are con- cerned with eco-friendly embroidery. The problem with cotton is the threads are soft and can often be more fragile than more robust threads like polyester. However, cotton provides a matte finish, which is ideal for those who prefer less shine. Quilt- ing thread is often cotton, which has a decided popularity with the quilting com- munity, but is less commonly used in ma- chine embroidery. Thread Up GET TO KNOW THE ANATOMY OF EMBROIDERY THREAD K R I S T I N E S H R E V E

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