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 7 and where it is stored. Sunlight is a huge culprit as UV rays can cause thread color to fade and the thread fibers to dry out and become brittle. This won't happen with just a bit of exposure to sunlight, but if the thread is consistently exposed to sun over an extended period, colors will fade and the thread may become more prone to breaks. It is always best to store your thread in an area that avoids direct sunlight. Another potential issue that can often af- fect thread is dust. If your thread is stored near air vents or heating ducts, dust can collect on open spools or cones. Dust may not cause much of an issue for the thread itself as it won't fade colors or cause dry- ness, but it can wreak havoc with the workings of your machines. As the thread runs through the machine, the dust is left behind, clogging feeds and generally gum- ming up the works. In addition, storing thread near heating ducts can cause prob- lems as a constant feed of warm air can dry out the thread and cause it to become brittle on top of collecting a layer of dust. Ideally, thread should be stored in a closed bin or plastic tub, in a drawer, or in a clos- et. Many thread brands come with plastic coverings which help to keep the thread protected from things like dust when the thread is not in use. Thread should be kept in a room that has a proper level of humid- ity, too humid and the thread can become sticky or develop mold, not humid enough and the thread can become brittle. Machine embroidery thread should also be protected from direct sunlight, as discussed above. The more you do to protect your thread and store it in the proper conditions, the more likely it is that the thread will be us- able for a reasonable length of time. The main thing to remember when choosing an embroidery thread is that the best thread for you is the one that runs most efficiently and smoothly on your ma- chine. Quality threads are more likely to have consistent dye lots and superior col- orfastness and durability. Cheap threads do have more of a tendency to bleed, fade, and shred, which has the potential to cause issues. You should also consider the number of colors that you use on a regular basis. Some thread manufacturers or dis- tributors offer kits with a wide variety of colors. This may, on the surface, look like a good deal, but if you only use a limited number of colors, the rest of the thread will be left to sit, where it can dry out and fade. Having a wide array of color choices seems very appealing, but if you won't use those colors regularly, you're better off in- vesting in a larger supply of the few colors you use often. It is also wise to factor in lost production time due to thread breaks or any of the issues mentioned here. Any savings accrued by purchasing a less expen- sive thread can be lost if that thread doesn't run well and causes production stoppage. Time is money and any time the machine isn't running is lost money for your busi- ness. PW Kristine Shreve is the director of mar- keting for EnMart and parent company Ensign Emblem. She developed and writes the EnMart EmbroideryTalk Blog at blog. and the SubliStuff blog at She additionally maintains the EnMart Twitter feed ( and Facebook page ( Reach her by email at

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