Are you struggling with thread breaks on your embroidery machine when using metallic or polyester thread? Metallic thread has an appeal to it that can take your embroidery project from ordinary to extraordinary, but with this benefit often comes struggle. 

metallic ornament design

Metallic embroidery threads are often overlooked as the troublemakers of the thread family. Why? Because for most people, metallic threads constantly break when being used. But in our opinion, metallic thread is simply misunderstood.

Why Does Metallic & Polyester Embroidery Thread Break More?

The main reason why metallic threads constantly break is that it’s a synthetic thread type. This makes it stiffer especially compared to Rayon, which is noticeably softer to the touch. Polyester is also a synthetic thread, but it is not as stiff as Metallic.

As a result, the metallic thread isn’t as soft and malleable as other thread types and when twisted, it breaks easier. This is a problem because of how most multi-needle embroidery machines prop up the thread spools being used (vertically rather than horizontally). When a spool is resting upright on one of your embroidery machine’s pegs, the way that the thread comes off the spool naturally causes the thread to twist.

toilet paper unravel

To illustrate this point, think of a roll of toilet paper. If you were to take the toilet paper off while the roll was standing up vertically (the cardboard tube in the middle facing upward), the paper itself would wind up and become kinked. Similarly, as metallic thread continues to twist, it becomes more and more wound up, creating tension.

Now the real issue takes place when the thread hits the eye of the needle. On average, if you were to put a single dot on a piece of thread and run it on your embroidery machine, that dot would pass through the eye of a needle an average of 16 times before being sewn into a project! 

Given a large amount of tension already placed on the metallic thread from the constant twisting, the friction of passing through the eye of the needle many times adds fuel to the fire, which increases the chances of the thread breaking.

Interested in learning more about different types of machine embroidery threads and when to use them? Click here.

How Can I Prevent Metallic Thread From Breaking?

Thankfully there is a solution! Rather than having your thread come off the spool vertically, set up the spool horizontally. This will prevent the thread from twisting as it comes off the spool. 

toilet paper vertical

To illustrate this point, think about how toilet paper naturally comes off the roll when laid vertically (how it usually is). The paper comes off as it was put on without issue (now whether the toilet paper should be placed over or under is another debate altogether).

Setting up the spool horizontally can be accomplished in a few ways:

  • If you’re looking for something less DIY, the Thread Directors will give you a similar result.
  • If you want to create something DIY, create something to hold the spool horizontally (this can easily be done with a pencil and a plastic cup, watch the video below to find out more)

Here’s a short video showing you how to create your own horizontal spool holder:

One last tip: SLOW YOUR EMBROIDERY MACHINE’S SPEED DOWN. The faster your machine is running, the more tension you’re putting the thread under. I’d recommend between 300 – 400 stitches per minute for optimal results.

Embroidery Designs Using Metallic Thread

Metallic threads are used for their visual appeal as they enhance the look of your design. Although metallic threads are known to be a bit more problematic, metallic threads can be used on any embroidery design. However, metallic thread can be problematic with stitch-intensive designs as well as designs with short stitch lengths. 

Use stitch-friendly designs with your metallic threads to produce the best results with fewer problems. Check out our Embroidery Legacy Design Kit that includes 4 high-quality designs by clicking here, so you can try for yourself the difference quality embroidery designs make. Or, if you’ve already tried our designs, check out our almost 30,000 different embroidery designs that are soft to the touch and make your machine sing by clicking here.

Some metallic threads run better than others. As results can also vary regarding the brand of metallic used, be sure to use metallic threads on your embroidery designs that are “reputable” brands, as they tend to run better than “budget” brands. Machine brands and models also may prefer one brand over the next. Do your research depending on your specific machine to prevent the struggle with metallic thread.

DIY ITH Wine Charms Embroidery Project Using Metallic Thread

Try out our in-the-hoop DIY wine charms as a fun and great way to increase your creativity while embroidering since you now know solutions for achieving the best results using metallic threads.  

Apply your new knowledge with this project, and add a bit of sparkle to your next drink as a bonus! 

Check out our video tutorial below for instructions on how to create your own in-the-hoop wine charms. 

Conclusion: Start Using Metallic Thread Without The Struggle

Now that you know what the problem is when using metallic and ways around it, you should try using metallic thread again, this time without the headache! 

To apply our suggested techniques, try out our designs to see what a difference our designs make, click here to download your Free Embroidery Legacy Design Kit today. Or, click here to view our almost 30,000 stitch-friendly quality embroidery designs at Embroidery Legacy. We have something for everyone!

Let me know if you found this article helpful or if you have any questions below…

Happy stitching!