Dena Lenham, aka KreinikGirl, is Creative Director at Kreinik Manufacturing…
Good morning! Kreinik Calling here, with all the answers to life’s questions… Er, well, I wish. I’m sorry, I don’t have the answers to everything. However, I do have some suggestions for one little drama that often plagues stitchers when they are trying to relax by Netflix with their embroidery projects: thread breakage, specifically metallic thread breakage. Since Kreinik is known for making metallic threads for hand and machine embroidery, we get this question a lot from stitchers using any brand of metallic. So, let’s talk about solutions to the problem.
Caveat #1: I’m talking about hand embroidery here, not machine embroidery (we can cover that another time if you’re are interested). Caveat #2: not all metallic threads break. Kreinik Braids, for instance, are created when high-force, high-speed machinery wraps fiber strands all together in a braiding whirlwind. So they are pretty strong when used in hand embroidery. But some thinner metallic threads like the famous Blending Filament, may snap in the course of a cross stitch or needlepoint project. It’s like stitching with tinsel from a Christmas tree; due to the natural nature of the fine material, it’s just not going to hold up to tension, pulling, twisting, etc. Patience and gentleness are keys with this lovely thread, which produces unparalleled effects in embroidery. That is, when you want a subtle, whisper of a shimmer, Blending Filament is your tool.
The best advice comes from those who have successfully accomplished something, so here are top tips from stitchers all over the world, taken from the Kreinik Facebook page, regarding how to keep a metallic thread from breaking. The most important factors are: adjusting tension, using shorter lengths, and making sure you have the right needle.
- Shorter threads and larger eyed needle – don’t pull too tight and slow down — Bev F.
- Stitch slower, and use shorter threads. — Karen C.
- Use a larger needle so that the thread won’t get worn from rubbing on the ground fabric. — Beth V.
- Definitely use shorter lengths! — Anita C.
- Thread Heaven and short lengths. — Emily W.
- I always use shorter strands and I lightly wet it with a sponge and that helps a lot. — Anne K.
- Change your needle – your needle might have a burr in the eye that is wearing the metallic down and you might want to switch to a slightly larger needle – it’ll make the hole bigger as you pass the thread through the fabric, making it easier for the metallic to pass through the fabric. — Erica K.
- Use a wider eye needle this way there is no fraying as you pull it back and forth thru the fabric. — Denise S.
- I have found using short lengths of thread helps out a lot with the breakage. Instead of Thread Heaven (I have never used it so I have no opinion on it), I just used a damp cloth to dampen the thread and it works wonderfully for me. Also, after every couple of stitches I let my needle and thread untwist by holding my fabric upside down and letting the needle and thread dangle on its own and it untwists for me. — Dawn T.
- Short lengths, don’t pull through the fabric too tight, and maybe a needle with a slightly wider eye…Be gentle and patient with it. — Steff W.
- I use the Japanese needles with any of the metallic threads – the round eye helps with the fraying. Shorter lengths as previously said and keeping your fingers over the eye so the thread slips less. Then tension – then gentle but firm in your handling. — Robin B.
- Continually twist your needle with each stitch as you go, which will keep it from twisting then breaking. One of my teachers said this is a Japanese embroidery technique. So, for each stitch or two, twist the needle in your fingers a rotation. Then as you go, in between stitches, keep twisting as you pull it out. You will find your thread rarely breaks if you do this. — Mary M.
- Watch your tension – I’ve never had an issue with it breaking. Also use shorter lengths and Thread Heaven (thread conditioner). — Susanne C.
- Use much shorter lengths to prevent so many twists and the wear and tear on the thread as you sew which can cause it to get caught. — Katrina S.
- With the Blending Filament, I have found that using shorter lengths helps in keeping the filament strong. It means threading a needle a few more times, but the fewer passes through the fabric you make, the less tugging you are doing on the thread… — Carolyn M.
- Thread Heaven, short lengths and let the thread “untwist” almost every stitch. — Judy K.
- With Blending Filament, you can sometimes do all of the stitches without it and then just stitch the blending filament on top. Neat thing about that is that it really sparkles and it isn’t twisted with the other thread. — Christine F.
Dena Lenham, aka KreinikGirl, is Creative Director at Kreinik Manufacturing Company, a family-owned, USA-based business that manufactures high-quality yarns and threads made of metallics, silks and real metals from their West Virginia factory. Dena’s monthly column, Kreinik Calling, sheds light on the fascinating fibres that we all use and love.