Using Threads For Special Effects

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Threads for needlework and embroidery aren’t just for color, they can also be used for special effects. Today, you can stitch with reflective thread or conductive thread, for instance. You can add an extra dimension, another layer of uniqueness, the element of surprise, or maybe just some humor to any project by using threads designed for special effects. If you don’t want to experiment with LEDs and wires yet, try something old-school: glow-in-the-dark threads. I have seen people from ages 3 to 90-something “ooh” and “aah” over an item that glows in the dark. We have glowsticks, necklaces, bracelets, costumes, nail polish…Amazon even sells glow-in-the-dark toilet paper…not to mention fireflies, ostracods, millipedes, anglerfish, pygmy sharks, and certain squid that naturally luminesce. So it’s just human nature, and nature-nature, to go for the glow.
This gives you a glimpse of the fun you can have with a glow-in-the-dark thread in your cross stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, quilting, crafts, and any kind of fiber art project. You can use these threads in any stitch.
This gives you a glimpse of the fun you can have with a glow-in-the-dark thread in your cross stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, quilting, crafts, and any kind of fiber art project. You can use these threads in any stitch.
Here are four ideas for using glow-in-the-dark threads in your embroidery: 1. To replicate items that naturally glow (or reflect light) in real life: the moon, fireflies, stars, a street lamp, candle flame, cat’s eyes, ghost riders, a halo, lights on a robot, lightening, radioactive skeletons, spider web, jelly fish, etc. You get the idea. If it naturally glows and you are stitching a replica of it, you need to use glow-in-the-dark threads.
Use glow-in-the-dark threads to replicate motifs that naturally glow or light up in real life.
Use glow-in-the-dark threads to recreate anything in nature that has light, such as a street lamp, fireball/asteroid/comet, or the windows of a church on Christmas Eve. Kreinik threads used in these projects, which are free pattern downloads on
Fireflies glow in the summer night, so they should definitely glow in your stitchery.
Fireflies glow in the summer night, so they should definitely glow in your stitchery. Kreinik Braid in two glow-in-the-dark colors were used in Smyrna Cross and Backstitch to light up these bugs.
2. For Halloween. This goes without saying. Can you take a stitched ghost seriously if it doesn’t glow? Is it truly creep-tacular if a stitched bat doesn’t have beaming eyes? How boring if a stitched haunted house doesn’t have glowing orbs or spider webs in the windows. Halloween themes are meant to be fun and creative. This is the most obvious time to glow if there ever was one. You can easily slip an extra layer of fun into Halloween designs by using glow-in-the-dark threads.
You can do shading with glow-in-the-dark threads, but that may disappear somewhat when the lights go out.
The limitation of glow-in-the-dark thread is that most colors will glow the same shade, so you don’t get a lot of variation once the light goes out. However, as in this cross stitched ghost, you can do shading that is appropriate for daylight. Pale green and ‘grapefruit’ white Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid were used in this design, a freebie on the Kreinik website.
Haunted houses get another layer of fun with the addition of glow-in-the-dark threads for cross stitching and backstitching. (Kreinik brand used here)
These stitched haunted houses have an added layer of visual interest thanks to glow-in-the-dark threads. Thinner threads like Blending Filament can be worked in backstitch on top of a stitched area. Side note: Kreinik even makes glow-in-the-dark iron-on threads, which are used to decorate the matboard around the house on the right.
3. For a joke. Just think of the fun you can have stitching surprises into designs with a thread that doesn’t show up until it’s dark. (Side note: This is where I recommend Kreinik 052F Grapefruit, a neutral white/yellow/beige that seems to blend into anything. Choose this color in different thread weights—ie, Filament, Fine Braid, Medium Braid, Ribbon—depending on your stitch technique and ground material.) We once heard about a quilt made for a teenager; the design was traditional, but the quilter (her mom) used glow-in-the-dark threads to quilt messages and designs.  As you can imagine, it was a hit among all ages. One of my favorite projects is a stitched spider web, with glow-in-the-dark thread (052F) creating a message throughout the labyrinth of lines. One wife spooked her husband when her newly finished cross-stitch moon glowed as he got up in the night. You get the idea; sneak a hidden layer into your designs with the thread.
A moon is a "natural" place to use a glow-in-the-dark thread.
Moons were made to reflect light, so they are perfect motifs for stitching in a glow-in-the-dark threads, but also think of this: write a message in the sky (or put a face on the moon) using these threads. Tip: Use Blending Filament for the lightest touch, adding a strand on top of the moon and clouds where you want the glow. Use a heavier Braid for a bolder glow.
4. To impress your friends. “Ooh I want to see” has been heard more times that you can imagine at the Kreinik offices. When a glow-in-the-dark project came back from the stitcher, we converged in the darkest room, the bathroom, to await the surprise. Many visitors got to see some pretty cool stuff in that bathroom…well, you know what I mean. Everyone wants to see a glow-in-the-dark project, and then they all want to know “How did you do that?” Your secret is safe with us and the tribe of needleworkers: glow-in-the-dark threads.
A little double-sided tape and Kreinik glow-in-the-dark 1/8" Ribbon makes this pumpkin last longer than the usual carved version.
A little double-sided tape and Kreinik glow-in-the-dark 1/8″ Ribbon makes this pumpkin last longer than the usual carved version. No need for candle lights; just use a black light or ultraviolet light to bring the image to life.
So whether you are stitching Halloween projects this month, or working on Christmas ornaments (think stars, moon, streetlamp, candle), work some glow-in-the-dark threads into the mix. They’re just plain fun and you will surprise everyone. Sources and side notes: Kreinik glow-in-the-dark thread colors carry an “F” (for fluorescent) next to the color number. So look for 052F, 053F, 054F etc in any of the metallic thread sizes here: Here is a video showing the threads in action: Many of these free Halloween cross stitch patterns also use glow-in-the-dark threads:
Set up a black light or ultraviolet light for a longer glow life.
Kreinik glow-in-the-dark threads shine for about 15 minutes after they have been exposed to light. Want a longer glow? Just set up a black light or ultraviolet light near your stitchery.
Sublime Stitching also carries a selection of glow-in-the-dark threads for embroidery; see with project idea
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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.

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