The 5 Best Thread for Hand Embroidery – The Complete Guide

What comes to your mind when you hear the words hand embroidery? Probably a lot: maybe you think about the endless pieces your grandma used to make, or you picture little ‘paintings’, embroidered pieces of clothing, or household items, such as tea towels and napkins. The application of it is endless! 

But, other things may come to mind as well: possibly you are an embroidery-enthusiast yourself and you think about the different artworks you have already made, the types of thread to use, or what your next project will be.

Even though hand embroidery is a form of art and crafting that has been around for some time now, it doesn’t mean that it’s boring or outdated at all. On the contrary: it’s an upcoming craft! It is known to be a very soothing, meditative, and calming activity that requires you to be the utmost concentrated. It is a favorite of ourselves as well – and once again it is, a beautiful way of crafting to express your creativity, working with different types of embroidery threads, stitches, and colors.

But where to start? How about we kick-off with the component that allows you to personalize your artwork down to the last detail: the thread. Read on below for our complete guide on the best embroidery thread for hand embroidery. We’ve done our best to give you a helping hand by listing our favorite embroidery threads, a guide on how and where to buy them, the different types of threads, and we have answered all your questions about hand embroidery.

Are you ready? Let’s go!


Top Rated: The Best Hand Embroidery Thread

Embroidery threads come in all different shapes, sizes, and weights. Below, you will find the perfect type of thread for each type of embroidery, level of experience, and budget.

#1: Overall Best Choice: DMC Embroidery Floss Pack – 36 Assorted Popular Colors

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Founded in France in 1746 – DMC is a brand that has been around for quite some time, and the great quality is due to that. This beautiful pack of hand embroidery floss comes in 36 different colors, the most popular ones according to DMC, including black and white. The skeins have a beautiful sheen and texture and can be stranded if preferred. The cotton embroidery floss is easy to work with for different projects, and doesn’t fade or bleed color.

And, to top it off, DMC added two cross stitch designs and a selection of embroidery needles. Oh, how we love some extra goodies!

Specs:

Brand: DMC France

Amount of skeins: 38

Color: Varied

Material: 100% Long-staple cotton fiber, double mercerized

Length: per skein: 8 meters / 8.7 yards 

Pros:

  • Trusted and promised quality by DMC
  • Comes in a total of 38 different, vibrant colors
  • Mercerized cotton for an extra shiny feel
  • Great value for money deal
  • The embroidery threads are easy to strand to play with weight

Cons: Believe it or not – but the ages-long experience of DMC is probably the reason that we couldn’t find any!


#2: Best Budget Buy: Mira Handcraft Premium Rainbow Color Embroidery Floss – Cross Stitch Threads

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Of course, we always make sure to include a worthy budget option to the list. And worthy is in this case worthy: Mira Handcraft brings us a beautiful collection of vibrant colors, in no less than 105 skeins of embroidery thread, perfect for hand embroidery. The quality is 100% cotton, the threads are durable and comprise 6 strands, and the thread kit comes with a simple sewing kit. Even though the thread isn’t as shiny as mercerized qualities usually are, the colors are vivid! 

All in all, a great option for smaller budgets.

Specs:

Brand: Mira Handcraft

Amount of skeins: 105

Color: Varied 

Material: 100% Cotton 

Length: per skein: 8 meters / 8.75 yards 

Pros:

  • The 105 skeins come in 35 different colors – meaning that you’ll never run out
  • A perfect wallet-friendly alternative for the DMC assortment
  • Comes with a DMC color card
  • The color doesn’t bleed
  • The embroidery threads are easy to strand

Cons: 

  • The thread seems to tangle easily, and hard to untangle
  • It has less sheen to it than other stranded cotton embroidery threads

#3: Best Choice for Overdyed Embroidery Threads: DMC Variegated Embroidery Floss, Assorted 36-Pack Thread

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If you are looking for a little bit more depth and color in your embroidery works, DMC serves you exactly what you need, again. We knew that DMC makes quality products, and they prove that once again with these new variegated color skeins. The thread is easily stranded and each color has two skeins of them. Nothing more, nothing less: great quality, and vivid, bright colors from a great brand. 

Specs:

Brand: DMC France

Amount of skeins: 36

Color: Varied 

Material: 100% Cotton Fiber, 6 strand

Length: per skein: 8 meters / 8.7 yards 

Pros:

  • Great for beginners in hand embroidery, and other art projects
  • Contains two skeins of each color 
  • Trusted DMC quality
  • Suitable for cross stitching
  • Great value for money choice, once again

Cons: 

  • The name on the package matches the item name, but not the picture or color description online

#4: Best on Complete, Varied Kit: Atteret’s Embroidery Floss Kit – 108 6-Strand Colors

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We love a little glitter and dazzle. Another thing we really like is organizing. Bring that together and you get this beautiful kit by Atteret. Packed with 108 skeins of both colored and metallic threads, this kit has it all. The threads are once again made out of 100% high quality mercerized cotton which gives them a fresh, shiny, and super soft look and feel. 

Not only is the organizer itself a feast for the eye, the fact that the thread is each wrapped around their own plastic bobbin to keep them knot-free is a big bonus as well! 

Specs:

Brand: Atteret

Amount of skeins: 108: 99 cotton + 9 metallics

Color: Varied 

Material: 100% Cotton Fiber, 6 strand

Length: per skein: 8 meters / 8.7 yards 

Pros:

  • The color doesn’t bleed
  • Great for beginners in hand embroidery
  • Comes with a DMC color card
  • Easy to store away in the supplied portable kit 
  • Makes a great gift as well 

Cons: 

  • The quality of the box and bobbins seem to be a bit flimsy 
  • Unfortunately, the bobbins don’t seem to have a slot to slide the thread into after use

#5: Winner on Widest Color Range: LOVIMAG Premium Rainbow Color Embroidery Floss with Cotton

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When color is your thing, don’t search any further. Lovimag brings us this beautiful rainbow color scheme, consisting of 447 skeins of 8.7 yards each, in high-quality cotton. Also, this thread is easy to strand, as it is a 6-strand thread. For extra firmness, each strand is formed by two thinner thread intertwined. This structure makes the embroidery thread more firm and less likely to break. Next to all this, the price makes it a great value for money buy! 

Specs:

Brand: LOVIMAG

Amount of skeins: 447

Color: Varied 

Material: 100% Cotton Fiber, 6 strand

Length: per skein: 8 meters / 8.7 yards 

Pros:

  • Greatest variety in colors we’ve seen so far
  • Great for beginners in embroidery
  • Easy to use, to strand and untangle
  • Makes a great gift as well
  • Each floss has its own label to keep them apart

Cons: 

  • The packaging isn’t of the best quality 
  • Unfortunately, the kit may contain a few doubles in color 

Our Favorite and Top Choice: DMC Embroidery Floss Pack – 36 Assorted Popular Colors

Based on the above reviews of different types of yarn, we couldn’t help but list a connoisseur like DMC as number one. The quality is worldwide known and it never disappoints! The 6-strand cotton strings have a superior luster that no other brand will ever be able to beat. The big plus to this embroidery thread kit is by far the fact that it comes with a couple of needles to get you started. With this set, DMC serves both the beginning hand embroiderer as the professional, experienced one.


The Buyers’ Guide

The 10 different types of thread

Before you start with this beautiful art medium, of course, it is convenient to know what type of thread you will exactly need. Many different types will suit a variety of desired results. Read on below for the variation of thread types!

#1: Stranded Embroidery Cotton (Embroidery Floss)

Probably the most common one, widely sold by DMC, and also well known as embroidery floss in the US. This thread consists of 6 strands, which allows you to choose the weight of the thread, and how delicate you want your work to be – by stranding it yourself.

#2: Pearl Cotton (or: perle)

Pearl cotton is a type of thread that is not meant to be stranded, as it consists of two very small treads braided together (do not separate them!). This type of thread is available in a wide range of thickness and allows you to give your work more texture.

#3: Metallic Threads

To add a little glitter, a metallic thread is mostly used in hand embroidery to add details to projects. It is somewhat harder to work with as the strands are a little harder to work with: they can tangle and fray more easily than embroidery floss, for example.

#4: Silk Threads

As we all know that silk is a more expensive fabric, the same goes, of course, up for silk threads as well, when comparing them to other types of embroidery thread. It does give an amazing result, thanks to the sheen and the beautiful shades of colors. Silk is a good option when embroidering more finer work, with low weight strands.

#5: Satin Threads

Just like silk, satin has an astonishing shiny look and feel to it. It is a more budget-friendly option with almost the same features. Needless to say, satin may fray more easily when comparing it to silk. 

#6: Floche

Floche thread is made out of cotton, but they do have a mercerized finish. Hence the sheen on the yarn! This yarn is made out of high-quality cotton and non divisible. A great option for a more luxurious look.

#7: Overdyed Threads

Overdyed threads are great when you are looking for something extra. Overdyed means, in this case, that the strands are dyed in different shades of colors, leaving them with an extra colorful effect. This type of thread is often made out of cotton.

#8: Rayon Threads

Rayon is placed in the same category as satin, a shiny, lustrous thread but priced very wallet-friendly. Also available in a great, wide range of colors, but – more likely to tangle or fray, such as satin. A good solution to that can be to use a fabric conditioner or to slightly damp the thread before you start embroidering.

#9: Wool Threads

An option more suitable for more structured embroidery works, wool is also suitable to do hand embroidery with. Often used are natural wools, or acrylic alternatives.

#10: Ribbons

Not officially qualified to be called a thread, ribbons did make it onto the list. Ribbons are widely used in embroidery and are often made out of cotton, synthetics, or silk. They are also available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and thicknesses.


All your questions answered on the best thread for hand embroidery

Can I use regular thread for hand embroidery?

As much as we do not suggest you to do so, the answer is yes – you can use regular thread to do hand embroidery projects. The only thing to mind is (and why we don’t recommend it), that embroidery floss is often from a thicker quality. To create the same result using regular thread, you will probably need more strands to get the same result – and thus, it will take more time.

What is the best needle for hand embroidery?

This depends on the type of thread you wish to use for your projects, and of course personal preference: what works most comfortable for you? As there are different types of needles available, in all different sizes as well, it is key to first find out what thread you use – as the fabric needs to fit through the eye! 

Other than that, a key tip: make sure that the hole you create by pushing the needle through, is big enough, but it doesn’t leave any open space behind. This way, you will avoid threads that are not embroidered tight enough and will eventually move.

How many strands of thread should I use for embroidery?

Also, this depends on your desired result. But, the more yarn strands you use, the less time you need to finish a project. It will also look more dimensional and thick when you work with more strands. In counter to that, the fewer strands, the more fine and flat your embroidery is. And of course, with fewer strands, it will take up a little more time to finish your craft.

Is embroidery thread thicker than regular thread?

Yes, it is. What differs embroidery thread from the regular thread as well, is that embroidery thread often has a sheen finish, or ‘something special’ to it – where a regular thread is mostly matte.

What do you need for hand embroidery?

To start, there are a few basic items you will need which will ease out the process for you. We recommend you to start with the following:

  • A fabric to embroider on, linen for example.
  • Embroidery floss, of course!
  • An embroidery hoop, that will straighten the fabric you will embroider on. Wooden or plastic material will do.
  • Needles, our advice is to buy a pack of a variety of sizes, so you can find out by trying what size works best for you.
  • Scissors: make sure they are sharp, so they won’t fray the threads when cutting
  • A water-soluble pen, to trace out the design/pattern.

What cloth should I use for embroidery?

The most accessible fabric would be linen, with a lower amount of threads. This means that the material isn’t too dense, so you can easily go through with a needle. In this case, linen is a great fabric to start with. Other options would be cotton, rayon, or other even-weave fabrics.

Can you use silk thread for hand embroidery?

Yes, silk is a good option for hand embroidery, although it is more expensive than embroidery floss, for example.


Final words

Hand embroidery is a very calming, and meditative medium to combine a passion for sewing and art. It is an accessible hobby, for both experienced or beginners. Hopefully, we have made it easier for you to find the best embroidery thread for hand embroidery. Happy embroidering! Have you tried hand or machine embroidery yet? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and questions below!

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