Can You Embroider With Sewing Thread? Everything You Need To Know

Embroidery is a fun and rewarding hobby that allows you to decorate fabric with decorative stitches. If you’re new to embroidery, one of the first questions you might have is what type of thread you need. Can you use regular sewing thread for embroidery or do you need special embroidery thread?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, you can embroider with regular all-purpose sewing thread. While embroidery thread has benefits, sewing thread works perfectly fine for some embroidery projects, especially when you’re just starting out.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using regular sewing thread for embroidery. We’ll compare sewing thread to embroidery thread, discuss when it’s appropriate to use regular thread, provide tips for successful embroidery with sewing thread, and recommend our top thread picks for both sewing and embroidery.

The Difference Between Sewing Thread and Embroidery Thread

Fiber Content

Sewing thread and embroidery thread differ in terms of fiber content. Sewing threads are commonly made from polyester, cotton, or a blend of both. These threads are designed to be strong and durable, able to withstand the stress of sewing machine stitches and everyday wear and tear.

On the other hand, embroidery thread is usually made from rayon, silk, or metallic fibers. These threads are specifically engineered to create intricate designs and add decorative elements to garments or fabric.


The ply, or the number of strands twisted together to make the thread, is another key difference between sewing thread and embroidery thread. Sewing threads typically have a higher ply count, ranging from two to four strands twisted together.

This gives them the necessary strength and stability for sewing purposes. In contrast, embroidery threads usually have a lower ply count, with single strands or two strands twisted together. The lower ply count allows for more flexibility and better coverage when creating detailed designs or intricate patterns.


The sheen or shine of the thread is another factor that sets sewing thread and embroidery thread apart. Sewing threads are often designed to be more matte or dull in appearance, blending seamlessly with the fabric they are sewn onto. This lack of shine helps the stitches to be less noticeable.

Embroidery threads, on the other hand, are known for their lustrous and reflective qualities. The sheen of embroidery thread enhances the visual impact of the designs, making them stand out and catch the eye.

When Is It Okay to Use Regular Sewing Thread for Embroidery?

Embroidery is a beautiful and intricate craft that allows individuals to add unique designs and patterns to fabric. While embroidery thread is typically used for this purpose, there may be times when regular sewing thread can be used as a substitute.

Here are some scenarios where it is okay to use regular sewing thread for embroidery:

1. Simple Designs:

If you are working on a project with simple designs and patterns, regular sewing thread can often suffice. These designs may not require the thickness or specialized characteristics of embroidery thread, making sewing thread a suitable alternative.

However, keep in mind that the final result may not be as vibrant or textured as it would be with embroidery thread.

2. Small Embroidery Areas:

When working on small embroidery areas, such as tiny details or delicate embellishments, regular sewing thread can be a practical choice. The thinner thread can easily navigate through tight spaces and create precise stitches.

Additionally, using sewing thread for small areas can help maintain consistency with the rest of the embroidery project.

3. Practice Projects:

If you are just starting out with embroidery or want to practice your skills, using regular sewing thread can be a cost-effective option. It allows you to experiment with different stitches, techniques, and designs without the need to invest in specialized embroidery thread.

This way, you can gain confidence and improve your embroidery skills before delving into more complex projects.

4. Temporary Embroidery:

In some cases, you may need to create temporary embroidery for a specific purpose, such as marking fabric for alterations or creating temporary decorative elements. Regular sewing thread can fulfill this need without the need for specialized embroidery thread.

However, it is important to note that regular sewing thread may not be as durable or long-lasting as embroidery thread.

While regular sewing thread can be used for embroidery in certain situations, it is important to consider the limitations and potential drawbacks. Embroidery thread is specifically designed for this craft, offering a wide range of colors, textures, and thicknesses that can enhance the beauty and durability of your embroidery work.

Therefore, for more intricate designs, larger projects, or long-lasting embroidery, it is recommended to use embroidery thread for the best results.

For more information on embroidery techniques and materials, you can visit websites like The Spruce Crafts or Needle ‘n Thread.

Tips for Embroidering Successfully with Sewing Thread

Use a Sharp Needle

When embroidering with sewing thread, it is important to use a sharp needle. A dull needle can cause the thread to snag or break, resulting in uneven stitches and frustration. A sharp needle will glide through the fabric smoothly, ensuring clean and precise embroidery.

If you’re unsure about which needle to use, refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations or consult a sewing expert.

Keep Your Stitches Small

Embroidering with sewing thread requires attention to detail. To achieve a professional-looking result, it’s best to keep your stitches small. This allows for more control and precision, resulting in neat and tidy embroidery.

Small stitches also help prevent the thread from tangling or getting caught on the fabric, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free stitching process.

Use Stabilizer

Using stabilizer is crucial when embroidering with sewing thread, especially on delicate or stretchy fabrics. Stabilizer provides support and stability to the fabric, preventing it from puckering or stretching during the embroidery process.

There are different types of stabilizer available, such as tear-away, cut-away, and water-soluble. Choose the appropriate stabilizer based on the fabric and design you’re working with.

Match Your Thread Weight to Fabric

Matching the thread weight to the fabric is essential for successful embroidery. Thicker fabrics require heavier threads, while lighter fabrics need lighter threads. Using the wrong thread weight can result in uneven stitches, thread breakage, or even damage to the fabric.

Refer to the thread manufacturer’s recommendations or consult a sewing guide to ensure you’re using the correct thread weight for your chosen fabric.

Embroidering with sewing thread can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience when done correctly. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating beautiful and professional-looking embroidery projects. Happy stitching!

Our Recommended Sewing and Embroidery Threads

Best All-Purpose Sewing Threads

When it comes to all-purpose sewing threads, there are a few brands that have consistently proven to be reliable and versatile. One of our top recommendations is Gutermann Sew-All Thread. This thread is known for its high quality and durability, making it suitable for a wide range of sewing projects.

It is available in a variety of colors and has a smooth finish, which helps reduce fraying and breakage. Another excellent option is Cotton + Steel Thread by Sulky. This thread is made from 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton, giving it strength and a soft feel.

It is perfect for both machine and hand sewing, and is available in a wide range of vibrant colors.

Best Embroidery Threads

When it comes to embroidery threads, there are several options that are highly recommended by professionals and enthusiasts alike. One of the top choices is Madeira Rayon Embroidery Thread. This thread is known for its high sheen and vibrant colors, making it perfect for adding that extra pop to your embroidery projects.

It is made from 100% viscose rayon, which gives it a silky smooth texture. Another popular option is Brother Embroidery Thread. This thread is made specifically for Brother embroidery machines, ensuring compatibility and optimal performance.

It is available in a wide range of colors and is known for its strength and durability.

For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, Sewing with Bobbin Thread is a great choice. This thread is typically used in the bobbin of the sewing machine, while a stronger thread is used on the top.

It is thinner and lighter, making it ideal for lightweight fabrics and delicate embroidery work. While it may not have the same strength as other embroidery threads, it is a cost-effective option for those who are just starting out or working on smaller projects.

Remember, the choice of sewing and embroidery threads ultimately depends on the specific project and personal preference. It is always a good idea to test different threads and see which ones work best for you.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with your thread choices – after all, embroidery is all about creativity and expression!


While specialized embroidery thread has some advantages, you can absolutely embroider successfully using regular all-purpose sewing thread. With sharp needles, small stitches, stabilizer, and by matching thread weight to fabric, sewing thread can work for most embroidery projects.

Don’t let lack of embroidery thread stop you from stitching! Start embroidering with sewing thread today.

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