Embroidery Thread Vs Sewing Thread: What’S The Difference?

Whether you’re an experienced embroiderer or just starting out, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is what type of thread to use. Should you use embroidery thread or regular sewing thread? While both can be used for basic hand sewing and embroidery, there are some key differences between the two that make each better suited for specific purposes.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: embroidery thread is usually made from rayon or cotton and has a high sheen, while regular sewing thread is made from polyester or cotton and has a matte finish.

Embroidery thread creates a smoother finish on the top of a project, while sewing thread tends to be stronger and more durable.

Construction and Materials

Embroidery Thread

Embroidery thread is specifically designed for decorative stitching and embroidery work. It is made from a variety of materials including cotton, rayon, silk, and polyester. The thread is typically tightly twisted, which gives it strength and durability.

This allows it to withstand the repeated motions and tension of embroidery machines or hand stitching without breaking or fraying. Embroidery thread is available in a wide range of colors and thicknesses, allowing for intricate and detailed designs.

Sewing Thread

Sewing thread, on the other hand, is primarily used for joining pieces of fabric together. It is made from materials such as cotton, polyester, nylon, or silk. Sewing thread is typically less tightly twisted than embroidery thread, which makes it more flexible and easier to work with when sewing garments or other fabric items.

It comes in a variety of weights, ranging from lightweight to heavy-duty, to accommodate different types of fabrics and sewing projects.

While both embroidery thread and sewing thread serve different purposes, they can sometimes be used interchangeably depending on the project. For example, if you are sewing a decorative button onto a garment, you can use embroidery thread to add a pop of color and detail.

However, it is generally recommended to use sewing thread for functional stitching such as seams and hems, as it provides the necessary strength and durability.

Strength and Durability

When it comes to choosing between embroidery thread and sewing thread, one of the most important factors to consider is their strength and durability. Both types of threads have their own unique characteristics that make them suitable for different purposes.

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength refers to the ability of a thread to withstand pulling or stretching without breaking. In this aspect, sewing thread tends to be stronger than embroidery thread. Sewing thread is typically made from multiple strands of fibers twisted together, which gives it a higher tensile strength.

This makes it ideal for stitching seams, hems, and other areas that require extra strength and stability. On the other hand, embroidery thread is usually made from a single strand of fiber, which may not be as strong as sewing thread.

However, it is important to note that the tensile strength can vary depending on the specific brand and quality of the thread.

Abrasion Resistance

Abrasion resistance refers to the ability of a thread to withstand friction and wear. In this aspect, sewing thread tends to be more resistant to abrasion than embroidery thread. Sewing thread is designed to withstand the constant movement of fabrics rubbing against each other, making it less likely to fray or break over time.

Embroidery thread, on the other hand, is not typically subjected to the same level of friction and wear as sewing thread, as it is mainly used for decorative stitching. However, it is still important to choose a high-quality embroidery thread that offers good abrasion resistance to ensure the longevity of your embroidery projects.

For more information on thread strength and durability, you can visit the website of the Textile Affairs, a renowned authority in the field of textiles and threads.

Texture and Finish

When it comes to embroidery and sewing, the texture and finish of the thread play a crucial role in achieving the desired outcome. Both embroidery thread and sewing thread are designed to serve different purposes, and understanding their texture and finish can help you make the right choice for your project.


One of the main differences between embroidery thread and sewing thread is the sheen they offer. Embroidery thread is typically made with a high sheen finish, which gives it a lustrous and shiny appearance.

This sheen is achieved through various techniques, such as using rayon or polyester fibers that are highly reflective. The glossy finish of embroidery thread adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to any embroidered design.

On the other hand, sewing thread is usually matte or dull in appearance, as it is designed to blend seamlessly with the fabric it is sewn on. This lack of sheen helps the sewing thread to be less noticeable and gives a professional finish to the garment or project.


The texture of the thread is another factor that sets embroidery thread apart from sewing thread. Embroidery thread is typically thicker and more textured compared to sewing thread. This texture allows the embroidery thread to stand out and create intricate designs on fabric.

The added thickness also provides more coverage, making the embroidery more vibrant and visible. Sewing thread, on the other hand, is finer and smoother in texture. The finer texture of sewing thread allows it to pass through the fabric easily and smoothly without causing any bulkiness.

This makes it ideal for seams, hems, and other sewing applications where a sleek and inconspicuous finish is desired.

Understanding the differences in texture and finish between embroidery thread and sewing thread is essential for choosing the right thread for your project. Whether you are looking for a shiny and standout embroidery or a seamless and hidden seam, knowing the characteristics of each type of thread will help you achieve the desired result.

Ease of Use

When it comes to ease of use, both embroidery thread and sewing thread have their own advantages and challenges. Let’s take a closer look at two common issues: tangling and knotting.


Embroidery thread is typically made of multiple strands of floss twisted together. This construction makes it more prone to tangling, especially if you are working with longer strands. However, there are techniques you can use to minimize tangling, such as using shorter strands and keeping them organized on a thread holder or bobbin.

Taking these precautions can help prevent frustration and save you time when working on your embroidery projects.

On the other hand, sewing thread is usually a single strand, which makes it less likely to tangle. This makes it easier to work with and reduces the chances of your thread getting knotted while you sew.

So if you prefer a thread that is less prone to tangling, sewing thread might be the better option for you.


Knots can be a common issue when working with any kind of thread, but they can be particularly frustrating when using embroidery thread. The multiple strands of floss can easily twist and tangle, resulting in knots that can be difficult to untangle without damaging the thread.

This is why it’s important to work with shorter strands and take your time when stitching to minimize the risk of knotting.

Sewing thread, being a single strand, is less prone to knotting. However, it’s still possible to encounter knots, especially if you are using a low-quality thread or if your sewing machine tension is not properly adjusted.

Regularly checking your sewing machine for any issues and using high-quality thread can help reduce the chances of knotting.

Remember, practice makes perfect! The more you work with both embroidery thread and sewing thread, the better you will become at avoiding tangling and knotting. So don’t get discouraged if you encounter these challenges in the beginning, with time and experience, you’ll be able to handle them more easily.


In summary, embroidery thread and sewing thread both have their advantages and disadvantages. Embroidery thread is shinier, smoother, and easier to work with, making it ideal for decorative stitching on top of fabric.

Sewing thread is stronger, more durable, and abrasion-resistant, making it a better choice for constructing garments, quilts, and other projects that need seams to withstand wear and tear. Consider the needs of your project, and test out thread samples before committing to one type or the other.

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