How To Thread An Embroidery Needle

Embroidery is a beautiful form of art. It is an elaborate process and calls for patience and perseverance on your part. You have to pay attention to every small detail in order to achieve a beautiful end result. It’s a fact that how you thread your embroidery needle goes a long way in deciding the perfection of your design.

How To Thread An Embroidery Needle

How To Thread An Embroidery Needle

Embroidery needles are threaded a few different ways to achieve certain end results. Each method has its own set of pros and cons. According to experts, how you thread your needle, decides how smoothly you are going to finish your project.

Threading an embroidery needle is not the most amazing part of the embroidery process but it definitely makes embroidering easier and shows finesse in your finished pieces.

How to Thread a Needle for Hand Embroidery

Let’s start by understanding how to thread an embroidery needle for hand embroidery. There are two main methods that can help you hand embroider with ease. Pick one of the following methods based on the details of your project and personal preference. 

  • Simple, Old Fashioned Way

This is the oldest method of threading in both embroidery and sewing. It is also known as fold-over method. In this method, you have to thread your needle and then leave a small amount of floss dangling over the side. What about the knot? Well, it will go on the longer end of the floss. 

This method of threading the floss is best for beginners because it allows an easier undo option. In this threading method, you do not have to snip the floss to remove a stitch. You just have to remove the hanging end of the floss from the needle and pull out your stitches. 

Once you have undone the mistake, you can re-thread the floss and start embroidering. The biggest disadvantage attached to this method is that it punctures a big hole in the fabric. The needle surrounded by two strands of thick floss is enough to make visible holes in your base material. 

  • Split Floss Method

In this method, the six-strand floss is divided into two parts of three strands. Next step is to cut the floss at a certain length and then get ready to thread the needle with the three strands. Pull the threaded part till the other end and then tie a knot tying both the three strand sections together. 

In this method, your floss gets halved in thickness and makes smaller holes in the fabric. Furthermore, in this method, the floss and the needle stay attached to the fabric which is good for transport on the fabric. Varying your floss strands gives you the freedom to experiment with your design. You can always use a smaller number of strands for narrow and more detailed embroidery work. 

The disadvantage of this method is obvious; you will have to snip the floss every time you make a mistake with your stitch. You will add a knot to your project every time you make a mistake and have to restart the project. 

Types of Embroidery Threads for Hand Embroidery

Embroidery Threads for Hand Embroidery

There are different types of embroidery threads for different styles of embroidery. The thread is usually chosen for ease of use, beauty of the stitch and the amount of space available on the fabric. Here is a list of popular embroidery threads/floss used for hand embroidery.

  • Standard Embroidery Cotton

Standard embroidery cotton is also known as embroidery floss. This is the most common floss used for embroidery work. It has six strands throughout the pack and you can thread it whole or separate a few threads based on the effect you want. Embroidery floss is available in different fibers like cotton, silk and rayon.

  • Pearl Cotton

Also known as perle cotton, is a single strand made by twisting two strands. It is a heavier thread as compared to a single strand of standard cotton thread. This thread is ideal for cross stitch, redwork and hardanger embroidery. 

  • Rayon Floss

Rayon Floss

Rayon brings with it bright colors and a silk like sheen. It is the shiniest floss available for hand embroidery but it is complicated to use because it knots and tangles easily. Experts say that you should cut this floss in short lengths to avoid the tangling problem. You can also wet the thread to avoid this problem. 

  • Metallic Thread

The metallic thread is used to highlight other embroideries or they can work as gold work on fabrics. These threads offer brilliance and beauty to a design but they tend to fray easily and also tangle and tarnish. If you use this thread on a fabric, you should not wash that fabric. 

  • Fine Natural Wool

Fine natural wool is used in wool embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint and tapestry work. One strand of this thread is as thick as two strands of embroidery floss thread. It is ideal for places where you need some texture. 

  • Tapestry Yarn

Tapestry Yarn

This is a soft thick yarn which can be used on canvas and other heavy material. It is ideal for needlepoint projects and crewelwork. 

  • Silk Thread

Silk thread embroidery is one of the oldest in the world. Silk thread makes for some astounding designs with a huge range of colors and their fine texture. Silk threads fade easily and may also bleed therefore, it is important to check the quality of the thread before diving into the project.

  • Variegated Thread

Variegated thread has different shades of a color in a single skein. It helps in creating astounding designs if used strategically. Variegated thread is available in cotton, silk and rayon. 

  • Cord

Cord is used in an embroidery where beading is involved. Beading requires a strong thread which can support the weight of the beads and this thread can do the job. A cord can work with fine beads to add beautiful colors to an embroidery project.

  • Ribbon

Ribbon is not a thread but it can be used in embroidery to create beautiful designs. It is used similar to embroidery floss. There are many types of ribbons that can be used to create embroideries. 

Difference Between an Embroidery Needle and a Sewing Needle

An embroidery needle has a larger eye because embroidery is done using different types of threads. It also has a specially shaped scarf so that the threads do not break or fray during the embroidery process. 

Sewing needles have a regular-size eye, smaller than that of embroidery needles. Sewing needles are ideal for sewing projects. You have to choose a sewing needle based on the thickness of the fabric. If your fabric is thin and smooth, you should go for a smaller needle. For fabrics like denim, you should choose a long needle. 

How to Choose the Right Size of Embroidery Needles?

Embroidery needles typically come in three sizes. They are: 75/11, 80/12 and 90/14. You should choose the needle size based on the weight of the fabric. Choose the smaller needle for lighter fabric and the larger needle for heavier fabric. 

Choose the Right Size of Embroidery Needles

Your choice of needle can also be based on the thread you are using. You will need a larger needle for heavier thread types even if your fabric is light. Similarly, you can use the smaller needle for lighter thread as well as light fabric. 

Embroidery is a highly satisfying art form. Needles and threads are the main tools you need to create beautiful pieces of embroidery. Is it simple to embroider? It is, if you give it your time and approach it with patience. There is a lot of information that you need to understand if you want to call yourself a master of this art. 

Start with the basics to avoid any confusions in your initial projects. Pick easy to use needles, and simple thread types along with easy to make designs till you master the nuances of this art form. Once you understand the threads and needles you can gradually pick bigger and complicated projects. 



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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