Friday, July 20, 2018

What You Need to Know About Embroidery Floss for Hand Embroidery

I love doing hand embroidery, so I'm really excited about bringing you this series of posts and videos about embroidery. Today's 'lesson' is about embroidery floss. My Grandmother taught me to do this type of handiwork at a young age, and that in itself provides a lot of memories that I'll always treasure.

Six-Strand Embroidery Floss
Six-Strand Embroidery Floss

Every time I pick up an embroidery hoop and create something, I think of the time spent with Grandma, and I remember her voice telling me the tips I'm sharing with you in my videos and articles, and hopefully, someday you'll teach this style of creating to someone you care about. 

You can embroider so many things by hand. It's a great way to embellish clothing, textile things around the house, and even plush toys for young children or pets.

Handiwork Embroidery Floss Basics

Embroidery floss for hand sewing is made up a series of fibers. Each strand is made of six strands, and each of the six strands is woven from two fibers twisted into a fine thread.

You can use all six strands at once if you're trying to create a plush, thickly embroidered design, but there are advantages to splitting it.

  • Most hand embroidery involves delicate stitches that can be overwhelmed by thick floss. You can split it into two or three strands, or even a single strand, but for most delicate designs, three strands are ideal. 
  • With three strands, you get enough plushness to give off a dramatic effect without it looking either sparse or overdone.
  • The split fibers are also easier to pull through the fabric if you're embroidering on tightly woven fabric.
  • Cut the embroidery floss into sections about 12-18 inches long before splitting it. If you try to split a section that's too long, it ends up knotted. Longer sections also end up weakening your floss as it pulls through the fabric over and over.

In the video below, I show a line of stitching made from six-strands and another made from three - so you can get an idea of the difference in appearance.

Tips for Choosing Embroidery Floss for Projects

If you're working on a large project, try to get all the embroidery floss you need at once, and stick to the same brand, at least within each color to avoid ending up with unwanted variations in color or texture.

Make a note of the colors you're using, or keep the little band from the skeins of embroidery floss in case you need more floss - to increase your chance fo getting a perfect match.

If you're trying to create special effects, look at some of the unique types of floss, like metallic, silk, pearlized cotton, or variegated color floss.

Most hand embroidery floss is made of mercerized cotton, which gives it more strength and luster than unmercerized floss would have, and it can also be called stranded embroidery cotton thread, as noted by Sew Guide.

Thanks for reading, and check out my Sewing Lessons From Stitching it Right videos on YouTube or visit the Stitching it Right Facebook page to join the conversation there.

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