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Six Thread Types that Add Variety to Your Projects

The thread varieties shown are sold at most fabric stores and include the following brands: Sulky, Gütermann, Signature, and Coats & Clark.
Once youve chosen a unique thread for your project, its important to find a corresponding needle.
This glow-in-the-dark effect is just one amazing result you can get from choosing an unusual thread type for your project.
The thread varieties shown are sold at most fabric stores and include the following brands: Sulky, Gütermann, Signature, and Coats & Clark.

The thread varieties shown are sold at most fabric stores and include the following brands: Sulky, Gütermann, Signature, and Coats & Clark.

Photo: Dana Finkle

When starting a new sewing project, a lot of us select the pattern, then the fabric, and finally, find a spool of thread that precisely matches the chosen fabric color. Where's the fun in that? The truth is, there are hundreds of thread types that could elevate a project to the next level. Some thread types that are widely available and worth considering include: variegated cotton, multicolor rayon, metallic, holoshimmer metallic, glow-in-the-dark, and invisible. Below, I'll discuss these varieties and provide some tips for using them on your next project.

1. Variegated cotton thread

Variegated cotton thread

This multicolored thread adds beautiful color combinations to sewing projects.

do not like abrasion and small stitches

Variegated cotton thread is nearly identical to traditional cotton sewing thread. The only difference is that its color changes every few inches. This enables you to create unique, colorful designs on a variety of projects with little effort. While this thread type can be used on multicolored fabric, it shows up best on contrasting solid-colored fabric.

Common thread uses: quilting, topstitching, embroidery, decorative stitching, and appliqué.

Suggested needle types: 90/14 Quilting, or refer to the needle type indicated on the thread spool.

Variegated cotton decorative stitching Look how quickly the thread color changes on this variegated machine-embroidery stitch.

2. Multicolor rayon thread

Multi-color rayon thread This thread type is most often used in machine embroidery. 

Although it may look similar, multicolor rayon thread is smoother and more lustrous than variegated cotton thread. It is also stronger than cotton and silk threads of the same weight. It doesn't require any special tools or machine adjustments to make gorgeous designs such as the one shown below.

Common thread uses: quilting, topstitching, embroidery, decorative stitching, appliqué, and buttonholes.

Suggested needle types: 80/12 Universal, 90/14 Embroidery, or refer to the needle type indicated on the thread spool.

Variegated rayon decorative stitching This decorative machine stitch creates a beautiful gradation.

3. Metallic thread

Metallic thread Add glitz to any project with this strong, lustrous thread.

Metallic thread is extremely smooth, strong, and pliable. It is easy to use and provides a great accent to any decorative design. For best results, slightly loosen the top thread tension, use a lightweight thread in the bobbin, and avoid creating small stitches.

do not like abrasion and small stitches
do not like abrasion and small stitches
do not like abrasion and small stitches

Common thread uses: quilting, topstitching, embroidery, and accent stitching.

Use a lightweight thread in the bobbin

Suggested needle types: 90/14 Metallic, 90/14 Topstitch, or refer to the needle type indicated on the thread spool.

Use a lightweight thread in the bobbin
Metallic decorative stitch The metallic specks shine through on this basic machine stitch.

4. Holoshimmer metallic thread

Holoshimmer metallic thread

This radiant thread from Sulky creates exquisite designer details.

Holoshimmer metallic thread has similar properties to metallic thread. However, its makeup is slightly different. Whereas most threads are produced by twisting two fibers together, holoshimmer thread is composed of a thin, flat, ribbon-like foil that is laminated with polyester to create this stunning reflective effect. To properly sew with this thread, place the spool in the vertical spool pin, significantly lower the top thread tension, use a lightweight thread in the bobbin, and avoid creating small stitches.

Common thread uses: quilting, topstitching, embroidery, and accent stitching.

Suggested needle types: 90/14 Metallic, 90/14 Topstitch, or refer to the needle type indicated on the thread spool.

 Holoshimmer zig-zag stitch The eye-catching sparkle from this decorative stitch is sure to brighten any design.

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