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Polyester versus Rayon Embroidery Thread

SewingSue | Posted in Machine Embroidery on

Hi, I’m hoping for some help. I just bought a Janome 10001 and am having a difficult time trying to decide what type of embroidery thread to get. The dealer is encouraging me real strong towards polyester and I’m thinking rayon will be better. He says that the polyester is improved from what it used to be and holds up better. I’m concerned that the polyester will be too strong for the types of fabric I like to use. I use a lot of fine cotton and rayon. I’m sure with time I will branch out to other fabrics. I tend to be a traditionalist and rayon has been standard for a long time. What do you all think about this? Has anyone had problems/successes they’d like to share to help me decide? Thanks for all your help in advance.

Sue W, Williston, FL


  1. carolfresia | | #1


    My impression is that polyester threads these days, for embroidery, are a lot more like the rayons than they used to be. Many of the authors I work with prefer polyesters to rayon for their strength and durability. If you plan to embroider on cottons and such that will be laundered frequently, the poly thread is much more colorfast and shouldn't fade even if you hit it with bleach. I consider this a plus, but on the other hand, if you prefer to have your embroidery fade along with your garment, for a uniform, hierloomy/worn look, rayon is probably a better choice.

    Another choice is DMC embroidery thread. They've come out with machine embroidery thread in the same color range as their hand-embroidery floss (not as extensive a range yet, but getting there). It's 100% cotton, and is really beautiful. It's a little more delicate than polyester thread, and apparently has a tendency to break in an commercial embroidery machine, but I've had good success with it in a home machine.

    Enjoy your new machine!


    1. SewingSue | | #2

      Carol, thank you for responding. One of my biggest worries is that the polyester thread would "chew" at the fabric and produce holes. I try to avoid polyester thread for that reason. My dealer assures me that todays polyester no longer does that. But having had a number of garments ruined by poly thread I am now a sceptic. I truly appreciate your in-sight into this.

      Sue W, Williston, FL

      1. SewTruTerry | | #3

        Sue I think it also depends on the brand of poly or rayon thread that you use.  I have used rayon almost exclusively because the brand I use does not fade with washing or getting hit with chlorine.  I am a mother of 2 swimmers one is a year round swimmer so this entails a lot of indoor chlorine soakings and everything looks as good as the day it was completed.  I bet he has a big supply of poly thread that he is trying to get rid of.

        1. SewingSue | | #4

          Terry, he sells Robinson-Anton thread. I don't have much experience with machine embroidery since I just got the embroidery machine a couple of days ago. I am basing my opinions on experience with sewing thread. I have seen Robinson-Anton advertised in sewing magazines but have no first hand knowledge of their product. That is why I was hoping those of you with experience would lend your opinions. Thanks for providing your experience.

          Sue W, Williston, FL

          1. carolfresia | | #5


            I work with a lot of authors who are experts in machine embroidery, and the truth is that each one has her or his one favorite brand of thread. One likes Robison Anton thread because it's strong, comes in a huge range of colors, and had a silky sheen. Another swears by Sulky rayon, which she finds slightly more supple than other varieties, and better suited to the work she does. And so on...there are plenty of opinions. Before investing lots of money in one brand, try out two or three (polyesters and rayons) and see what you think. You might find that your preference changes with your project--e.g., polyester for that denim backpack, and a fine, silky rayon for your lightweight linen blouse.

            Remember, too, that you can buy thread online it you discover the brand you love isn't easily accessible in your area. Most manufacturers sell color cards that have thread samples of each color in their palette; the prices is maybe $5-$15 for a card, and you'd probably want to update your card every couple of years. This is a great way to ensure that you get exactly the color you want, but on the other hand, you have to plan ahead.

            You're going to love your new machine--embroidery can be quite addictive.


          2. SewingSue | | #6

            Carol, Once again thank you for your response. I have very definite opinions of my own when it comes to sewing so of course it is only natural that I will be the same when it comes to embroidery. I have a little bit of sulky, coats&clark and I think something else in rayon from my dabbling with free motion embroidery. I will pick up a little bit of the robinson-anton both rayon and poly and see what I think of them. Since it is the holiday season my DMIL offered to get me a large kit of embroidery thread with rack but that will have to wait until I know what I want. I am already in love with this machine. It doesn't have quite as many fancy stitches as the TOL bernina or husqvarna but it has many nice features. Unfortunately my old faithful of nearly 25 years got its feeling hurt and now has to go in for maintenance. I think the timing has slipped. I had the new machine set up to do fancy stuff on a project and I was doing the construction with the old machine since I already had it set up and "ka-chunk". The needle is making contact with the bobbin mechanism. Of course, I tried changing the needle and that wasn't the problem. But I really do appreciate the advise I've received. Thanks again to everyone who has responded.

            Sue W, Williston, FL

    2. rjf | | #7

      That's a new thread to me....DMC machine embroidery thread, that is.  How does it compare to a strand of their floss?  Thinner, I suppose?  Shinier?  If you know their perle cotton #5 how does it compare to that?  Do you have a store nearby that carries it?     rjf

      1. carolfresia | | #8

        I don't know how it compares to their floss, but it's available in, I think, 50wt., which is slightly thinner than basic sewing thread. And it's not shiny, exactly--it's just shiny the way a very fine, long-staple cotton is shiny. More of a subtle sheen, really. I'm guessing that it's finer than most perle cottons; I've seen 100 wt. perle cotton that's very, very fine, but it was a special type from Italy, if I recall--not easy to find here.

        I'm not sure where to get the DMC in person, but I'd look online for it. We received it as a sample here and really loved it.


      2. carolfresia | | #9

        Check out this link:


        There's info. on some other brands of cotton machine embroidery thread. Maybe you'll find something that you like?


        1. SewingSue | | #11

          Carol, thanks for the information. I stumbled into some DMC embroidery thread awhile back. Of all places it was in an "antique shop". They wanted something like a quarter a spool and there was a large basket full. I asked if they could do better and got the whole lot for about $20 or about 10 cents a spool. That really made my day. I'm looking forward to using this.
          Sue W, Williston, FL

          1. carolfresia | | #12

            I wonder what it was doing there? Maybe they didn't know what they had, and just needed to get rid of it. Anyway, enjoy. I love the look of it, although it's probably not suitable for every project.


          2. SewingSue | | #13

            That was my thought. Regardless, it sure worked out to my advantage. Unfortunately that type of stuff happens sometimes when people pass on and family don't recognize the value of a loved one's collection. Or it could have ended up there by any number of reasons. Sometimes I think about what will happen to my life long passion when I go to the big sewing room. Hopefully someone in the family will express an interest in receiving it.Sue W

          3. carolfresia | | #14

            Wherever it came from, it's nice that it's landed in the hands of someone who will appreciate it.

            When I used it, I was embroidering a monogram from http://www.embroideryarts.com. If you're not familiar with that site, take a look. The alphabets are lovely and varied, and you can purchase single letters if you wish. Not only are the designs exquisite, but the digitizing is top-notch--very delicate and textural. The designer and digitizer is a connoisseur of antique embroidery, and uses it as inspiration for the letter types and the embroidery styles.


          4. FitnessNut | | #15

            Thank you for referring us to that wonderful website, Carol! I adore monograms and there are certainly some beauties offered. The monogram collection is particularly inspiring. It is good to know that the digitizing is of excellent quality....that is always a concern when purchasing designs from the internet. Feedback from satisfied customers is the best reference.

          5. SewingSue | | #16

            Carol, I whole heartly agree. Thank you for providing a link to a wonderful website. The monograms are gorgeous and very inspiring. I'm going to have so much fun with this new machine.Sue W

          6. carolfresia | | #17

            I'm glad you liked the site. I love it, too, and enjoy getting the monthly newsletter that reminds me to visit the Monogram Museum. We actually published a photo of an embroidered hanky from Richards Jarden's collection on the back cover of issue #114--it was an incredible, hand-embroidered monogram that was so finely stitched I needed a loupe to identify some of the stitches.

            Richards has written a couple of articles for us on digitizing--check issues 100 and 114. He also writes for some of the machine embroidery magazines. He's very knowledgeable about what it takes to make a beautiful stitch-out.


  2. DianaU | | #10

    I only use polyester now after doing bleach tests on cotton, rayon and poly threads... this was before i embroidered a dozen white 100% linen table napkins I had made with mitered corners. Poly beat out the other two types, hands down.

    Poly is also better on children's clothing and kitchen aprons and anything that might get stained and neat super cleaning treatment.  I use Marathon.

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