I love the sparkle and shine metallic thread gives to my fabric art, but the hassles--shredding, the curling, the broken threads--give me such a headache. I always approach metallic threads with trepidation, and I could swear the spool can smell my fear.
According to Liz Kettle, that may be true.
"Don't tackle free-motion stitching with metallic threads when you are stressed. The thread will know," advises Liz, a mixed-media and textile artist.
I don't doubt it.
As the author of two books on threads and fabric embellishing, she knows firsthand the frustration that including metallic thread in your textile art can produce. But with research and a lot of practice, she has learned to tame this beautiful, shiny beast. So when I was looking for someone to offer a primer on how to use metallic threads in the second edition of our eMag In Stitches, Liz came to mind immediately.
In her interactive In Stitches article, Liz details what she calls her 6 Keys to Metallic Thread Success. Here are the highlights:
1. Bobbin thread is very important. I have the most success with an ultra-fine polyester thread with a weight between 100 and 70. You could also use #100-weight silk thread.
2. Tension is the second key to success. Reducing the upper thread tension is critical when using metallic threads. If you are using free-motion stitching, a reduced top tension is even more important.
3. Using a metallic needle is helpful but not mandatory. Depending on the type of stitching you are doing, a size 90 embroidery or 90 topstitching needle will work just fine.
4. When working with metallic thread, stitch slower. This is especially important when free-motion stitching with metallic threads. When you are free-motion stitching, either embroidery or quilting, you become part of your machine's tension system.
5. You can control how wiry your thread is by modifying your thread path. If it springs off your spool when you unwrap it, you should probably consider using a thread stand or placing the thread in a cup or jar a little distance away from the machine.
6. Stabilizers are very important when using metallic thread as a surface embellishment or for embroidery in your fiber art projects. Which stabilizer to choose depends on the surface fabric and the amount of stitching you want to add.
Liz goes into more detail on each of these tips on In Stitches. The article also includes video of Liz stitching with metallic thread while she gives advice, samples of her work fiber art you can zoom in on, a handmade stitch samples book you can flip through, and more about her favorite threads and stitching supplies.
I found Liz's metallic thread advice extremely helpful. I can now approach those gleaming spools with confidence, not fear!
P.S. What are your struggles or successes with metallic thread? Share them in the comments section below.