Metallic threads can add a real difference to your finished stitching by adding a bit of a sparkle or used to define metallic objects within the design (e.g. the blade of a sword). However they have got a bit of bad press about how difficult they are to work with, they can certainly be a bit tricky but here are some tips that may help.

Types of Metallic Threads

There are a number of types and different weights of metallic threads and all give a different finish to the design you are stitching. Some are made up of a single strand and are quite fine and you can see that others are made up of multiple strands.

 I find that the single strand threads work best for outlining in backstitch and for using in Blackwork embroidery designs where you need the less dense effect. The multi strand threads are good for filling in and giving some depth to the stitching.

 Although the multi strand threads look like they could be split and used individually you need to be careful as some are not meant to be split. My usual rule of thumb is that if the thread comes on a spool it should not be split, if it comes as a skein then you can carefully split these.


Working with Metallic Threads

When stitching with metallic threads try to keep the thread length short, this will help to stop the thread twisting and getting tangled. I usually cut a thread length of approximately 9 inches (22cm).

It can help to condition the thread before you use it, conditioners cut down on the stress caused by the continual pulling of the thread through the fabric and they create a protective layer between the two. There are a number of conditioners on the market so make sure you read the manufacturers instructions on how to use them. However, most work in the same way and you hold the thread against the conditioner to lightly coat it and then pull the thread between your finger and thumb to smooth it and remove any static that may have built up.

Stitching Cross stitch

I always find that the metallic threads work better if you complete the cross rather than do a run of stitches one way (e.g. /) and then returning the
other way (e.g.  \) to create the crosses.


Once you have finished stitching with metallics I find it good to leave the stitching to settle, I always find it looks better when I come back and look at it! 

But, the best advice I can give you is to be patient and you’ll soon wonder what all the fuss has been about.