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Metallic thread for cross stitch and embroidery

Metallic thread for cross stitch and embroidery

with 2 Comments

Metallic thread can really add a lot of pizzazz and sparkle to a project (and if you’re a magpie like me you love anything sparkly and blingy). The pattern I’m working on in the video below is the first time I’ve used metallic thread before (DMC Light Effects floss), so I thought I’d pass on some of the tricks I learned while stitching with it.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission (such as from Amazon). Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality, and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. I would never recommend something I wouldn’t use myself. 🙂


What’s the problem with metallic thread?


Metallic thread is incredibly beautiful and versatile. We’ve all been enamoured with projects that sparkle with metallics, or been magnetically drawn to the metallic thread section of our local craft store. However, metallic thread can have a mind of its own and is quite different to work with than cotton embroidery floss. Metallic thread is often made up of thin strands of metal and a fine central core, or sometimes metallic plastic or nylon. Because of the delicate nature of the thread, it’s really easy for the ends of the thread to start fraying. Even simply cutting the floss to length can start some of the ends fraying, leaving you wondering how to stitch with the unravelling lengths of sparkle. Also, metallic floss isn’t as smooth as regular cotton or silk floss. Its texture means it can catch against itself easier (creating tangles) or it can snag against the fabric you’re pulling it through. It’s also a little less flexible than other types of floss, so it doesn’t bend as easily without buckling and twisting against itself.


Despite these issues, you can learn to “tame” metallic thread and enjoy the lovely sparkling effects in your cross stitch and embroidery. Below you’ll find a video with some tips of how to use metallic thread, not go insane, and end up with a nice sparkly project in the end. Below the video you’ll find a summary of some of the tips and tricks in the video, plus a few extras!


Video: Using metallic thread for cross stitch and embroidery




Tips for metallic thread from the video:


  • Cut the length as half of what you would normally use with cotton or silk floss.
  • Be very careful when removing floss from the other strands – don’t let it start to buckle as it will tangle and rough up the floss.
  • Knot the ends rather than using the loop method (link to a video about the loop method here) — it’s the ends passing through the fabric that cause it to quickly fray and catch, and doing a pin stitch is tricky as the floss is much less flexible and it’s harder to do quick “turns”.
  • Work slowly and try to keep stitches railroaded and untwisted as there is no “volume” to the floss when it’s metallic.
  • Run the floss under other stitches to catch it at the back and then don’t snip the floss right up to the edge of the fabric – leave a bit of a tail until the project is finished
  • The project in the video is a business and credit card holder, so it will be lined so the metallic threads don’t start rubbing against or scratching the magnetic strips. Any functional object made with metallic threads should be lined to improve its longevity.


Some extra stitching tips:

  • You also might need to be more careful when handling metallic thread as it is more fragile and catches more easily — store it wound on bobbins or where it won’t rub against other threads.
  • Be careful when ironing anything with metallic thread, you may want to test a bit out first. The reason is that some metallic threads are actually plastic, so may melt or shrivel if ironed on too high of a heat. You shouldn’t have any issues washing metallic threads though. If you’re not sure, test a piece of the thread before getting the whole project wet.
  • One tip that some stitchers swear by is to store your metallic thread in the fridge before using it, they say this makes it much easier to work with. Give it a try and see if it works for you!
  • Using thread lubricant like Thread Magic can be very helpful in getting the metallic thread to slide through your fabric more easily and without snagging or tangling.


And if you’d like to try another type of metallic floss that’s usually easier to work with, check out this tutorial using Kreinik metallic threads. I also have reviews on DMC Etoile threads, and DMC Diamant threads. 🙂


Want to see more recommendations of stitching materials (including some other metallic threads) and tools, as well as stitchy books? Head to the Peacock & Fig Amazon page! 😀



Metallic thread for cross stitch and embroidery
Article Name
Metallic thread for cross stitch and embroidery
Metallic thread can be tricky to work with, but these tips and tricks will have you adding sparkle to your cross stitch or embroidery projects in no time! 
Publisher Name
Peacock & Fig
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Follow Dana Batho:

Artist and Designer

I am an artist, veteran, analyst, and mommy to the sweetest dog ever. I am constantly thinking of ways to use my creativity in everything I touch despite my physical limitations, and I love encouraging others to do the same.

2 Responses

  1. Carol Conway
    | Reply

    These tips were really great as I am about to start a piece that uses metallic thread in the design. I was just wondering would you advise leaving that part till last?

    Many thanks


    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Hi Carol, thanks for your comment! You can use metallics at any time, if it’s backstitch I’d wait until the end as that will be easier. One thing to be careful of is ironing them, I’d test a little snippet of the floss first. Most metallics are ok, but some are purely reflective plastic so they’ll melt on contact with an iron (or get brittle). I always wash my pieces after stitching them (as it’s unavoidable oils from your hands will get onto the floss and fabric), but if the metallics are heat sensitive I’d just leave the piece to air dry flat after washing. I’ve just gotten a big box of metallic floss from Kreinik to play with, so I’m sure I’ll be doing another post about that once I start experimenting with them! And do play with Thread Heaven if you have any, apparently it’s genius with metallics and makes them a lot easier to work with. 🙂

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