Machine Embroidery Series: Sulky Specialty Threads

Sulky Specialty Threads

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

We have been exploring all types of Sulky Thread in our last few blog segments and have learned about individual properties and potential usage for 40 wt. Rayon, 60 wt. PolyLite™, 40 wt. PolyDeco™, and 12 wt. and 30 wt. Cotton Thread  (including Sulky Cotton Blendables® Thread) !  We have also been exposed to the creative possibilities of stitching, or accenting, an embroidery design in one of the many threads from the Sulky Metallic Family:  Original, Sliver™ and Holoshimmer™.  Now, we will talk about the other Sulky Specialty Threads!

Believe it or not… Sulky still has more types of thread that will quickly become a welcomed supplement to your thread collection!

Did you even know that light-activated thread exists?Sulky Specialty ThreadsAnd that it really does glow in the dark??

Sulky Specialty Threads

Sulky Glowy™ Thread is available in six pastel colors…

Well, until darkness sets in!  That’s when areas stitched with this specialty thread will simply glow!

The glow will last 15-20 minutes, depending upon how much prior exposure to light it had received.  The “glowing” property will persist through repeated washings as well!

The obvious usage for Sulky Glowy would be for spooky Halloween items. However, what about using it on a T-shirt that your child will wear to the July 4th fireworks?  The holiday evening starts off with the sun setting, but shortly turns to complete darkness as the fireworks start.  Your child begins the evening of fun wearing a cute T-shirt embroidered in pastel colors. Once the darkness settles in, their shirt becomes a reassuring way to quickly spot your child among their group of friends!

A small Glowy design can also offer a sense of nearness for a young child who is having trouble falling asleep. Embroider a pillow case with a cute design using Glowy simply with just a single star or a little heart.  It may be just the thing a young child needs in order to relax and help remind them that you are always nearby.

Sulky Polyester Invisible Thread

It is a great idea to have Sulky Invisible Thread, available in both clear and smoke, readily on hand. It is a very fine, flexible, polyester thread which can be used both as the top and bobbin thread (wind the bobbin slowly and only about half full). It is softer and much more heat tolerant than nylon counterparts; it will not melt with normal ironing through the polyester setting.  (Irons vary in temperature, so test first.)

Sulky Invisible Thread fulfills needs of stitching in the ditch, invisible appliqué and “hand-look” quilting/stippling, whether these applications are done on a regular sewing machine or as an “in-the-hoop” project on an embroidery machine.

Please remember that Sulky ’s priority is to have informed, satisfied consumers.  Therefore, Sulky offers a “Resources” tab on their website at
So much information is immediately available to answer your questions and to offer sewing hints.  However, if you still have a unique situation, you can go to the “Ask the Experts” page at or send an email to

I hope the Thread Blogs have provided you with practical information about lots of different threads, and when one type might prove to be more beneficial over another. But my greater hope is that you have become inspired to “paint” your machine embroidery creations in more than one palette!

Sulky Embroidery Club

Design from Sulky Embroidery Club

Rod Art with Sulky Threads

Rod Art with Sulky Threads

Did you know you can even glam up your fishing rod with Sulky Threads?  Rod art is a great DIY gift idea for the fisherman in your life!  We talked with John, who has been building rods to help make fishing easier for people with disabilities since becoming disabled himself. He uses Sulky Threads to turn his rods into beautiful works of art. Here are a few of his tips and tricks to making Rod Art:rod art

How did you get started with rod building?

After I became disabled my hands became very weak and the pain in my body made fishing very difficult. My wife gave me the idea that I should make my own fishing rods. The idea was to make a rod that was easier to hold and less painful. After talking to several people I was introduced to a really nice guy who started a rod building club. He taught me how to make rods that were easier to use, and how to do rod art. He warned me that it was addictive and it has proven to be just that! With all the different thread types and colors that you can only get from Sulky, there’s no end to the design possibilities. The only limit is your own imagination. Half the fun is making something no one else has.

How long does it take you to finish one rod?

Most people can build a rod in a day or two. However because of my disability it can take me several months.

rod art

Do you have any tips or tricks for people wishing to make their own rod art?

Trial and error, or, as some call it, “The school of hard knocks.” To come up with a new design, look at what others are doing and then look at the thread colors. You can find inspiration from anything and everything. Watch the “How To” videos and add your own twist. After all your threads are down, always use at least two coats of CP “color preserver”. This keeps the threads from moving when you put the epoxy on. Keep your pattern tight and straight by lining each thread as you go. To keep bubbles out of your finish use an epoxy mixer and never mix by hand. Use a heat gun to bust any bubbles.

This rod was a test to see if it was possible to do a full wrap. Most of the time only a wrap of 6 to 8 inches is done. This rod looks great but you have to see it in direct sunlight to get the full effect.

You don’t need a lot of money to get started. I made most of my tools or bought tools that are for a different craft but can be used for what I need. My first rod wrap cost me less than $20 to build. Use the internet to your advantage and let your imagination run wild!

This link is a great way to learn the craft:

This is the second rod I ever made. I made it using the spiral wrapped eye technique. When a fish pulls on the line, instead of pulling the rod out of your hands, it bends the rod in a way that it pushes the handle back towards you.


What is your favorite Sulky product to use, and why?

It’s so hard to choose. The Sulky Rayon and Sulky Polyester Threads come in every color imaginable. They are super strong, they don’t stretch or sag, and the color doesn’t change or fade. Sulky Metallic Thread is almost as soft. However, my favorite Metallic has to be the Metallic Holoshimmer Thread. In direct sunlight it sparkles like diamonds. Plus, it reflects the color from the other threads you wrap over it. It makes a great base layer, you can weave it into the pattern, or it can be used all by itself like a trip band or accent wrap.

rod art

Sulky Holoshimmer Metallic Thread


If you want to learn more about how to get started in this craft you can visit The Custom Rod Builders Guild.



Build Your Collection: New Sulky Thread Packs + 20% off Sale

Build Your Thread Collection: New Sulky Thread Packs + 20% off Sale

We’ve been busy creating all-new thread packs to help you grow your own thread collections.  From names like Favorites, to The Essentials, to Grooviest and Majestic, these 22 New Thread Packs have got it all!

If you are into convenience and saving money, (You save 15-20% when you buy any Sulky Thread Pack versus buying individual spools!) you will definitely want to check out all of Sulky’s Thread Packs: Samplers, Assortments, and Collections.  Let me start by first breaking down our “Packs” for you….


First, we have our Samplers, which contain 6 spools of thread.  These are perfect for getting a taste of one type of thread that maybe you haven’t tried yet, or are still testing out. Think of these as appetizer portions.

40 Wt. Rayon Thread

40 Wt. Rayon Thread – Favorites Sampler – 250 yd. Spools (Snapspools)

You may recall seeing these in our popular Cotton Petites Sampler packages, which have 50 yds of 12 Wt. cotton thread on each Spool!

12 Wt. Cotton Petites Sampler – 6 Most Popular Colors – 50 yd. Spools

However, you may not realize that we have now expanded our “Sampler Packs” to include our King Spools (and even our Maxi Spools if you’re looking at Rayon!).  These added spool sizes allow you to create more with our Samplers, so in reality, you’ll be saving more money! (Good job, you)

40 Wt. Rayon Thread – Favorites Sampler – 1500 yd. Spools (Maxi Spools)



Next, we have our Assortments.  Our Assortment Packs contain 10 spools of thread.  Adding just four more spools to each pack gives you added room for creativity – not to mention, who doesn’t love having more colors…for less money?!  Added bonus: you can also find our Assortment Packs containing 10 Snap Spools, King Spools, or Maxi Spools (again, depending on which thread type you are looking for).

Snap Spools

40 Wt. Rayon Thread Assortment – 10 Most Popular Colors – 250 yd. Spools (Snap Spools)

King Spools

30 Wt. Cotton Blendables Thread Assortment – 10 Most Popular Colors – 500 yd. Spools (King Spools)

Maxi Spools

40 Wt. Rayon Thread – 10 Most Radiant Rayons Assortment – 1500 yd. Spools (Maxi Spools)


Finally we have our Collection Packs, also known as our Slimline Collections, which consist of two types of thread storage boxes: Sulky Original Slimline Storage Box and Sulky Universal Slimline Storage Box.

Sulky Original Slimline Thread Storage Box Collections allow you to choose from Starter Collections and Complete Collections of pre-filled boxes (Go ahead, get the bigger one, you deserve it!). Each box holds up to 104 small spools (Snap Spools), yet weighs only 4 lb. when filled!

With Sulky Universal Slimline Thread Storage Box Collections you can also choose from Starter Collections and Complete Collections of pre-filled boxes. Each box holds up to 64 King Spools OR 64 Snap Spools (or a mix of both) yet weighs only 6 lb. when filled!

Each spool in both types of Slimline has its own exclusive, patented lifting tab.  All spools are clearly visible and easily accessible, and they won’t fall out! Full Thread Collections are organized and labeled by color families.  The best part? You save BIG over buying these products separately (like a full 20% off buying the thread separately, how great is that!?!)

Each spool in both types of Slimline has its own exclusive, patented lifting tab – shown here.

We’re not Spoolin’ Around!

Now, let’s get to the good stuff…we’ve put together 22 new thread packs (Samplers and Assortments) just for you!

And now, through 6/25 ALL of our Thread Samplers and Assortments – new or old – are 20% off!

Since you are already saving 15-20% just buy buying a pack versus buying individual spools, this means that you are actually saving up to 40%!  How could you NOT take advantage of this great offer?!


Here are some of the newest members of the Sulky Thread Pack family:

In Rayon:

40 Wt. Rayon Thread – 10 Most Radiant Rayons Assortment – 250 yd. Spools

40 Wt. Rayon Thread – Favorites Sampler – 1500 yd. Spools

Polyester’s newest members:

40 Wt. PolyDeco Thread – Top 10 Grooviest Assortment – 900 yd. Spools

60 Wt. PolyLite Thread – Essentials Sampler – 440 yd. Spools


12 Wt. Solid Cotton Thread – Essentials Sampler – 330 yd. Spools

12 Wt. Cotton Blendables Thread – Quilter’s Assortment – 330 yd. Spools

Last, but not least, the Metallics:

Sulky Original Metallic Thread – Majestic Assortment – 110 yd. Spools

Sulky Sliver Metallic Thread – Super Star Assortment – 250 yd. Spools

Sulky Holoshimmer Metallic Thread – Heavenly Assortment – 250 yd. Spools


Don’t forget!  Our Designer Thread Packs, Perfect Pairings, Seasonal Packs, and Breast Cancer Awareness Samplers are also on sale for 20% off! 

Sale ends 6/25 at Midnight EDT

Machine Embroidery Series: Metallic Thread

Specialty Threads: Metallic Thread

Specialty Threads: Metallic Thread

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!


If you have been following the Sulky Blog about “Thread”, hopefully you agree that one of the most important elements needed for stitching exquisite machine embroidery is to have a variety of Sulky Threads on hand to select from!

There is really not a single “perfect thread”, but rather “perfect choices” for different applications. For example, 60 wt. PolyLite is best for lettering, while Sulky 40 wt. Rayon reflects the luster of silk thread. 40 wt. PolyDeco is bleachable, while Sulky Cotton Threads mimic hand-stitching.  All have their necessary place in our thread chest!

Let’s add to our thread chest by exploring why “Specialty Threads”, beginning with Sulky Metallic Thread, must also be readily on-hand.

Sometimes, especially around the holidays, we want to add a bit of “sparkle” to a chosen design. However, the notion of even LOOKING at a spool of metallic thread will generate thoughts equivalent to fingernails on a chalk board!

Yeah! Not Happening!!

Specialty Threads: Metallic Thread

Good news: Sulky Metallic Threads will erase this “chalkboard” attitude forever!

Sulky has found the solution to allow the terms “metallic” and “user-friendly” to be featured in the same sentence by offering various Metallic thread types – meaning one type is sure to meet your needs.

Specialty Threads: Metallic Thread

  • First, Sulky Original Metallic Thread is created by twisting and bonding a fine metallic foil around a strong polyester core to create an exceptionally smooth, strong, and pliable thread.

  • Second, Sulky Sliver Metallic Thread is a thin, flat, ribbon-like foil laminated with polyester. It vividly reflects light.
  • Finally, Sulky Holoshimmer™ Metallic Thread is also a thin, flat, ribbon-like, foil that is laminated with polyester. However, the difference is that the foil is holographic. The thread filament reflects light differently under different conditions!

Sulky Metallic Threads easily add the ultimate sparkle to any imagined project, including….

A satin top designed for a winter holiday party:


I accented with Graceful Embroidery snowflake designs. I used individual snowflakes and several different silvers and whites in Sulky Holoshimmer Metallic Thread, Sulky Sliver™ Metallic Thread, and 40 wt. Rayon Thread.

A pulled-thread place-mat:

Using Sulky Original Metallic Thread to outline every number as well as each corner-flourish featured in Graceful Embroidery‘s “12 Days of Christmas” collection, adds a touch of festivity to the holiday table setting.

Finally, a tote bag:

Sulky Holoshimmer and Sliver Metallics add the “attitude” to a fun bag; perfect for 4th of July events, and every day to follow!

“Fleur de Grunge” designs by Graceful Embroidery. Graceful Embroidery Designs are available at

To easily and successfully stitch designs in metallic thread, use a Schmetz® 90/14 Topstitch or 90/14 Metallic Needle and reduce the speed of the sewing machine at least by half.

Although it’s always important to make sure that any type of thread comes off the spool in the proper direction (refer to Thread Applied to Machine Embroidery) this is especially true when stitching with metallic thread.

The photo shows how the wrong spool position can cause the thread to come off the spool in tight twists, which could cause it to twist back into itself or eventually break.

The thread in this photo correctly spirals off the spool in a loose wave, and feeds into the machine in a straight line.

The thread should come off the spool flat and remain flat throughout the path into the thread tensions (at least as flat as possible).

One way to insure proper feed-direction for metallic threads is to use “The Thread Director” or  Thread Director 2, which are both now available at many locations, including on the Sulky website.

This device allows the thread to unwind flat, eliminating any twisting, which might cause thread breakage.

Sulky now has The Thread Director 2 – a new and improved Thread Director that holds TWO spools at the same time for added flexibility and creativity!

How about blending Sulky thread types to stitch your embroidered designs in an “originally special” fashion?

Thread a Sulky 40 wt. Rayon and a Sliver™ Metallic (#8040 Opalescent) into the sewing machine following the machine’s manual for “twin-needle” threading. However, put both threads through the single eye of a Schmetz® 100/16 Topstitch Needle. As seen in the photo, just a hint of sparkle radiates throughout this beautiful Sulky Embroidery Club’s butterfly design #1181.

This embroidery design can be found as a free download at

Have fun experimenting with all the wonderful Metallic Threads available from Sulky; and, please, share your experiences and projects! That’s how we all learn!

Sulky, of course, offers other “specialty” threads that inspire creativity, which we’ll explore in a future blog.

On the Go! FabricPlate FREE Webinar

On the Go! with Janet Lutz of Row by Row Experience® and Debra Gabel of Zebra Patterns

Join us for this FREE Webinar!


Tuesday June 13, 2017

at 9:00 pm EDT

Featuring: Michelle Umlauf, National Educator Representing Sulky of America, and Special Guest – Debra Gabel, Owner of Zebra Patterns and Art Director of Row by Row Experience

Duration: One Hour

Cost: FREE!

Project Description: On the Go! FabricPlate™ Doorhanger

In this FREE 1 Hour Webinar you will be walked through making a fun appliqued door hanger for your sewing area by Debra Gabel featuring Debra’s famous FabricPlates™ that have been collected by quilters all over the world! You will learn Debra’s no trace and no reverse applique technique.

You will be able to download a FREE Pattern for the project that you can print at home. This project is great for beginners and the techniques demonstrated may be new for the experienced quilter.

-Meet Janet Lutz owner of Calico Gals in Syracuse and the Row by Row Experience®
-Meet Debra Gabel owner of Zebra Patterns and Art Director of Row by Row Experience®
-Brief shop tour of Calico Gals and explanation and facts and figures of RxR
-Studio tour and explanation of the applique FabricPlate™ project
Demo of Project, tips and techniques

Please Join Us! Tell your friends, too! 

After the webinar, until midnight get 30% off All Soft N Sheer Extra and Totally Stable Stabilizers…. and more!

Can’t make it? You can still sign up and receive everything that’s included with the webinar AND watch the recorded webinar at your convenience anytime in the future!

Got Thread? FabricPlate – made exclusively for Sulky!


Machine Embroidery Series: Rayon vs. Polyester

Rayon versus Polyester Thread

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

Crayons, oil paints, water-colors, and even chalk are ways in which an artist expresses creativity.

Almost all of us began our machine embroidery love affair by stitching designs in a 40 wt. Rayon or Polyester Thread. Embroidery supplies and techniques tend to be very personal, and we may have, at one time or another, engaged in a somewhat excitable conversation in defending our choice.

Hopefully, after understanding a bit more about both Rayon and Polyester Thread you will agree that not only is there a place for both threads in machine embroidery, but that it is a must to include both thread types within your own thread collection!

Rayon and Polyester are sometimes both thought of as Synthetic products; those which are “man-made”. This is true of Polyester: “poly” (many) “ester” (a basic organic chemical compound). The product of this chemical chain can be made into a continuous, long filament to produce a smooth, yet very strong thread. This filament can also be cut into predetermined lengths, staple form, and combined with other fibers like a cotton/polyester thread (polyester core covered with cotton).

However, Rayon Thread is a hybrid!  It is a mixture of a natural resource, wood pulp, which undergoes an abundant amount of chemical processing. The final filament is referred to as viscose. Many people don’t know that Rayon, sometimes referred to as Viscose, originates from nature! The raw material needed for the production of viscose is cellulose pulp, and the original material for the pulp production is wood.

Cellulose is the natural building material needed by plants for forming their cellular walls. There are only a few wood types where the cellulose develops the properties required for the production of viscose. In most cases, pine or spruce wood, or even well selected deciduous tree types, are used.

The world renowned ENKA plant in Obernburg, Germany produces raw viscose fibers exclusively from these long-chain, consistently high quality cellulose molecules. All Sulky Rayon Threads are made exclusively with ENKA raw fibers, which have been tested and certified to be the highest quality rayon/viscose fibers in the world.

Both Sulky Rayon and Sulky Polyester Threads mirror the reflective qualities of Silk thread, but at a much lower price!

Let’s compare the two types of thread to find our winner!

Many “purists” will state that Polyester Thread always looks like plastic, which is another by-product of basically the same chemical process. However, if the Polyester Thread is of a high quality, such as those found within the Sulky Thread family (PolyDeco™), this thread will beautifully reflect light. Rayon Thread tends to have a luster in its shine, although it sometimes can be difficult to differentiate between a designed stitched in Sulky Rayon and one stitched in Sulky Polyester Thread, especially in photos.

This stitched sample, #1097, Fleur de lis Scrollwork, is available as a free download on Sulky’s Embroidery Club website.  It is perfect for quick stitching when deciding on which thread type, weight, or color to use.  Stitching a sample provides a true visual, allowing any machine adjustments to be made prior to embroidering a project.

Polyester is slightly stronger than Rayon. However, since both threads are being used to “color in” an embroidery design rather than hold a seam together, strength is a non-issue.  And Sulky Rayon Threads have been used on high-speed industrial embroidery machines for over 75 years.

Polyester Thread will stretch before it will break and will wear a needle a little faster than Rayon.  Although the tip of the needle dulls by repeatedly penetrating a fabric, friction causes any thread to wear out the eye of the needle. This causes thread to break, fray, and bunch up on itself.  If this occurs, sometimes just changing to a new needle solves the problem.  This stretch factor is a mixed blessing.  It does add some strength, but it can also cause thread pull-ups because of the stretch, and may create tension issues not found with Rayon.

Both threads wash and wear equally well, even in hot water.  If an item will be subjected to chlorine bleach or constant sun exposure, then the Polyester Thread is recommended. Having said that, how often is chlorine bleach used on colored fabrics or items with color accents?

When embroidering onto fine fabrics, such as Batiste or Handkerchief Linen, Rayon Thread has a slight advantage over Polyester in that the filament is smoother, softer, and less abrasive on tender skin with a more natural fabric feel.

Embroidered letters, especially complete phrases, will show more detail if stitched in a lighter 60 wt. Polyester thread – Sulky PolyLite™.  Switching to this thread for small elements within a design will also allow the finer details to be noticed, as seen on this tea-stained family tree wall hanging:

Even the most expensive sewing machine pulls up an occasional bobbin thread.

Matching top and bobbin thread when embroidering a design does take a bit more stitching time, but it truly is well worth the effort in eliminating these “blips” in our embroidery! Sulky PolyLite is also perfect for this purpose.

Sulky produces both Rayon and Polyester 40 wt. threads in a wide range of colors and shades to include variegated and multi-colors.  Both can be purchased in small or larger spool sizes with a convenient snap-end closure, with very little price difference between filament content. And most are available on Jumbo Cones.

So far, it seems like the two threads are totally equal.  But there are times when one thread may have a slight edge over another.

Rayon 40 wt. Thread is by far the most popular thread for computerized stitching; especially since most digitizers space their stitches within a design to accept this type of thread/weight.  Also, virtually all sewing machines digitize their decorative stitches for 40 wt.

This magnified section of a single element demonstrates that a professional digitizer will space thread placement differently for various thread filament. This does not mean one thread type or weight cannot be successfully substituted for another.  Polyester 40 wt. can be readily substituted for Rayon 40 wt. However, if a different weight were to be used, it would be wise to stitch a sample to evaluate results prior to attempting a final project.

The sample stitched is design #130, Mumm with Butterfly, which is available on the Sulky Embroidery Club website. It was digitized to accept Sulky PolyLite, a 60 wt. Polyester thread.

The same design was then stitched in part with Rayon 40 wt. Thread and PolyDeco, which is also a 40 wt. thread, but has a polyester filament.  Can you tell which part of the design was stitched in which filament?

When the stitch-outs are compared side-by-side (left, 40 wt. and right, 60 wt.), one design appears denser than the other.  The difference in coverage is due to the thread weight, not the thread content.  If you could hold this sample, you would feel that the design on the right even feels heavier.  Thicker thread is being placed in the same holes that were intended for a lighter thread, making it necessary for the 40 wt. threads to overlap.

The design on the right stitched the outline on the lower large leaf in 40 wt. PolyDeco, while the rest of the design used the finer, 60 wt. PolyLite for the outline.  If you can see the difference in the outline, then you will begin to understand how thread weight affects an embroidery design.

As far as reflective appearance…

If you can tell that the butterfly on the right was stitched in 40 wt. PolyDeco while the rest of that design was stitched in 40 wt. Rayon thread, and you have a preference as to which look you like better, then you have come up with your winner!

However, it does look like a draw as far as thread content in reflecting light, with Rayon filament having a slight edge for some applications while Polyester filament has small advantages in others.

There is a definite winner for thread weight!  But even that winner changes with types of embroidery currently being stitched.

The real winner is you when the thread on the machine is from Sulky.

Then it is a Win-Win!!

rayon versus polyester


Sulky’s 30th Anniversary: Looking Back

Sulky’s 30th Anniversary

Looking Back: Hurricane Andrew

We spoke with Fred and Joyce Drexler once again to discuss another one of their most memorable moments with Sulky. Here’s what Fred had to say…

One of my fondest memories has to do with Sulky’s involvement in the 10-month “Operation Mend” hurricane relief project that I spearheaded in 1992 – 1993. I carried it out with the help of 60 Port Charlotte, FL Rotarians and their families, along with the Miami chapter of the American Sewing Guild and a local church in Homestead, FL.

Many of you may recall that in August 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated the Homestead area below Miami with wind speeds as high as 173 miles per hour. It looked like a 35-mile wide tornado had moved across the land wiping out virtually everything in its path.

Operation Mend invited sewers all over America to “Share their Stash” with Hurricane Andrew victims. Thousands of generous people donated their supplies, netting two full semi-trailer loads of sewing machines, fabric, patterns and every other imaginable sewing tool and notion.

Our small staff of Sulky marketing personnel, who were in Harbor Heights, FL at the time, received, logged in, and sent thank you cards to every person who sent something. They then transported all of those thousands of boxes to another building in Port Charlotte where Rotarians and their families sorted them in preparation for distribution to Homestead sewers who had lost everything.

I am very proud of my son, Eric Drexler (who has gone on to become one of our most recognized Sulky National Educators) who, on his own time, refurbished over 250 sewing machines and spent two weekends with us showing the Homestead recipients how to use them.

The hard-working members of the Miami chapter of the American Sewing Guild located many hundreds of victims for each of the two distributions, and helped them get to the church that was the distribution point. They also screened and selected the most needy to receive the sewing machines and helped us teach the recipients how to use them.

american sewing guild

I will always cherish the memory of the joy on those people’s faces as they received their sewing machines and sewing supplies and realized that they would now be able to engage their passion for sewing again.

Take 30% off all Embroidery Design Cards, today only! Sale ends 5/30 at midnight EDT.

Is Cotton Thread a Good Choice for Machine Embroidery?

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!


Cotton Thread and Machine Embroidery

Rumor has it that synthetic threads are the best threads to use for machine embroidery.  They flow through the machine’s mechanics effortlessly, plus they reflect light and shine just like an angel’s halo!  I must admit; this rumor is all true.  These threads ARE perfect for machine embroidery!

However, there is also a rumor floating around that you should stay away from cotton thread because it will only bring embroidery heartache. And well, this rumor is so NOT TRUE! Sulky® Cotton threads are often the “preferred” thread for many embroidered projects, and for several reasons:

Sulky® Cotton thread is available in over 130 colors (AND 126 Blendables), allowing subtle transitions within design elements. Cotton thread in general adds visibility and additional depth to any stitching pattern. These threads are available in 30 wt., which is ¹/³ thicker than 40 wt. thread and even a heavier 12 wt. filament.

Sulky’s Embroidery Club Design #1090 – Heartscroll – Free Dowload

Sulky® Cotton thread is also available in several variegated or multi-colored themes.  This thread blends color themes or shades, adding a new level of interest to any embroidered element.

Embroidery Library’s Collection: Vintage Jacobean Wings ‘n Things – Large File # 537275 Available on their website at:

Sulky® Cotton thread provides more of a hand-stitched effect than its rayon or polyester colleagues if, for no other reason, than most hand embroidered designs are stitched in a cotton floss.  However, the thicker cotton filament appears to “sink” into natural fabrics giving the appearance of thread fibers intertwining with fabric fibers.

Sabrina Design Set by Janet Sansom – Available at:

Napped fabrics, especially suede cloth, provide a wonderful canvas to showcase designs stitched in cotton thread.

Sulky’s Embroidery Club Design #875 – Dogwood – Available at:


Rumor also has it that Cotton Thread breaks during machine embroidering……oh, I hate when that happens!! Another false rumor once a proven, quality thread is used.

Sulky® only uses longer cotton staple fibers to twist into their quality cotton thread.  Those longer twisted filaments offer less “break points”.


Take the time to read and compare information provided on spool caps.  Just like the mandated information found on fabric bolt ends, thread companies must disclose content, care and, if proud of filament length, they will state “long staple”.  It does make a difference!

In all fairness, the most common reason that any thread breaks is due to friction! Between the speed of the machine and the frequency that a needle must penetrate into the fabric, often in the same area, heat is produced, creating weak points on any thread.  Synthetic threads are man-made and can withstand higher friction, or heat, before breaking. However, this is not to say that the natural cotton thread cannot be successfully incorporated for machine embroidery.

After insuring that a quality, Sulky® Cotton thread is threaded into the machine, my next suggestion, even if you do nothing else, is to simply turn the speed of the embroidery machine down- at least by half -to reduce friction!

A Top-stitch needle is often the best choice when embroidering designs in cotton thread. Top-stitch needles have the large eye necessary for thicker thread to easily pass through…

Plus, it is available in larger gauges than regular embroidery needles.  Larger needle gauges are often helpful when embroidering in cotton thread on heavier fabrics such as denim or duck-cloth.

Most rumors are based on a bit of truth, but by the time the rumor is re-told, usually the “negatives” are spun out of control. A negative truth about Cotton thread is that it does produce lint during the stitching process.  However, personally, the machine-embroidered final project stitched in cotton thread far outweighs any slight inconvenience of the lint by-product.

The “extra steps” I take when stitching with cotton is simply to clean the lint off the presser foot during thread color changes.

Keep a small piece of painter’s tape handy to pick up any small pieces of lint that might have fallen onto the fabric surface.

Once a cotton stitched design has been completed, it is always a good idea to clean out the bobbin casing of the machine.

(For purposes of being able to see the lint in the photo, I have gathered the lint into a ball and left it in the general area the fuzzy particles were found.)


When I stated that often the “negatives” are spun out of control, this is a prime example.  Yes, the machine casing area should be cleaned, however, another truth is that we all should probably be cleaning our machines more often than we actual do, regardless of the thread type!

Do keep in mind that machine embroidery designs are normally digitized to accept a 40 wt. thread.  This is not to say that the 30 wt. cotton thread cannot be substituted.

Bouquet of Flowers Collection by Graceful Embroidery – Available at:

The thicker filament will make the design heavier and more dense. Some details will be less evident.

In comparing the two stitch-outs, the 40 wt. on the left allows a hint of the foundation fabric to show in the centers of the white flowers, the thinner white petals Also, there is a bit more detail in the outline of the top yellow petals and the stamen.

Remember, if wanting the embroidery to be in a silky contrast to the fabric, choosing Rayon or Polyester thread makes sense.  However, if the desired outcome is to mimic more of a “hand stitched” appeal, then Sulky® Cotton thread is your only choice!


Thread Applied to Machine Embroidery

Thread Applied to Machine Embroidery

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

Crayons, oil paints, water-colors, and even chalk are ways in which an artist expresses creativity.

Thread articulates individual creativity when machine embroidering!

Just as all artists look for “quality” raw materials in creating their next masterpiece, so should a seamstress, quilter or a machine embroidery enthusiast.

But what defines “quality” in thread?

  • One that is strong, smooth (not fuzzy), consistent in thickness, and resists tangles

thread applied to machine embroidery

  • One that is made from long, tightly twisted staple or filament fibers


  • Finally, one that offers multiple colors (hues) in various shades of lightness and darkness (value). Subtle graded colors, may not seem necessary, but they can dramatically enhance a design.

Having a thread chart in hand when deciding on colors for a design makes the small investment of purchasing the chart well worth it.  Not only can you identify the colors you already have, but it is easy to visualize complimentary colors vs. subtle change colors vs. contrasting ones!

Sulky is a proven name brand that is synonymous with quality.  Sulky offers a wealth of thread options in both fiber content and thread weight, allowing choices of solid colors, metallic textures or blendable tones.

It is important to understand that higher numbers equal a finer thread filament.  In other words, a 60 wt. polyester thread is thinner, finer, and more light-weight than a 40 wt. polyester thread, which is just opposite of what our logical minds would lead us to believe.  The thread weight number is found on the spool’s end cap.  The filament content will also be found there, much like the label on the end of a fabric bolt.

It is also extremely important to understand how the thread is wound on the spool because it should be unwound in the same direction to avoid tangles (most noticeable when hand-stitching) and breakage.  Cross-wound spools (thread crosses over itself diagonally as the spool is wound) work best if the thread comes off the top of the spool.  Stacked spools (the thread is wound in an even spiral, not crossing over the other threads) works best if thread unwinds off the side of the spool.

thread machine embroidery

Bottom line, if you are having problems with thread breakage or not getting proper tension results, try turning the spool direction and re-thread your machine.

If one truly wants to master an art, knowledge is the key.  So, we will continue to explore Sulky threads learning how various thread weights and styles effect the same design as well as learning how to combine different thread types within the same design.

In the meantime, check out Sulky’s website……

There is so much useful information to be found in the Resource tab including a free guide to download about Thread & Needles!


Just a few Fun Facts to take with you:

  • Thread has a “shelf life”.  Buying anything larger than Sulky’s 850-yard spool could result in wasteful over-spending because it may take 10 to 20 years to use it all and lesser quality threads will deteriorate with exposure to sun and heat.
  • One 250-yard spool of Sulky 40wt. Rayon thread can create 44,000 stitches, while an 850 yard spool can create 156,000 stitches!
  • Thread weight matters! A 30wt. thread is 1/3 times stronger, heavier, and denser than a 40wt. thread.
  • Sulky 40wt. Rayon, the most popular thread used in machine embroidery, is available in 283 solid colors and 55 variegated combinations.
  • Most machine embroidery designs are digitized with the intended stitch-out done in a 40wt. thread. It is important to read design directions to replicate the digitizer’s intentions.
  • Most sewing machines are calibrated to use 40wt. thread for built-in, decorative stitches. If using a different thread, experiment to find the perfect ratio of stitch length, width, and tension!
  • Sulky Invisible Thread is 100% polyester.  Translation?…. it does not melt with normal ironing through the cotton setting, nor will it break down in the dryer through repeated care cycles.
  • When changing thread on a sewing machine, do not pull the thread back out of the machine to re-wind on the spool. Instead, cut the thread by the spool and pull it through the machine in the same direction the machine is threaded.  Modern tension disks are so precise that thread should only travel in the proper direction through them.

May the Fourth (be with you)

May the Fourth (be with you)…Happy Star Wars Day! 

Let’s be honest, MOST of us are die-hard Star Wars fans, whether we like it or not. When even an utter of a new Star Wars movie is spoken we jump on the nearest computer (aka our smartphones) to find out if the news is true. We then mark our calendars for the big event – even if it won’t be released for another year.

To share their enthusiasm for this “galaxy far, far away” crafters everywhere have shared their Star Wars projects – and creative, they are!  So today, on Star Wars Day, we wanted to share a few of our favorites with you…

I’ll kick things off with these very cool Star Wars embroidery designs that we’ve pinned in our Pinterest Star Wars board – because OF COURSE we have a board for that! Wouldn’t these look great sewn out with Sulky Cotton Petites?

May the Fourth (be with you)

Check out these awesome quilts! Great idea for a child’s room!

Love this awesome cut-out shirt resembling a storm trooper!

The Death Star seems to be a common trend…

May Fourth Star Wars

We even saw a couple of Star Wars crafts at the Pinners Conference and Expo in Atlanta!

Amy Racine of Novelty Arts brings old book pages to life with her amazing paper folding skills.

May the force be with you art from Pinners Conference and Expo in Atlanta 2017

Elexa Bancroft of Lexicon of Love – Music Art finds inspiration in her love of vintage sheet music, books, and her students.

 The best part about today?….

To share in our enthusiasm, we are taking 40% off our specialty Glowy Polyester Thread AND PolyDeco Neon Thread! Sale ends at midnight EDT so be sure to take advantage of this stellar deal!