Secrets of embroidery thread revealed – all you need to know about floss

embroidery hoop with beautiful hand embroidery

As there is countless number of embroidery styles and techniques so is multitude of embroidery threads. A good news is that there is no such thing as “proper” or “correct” thread.

Of course, some specific techniques require or better perform with some specific threads (for instance: wool is perfect for crewel embroidery) but in todays post I’d love to tell about very creative approach – creating texture with differen types of floss. For more embroidery tutorials visit my short guide on stitching.

cotton threads
cotton dmc embroidery floss


The most common thread is 6-strand embroidery floss. Usually made of double mercerized cotton. Shiny and soft. The well known brands are DMC, Anchor, Seasons, Madeira, Ariadna.


Then there is a variety of wool. They comes in many different thicknesses. Crevel embroidery is a type where you use wool.


Silk is very elegant and kind of exclusive medium. Anything made with silk is shiny and precious. In terms of price natural silk is the most expensive. And there are also synthetic variations available.

Retors matt

A special mat cotton by DMC for tapesties.

There is more but enough for now. Let’s move onto creating texture.

Although embroidery is a flat thing it’s not entirely like this. Techniques such as padding, steampunk, goldwork add a lot of 3-dimentionality to traditional needlework. However if you don’t use them you can still create plenty of texture just by using threads only.

Here is how to create interesting surfaces:

  • Use different type of floss in one embroidery. Use at least two kinds of thread.
  • Split threads when you stitch. The more varieties of thickness the better.
  • Combine different stitches together. Learn the basic stitches with my free stitch guide.
  • Make layers. It is a powerful way of creating depth of the piece.
  • Use glass beads or sequins they are crazy texture makers!

Bonus tip: if you want even more textures paint the fabric with acrylics. Do it before stitching to avoid staining threads. Or do it after stitching if you have strong nerves.

Keep these things in mind and start playing. Be open minded-that pays off when you create something you have never seen before. Don’t fret when your experiment fails. Only the most successful people make the most mistakes and never give up. Remember there will always be a new blank hoop for the next chance.