Glow in the dark thread is a fun way to add interest to all kinds of cross stitch and embroidery patterns. Activated by natural or artificial light, the thread glows when the lights are out. It's perfect for everything from Halloween designs to adding glowing moons and stars to nighttime scenes.
While it looks great, glow in the dark thread has a very different feel than regular cotton embroidery floss, and it can be a bit tricky to stitch with. These tips and tricks will help you get a handle on this specialty fiber.
1. Know your options
There are a number of companies that produce glow in the dark thread, but the two most commonly used for cross stitch and embroidery are DMC and Kreinik.
DMC Light Effects E940 is a 6-strand divisible floss. It is bright white in regular light and glows green in the dark. When stitching on 14-count Aida or 28-count linen, use two strands.
Krienik has a collection of fun, bright colors that glow either green or orange in the dark. They come on spools in a range of sizes. The fine #8 braid is a good choice when stitching on 14-count Aida or 28-count linen, while the #4 braid works for higher thread count fabrics. The Kreinik thread is non-divisible, meaning you don't need to split it into strands before stitching with it.
2. Stitch with short lengths
Glow in the dark thread can kink and twist. To keep it more manageable, stitch with shorter lengths of thread. In general, don't go over 15 to 18 inches.
3. Relax and condition the thread
The DMC glow in the dark thread feels more satiny and slippery than regular cotton embroidery floss, while the Kreinik thread is stiffer and more like a metallic. Both are easier to work with if you relax them first. To relax thread, stroke it between your thumb and index finger a few times, or run it along a slightly damp cosmetic sponge.
Using a thread conditioner or beeswax will also help make glow in the dark thread more manageable. Run the thread lightly along the surface of the conditioner or beeswax, and then between your fingers to even out the coating. Be sparing, you want a light coating of conditioner or wax.
4. Know how to thread your needle
Minimize wear on the thread by choosing a needle with a large enough eye. The thread should fit comfortably through the needle, but keep in mind that you don't want a needle so large that it distorts the weave of the fabric you are stitching on. A needle threader is a big help when working with glow in the dark thread.
It's also important to keep the tail end short when threading your needle. Whether you are using DMC or Kreinik thread, the ends of the thread are prone to fraying. The needle may also kink the thread where it rests against the eye. Keeping the tail of the thread short will minimize damage.
5. Use a hoop or frame
Using a hoop or a frame when you stitch will make sure the fabric remains taut and will help keep the weave of the fabric open to minimize drag on the thread. The more you can do to reduce friction, the more you prevent fraying and damage to the thread.
Using a hoop or frame is particularly helpful when stitching on black or dark fabric. For more tips, see 8 tips for stitching on black fabric.
6. Stitch slowly and let the thread untwist as you go
This is not the time for speed. Glow in the dark thread has a very different feel than regular cotton embroidery floss, so take your time and make stitches with care for neater results.
While you stitch, your thread may become twisted. With glow in the dark thread, the twists can lead to troublesome kinks and knots. To prevent this, occasionally let the thread and needle hang free below the fabric to untwist.
7. Charge your thread
Glow in the dark thread can be "charged" with either artificial or natural light. When the glow fades, expose it to light again to recharge.
8. Light up with a black light
Both the DMC and Kreinik thread will glow for about 15 minutes in the dark. They will glow even longer and brighter if you use a black light, which you can get online or at most hardware stores or party stores.
9. Washing and caring for your thread
Care for a piece with glow in the dark thread just like you would any other. Washing and drying will not affect the glow, but ironing and bleaching are not recommended.
10. Maximize your glow!
Glow in the dark thread looks great stitched on standard white or black fabric, but if you really want to amp up the effect, consider stitching on glow in the dark fabric! Available in linen and Aida, the fabric glows green in the dark and has a speckled, almost starry night effect.
You can substitute glow in the dark thread (or fabric) in any project. For inspiration, check out our selection of Halloween cross stitch patterns and kits.