How to cross stitch with DMC metallic embroidery floss

How to cross stitch with DMC metallic embroidery floss

Metallic thread can add a lovely sparkle to all kinds of cross stitch and embroidery projects, but It can be a bit challenging to work with. It's slippery. It kinks and tangles. It frays like crazy. But don't let all that scare you. These tips will make it easier and give you the confidence to shine up your stitching.

How to cross stitch with DMC metallic embroidery floss

1. Know your thread

There are lots of different types of metallic needlework thread on the market, but in this post we will focus on DMC Light Effects Metallic Floss because it is widely available and comes in a nice range of colors.

DMC metallic floss is a polyester/viscose blend. Like its cotton counterpart, the metallic floss comes in a skein and is made up of 6 strands that are divisible, meaning depending on the fabric you are stitching on, you can separate the strands and use what you need. When stitching on 14-count Aida or 28-count linen, two strands of DMC metallic floss usually provides the right coverage.

2. Use shorter lengths

Metallic thread can twist and tangle and fray. To minimize these problems, stitch with a shorter length than you might with cotton embroidery floss. In general, a length between 12 and 15 inches works well. 

3. Use care when separating strands

Each strand in the 6-strand floss is itself made up of two threads twisted together. Because the metallic is more slippery than cotton floss, these two threads can become untwisted, and that can make the end of a length of floss a frayed and unruly mess.

When you are separating out a strand, make sure you are pulling its two twisted threads together, and not just separating out one of them. If in doubt, try trimming the end to a section that is not frayed.

How to cross stitch with DMC metallic embroidery floss

4. Condition your thread

Metallic thread benefits from conditioning with a product like beeswax or Thread Magic. After you have separated out a strand, press and hold it lightly onto the surface of the beeswax or thread conditioner with your thumb. With your other hand, pull the thread to coat the length. Do this twice, pulling once in each direction. Run the thread between your fingers to even out the wax or conditioner.

You don't need to go overboard in conditioning the thread. You want a light coat, just enough to smooth the thread, but not enough to make it feel waxy.

How to cross stitch with DMC metallic embroidery floss

5. Use this trick for threading your needle

If you take away only one tip from this post, let it be this one. When I learned this trick for threading my needle, it changed my whole relationship with metallic thread. It's that good.

The biggest challenge with metallic thread is that the ends fray. The fraying only gets worse as the thread repeatedly passes through your fabric. To eliminate this problem, cut a piece of floss that is twice the length you want to stitch with, and separate out a single strand.

Fold the strand in half, and thread the loop end through the eye of your needle. Pass the ends of the thread through the loop and tighten to form a knot. When you start stitching, secure the tail end under the first few stitches.

How to cross stitch with DMC metallic embroidery floss

This threading technique has several benefits. First, passing the loop through the eye of the needle is easier than trying to coax the frayed ends through. Second, the knot keeps the thread securely on your needle as you stitch. Third, and most importantly, the ends of the thread are secured out of the way right from the beginning so there is no fraying to deal with. Genius!

6. Periodically untwist

While you are stitching, your fingers tend to twist the needle, and that can twist the thread and make it kink. From time to time, let your needle drop and hang free so the thread can untwist. This is good practice even when you are stitching with regular cotton floss.

7. Mix and match

You can use metallic thread all on its own for serious shine, or combine one strand of metallic with one strand of cotton floss for a more subtle shimmer. The color number on DMC metallic floss matches its closest cotton equivalent, which makes it easy to combine the two. For example, E3843 is a sparkly blue metallic that matches the DMC cotton floss 3843.

How to cross stitch with DMC metallic embroidery floss

Use these tips to add a few metallics to your stash and start experimenting. Use just a bit to add a subtle sparkle to a project - think stars in the sky or other highlights. Or go for all over shine with a project like these ornaments that combine metallic thread with metallic perforated paper.

How to cross stitch with DMC metallic embroidery floss

29 comments

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marta

marta

Muy agradecida. Desconocía su uso,los tengo,ahora podre utilizarlos.Un saludo cordial desde Puerto Madryn, Chubut,Argentina.

Janice labelle

Janice labelle

After a crosstitch project, you press it with a dry iron. I can’t seem to find out if it’s safe for metallic thread. I have been working on a project for many months and don’t want to ruin it.

Leigh

Leigh

Thank you so much, l was about to give up on using the metallic threads.👍

Gaynor mcneilly

Gaynor mcneilly

I’m cross stitching the garden geisha with very little instructions it said gold matalic thread but not how many threads was worried incase I was using to many strands as looked a little to thick but turns out I was using the correct amount. Thank you. X
Melissa

Melissa

My first visit, very informative, thank you so much.

lauren

lauren

thank you so much for these helpful tips! i almost gave up but now i’m excited to continue :)

Eleanor

Eleanor

Wow, what great ideas. I have a Christmas piece that I started 20+ years ago and put it away because using the metallic thread made me crazy. After reading your blog, I am going to resurrect that piece and finish it! Thanks for the tips.

Judy Harris

Judy Harris

Thanks for the helpful tips

Rebecca

Rebecca

Best advice! I bought metallic threads yesterday and having massive issues. All mentioned here so I’m glad it wasnt just me!

Rhoda Edwards

Rhoda Edwards

Thank you for the tips. Will be working on some serious stitching over the weekend.

Marianne

Marianne

Thank you for the tips with blank vaseline is the same.

Pamela lees

Pamela lees

Thanks to tip 5 about threading of metallic thread I am much happier using it on my latest project which uses a great deal if gold thread.

ColetteRowberry Rowberry

ColetteRowberry Rowberry

WOW!! After all these years I will finally have it easier when working with metallic. Thank you sooo much. I can’t wit to try it. Have a great evening GO HABS GO!!!!!!!!

Melissa

Melissa

I have used used the metallic thread once in the past and it really was a pain but your advice was a game changer, thanks!

Luisa Jiménez

Luisa Jiménez

¿Como puedo conseguir el libro para hacer punto de cruz con hilo metálico DMC? Gracias.

Becca

Becca

I was legit losing my mind trying to stitch with my metallic thread, I tried the fifth trick and it saved my sanity! It really is crazy how well that trick works.

Rekha

Rekha

I have one question,if I want to work with 3 strands,how to thread?

Karen

Karen

I’ve always used a needle threader to put floss into the needle. A cross stitcher gave me this hint & I’ve used it ever since & prefer it to the one mentioned; I find it easier. Keeping the 2 tails together make a small loop close to the end of the tails & pull the 2 ends through the loop & pull tight. The 2 tails beyond the knot can be cut very short .This makes a very tiny, but secure loop & it’s not noticeable either from the front or back of your piece. Stitch from the bottom of your piece to the top like you normally would but don’t pull the thread tight. When you go back down put your needle between the 2 pieces of floss on the back side & pull tight – this will locks your stitch in place & eliminates the need to hide your floss under other stitches. It really works great when you’re starting and have no other threads to lock your ends under.

Paula

Paula

Wish I had this book when I first started using the metallics. I figured out the hard way how to use it. You can use these tips with the satin flosses too.

Paula

Paula

Wish I had this book when I first started using the metallics. I figured out the hard way how to use it. You can use these tips with the satin flosses too.

Consuelo

Consuelo

When I saw all the wonderful sparkle of thread I knew I had to use them in my projects. I have had them for several months afraid to use them ,because I knew they were going to be a pain. As I am a patient person (because good things comes to those who wait), I guess I was waiting for you. Thank you sooo much , now I can begin.
I have a book with about forty Santa patterns and I do one every year I have wanted to incorporate metallic thread for that special umph

Tara

Tara

Thank you so much for this… it was a brain saver! I was having such a fit trying to get these metallic threads to start, your tutorial was my first and only stop on the internet :)

Julie

Julie

I have been stitching for over 30 years and have always shyed away from metallic thread. But now I’m excited to try it. Thank for your tips.

Magda

Magda

Muchas gracias, valiosos consejos.

Yamilé Salas

Yamilé Salas

Excellent tips!! Thanks so much for sharing.

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