I was asked a question recently wondering why books don’t tell you what threads to use for particular canvases. Knowing what threads to use is partly a matter of trial & error. Yes there are guidelines but they may not apply to you.
You can see this in action in my recent test of Dinky Dye’s silk/wool. I found it too thick for me to use on 18-mesh except for larger stitches. My friend Cathe who also tested the thread for her shop, Needle in a Haystack, had no problems on 18-mesh.
Most books only give the most general of guidelines because this information varies. While most stitchers would find #8 perle too thin for 18 mesh, others might like the lighter coverage or may stitch with a tension that allows them to use this thinner thread. You will find more specific information in project books and stitch guides.
The stitch you are using can also affect this. Straight stitches, for example, always need slightly thicker thread.
Although most threads of a specific type are about the same width, this can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Usually it isn’t enough to make a difference.
The color might even affect this. Because of the amount of dye in them, dark colors can seem thicker. But they value contrast with the canvas can also make them cover poorly.
Finally the thread might fit, but the thickness of it might look wrong for your canvas.
Even so, there are some guidelines for stitch coverage. These work for most stitchers for most stitches. And make a great starting point for your stitching. But don’t be afraid to adjust based on what you like.
Some companies, such as Rainbow Gallery or the Caron Collection put this on their packaging.
Here are some guidelines for common threads:
Floss (silk or cotton):
- 3-4 strands on 18-mesh canvas
- 6 strands on 13- & 14-mesh canvas
- #8 on 24-mesh (Congress Cloth)
- #5 on 14- & 18-mesh
- #3 on 12- & 13-mesh
- 2 strands on 18-mesh
- 3 strands on 13- & 14-mesh
- 4 strands on 12-mesh
- 1 strand on 14- & 18-mesh (straight stitches might need more)
- 2 strands on 13- & 14-mesh
- 3 strands on 12-mesh
One last note. If a thread is similar in diameter, it’s coverage will be about the same. A common example of this is Watercolours. Although it is not a perle cotton, a single strand of it is about the diameter of a strand of #5 perle, so the coverage is the same.
This is a starting point, your results may vary.