A reader asked me a couple of days ago about threads to use on 13-mesh canvas. Today there are plenty of threads that can be used on larger mesh canvases.
One thing to remember in talking about all threads: Thread recommendations are serving suggestions only. They are excellent starting points. If they are too thick or this for your stitching, feel free to use a thicker or thinner thread.
Single strand threads are by far the best threads for beginners to use. Happily for us, there are many that work beautifully on larger mesh.
My favorite single-strand thread is Pearl Cotton. Although #3 pearl is often recommended for 13 mesh, I think the look of the stitches is too large for this mesh. Projects done with this thread look out of proportion to me. #5 creates tiny, bead-like stitches. It’s what I recommend.
Thicker silks and silk/wool blends are an excellent choice for 13 and 14 mesh. The silks from Vineyard and Planet Earth and the silk/wool blend of Silk & Ivory are great choices for these canvases. The background of the Cooper oaks canvas pictured above uses Silk & Ivory on 13. The orange cat immediately above was stitched completely in Vineyard Silk.
If you want a more wooly silk/wool blend, try Jumbuck from Dinky Dyes. I think it’s perfect on 13 mesh.
For metallics, the best size is #16 (Medium) in Kreinik. 16-strand Treasure Braid for Rainbow Gallery also works well. I would stay away from metallic ribbons because the narrower ones are often too narrow and the wider ones too thick. Another Rainbow Gallery metallic I love on 13 is Cresta d’Oro. From Caron, there is Snow, which is also a great choice. I used that for the background of this cat.
Rainbow Gallery makes several threads that are perfect for larger mesh sizes. Consider using Frosty Rays, Gold Rush 14, Sparkle Rays, Very Velvet, and the largest size of Silk Lame. Rainbow Gallery Threads that are also great on larger mesh, but that do not come in sizes, include Alpaca 18 (don’t let the name fool you) and Rainbow Tweed. Discontinued threads from them that also work well include Santa’s Beard and Suit, several of the Backgrounds threads, and Pebbly Perle. With so many different threads, you can easily get a good variety of textures on your canvas.
There are also a few novelty threads to consider for 13 and 14 mesh. I really like Threadworx Expressions. It’s a blended thread and has been one of my favorite background threads for years. Another great thread with a completely matte texture is DMC’s Matte Cotton. I like this thread so much I stockpile it. It can be hard to find, but is worth the effort. A newer novelty thread that works great on these canvases is Straw Silk, which can also be used on 18.
Stranded threads, by their nature, can be used on many different mesh sizes of canvas. You just have to adjust the number of strands to suit the mesh. For cotton embroidery floss and most stranded silks (silk floss), six strands work well on 13 mesh. If you are using a silk floss that has 12 strands, this can be a problem. Many of these silks, such as Splendor, come with three bundles of four strands. To make a six-strand bundle, you’ll need to divide one of these.
Crewel wools generally need three strands for 13 mesh. With Persian Wool, I can use one strand for many stitches. Using Persian Wool for straight stitches is more problematic. Often one strand looks too thin and just using two strands throughout distorts the canvas. I use a combination of techniques to solve this problem. First, I always take the longest route from the end of one stitch to the beginning of the next. This puts more thread on the back and seems to bulk up the stitch. If I still find occasional stitches that are too thin, I go over them again. If two or more stitches are together that look thin, I make the second pass one stitch at a time and look after every stitch. The thicker stitch made this way often solves the coverage problem for adjacent stitches as well.
If a thread, such as Sulky’s Petites, is equivalent of two strands of floss, you’ll need to use three strands on larger mesh. The canvas above, on 13, was stitched entirely in Petites.
Because I use many unusual threads, I often find myself unsure of how many strands of thread to us. When this happens I start by thinking what more common thread is it most like in thickness? I’ll start trying the thread by using that number of strands to stitch an area.
If my hands don’t hurt and the canvas is not distorted I know that the number of strands is not too many. If my hands hurt, the canvas is distorted, or the stitches look to large or thick, I need to reduce the number of strands. If the thread does not cover fully, I need to increase the number of strands.
A Quick Tip for Fuller Coverage
Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where the mesh size is between two amounts of thread. For example, you may think #5 pearl cotton looks thin on 13, but #3 pearl gives you stitches that look out of proportion. I learned a clever fix for this from a shopowner.
Find the stranded thread that is closest in color and fiber to your problem thread. Add a strand of that thread to your stitching bundle. You can often go back and stitch with that single strand the areas already completed.
For the pearl cotton problem, you would add floss. For Persian Wool, you’d add crewel wool.
You won’t notice the single added strand, but you will see the better coverage.