I hadn’t stitched with metallic thread before but I’d heard horror stories from other stitchers. I raised my eyebrow when I noticed that my chart offered a standard thread alternative for the metallic threads, but figured, ‘how hard can it be?’
Very, was the answer.
Until I asked for tips on a Facebook cross-stitch group and got some wonderful advice.
Tie a knot in the end by your needle
After threading the needle, tie a knot in the end near the eye.
If you don’t then as you stitch and handle that piece of thread, it will fray badly and start snagging.
If you stitch with two strands, tie a knot in each strand separately. I tried tying the two together, but the knot was a bit big and stretched the holes in the fabric when I pulled it through. Two separate small knots worked better.
Use short lengths
I normally stitch with as much thread as possible, to avoid wasting time casting off and starting a new length. With metallics, you’ll want to use small pieces:
- Less chance of tangling
- Less handling of each piece of thread, so less chance of it fraying as you go
Use one strand at a time
This is the tip that has changed my stitching life. My current project called for full cross-stitch in metallic thread, with two strands. The strands fought each other and tangled like crazy. Then someone suggested using one strand at a time. This was a revelation!
Use one strand. Do a row of half stitches (/) and on the way back, instead of doing the top half as usual (\), do the first halves again a second time. You can’t tell that it wasn’t stitched with two strands in one go.
Then, repeat, along the row and back again for the top half (\).
It sounds like it’ll take twice as long as you have to do each stitch twice. While this is true, and it is slow, you’ll spend a lot less time untangling your threads so it doesn’t add as much time as you’d think. And, you won’t want to throw your stitching out the window.
I haven’t tested this tip. I know Thread Heaven or beeswax is popular but I haven’t used either myself. It’s a waxy block that you run your thread over before stitching. It coats it lightly and reduces twisting and tangles. My fellow stitchers swear it works wonders on metallic threads, without affecting their look and sparkle.