Silk Thread

Silk is China’s greatest gift to the world. While rayon has a good deal of shine, silk has a truly unique look and feel. This fiber can be found in many varieties of threads and yarns.   The silkworm, actually a caterpillar, will spin itself a cocoon and live there until it becomes a moth.   To produce the silk fiber, the worm must be killed. The cocoon is unwound to form a very long silk fiber. This long fiber is joined with many others to create threads.


When working with silk, take a little extra time to double check, ensuring that the fibers lie straight on the canvas. This is the time to use a laying tool. The extra time required will create beautiful stitches which silk deserves. Long, straight stitches traveling in different directions allow the light to play on the fibers. The light makes the thread appear to have been stitched in two tones. Long stitches worked in silk such as a bargello pattern will play with the light better than an eyelet or Continental. As you stitch, the needle and thread should travel through the canvas like a sewing machine. Use up and down movements to sew your stitches. Please avoid using the sewing method when working with all silks.


We have a few things to remember. First, silk is sensitive to water and sunlight. Take care when you stitch with them, to do all you can to prevent having to block the project when it is completed. Silk is very strong but each individual fiber can break. If it is possible, work your canvas stretched with stretcher bars or other frame. Again, use a laying tool. You will be glad you did. And last, wear work gloves when cleaning the house and garden to keep your hands free from picks and rough spots. If you need to use hand cream, use non-greasy to moisturizer

The Threads

Backgrounds Helene:  This is a soft pearl with a creamy shine. The thread can be used in many projects. Because it is a soft silk, stitch with up and down motions using the stab technique. Helene is manufactured by the Rainbow Gallery Company.

     Uses: All-purpose

Backgrounds Natural Silk: This very delicate, soft twisted, fuzzy thread is perfect for hair and animals. Picture a sheep worked in French Knots or an old man’s beard. This is where Natural Silk will be best. Please work with shorter lengths of thread. The thread will wear out if caution is not exercised.   Also, up and down stabbing method is best. This is another beautiful thread by the Rainbow Gallery Company.

     Uses: Animals, hair, clothes and clouds

Dinky Dyes Silk Thread: This embroidery silk floss is a 6 strand 2-ply floss which is available in 186 beautiful colors. The package has 8 meters of silk and will be one of your favorites once you have tried them. The shine is comparable to Kreinik Silk Mori. This thread may not be colorfast. Test before washing.

     Uses: An all-purpose silk thread, soft shine areas

Elegance: This silk #8 pearl had a light shine which ask to be used in many projects. It is very strong and will look lovely in Continental or decorative stitches. Embroidery stitches such as French Knots, Detached Chain, Chain and Bullions are great candidates for this pear. Rainbow Gallery doesn’t recommend using Elegance on long stitches. Elegance is dyed to match many Splendor threads and colors of Grandeur and Subtlety.

     Uses: Embroidery stitches, clothes, animals, birds, foliage, backgrounds, mountains, sky, fields and borders

Felicity’s Garden: Felicity’s Garden is a 50/50 combination of China silk and Merino Wool. The feel of the thread is very soft and the appearance is like wool. The skein comes in 40 yards which means, for you, plenty of stitching is given in each skein. The “dyes are color-fast but be sure to test before stitching.”   This is another all-purpose thread.

     Uses:  All-purpose

Gloriana Silk Floss: This high luster thread is a 12 strand 2-ply silk floss which is very easy to work with. To stitch, you may use the thread as is or divide the strands and place back together again for a soft smooth appearance. (This would be determined by the area and texture you wish to create.) Gloriana Silk floss is comparable to Splendor, Soie Cristal and Soie D’Alger.  Please note: Gloriana states dark colors and reads may bleed. You should hand wash in cold water.

     Uses:  All-purpose

Grandeur: Grandeur is a twisted silk #5 pearl by Rainbow Gallery. Work the thread as it comes off the card. This thread is dyed to match many of the Splendor colors. Also, it matches the thinner weight of Elegance and Subtlety.  The thread is very strong but it will lose its lustier if you work a very long strand in the needle. The twist may become undone. If this does happen, just give the needle a little twirl between your fingers and thumb.

     Uses: Eyes, clothes, foliage, borders, clothing, flowers and shiny areas

J.L. Walsh Silk Pearl #212: This silk thread is a pearl or buttonhole thread which is very similar to #8 pearl cotton. The color range is 157 lovely hews and has a medium luster. Stitching with this pearl is very simple. You may wish to use a shorter strand than usual. This will prevent the luster from getting dull before you have stitched the length of silk.

     Uses: Isolated stitches, details, small count canvas

J.L. Walsh Silk Pearl #223: The Walsh Company offers a silk embroidery thread which has 15 very fine strands. You may wish to stitch the thread as is. If you do separate the strands, be sure to use a laying tool to ensure the fibers lay flat on the canvas. If you desire to create a master piece, try using Walsh Pearl #223 in bargello with 18/1 canvas. The results will be stunning! You may want to try my project for a tool pad. Here, J. L. Walsh silks were used along with Frieze (Check Perl) metal thread.

     Uses:  Details, eyes, flowers, birds, borders

J. L. Walsh Silk/Wool: This beautiful thread is a 5 strand 50/50 silk and wool blend. The strands can be separated which makes the possibilities endless.  The color range is 170 colors. This is great for 12/1 and 14/1 canvas. Like other silk/wool blends this thread is all-purpose.

      Uses: All-purpose

Impressions: A 50/50 silk and wool blend suitable for many applications. Because of the combination, the light plays on the thread giving interesting effects. This thread is a silk pearl which fits 18/1 canvas very nicely when worked in Basketweave.   The color line coordinates with other Caron threads, Watercolours and Waterlilies.   You will find the weight is about the same as Waterlilies.

     Uses: Areas where you would like a low shine.

Madeira Silk: This silk embroidery floss is 4 strand, 2-ply. It comes in 108 colors that are color fast. Use this thread like you would any other embroidery floss.   You can use Madeira Silk as 1, 2, 3 or more strands in the needle. You may wish to use a laying tool if you are stitching with a multiple stand in the needle. This embroidery thread comes in a spiral in a plastic bag. Just cut a “V” at the bottom and pull the thread out of its package.   The package has 5.5 yards of 100% silk.

     Uses: Use like embroidery floss

Silk Threads by Olde Willow Stitchery:  Olde Willow Stitchery has created a line of overdyed silk embroidery floss with lovely color line. The thread is 8 strand, 2-ply thread which can be used as 1, 2, 3 or more strands in the needle to fit your canvas. The threads area not colorfast and when you purchase the threads for your project, be sure you have bought enough to finish the job. Each dye lot is much different when overdyed threads are created.

     Uses: Use like embroidery floss

Oriental Linen: Thread Gatherer had created a 52% silk/48% linen blend which is available in 75 interesting color combinations. The thread is 2-ply with a knobby texture. As you look at the colors available, you think of many applications for this thread. Straw Basket, Irish Hills, Terra Cotta are just some of the examples of the names of their line. Areas on the canvas are endless with Oriental Linen. The thread is easy to stitch with. Just pull the thread out of the skein and thread up. Be sure the length is not too long. The fibers will get “tired” and will be deemed unusable.

     Uses: Clothes, foliage, animals, birds, buildings, pots, backgrounds, mountains and more

Raffia: This thread is identical to Sea Grass by The Thread Gatherer. Raffia is a long ribbon like thread constructed of a series of fibers bonded together to make a unique thread. The thread is great for clothing, grass, wicker or tree trunks. Because the thread has a shine, the area will stand out in your motif. When stitching, use shorter lengths of thread in the needle and use a slightly larger needle than required for the canvas. Use caution when threading the needle to prevent splitting the thread down the middle.

     Uses: Grass, wicker, baskets, fields, mountains, birds, animals, clothing, borders, fields and rocks.

Rajmahal Art Silk: This is a very fine silk which should be used in petit point or very small details. You may wish to over stitch with this thread to create details and interest. The silk floss is a 6 strand 2-ply thread which has a very high sheen. If you do not desire using Rajmahal Art Silk for needlepoint, try using it in other forms of needlework. Surface embroidery, stumpwork and others are great opportunities for Rajmahal Art Silk. Please note: some of the Rajmahal colors match Silk Bella, Silk Serica and Silk Mori.

     Uses: Eyes, gems, petit point, high shine details

Ribbon: We have many silk ribbon companies making various sizes. Of the companies, we have Fyre Werks, Gloriana, Kreinik, River Silks, Splendor, The Thread Gatherer, YLI and others which make 1/8”, 1/16”, 2mm, 4mm, 7mm and 13 mm wide ribbons. Each company offers an array of colors. You can use ribbon as a thread when stitching various stitches or as ribbon embroidery on a Continental background. Think of flowers, French Knots, Detached Chain (Lazy Daisy) and other embroidery stitches. Samplers can benefit when you use ribbons. Stitches like Sturgeon Trail, Eugene, Couching and Double Variation can all be stitched in ribbons. Try using ribbon with another thread. Ribbon and embroidery floss makes an interesting combination. Please don’t use ribbon for Continental or other small stitch. Use ribbon for the full benefit it deserves. Have fun and experiment.

     Uses:  Flowers, clothes, birds, animals, fields, borders and unlimited possibilities

Silk & Cream: Silk & Cream, by Rainbow Gallery, is a 50/50 combination of silk and wool. Because of the blend, the thread has a fuzzy shine that gives it an interesting effect.   When working on projects, items such as clothes, animals and blankets will work very nicely with this thread.   Work with a shorter length of thread to prevent damage. Also, it would be best to use a larger needle than what is required for the canvas.   When stitching keep in mind that Silk & Cream has a slight twist.   Correct as needed.

     Uses: Flowers, clothing, hair, animals and all-purpose

Silk & Ivory: Silk & Ivory is by Brown Paper Packages.  This thread is another 50% silk 50% Merino wool blend which is available in 224 colors. The texture is soft and the shine is a low luster.   Like other silk/wool blend, the thread has many possibilities. You can use Silk & Ivory on canvas sizes 13/1 to 18/1. You may wish to make a test swatch to determine the strands required for your stitch.

     Uses: Endless possibilities

Silk Bella: This is a fine 3-ply filament silk by the Kreinik Company. The look of the thread is soft with a fine sheen to the appearance. The colors are matched with Kreinik Silk Mori and Silk Serica line. Because it is a very fine thread, you should use Silk Bella for petit point or details in your projects. You should use lengths about 18” long and a slightly larger needle than the canvas requires.

Kreinik recommends dry cleaning only for soiled Silk Bella. You should not wash or wet block your silk projects. Use a frame when stitching this silk.

     Uses: Petit point, details, small areas, eyes