Embroidery Tutorial – How To Separate Threads

Welcome to another Lolli & Grace embroidery tutorial! Today I’m going to talk about the correct way to separate threads. This technique is called “stripping.” Sounds a little violent, right? Well, I promise it’s not anything bad. In fact, it’s really sort of cool!

So if you’re new to embroidery, here is some basic information before we talk about stripping:
-Embroidery thread (or “floss” – I use those terms interchangeably most of the time) is stranded, which means it is made up of several strands of smaller threads. The most common embroidery thread you find in craft stores contains 6 strands.

-More often than not, a pattern will instruct you to separate the threads and use only 1 strand, or 2, or perhaps 3.

For years, I really disliked separating threads. But the reason I disliked it was because I was doing it all wrong! And here’s your lesson in what NOT to do – if your patterns says to use 2 strands, don’t grab 2 strands and pull them apart from the other 4, so that they untwist from each other. You’ll end up with knots, tangles and untwisted thread.

So…what is the correct way? Stripping, of course. Here’s how to strip threads.

1. After cutting your desired length of thread, hold the ends with about an inch remaining above your fingers. Separate one thread from the others, like this:

StrippingTutorial LolliandGrace_1


2. Now gently pull that one thread up, allowing the threads that are hanging below your fingers to spiral together. For a moment you’re going to think you’re just creating a tangled mess, but actually you’re not:
StrippingTutorial LolliandGrace_2


3. Keep pulling that thread until it is separated from the rest. Lay it on your table, and repeat this until you have the number of strands specified in your pattern. Before I pull out the next thread, I run my fingers down the remaining threads to smooth out any little kinks that formed as I pulled the previous one. When I’ve stripped all the threads I need, they will be lined up on my table like this:
StrippingTutorial LolliandGrace_3

4. Pinch the ends together, run your finger down the length of all the strands, and then thread your needle. It’s all good!

And here’s one thing to remember – if you are using variegated threads (and who wouldn’t – they are so much fun!), always lay the threads on your table so the same color is on each end. In other words, if you’ve cut a length of variegated thread that has a pink end and an orange end, make sure all the pink ends are together. That way, the thread has the same variation in color from one end to the other.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. I’m always open to doing more, so let me know what you’d like to learn!

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