Are Satin and Silk Threads Worth Using?

I was recently contacted by a reader and she asked a simple question that I honestly wasn’t sure how to answer. “Is it worth using silk threads for a heritage project?”
I’ve known of both silk and stain threads (DMCs answer to silk threads, that are actually cotton) for a long time, but I only recently got my hands on them when I was completing my journey to owning all of the DMC embroidery threads. I started asking around, and my story was somewhat the common theme; everyone knew about them but didn’t use them.
So I picked up my needles, tested them out, and today, we’ll deep dive into these rate threads, and ask if you should use them too.

DMC satin threads (Source:
DMC satin threads (Source:


The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of silks is their luster or shininess. And the thought is 100% founded. These things are really shiny, and they ooze quality. However, as much as I tried to photograph them, I just couldn’t get the shine to show. I then tried framing the work and realized that once again, it lost its shine. Annoyingly, the shine only really works if the fabric is moving (or the light source).
Whilst I loved the look when it was in my hands, the shine disappears unless it’s handled. For me, this is a big thing. Why would you go through the effort, and cost of using silks or satin threads to lose the main selling feature by putting it up on the wall? If you’re going to sew on something like a throw, yes, 100% worth it, but for something framed? It’s just not worth it.


So that said, let’s also talk about the biggest negative about these threads; price. The price of DMC threads varies massively anyway, but their satin range is twice the price for most. Then the actual silk threads are up to 4 times as much (although the price for different brands varies). So is it worth it?
I honestly think so. Yes, the price is high, and there are further issues which we’ll get to in a minute, but you don’t use silks all the time. It’s for those specific projects, those projects you want to use the best of the best for. The things that you want to last for decades. As an everyday thread, they aren’t going to win prizes for their cost, and the benefits are massively outweighed by their flaws, but for those special times; it’s worth it.

6 Purple Silk Threads from DeVere Yarns (Source:
6 Purple Silk Threads from DeVere Yarns (Source:


The next thing you need to think about is the availability, and in turn, range. In the DMC satins range, there are only 36 colors, a significant difference from the 500 standard cottons, so you’ll have to pick your pattern and colors carefully. For brands other than DMC, ranges vary, but many only stock less than 30 colors, and just like mixing normal thread brands; we advise mixing and matching.
Then, is getting your hands on them. Yes, most of the best online cross stitch stores have them, but finding them in stores can be a tough ask.

Care & Sew Quality

Finally, what about care? Turns out most silks and satin threads can put up with a lot of washing, but they tend to be weaker than cotton threads. This leads to both broken threads whilst stitching, but also damage to well-worn stitches. You do need to take a little more care than your normal stitches.

So, When Should You Use Them?

Now we have our analysis out of the way, when should you use them?
This, as ever, is a personal choice, but for us, it’s only those special projects that get silks and satins. Even then, picking specific projects that don’t have too many colors, gets handled, and aren’t subject to too much dirt. That seems like a pretty small list, but any heritage project, like throws and pillows, is perfect. You touch them, so the luster shows, you don’t put them through too much wear, and you keep them for decades.
But, we sent a few samples out to our stitchy readers and asked them for their feedback. It turns out, that silks and satins are a bit hit and miss. I personally fall in that middle group of “OK-ers”. So we suggest next time you see some, pick up a single skein. Just throw some cross stitches down and see how it feels. Maybe you’re a lover, maybe you’re a hater, or maybe you’re a bit like me.
Happy stitching!
Lord Libidan

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Lisa

    I love embroidering and sewing with silk thread. For plain sewing, I use Superior Threads’ Kimono Silk, which is like sewing with a cobweb minus the sticky stuff. It’s that fine. It’s so strong I can’t just snap it (unlike cotton). It’s beautiful, essentially invisible for seams and so on, especially when I sew with a size 12 between needle. I can get the tiniest stiches that way.

    For embroidery, it depends. I like floss, I like twist, I like perle, I like it all, using different threads for different things. Right now I’m working on a blackwork project on fairly coarse linen, and I’m using Devere Yarns’ 18 to stitch the flowers and fruits. I’ll be switching to something heavier, notably a cone of silk from WEBS, to work all the stems, and probably Devere Yarns’ 36 (which resembles a perle yarn in my eyes) for all the outlining. Couching of gold and silver threads will be with Superior Threads’ Kimono silk, and sewing down spangles will be with the same. After that, I plan to make a purse/sweet bag in either petit point or on even weave linen in lieu of canvas. I haven’t decided what base I’ll use yet. Again, the threads will be silk, of a size appropriate for a needlepoint or petit point appearance.

    I do concede that silk is pretty expensive, certainly relative to cotton. I’m also fond of linen thread, and that isn’t all that inexpensive, either. Cotton isn’t bad, but it just doesn’t have the same tactile appeal.

  2. Angela Nowicki

    DMC satin is 100 % rayon! I bought some skeins and, yes, the colours are gorgeous, the shine splendid, but when it comes to working with them – it is rayon, and it handles like rayon. That is, awfully. Stiff, unwieldy as anything. Doesn’t even get close to the buttery softness of silk.