How To Cross Stitch With Light Effects Thread (Without Throwing It Out Of The Window)

In this post I’m talking all about light effects thread; what it is and how to stitch with it … without throwing it out of the window (you’ve been there right?)

*This post contains an affiliate link (I may receive a small commission if you click), but I only ever recommend products I use myself.

What is Light Effects Thread?

DMC Light Effects Thread is basically metallic thread, but also includes neon and glow in the dark (although these are much easier to stitch with).

Light Effects thread shimmers and is sparkly and comes in a heap of colours (33 to be exact) including pastel colours, metal colours and colour variations. Other brands do a metallic thread too but as I use DMC myself, this is the brand I usually talk about.

I love using Light Effects thread in my designs and sometimes I feel like I’m the only one (please comment below if you do too and show me I’m not alone)!

I only use a sprinkling of it; maybe for some stars or backstitching but it just gives the design that little bit of sparkle that plain cotton thread can’t.

However, it can be such a pain to stitch with! It tangles pretty easily and even very experienced Stitchers don’t like using it, let alone beginners. These tips should hopefully help you along and make sure you don’t mess up your design (or throw it out of the window).

I think I should start by saying these tips are for using the thread on aida fabric. The holes in the aida make the thread glide through a lot easier than cotton, linen etc will, so it tangles less on aida.

However, I have used it a little on cotton and these tips will help with that too, just be aware that it is more difficult to use on different fabrics.


Use Thread Conditioner

First of all, use thread conditioner. If you have bought one of my kits you don’t need to worry about this because I coat every bit of light effects thread before I package it in your kit – hooray!

But if you have bought your own supplies I really do recommend buying some thread conditioner. This helps stops your thread tangling, adds a bit of extra protection to it and almost makes it float through the aida.

You can buy thread conditioner in any good needle craft retailer and the brand that I use is Thread Heaven. In the video above I show you how to put the conditioner on your thread, but if you can’t watch it you just put your thread on the conditioner (its hard, not like the one you put on your hair) and pop your finger on top to stop it falling off. Then with your other hand, you pull the thread through so it gets a good coat of conditioner on it.

Update June 2018 – Unfortunately, Thread Heaven has now been discontinued. I now use a conditioner called Thread Magic* which works just as well as Thread Heaven did.


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Use a bigger sized needle

If you are stitching on 16 count aida the needle size you would use is 26. When stitching with light effects thread I recommend going up a size (to a size 24 needle).

The bigger needle will make your hole stretch more allowing the light effects thread to pass through more easily. And as light effects thread is so much thicker than cotton the bigger holes won’t matter.

Threading your needle

When you thread your needle with light effects thread, you want to thread it as close to the tip of the thread as you can whilst still keeping it secure.

This means that if (or I should say when really, as it’s pretty much a fact that it will happen) the ends start to tangle or knot you can simply pull your needle down a little bit and snip the tangled ends off and continue stitching.

It’s much easier to show you how to do this than explaining it here which is why I have the video above.

Take your time

Next tip, just take your time. Pull it through the aida slowly and carefully. It doesn’t sit quite as flat as a cotton thread so you will need to pull it a little tighter, but try not to pull it so tight that you are ruining the aida underneath. 

Give it space

When you are coming in and out of the holes in the aida and making your stitches, make sure that you aren’t coming up through any “X”‘s that you have already stitched. The needle should come up in its own little space and you may need to move some of the thread out of the way to make this happen. Like I said above, metallic thread is a bit thicker and takes up more of the hole.

Again, I show you this in the video. 

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It seems silly writing this but as with most things the more you practice the better you will get and the more you will get used to how the thread feels when you are stitching with it.

If you follow these tips you should be a pro at using Light Effects thread in no time! But as always, if you are stuck just get in touch!

I have a collection with all my kits that include Light Effects thread if you would like to try it out. And if you still want to throw it out of the window – please don’t. I now also include the cotton version of the colour you need in your kit so you can still finish your hoop without using the Light Effects thread.


If you would like to see how you back stitch a star using Light Effects thread just click here.H

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In this blog post I share some hints and tips (along with a video) to help you when stitching with DMC Light Effects thread so you don't end up throwing it out of the window! #hannahhandmakes #howtocrossstitch #diycrafts

14 thoughts on “How To Cross Stitch With Light Effects Thread (Without Throwing It Out Of The Window)”

  1. I love DMC’s light effects floss. You’re not the only cross stitcher that loves the sparkle in her projects. I have been known to replace a color or two in a kit with a light effects color that I like better. I also like the DMC Satin colors. I’ve been cross stitching for about 35+ years now and never get tired of it. This art form is disappearing and I really hate that. I have to order some of my floss from Stoney Creek because a lot of craft stores carry only the basic colors anymore. I came across your website through Pinterest, and I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog.

    1. hannahhandmakes

      So glad to know I’m not alone Nina! I also switch them on some patterns. I haven’t tried the satin ones though, I will have to give them a go. Thanks so much! I know what you mean about feeling like it’s disappearing; I just hope we can all keep it going and pass it on 🙂

  2. I store all my floss on bobbins and I would like to know if it will damage DMC Light Effects Floss in any way?

    1. hannahhandmakes

      Hey Toni, this is not something I have thought about before as I don’t store my floss this way. I wouldn’t think it would damage the threads but it might make them fray more easily when stitching with them, especially the parts of the thread that actually touch the bobbin.

        1. hannahhandmakes

          I usually just keep them in the casings or I hole punch some card, write the number on and loop the thread through the hole.

  3. These crafts all seem to go in and out of phase. Cross stitch will come back. It may be tomorrow, or in 10 years, or in 20, but younger people will some day rediscover the magic of creating with thread. Why is DMC coming out with new types/colors of thread? Someone must still be stitching, or it wouldn’t pay them to release it!

    1. hannahhandmakes

      I couldn’t agree more Robin! I think we went through a phase of being so excited about all the new technology available, but now people want to go back to “old school” hobbies instead. I think I use enough light effects thread to keep DMC in business haha 🤣

    1. hannahhandmakes

      Hi Beth, I haven’t tried that but I know it’s pretty common as I see people in my Facebook group doing it. It can definitely make it easier.

    1. Hannah Hand Makes Team

      Hi Shiri, Yes, you can use bees wax instead of thread conditioner. It will cause the thread to be darker, but it does work as an alternative.

  4. I love the effect that the thread gives, but my endearing term for these types of thread is why am I using this metallic or filament crap!!!???!!!

  5. I have recently picked up embroidery. As I search the internet for patterns and ideas I came across Thread Magic (and a slew of others). My question is, Can you prewax your embroidery thread before winding it on a plastic card bobbin before storage, or should you wax the thread just before use? Also, I read that some wax needed to be heat treated by an iron, can you elaborate as to how and why this is necessary. Thanks so much!

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