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How-To: Floss Stripping & Conditioning

by Jenny Hart


"Loving the Thread" is a lovely ritual. My friend Cathy first told me about the sewer's tradition of saying something sweet or making a wish for how beautifully your thread will be put to use as you prepare and condition it. But what does "preparing and conditioning" mean? Is it something you have to do? Well, you have to love your stitching, but whether or not you want to strip and condition your floss first is up to you.

The purpose of stripping your floss is to even out your strands. Some embroiderers find that it works more smoothly, separates more easily, and prevents snagging and knots. Me? I confess, I almost never strip or condition my floss first. But, that's not necessarily a good thing (I just like to get stitching right away). But you should try it and see if stripping and conditioning is for you!

Let's start with conditioning.

Conditioning does two things: it provides a protective coating to your thread, and makes it smoother to work with. It reduces what's called "thread drag". It used to be that bee's wax was used as a conditioner, but this is no longer recommended. Why? It can turn opaque (cloudy) over time, and because it's organic, it's not chemically stable (it decays). Guess what? That can make your threads decay along with it.
Thread Heaven is considered the standard thread conditioner. (Here's a link to their website if you want to know everything about Thread Heaven and how it works.

This is how you use it...


That's it. Your floss is now conditioned. What about stripping?


When you pull your length of floss across the rough side of Velcro, it combs your floss, and separates the strands. See the difference in the photo? The strand on the left has been stripped, and the strand on the right is untouched. Stripping helps if you want to pull away strands to work with say, only three or four, for finer detail. They will pull out nicely instead of tangling. Stripping might also make your stitches work more evenly and consistently. But again: this is all a matter of personal preference. You may prefer to preserve the original twist of the floss.

None of this is anything that you must do. But I encourage you to try it so you understand the results and can decide which you prefer! 

Supplies shown:

Thread Heaven

Sublime Floss

Velcro Tabs here


More How To's:

How To Video: Floss Blending


Show me your embroidery! Post it to me on instagram @sublimestitching and tag it #sublimestitching


Text, photos, diagrams and instructions by Jenny Hart ♥ © 2002 - 2014 Sublime Stitching ®.  
No part of this tutorial may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from its author. 
Man, I hate having to say that.