How to Separate Embroidery Floss and Prepare for Hand Embroidery

How to Separate Embroidery Threads Without Tangles

A great video showing how to separate embroidery floss! Great tips!

Here’s a quick video tutorial showing you an easy way to separate embroidery floss without it ending up in a big tangled mess! I’m also going to show you some extra tips to stop your floss from tangling and knotting while you sew.

I know I’ve had my fair share of embroidery floss ending up in a knotted mess, so I felt this video tutorial would be helpful for those of you just starting out with hand embroidery. You’ll find the video tutorial just under the supplies list or keep scrolling for the photo tutorial if you’d prefer that.

This video is part of the Hand Embroidery for beginners series. You can find my previous video for How to Put Fabric into an Embroidery Hoop here.

Embroidery floss

See this tutorial for how to make a cute Knot Bunny lovey for babies!

How to Make a Knot Bunny Lovey Comforter featured Image

How to Separate Embroidery Floss Without Tangles and Prepare for Hand Embroidery

Recommended Supplies and Tools

What you'll need to separate embroidery floss

Watch the Video for How to Separate Embroidery Floss

or you can watch it on YouTube

Photo Instructions Below

Step 1

Cut a length of 6 stranded embroidery floss from the skein. I like to measure from the tip of my finger to just before my armpit (so basically the length of my arm) when cutting a length of floss. This seems to be a good length to work with. Any longer, and you run the risk of more tangling and knotting.

Flick the ends of the floss to separate the ends and gently pull one of the strands. Your other hand should continue to hold the rest of the strands of floss. See the image below for an example.

flick ends of embroidery floss

As you pull, the rest of the floss will bunch up at the bottom. Don’t worry! It’s not tangling and knotting up here. Once you have pulled one piece of floss all the way through the other stands will straighten up and you can do it all over again.

A great tip for separating embroidery threads without tangles

I highly recommend treating your embroidery floss with Thread Heaven. Thread Heaven is great for decreasing the chances of your floss tangling and knotting while you are stitching. You can read all about how it works right here from the Thread Heaven website!

How to Use Thread Heaven

This step is completely optional, but I highly recommend it as it really does help reduce the chances of your floss tangling and knotting while you are stitching.

Place the stand of floss over the Thread Heaven and hold it down with your thumb. Gently pull the floss all the way through.

Once you have done that run your finger and thumb down the floss to spread the Thread Heaven evenly then run your finger and thumb down the floss a couple more times to create a static charge. This is what stops the floss from wanting to tangle and knot so often. Watch my video above for a clear demonstration of this.

Apply Thread Heaven to your embroidery floss to stop tangles

Below is an example of what the floss looks like when it hasn’t been treated with Thread Heaven (strand of floss at the top). You can see that it holds the twists and kinks still and this is why your threads want to keep tangling up when you’re stitching.

The strand of floss at the bottom has been treated with Thread Heaven. It stays much straighter and doesn’t want to twist and kink back up when you hold it up.

Comparison of Thread Heaven treated floss with thread heaven box

Step 2

Now you’re ready to thread your needle. I tend to use 2 strands of embroidery floss when I’m doing hand embroidery, but you can always add more strands of floss for a thicker line of stitching or less for a thinner line.

thread needle

When I’m hand embroidering i only tie a knot in one end of the thread (I don’t tie both ends of the thread together). I do this because it’s much easier to go back and undo a few stitches when all you have to do is take the needle off, unstitch and then put the needle back on. If both of the thread tails were tied together this would be a lot more difficult to do. Also, if you do end up with a tangle or knot you can just take the needle off, cut the knot off then keep sewing from there.

Here’s my video tutorial for How to Tie a Knot in Thread!

How to tie a knot in thread using a quilters knot featured image

If you want to see a nifty way to tie a knot in thread then you should check out this video of mine. If you want to start your embroidery with the knotless method, I recommended checking out this tutorial from Apple Green Cottage.

needle threaded and ready to sew

Now you should be all ready to start your hand embroidery! I hope you’ve found this tutorial useful and now have a handy trick to separate embroidery floss without tangling and wasting your floss!

Don’t forget to check out my other tutorials in the Hand Embroidery for Beginners series! If you missed it, you can start by checking out my tutorial for transferring an embroidery design onto fabric.

Happy sewing,


A great video tutorial for separating embroidery floss




Posted on

27 May, 2017


  1. Pam

    Floss has a ‘grain’ so always use it going the same direction. Either way is OK as long as you’re consistent.

    • Domenica Tootell

      Great tip!


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