The following post is totally my opinion and, you know what that’s worth! In a comment, a reader asked what it is I like better about silk versus DMC so I thought maybe others were wondering the same thing.
First, when I look at a piece that has been stitched by someone else, unless I make a real effort to notice, I couldn’t tell you if it was stitched on aida or linen or whatever fabric might have been used; nor could I tell you if DMC, hand dyed cotton or silk floss had been used. I just don’t look at things like that. I’m looking at the stitches, the design, the colors, maybe the frame or how it was finished. It isn’t like I think silk is better than cotton and when I look at a piece, I never think “That would have been so much nicer stitched in silk!”
While on this subject, do you know what the very first thing I notice is when I look at a piece – whether a shop sample, something I see on Instagram or in a flosstube? I notice the space between the end of the stitching and the frame because that’s what I struggle with most.
There are several brands of cotton embroidery floss that are in the same “category” as DMC. This article compares five similar embroidery flosses and is an interesting read.
According to the DMC website, the DMC embroidery floss we all use so much is made from long staple cotton and double mercerized from a brilliant sheen. There are 8.5 yards per skein. The number of DMC colors available varies. They add and they take away. It looks like currently there are 489 colors. DMC can still be found for .60 per skein at 123 Stitch. Our local Hobby Lobby has them for .53.
I also like Anchor and I love it on the spools, though I’ll never understand how that’s cost effective to manufacture (compared to the skein with the two paper bands). JoAnn sells the Anchor spools for .79 (currently) and there are 10.9 yards per spool. It looks like the big stores like JoAnn and Michael’s are selling the spools where the smaller, locally owned shops may be still selling skeins. Here’s an interesting article on the spool/skein story. According to the Anchor website, they use extra long Egyptian cotton and their floss is mercerized. They have 444 color and these are .69 (skeins) at 123 Stitch.
A third cotton floss I like is Cosmo embroidery floss. Their skeins are 8.75 yards. According to their website, their floss is made from extra long staple cotton and they have 501 colors. These are $1.10 at 123 Stitch.
Of these three, the floss I use the most is DMC because I like it, most charts are charted for DMC, it’s inexpensive and it’s easy to obtain.
I feel like Anchor is just a tad thinner . . not enough to make much of a difference but since I like to stitch with one strand, I wouldn’t use Anchor on 36 count linen. I feel like Cosmo is the thickest . . again, not enough to make a huge difference but I wouldn’t use it on 46 count linen. I find the Cosmo colors to be a bit more vibrant and I find it to have a bit more sheen but, it isn’t always easy to find and there are few charts that call for Cosmo floss. There isn’t enough difference, in my opinion, to go to the trouble of converting the floss from DMC to Cosmo so I don’t use it often.
Overdyed Cotton Floss:
There are several brands of these, and I’m not going to list them all but I will list the ones I use the most:
Weeks Dye Works – These are 5 yard skeins and they are $2.45 at 123 Stitch.
Classic Colorworks – These are also 5 yard skeins and are $2.49 at 123 Stitch.
Gentle Arts/Sampler Threads – These are also 5 yard skeins and are $2.19 at 123 Stitch.
I love the Weeks Dye Works story.
I showed this chart yesterday and it’s a good example of shading that can be accomplished using the overdyed floss. There are a few DMC colors that have some variation, some subtle, some not so subtle, but, for the most part, that’s accomplished with overdyes.
Oscar by Weeks is my very favorite floss color. When we got our dachshund puppy, I named him Oscar after that color, and did not realize Oscar is the most popular male dachshund name because of Oscar Mayer wieners (wiener dog!).
Because the cost can add up (20 skeins at .60 = $12.00 vs. 20 skeins at $2.50 = $50), I will use the overdyes when I want variation. If it’s just solid colors or little pieces of colors here and there, DMC works just fine. In the above example, the only place I would probably use overdyes would be in the grass.
There are so many silk flosses out there and I’ll discuss the ones I’m more familiar with. All of the silks I have used have been pretty much equally amazing. They’re smooth, they just glide through the fabric. They feel like silk (who would have expected that?)! There’s a beautiful sheen to them.
Soie d’Alger by Au Ver A Soie – This is the first silk floss I used. There’s 5 meters, or about 5.5 yards. Where most of the cotton flosses come with 5 strands, this has 7 plies/strands. There are 623 colors of this one and the cost at 123 Stitch is $4.70 per skein. I have used one strand on 36 count and 40 count and have had excellent coverage.
100/3 by Soie d’alger – This is a finer strand and comes on a spool with one ply/strand. There are 50 meters per spool, or close to 55 yards. The cost at 123 Stitch is $3.59. I am not sure how many colors there are for 100/3 but 123 Stitch has 329 colors and I’m not sure if that’s every color. This is the floss I will use for all linens with a higher count than 40.
NPI Silks are 8 ply, with 5 meters/about 5.5 yards per skein and the cost at 123 Stitch is $4.99 per skein. It seems to me that the NPI plies are just a bit thicker than the Soie d’Alger plies so I get better coverage with the NPI. There are 476 colors and Colorado Cross Stitcher does sell the entire collection. Christmas is coming! 🙂
When Sheri was getting ready to open Colorado Cross Stitcher, she asked for opinions on silk floss because she was only going to carry one line. I didn’t read every comment but by far, NPI was the favorite.
I had used it once on a project that only used one color – black. I liked it but didn’t fully appreciate it til I used it on A Sampler For All Seasons.
The coverage is great. As mentioned above, the floss goes through the fabric so smoothly and feels so good in my hands. For anything I’m stitching with silk floss that is on 36 or 40 count linen, I’ll use NPI . . except for those few kits I have here that have Soie d’Alger. I do like Soie d’Alger a lot and am never unhappy about using it but I love NPI.
If all I could use for the rest of my stitching days was DMC, I’d be just as happy as I am using silk. I do feel like every avid stitcher should use silk at least once . . just to try it.
I will try to use silk on samplers mostly but for the majority of my other stitching, I’m happy with cotton floss.
I did want to challenge myself to do a conversion from DMC to silk. I won’t know how well I did until I start stitching but if it all works out, it’s pretty quick and simple – just find the closest matching color. The hard part was for the designer in choosing the colors but the conversion seemed pretty easy. I may be singing a different tune once I start stitching . . if my colors aren’t working together well.