From Cotton to Floss

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DMC_CleanRawCottonHi Stitchers! Today I’m continuing my article about my visit to the DMC Factory in Mulhouse, France.

We’ll continue the tour by following a bale of clean, raw cotton, through the manufacturing process until it is ready for mercerizing and dyeing before being transformed into beautiful, ready to use needlework thread.  You can read Part 1 of this series here.

IMG_1029It’s amazing to think that our favorite threads have such a humble beginning, from a boll on a plant in the field to skein of thread in our hands.

DMC uses the Giza 88 variety of Egyptian cotton, due to its long fibers. The cotton is spun into a plied yarn and loaded onto large cones in Egyptian mills. The cones are then transported to our mill in France.

IMG_1039At this point, the thread is still very rough and a long way from being ready to use in your stitching! The next step in the process is called gassing, which removes all the fine hairs and impurities on the thread, helping to make the thread smooth and eliminate the dreaded fuzzies.

In the image to the left, you can see the thread being passed through a flame, burning off the hairy fuzz. It happens so quickly that the process is nearly invisible to the eye – and so quickly that it does not singe or burn the thread.

IMG_1044If you look closely at the image, you can see the fiber passing through the center of the flame. You can click the image to make it larger and easier to see.

I must admit, watching this process was mesmerizing (as opposed to mercerizing, which we’ll discuss next week, LOL!)

3stepsIn the image shown above right, you can see how different the yarn looks after gassing – the cone on the left is ungassed and is slightly larger.

The the cone on the right has been run through the gassing process, and is slightly smaller – it has lost a bit of it’s bulk because all of the those unwanted hairy, fuzzy fibers have been singed off. This is a very important step in manufacturing fine hand embroidery threads.

After gassing, the cones are loaded into another machine where 6 strands of plied yarn are twist – usually in the opposite direction of the twist of the plied, gassed yarn.

The yarn is then wound from the large spool into a huge, 1 kg hank. The circumference of these hanks is 2.26 meters or about 7.41 feet in circumference (about 3 feet in length, based on my height and holding one of the hanks).

They’re big hanks, and at this point they are starting to look like thread instead of yarn.

Next week, we’ll explore the mercerizing, dyeing and packaging process for your favorite DMC Embroidery Threads, so stay tuned!





 


Categories: Embroidery, Helpful Hints, Industry News, Needlework, Resources, Tutorials Tags: , , , ,

Jacks and Skulls Inspiration

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jack O Lantern Hoop on The Pink SamuraiJudging from all the fantastic crafts I see out on the web this week, the spooky season is almost upon us! This week is coming up Jacks and Skulls in terms of craftspiration, so I hope you enjoy this spooky roundup!

This Jack O Lantern Hoop on The Pink Samurai is cute, quick to make and delightful, indeed! This would be a perfect craft to repurpose some orange fabric, be it an old t-shirt or corduroy. In lieu of stitching with black embroidery floss, you could cut out your shapes in black felt and glue in place – a perfect way to “carve” a pumpkin with a lot less funky smells and mess.

Better yet, this pumpkin can go in your closet all year, and your closet won’t smell any funkier for it!

Skull Sweater Pillow on A Beautiful MessThis fun Skull Sweater Pillow on A Beautiful Mess looks like another quick, wonderful stitch. Of course it would be just as fun (if not more fun) stitched on an actual sweater for an awesome addition to your Halloween wardrobe!

The free cross stitch skull template offers so many fun possibilities – for a little more structure, you can stitch it up using some handy Waste Canvas.

I’d love to see this skull on a kid’s sweatshirt – or maybe just my own!

Potted Jack O Lanterns Free Pattern on Primitive BettysThis Potted Jack O Lanterns Cross Stitch Freebie on Primitive Bettys is so adorable – stitched up by Betty in 3 shades of DMC floss, it makes a sweet addition to Halloween decor!

I think this would look lovely on any natural linen or a gray Aida cloth.

Mini Sugar Skull Pattern by Shannon on Crafty PodThis lovely Mini Sugar Skull Pattern by Shannon on Crafty Pod would look wonderful small or large.

It looks perfectly spooky in all-white embroidery floss, but it would also be wonderful to get creative with your favorite bright shades of floss on this project, too!

Scrappy Halloween Table Mats on So Sew EasyI’m loving the elegantly spooky feel of these Scrappy Halloween Table Mats on So Sew Easy - Deby provides a video tutorial, helpful step-by-step photos, and links to a free file of downloadable spooky shapes like this Jack O Lantern, black cat, haunted house, witch, and bat!





 


Categories: Cross Stitch, Embroidery, Quilting Tags: , , , ,

DMC Factory Tour – Part 1

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DMC_MulhouseEngravedHi Stitchers!  I’m back from France and my tour of the DMC factory and Archives in Mulhouse. I had a great time, and have much to share with you.

Today I’m posting Part 1 of the factory tour, as well as a bit of information about the history of DMC and the city where the factory and archives are located. I hope you will join me for the entire series, and that you find it as informative as I did.

Mulhouse, located in Alsace near the German and Swiss borders, was not always part of France. For a period in its history, Mulhouse (which means mill house in the local dialect) was actually part a free and independent association of ten Imperial Cities in Alsace. joined the Swiss Confederation in 1515.  On 4 January 1798, its citizens voted to become part of France in the Treaty of Mulhouse. As time went on, it once again became part of Germany as Alsace-Lorraine, and then become part of France again in 1945. You can read more about the city’s amazing history here.

Mulhouse: DMC Textile FactoryTraveling through the area, you’ll notice that many of the local place names, gourmet specialties and other local products attest to its unique history, with names in the local Alsation dialect that are more German than French.

DMC didn’t start as a thread company, but instead got its start in the business of block-printing, which were later replaced by engraved copper cylinders. In the 19th century, DMC began producing fine threads, enhanced and strengthened by a new process called mercerization. Soon after, DMC dropped its fabric printing operation, focusing solely on producing fine threads for sewing and needlework.

You can learn more about the early history of DMC, its founders, and needlework legend Therese de Dillmont on the DMC History Page. With over 200 years of history, one blog just can’t contain all of the interesting information!

DMC_Start2FinishThe tour started outside the factory on a beautiful Autumn day with a tour of the exteriors of the historic buildings on the site. Many of the buildings are no longer part of the DMC factory, but are owned by the City of Mulhouse, which has plans to renovate and preserve these beautiful, historic brick 18th century buildings – some of which are over 200 years old.

In Part 2 next week, I’ll be following the manufacture one of DMC’s most cherished product – 6-strand cotton embroidery floss (mouliné) – from clean, raw cotton (shown to the left) to ready-to-ship skein. This will be followed by a visual tour of some of the many treasures in the DMC archives, housed in the Archives of the City of Mulhouse, as their histories are intertwined.





 


Categories: Industry News, Needlework Tags: , , , , ,

Spooky Halloween Hatspiration

Friday, October 10, 2014

Crochet Pumpkin Hat on Hopeful HoneyI am loving all the free tutorials out there for spooky Halloween Hats to make! Cozy little hats like these are perfect for chilly nights and they’re a low-impact costume to make and throw on.

This Crochet Baby Pumpkin Hat on Hopeful Honey is simple and perfect for Halloween!

How cozy and sweet would a baby look sporting this hat and an orange blankie or onesie? So sweet! And better yet, you can hold onto your hat all through November for a fall theme!

Anna and Elsa Inspired Crochet Hats on Rick A Bam BooThese sweet Anna and Elsa Inspired Crochet Hats on Rick A Bam Boo are adorable enough to keep you cozy every day.

I think they’d also look perfect with a little embroidered embellishment, maybe some Light Effects floss for a sparkly frozen effect?

Frankie Hat Pattern on A Chick With SticksThis Frankie Hat Pattern on A Chick With Sticks is another sweet idea that is perfect for embroidered embellishment – using a couple of shades of DMC floss and bits of felt.

Just a bit of customization and you could make this cute idea a zombie hat, too!

Monster Hats on Fleece FunThese Monster Hats on Fleece Fun look like a super-adorable, easy stitch – using multicolored fleece or fleece and felt, you can craft something really cute for a little (or large) monster!

Don’t miss Angel’s other free hat patterns, the Halloween Hat Pack, for more fleecy fun!

Ewok Hat on Tiny PurrsOne of my personal favorites is this awesome Ewok Hat on Tiny Purrs! Adorable on a baby, a child, or even the grown-up Ewok in your life.

I love how the length in the front can keep you especially cozy – perfect if there’s a chilly Halloween in your forecast!





 


Categories: Crochet Tags: , , ,

Spooky Stitch Inspiration

Friday, October 3, 2014

Glow in the Dark Hipster Ghost on CrafteandoI adore this Glow in the Dark Hipster Ghost Amigurumi on Crafteando! This free pattern comes from a lovely Spanish language blog – but you can scroll down on her page for the English language instructions.

Jenny has the ingenious idea of combining DMC Glow in the Dark floss with regular white acrylic yarn to make her little ghost glow!

And you can’t be a hipster ghost without some black felt hipster glasses, right? Adorable.

R.I.P. Cross Stitch Coasters by Eva Monleon on Handmade CharlotteThese simple, quick R.I.P. Cross Stitch Coasters by Eva Monleon on Handmade Charlotte are another perfect use for DMC Glow in the Dark floss.

I love that all you need for this craft are some black Aida cloth squares and a bit of thread, and in no time at all you have a quick Halloween craft!

Say Boo! Wall Hanging Tutorial on Gen X QuiltersThis Say Boo! Wall Hanging Tutorial on Gen X Quilters is perfectly charming – a perfect way to combine a bit of embroidery with a basic sewing project.

I love this idea as a simple fabric sign to hang on your door to say Trick or Treaters are welcome!

I’m Wicked pattern as stitched by A Hole in the Basket PrimitivesI’m loving this cross stitch finish by Ann on A Hole in the Basket Primitives- you can find the Free Wicked Cross Stitch Pattern on Stitches n Stones.

Visit Ann’s blog for more inspiring spooky finishes!

 





 


Categories: Amigurimi, Crochet, Cross Stitch Tags: , , , ,

Halloween Stitching Inspiration

Friday, September 26, 2014

Free Betty Boo Sock Bat pattern by Heather BaileyThis week I’ve found tons of Halloween inspiration online to share with you!

How adorable and sweet is this Free Betty Boo Sock Bat pattern by Heather Bailey? I adore sock monkeys – but sock bats? Absolutely genius!

Get creative with some delicate stitching on your little bat’s wings and face to make this free pattern extra special! I would love to stitch those little teeth with some Glow in the Dark floss!

Black Cat pillow on UCreateThis Black Cat Pillow Pattern on UCreate is another quick project that can be customized some creative stitching and Glow in the Dark floss.

Ama stitched her pillow with a lovely palette of 4 shades of DMC floss which made for a wonderful, subtle look.

Cat Boo Cross Stitch on Silver’s JournalSpeaking of black cats, this Cat Boo Cross Stitch on Silver’s Journal is just begging to be stitched!

The free pattern lists all the lovely DMC floss you’ll need to complete the project – I absolutely love the look of it on our Carolina Linen!

Look What’s Brewing Chart on My Happy MemoriesI’m loving the elegant palette on this Look What’s Brewing Chart on My Happy Memories – if you want to break away from the traditional orange and black, this is the elegant pattern for you!

Angela also assembled a wonderful gallery of finished stitches to inspire your stitching!

A Jolly Halloween Pillow on Hudson’s HolidaysThis Jolly Halloween Pillow on Hudson’s Holidays is so delightful!

This adorable free pattern was designed by Shirley Hudson, and can be stitched up using DMC floss on tea-stained muslin. Wonderful!





 


Categories: Cross Stitch, Embroidery Tags: , , ,

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