During the past two weeks I’ve been taking you on a Tuesday Tour of the DMC Factory in Mulhouse, France. We’ve taken a look at the location and its history, and have toured the steps taken to get from raw cotton to thread.
You can click on the links in the paragraph above if you missed the first two sections.
It’s been such an interesting journey, and today we’re going to see what happens next. It involves a spa-like bath and COLOR!
To get you caught-up in a nutshell, we have followed raw cotton through the spinning process through to the gassing, which removes unwanted fuzzies, and on through to twisting plies and making a huge hank of thread.
Mercerizing increases the yarn’s mechanical strength, improves its dyeing affinity, and gives the yarn brightness.
The large hanks are placed under tension and dipped in a concentrated solution of caustic soda and maintained at cold temperatures. It is then rinsed with hot water and then again in cold water.
If you look closely at the image above left, you can see that the hanks on the left are under tension, while the hank closest to you on the right has not yet been placed under tension and is still loose.
The yarns are then bleached using oxygenated water (not chlorine) before being placed in the huge dye vats. Vat dyes or naphthol dyes are used for colorfastness.
After dyeing, a special softening process is used that will help ensure easy rewinding of the skein, and gives the thread a slippery finish, allowing it to pass through the needlework fabric without any hangups or tugging.
The hanks are also expressed to make sure they have as little moisture in them as possible before being put through the drying tunnel. It’s a bit like the spin cycle of your home washing machine, only on a much larger scale.
After expressing, the hanks are hung on a rack to prepare them for drying.
Drying is accomplished using a large air drying tunnel. It takes several days to dry a single rack of thread, and is must be completely dry before it can be wound into hanks and skeins and packaged for shipment.
Next week we’ll explore the processes used to create the hanks, skeins and balls of DMC Needlework Thread, packaging and shipping to all corners of the globe!
There’s nothing I love more than a cozy cowl on a chilly day, and we’re having a Cowl-O-Ween celebration on DMC!
Our new Pumpkin Mia Cowl Kit contains everything you need to stitch up a quick and festive cowl using our new Mia Italian Yarns in a very fitting autumn shade.
The bulky weight of the yarn ensures that it will be a quick knit – just in time for your Halloween celebrations!
Our Mia Collection yarns are a cozy wool-blend, chunky fiber in a gorgeous range of shades that are perfect for winter wear.
If orange is not your thing, check out the rest of our lovely shades below!
I don’t know about you, but looking at all these lovely plush yarns has my fingers itching for some fall stitching! What’s your favorite shade in our new Mia Collection yarns?
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.
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.
At 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.
I must admit, watching this process was mesmerizing (as opposed to mercerizing, which we’ll discuss next week, LOL!)
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 twisted – 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!
Judging 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!
This 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!
This 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!
I’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!
Hi 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.
Traveling 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!
The 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.
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!
These 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?
Just a bit of customization and you could make this cute idea a zombie hat, too!
These 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!
One 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!