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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 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!


DMC Glow-in-the-Dark Floss

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Light Effects Color Card copy.ashxReady to put some spooky in your Halloween stitching? Try glow-in-the-dark floss from DMC! We’ve had a lot of questions lately regarding this fun thread. It’s perfect for Halloween stitching!

Glow-in-the-dark thread is part of our DMC Light Effects line and is 6-strand, and available in three colors – white, neon yellow and neon green. This type of information is always easy to access on the DMC web site for any of our threads, any time you need it.

To use glow-in-the-dark thread, simply replace the standard white, green or yellow thread in your project with he glowing thread. Or, you can substitute one of these colors for another in your project, to give your finished item an awesome glow.

Witch and Black Kitten.ashxWhen exposed to daylight, the special dyes absorb the light and will glow in the dark for a period of time after exposure.

Visit the Light Effects page for more details, including care and washing, colors and how to use light effects.

Looking for a fun and FREE Halloween project you an stitch? Be sure to sign up for the DMC Club, where members can find lots of free patterns using their favorite DMC Needlework Threads.

You’ll find this cute witch pattern in there too! Look under the Halloween section to find the pattern, as well as several awesome designs that are perfect for stitching with glow-in-the-dark floss.


Snazzy, Jazzy Embroidery

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

hand-embroidered-jacket-backLet’s treat ourselves to a few hand embroidered wardrobe upgrades! Here are some fabulous ideas from creative stitchers that you can use when making a wearable using a sewing pattern, for embellishing a ready-made item or for refreshing an existing item in your wardrobe.

Seamstress Erin, a Ph.D. scientist with a penchant for sewing and bright colors, has transformed a plain bomber jacket pattern by using recycled fabrics and hand embroidery to create a unique, one of a kind piece of outerwear.  Erin used Simplicity 3688 to make the jacket but Marfy 2538 would also work well.

Erin hand-embroidered lazy daisies on the sleeves and shoulders of the raglan-style jacket, while feathers and cascading flowers were the inspiration behind the whimsical satin stitch embroidery on the back of the jacket. You can find details of the embroidery here.

blue_dressLisa, and Australian stitcher from the Making it in Berry blog uses hand embroidery to customize commercial patterns to create her own wardrobe pieces.  In this example she’s used a variety of hand embroidery stitches – including detached chain, French knots and running stitch – to update a simple round yoke.

New Look 6185 and Butterick B5610 are good pattern choices for this type of neck edge.

19fbb6384f0ef639cfc9279d9eef80bc9098dd16_largeIf you’re working in felted wool or fleece and just want a little accent along the edges, try using a hand-stitched blanket edge, like the one shown here and to the left. It’s might prettier than a machine stitched version!

Use DMC Embroidery Floss or pearl cotton to work your own unique designs, or add a bit of sparkle using DMC Light Effects floss. Or, select one of our other beautiful needlework threads to create your own signature look.





The Slow Stitching Movement

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

SlowStitchMove1In a fast-paced world where everyone and everything seems to be moving at the speed of light, slowing down the pace is a good idea. It causes us to pause for a moment in time, take in the details, and truly savor what we’re doing or eating. Slowing things down increases our awareness of what we’re doing.

Over the years, grass-roots groups have been coming together to rediscover the cooking arts with the help of the slow foods movement, and now there’s a similar movement underway for stitchers and needle artists. It’s called the Slow Stitching Movement, and is the creation of international quilting celebrity Mark Lipinski and his uber-talented friends.

The tenets of the Slow Stitching Movement are simple, and encourage stitchers of all types and genres to:

  • Approach your creative art-making in a totally different way.
  • Recharge your passion for the needle fiber arts.
  • Engage the connection between your body, your quilts, and your legacy.
  • Expand your creativity, self-esteem and even your spiritual journey.
  • Tap your right brain, to train and develop your imagination.
  • Find the creative genius in you.
  • Implement your creative thought in today’s too-fast world.
  • Heal your life, emotions and boost your physical health.
  • Create groups and habits to support your creative vision.

Definitely words to live by and methodology to aspire to.

For me, the Slow Stitching Movement really hits home. I love it when I love myself in my stitching.  The hours can fly by in an instant.  I approach a project in small bites, creating each stitch as a separate work of art that when combined with the other stitches, creates a whole.  I am happy, satisfied, and relaxed.

keepcalmstudio-com-crown-support-your-stitching-and-start-a-slow-salon-2Another aspect of the movement is the creation of local Slow Stitching Salons, where groups of like-minded stitchers can come together to work on their projects, discuss what’s happening in the stitching world, and learn something new. The very first event was held recently in Pennsylvania. You can read about their fun day on the movement’s blog.

Why a Salon instead of a regular guild? Mark’s brilliant explanation is:

“A Slow Stitching Salon is a time for creative reflection as well as a time for thoughtful and helpful discussion. It is not a coffee klatch nor is it a place to learn technique or to finesse your work.

The purpose of a Slow Stitching Salon  is to spend time with creative people, like yourself, to share in a very intimate and inspired way,  your slow stitching process and  progress with like-minded souls.  It is around these Slow Stitching Salon tables, and in these Slow Stitching Salon rooms, where you will find the creative fellowship, disagreements, concepts, and understanding, that will not only clarify your place in slow stitching art world, but will open up yet another layer of creativity and inspiration within you as you share your own journey with those who will recognize themselves in your story, and vice versa.”

To read more about the Slow Stitching Movement, you can visit their web site. While there, be sure to poke around the site, because there are some beautiful and inspiring things to see over there, including a gallery of slow stitching projects.  You can also submit your own photos of a project you have created while taking your time and enjoying the creative process.

img_2866To start your own Slow Stitching Salon, visit the blog and gather up a group of stitching friends of all types. The beauty is that they can come from all types of needlework backgrounds including embroidery, quilting, knitting and crochet. Ask everyone to bring along their current slow stitching projects, their threads and supplies, and hang out together for some quality stitching time.

In this image, from the recent gathering at Liza’s place, you’ll see (left to right) our pal Allie Aller along with Chawne Kimber, Liza Prior Lucy, Mark Lipinski, and Meg Cox. Be sure to visit their blogs for more information on their stitching.

You’ll find an inspiring article on creating your own salon as your scroll through the Missed the Boat Monday posting, complete with more images from the gathering.

Thank you, Mark!



DMC Floche Embroidery Thread

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Floche image 2 large.ashxHave you tried Floche embroidery thread? DMC Floche is a twisted thread made from the finest long fiber cotton, mercerized to create a beautiful finish. This superior quality thread is especially suited for fine embroidery.

DMC Floche is comprised of 4 non-divisible strands in size 16 thread, each strand equals two (2) strands of DMC Floss. Threads can be stitch in a single or multiple plies and slide easily through fabric. During the manufacturing process, the cotton is combed, singed by flamed and mercerized creating its beautiful finish. The end result does not knot, kink or fluff and is soft and gentle to the touch.

I like to use floche while traveling, because not having to separate the thread into strands makes it easier to stitch on the go. It’s less hassle, and my airline seatmate always appreciates the fact that I keep my space tidy.  However, due to the smaller range of colors, it should be used for projects where a smaller range of colors is used.

Floche is ideal for fine embroidery, needlepoint, delicate stitches such as openwork, cutwork, whitework, smocking, shadow work and openwork, as well as for fine motifs such as monograms and initials. It is especially suited for embroidering household linen and other creative stitchery.

JX01Floche is also perfect for making Temari! Check out this gorgeous ball made by Julian, shown on the Temari Kai web site. Instructions for making the ball can be found here.

Like most of our embroidery threads, Floche is is 100% colorfast and available in 87 solid colors (you can download the PDF color card here) on a 150 yard long skein, 10 grams.

It’s harder to find – available through fine independent needlework stores – but once you try it, you’re sure to love it. It’s one of my favorites!


Summer Uses for Vintage Linens

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SCAN0210Pull out your stash of vintage linens and put them to good use during the summer months. Today I have some lovely suggestions on using and displaying them to add a summery feel to your rooms or for an outdoor gathering.

If you collect hand embroidered doilies, napkins or dresser scarves that are in less than perfect shape, you can salvage the pretty areas of the items and up-cycle them. Or use new linens you’ve stitched using DMC Embroidery Threads to make new ones!

Pillows are a wonderful way to use both banded areas and corners of a vintage piece. I made the ones shown to the left several years ago and enjoy them every year – although I have changed the pillows underneath the linens several times.

5c48b3329f9bdde727c2c295e6851af2You can hand-stitch them to pre-made pillows, or make the pillows yourself. Tuck in a bit of lace and you have a romantic accent for a bench, settee or to display on the bed.

If you have a few worn-out pillow cases with embroidered bands, you can transform them into pretty kitchen towels. All you need to do is cut off the embroidered area with a seam allowance along the cut edge, turn under the seam allowance and applique the strip to a new tea towel. It’s a fast, easy and useful way to enjoy the fanciful embroidered design.

And speaking of tea towels, if you have a pair of them in good shape but you don’t want to use them in the kitchen, check out this adorable child’s jacket made using a puppy-themed set.

2430e70d6ecd704ef1594c0b9fd4a28dThe jacket, and the tea towel above were both spotted on Pinterest, but unfortunately I was unable to trace them back to the original person who posted them due to the huge number of re-pins. To those creative folks, I’d like to offer a big Thank You for two awesome ideas!

If you’re squeamish about cutting into old linens, you can always make your own from scratch using DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss and pre-printed linens, or use iron-on designs on ready-made items.

You can even make your own designs by tracing a pattern onto the fabric using our Embroidery Transfer Pen. I use these for a lot of my designs because the ink completely washes out of the fabric (emphasis on wash, not just spritz or dab).

IMG_4152Even small bits of linen can be put to another use. I love this little business card case posted by Renee at Sewn with Grace. The tiny little yo-yo accents and buttons finish it off nicely.

There are so many fun things you can do with a stack of old, worn out or vintage linens – these are just a few of the many inspiring items you can make or up-cycle. I’d love to see what you’ve done with vintage linens. You can email me your ideas – and if I get enough of them, I may turn it into a fun prizewinning event later in the summer!


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