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More from the DMC Factory Tour

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

imageDuring the past 3 weeks I’ve been taking you on a tour of the DMC Factory in Mulhouse, France. We started with a brief history of the area, then moved on to spinning, and last week we covered Mercerizing, dyeing and drying.

This week we’re ready to put up the thread onto skeins or balls and get it labeled and ready for shipping. After this section, the next part of the threads’ journey is from retailer to stitcher.

imageAfter the dyed thread is completely dry, the color of the dye is checked for accuracy by comparing under different types of light.

If it’s not right, it’s rejected and over dyed – as good ol’ black.image

The thread is then tested foimager strength, which I’ll discuss in another blog. There’s a lot to this step, and I want to make sure I do it justice.

After the dye color is checked, the thread is then wound onto large cone so that it’s ready for winding onto balls or into skeins. There’s a veritable rainbow happening on this machine!

Depending on the type of thread, the cones are loaded onto machines that each perform a different duty, winding, and labeling the threads in a series of quick movements.

imageOn one machine – wonder of modern machinery – winds the familiar pull-skeins of DMC Embroidery Floss, labeling and boxing skeins in quick succession.

Another machine almost 200 years old, yet still fully functional, winds DMC Pearl Cotton onto balls, inserting the familiar round label into the hollow cardboard spool.

The finished threads are then boxed, labeled and warehoused, ready for shipment to your favorite, local needlework store! I couldn’t resist posting this image of

imagethe warehouse and logistics center, with two of our DMC pals.

In addition to all the wonderful DMC Threads, ready to send to all corners of the globe, these floor-to-ceiling shelves also contain books, kits, accessories, painted needlepoint canvas, needlework fabrics, organizers and more.

There are just so many DMC goodies for stitchers!





 


Ready, Set, COLOR!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CF_Mercerizing1During 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.

CF_DyeBathsNext in the process is Mercerizing. This process was invented by John Mercer in 1844 and is very important in the manufacturing process.

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.

CF_DyedYarnThe 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.

CF_DryingDrying 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!





 


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!





 


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 on FaveCrafts

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ButtonIf you’re looking for some fun projects to stitch or craft this summer, check out the assortment of awesome project ideas over at FaveCrafts. You can get 1000’s of craft projects, patterns tips and ideas for FREE at FaveCrafts.com including embroidery, cross stitch, crochet, knitting and sewing patterns along with much more.

The site also offers free tips and tutorials for a wide variety of needlework types, and features an email newsletter, so you’ll always know what’s new on the site.

medallionCheck out this awesome list of projects on the DMC page at FaveCrafts using DMC Embroidery Threads. Projects featured are made from our embroidery floss, satin floss, crochet threads and more:





 


June 2014 Specials in the DMC Shop

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June Towel Sale v2Are you getting ready for Summer guests, parties and barbeques? Make some welcoming hand-stitched towels from the DMC Shop for your guests to enjoy.

Starting Friday June 13th through June 19th 2014, DMC will be offering 15% off our ready to stitch kitchen, guest and hand towels! Use promo code June14 when ordering through the DMC site to get the discount.

CL050LSSelect from our gorgeous set of two cotton linen striped towels or Boreal Collection towels (shown), or our tried and true CharlesCraft Ready to Stitch Banded Huck Towels, Maxton Guest Towels, or any other towel in our collection.

You can see the entire collection of DMC and CharlesCraft towels and towel sets, featuring 21 different styles on the DMC Towels Page.

CL053LSAll individual DMC hand, guest and kitchen towels come with an exclusive free pattern collection designed to fit the towels perfectly.

The sale lasts 6 days and starts Friday!





 


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