Tangle-Free Lengths of Pearl Cotton

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Have you ever tried to use pearl cotton and found that the thread tangled as you pulled out a length of thread?

Pearl Cotton does not come in a pull skein like our cotton embroidery floss does. Instead, they are rounds of thread that have been twisted and folded to make a hank of thread.

Here’s a tip that will make things easier.

To keep the thread from tangling when you are cutting a length to use in your project, pre-cut your embroidery thread.

Pre-cutting means all lengths of thread will be identical, with the next thread always ready.

The paper labels keep the thread tidy as you work.

Let’s look at a hank of pearl cotton (top photo). Notice that the upper end of the hank with the DMC logo has a single loop of thread, while the opposite, lower end with the color number has two smaller loops.

Locate the small knot on one of the lower loops. Using sharp embroidery scissors, clip off this knot and discard it.

Next, cut through the threads in each of the two lower loops (upper right photo).

Spread out the ends of the thread to make certain none of the loops have been missed as shown to the left. Skipped clips will cause tangling when lengths of thread are removed from the bundle.

Remove the individual lengths of thread by pulling a single thread from the upper loop.

As the bundle of threads gets smaller as lengths are removed and the labels become loose, pinch and fold the paper loops so they don’t come off.

The paper loops keeps the leftover thread tidy, and you’ll always know the color number or size of the hank of pearl cotton.


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Categories: Embroidery, Helpful Hints, Needlework, Resources Tags: ,

9 Responses to “Tangle-Free Lengths of Pearl CottonComment RSS feed

  • Vivian Wike
    February 12th, 2013 9:50 am

    Awesome tip! I always take them and roll them on old spools.

  • LizinSR
    February 12th, 2013 7:18 pm

    I was doing this with my pearl cottons until I tried using it for Huck Weaving. I had to go buy new hanks in some of my colors. But otherwise, this idea worked great.

  • Sara
    February 13th, 2013 7:37 am

    You know what, you just gave me a solution to one of those problems that have always been a myth to me :) Just tried cutting the thread and the thing worked like a charm.

  • Colorful Stitches | Dmcthread's Blog
    February 22nd, 2013 9:10 am

    […] This project is a lovely way to work a sampler in all of our DMC Pearl Cotton weights, especially now that you know the trick to keep your pearl cotton lengths tangle free! […]

  • Margo
    February 26th, 2013 2:07 pm

    Aha! I always just made a tangled mess of my thread. Never even thought about how to unravel it neatly. Thanks for the tip.

  • Nina
    March 1st, 2013 10:37 am

    I’m glad to have found your site, via google – I have a question for you! recently I became once again enchanted with embroidery, and have been using the DMC perle cotton #8 balls. These are an absolute delight to use, as they are tangle-free, and lovely to look at as well (very photogenic!). Even though they are not the easiest things to find locally, I’m able to order them online without a problem, as long as I am able to practice patience. My question is this: how do I keep the loose ends from unwinding in my little vintage sewing basket and becoming a jangled mess of threads? Thanks so much! Nina

    • admin
      March 4th, 2013 9:05 am
      Author's Reply

      You could try using a rubber band meant for hair – they are wrapped in soft fiber and won’t harm the thread. Another option is a band cut from an old pair of panty hose. ~Emma

  • Allie
    April 17th, 2013 1:11 pm

    I recently started to incorporate DMC pearl cotton into a Japanese craft called kumihimo, which requires extremely long, uncut lengths of threads, yards and yards, because it is impossible to add more thread if you run out in the middle of a project. I have the little hand cranked winder and those little white bobbins, which work great when I am using embroidery thread, but I see your explanation here that the pearl cotton comes in a hank quite different from the embroidery thread that I have used. I would switch to another type of thread, but kumihimo tends to come out best when made with a large variety of fibers, different colors and textures, and I would hate to eliminate pearl cotton which is so reasonably priced compared to some of the other materials I use, and also comes in a wonderful variety of colors! Can you offer any suggestions? I start by snipping the small knot, but so far I always end up getting one pretty long thread from one side, a second pretty long thread from the other, and I end up with a knotted clump in the middle which has to be thrown out. It is extremely frustrating. Usually each of the two threads is long enough for my purposes, but it is such a waste to throw out the knotted clump in the middle! Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

  • nancy
    June 14th, 2013 11:52 am

    Unfortunately, this method gives pieces that are a bit short for Hardanger, and far too short for Huck weaving. I tried to write an explanation of how to un-do a skein so you can wind it up into a ball, but the words are too clumsy – could you offer a video tutorial for people who need longer runs of thread? Or at least photos of the process.

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