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.