Threads Used for Cross Stitch Embroidery

Cotton floss is the most commonly used “thread” in cross stitch projects; however, there are other threads or floss available that can also be used. Listed below is a description of the various threads used for cross stitch.

DMC Embroidery Floss

DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss is a soft thread made from 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton and is double mercerized to give it brilliant sheen, which can be stitched on all types of fabric. It comes in 6 easily separated strands. Stitching thickness can be adjusted by the number of strands used. It is the most recommended and widely distributed thread in the world; it is made in France. Colors are 100% colorfast and fade resistant. DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss is available in 454 solid colors, 18 variegated colors and comes in 8.7 yard pull skeins.

DMC Pearl Cotton is a highly mercerized, non-divisible, lustrous 100% cotton thread on a twisted skein. The twist of the thread is how it received its “Pearl” description. The thread is soft, silky, does not fluff or kink and is 100% colorfast.  Pearl Cotton provides volume and dimension. Pearl Cotton Balls come in size 5, 8 and 12. Size 8 (available in 206 solid colors) is equivalent to three strands of floss, and size 12 (available in 40 solid colors) is equivalent to 2 strands of floss.

In addition to cotton Embroidery Floss and Pearl Cotton, DMC also makes Satin Floss (100% rayon fibers), Light Effects (metallic thread), Metallic Threads (synthetic 3-ply non-divisible metallic thread), Variegated Floss (distinct variegated colors throughout) and Color Variations (blend of soft multicolors, flowing seamlessly into one another). There are color limitations with these threads.

DMC products are colorfast.  

Anchor Embroidery Floss

Anchor Embroidery Floss is six-strand floss made from long-staple Egyptian Giza Cotton. It is a Coats & Clark product and comes in more than 444 solid colors, 16 variegated colors, and has 8.8 yards per skein. Anchor embroidery floss is colorfast, but dark colors should be laundered carefully as slight bleeding may occur. There are conversion charts available for DMC Embroidery Floss/Anchor Embroidery Floss.

Anchor Pearl Cotton is available in sizes 5, 8 and 12 and comes in 84 colors.

Crescent Colors

Crescent Colors is a hand-dyed floss. It begins with DMC six-strand cotton floss and is then dyed with gentle fabric dyes designed specifically for cotton. It is not colorfast. There are 5 yards per skein. It also comes in Hand Dyed Perles, 10 yards per skein in sizes #5 and #8.


Dinky-Dyes are Australian hand-dyed threads that have a unique range of embroidery threads. They have overdyed Silk Floss, Pearl Cotton and Cotton Floss that can be used for cross stitch. They use a DMC base for all their stranded cotton and pearl threads and a six-stranded spun silk base for their Silk Floss. They create wonderfully unique colors. A 6-strand skein is approximately 8.7 yards in length and the pearl cottons (sizes 5, 8 and 12) are 16.4 yards per skein. Dye lots vary so they encourage buying enough thread at one time to ensure the dyelot is the same. They currently have 193 colors. Most colors appear to be colorfast although the company will not guarantee this, especially with the darker colors.

Weeks Dye Works

This is a six-strand cotton floss that is hand over-dyed, variegated enough to be noticeable but subtle enough to blend naturally. It comes in 259 colors in 5-yard skeins. The company is currently color fasting all of their floss colors. If you order floss from them or purchase from your favorite needlework store, check to see that the color or colors you are purchasing have been colorfasted.

They also have 2- and 3-strand floss versions of their 6-strand floss, which is available on ready-to-use spools.

Pearl Cotton in sizes 5 and 8 is available in all colors – 10 yards per skein.

Londerry Linen Thread

This is a high-quality 100% linen thread that is wet spun to eliminate “hairs” on the thread. This thread is not to be stranded. The sizes are equivalent to pearl-cotton sizes and come in sizes 5, 8 and 12 and in 26 colors.

This is a listing of threads that can be used for cross stitch designs. If there are some we have missed, we will add them as we find them.

The novelty hand-dyed and linen threads would look beautiful in two- or three-color designs such as the designs in the Home Décor section of our website. To emphasize the design, you could do the background in the cotton flosses available in DMC or Anchor flosses.



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