Cotton Threads

Cotton is a wonderful fiber from the cotton plant.  The plant produces a flower which becomes a boll.  The boll is picked, cleaned and spun into an array of various threads for the consumer.


Embroidery Floss

This is a thread which can be used almost anywhere. You will find it in 6 strand skeins with wrappers on both ends. Because each strand can be pulled apart from the others, you can strip and place it back together again to create any thickness you desire. The thread can fit petit point (40 stitches per inch) up to gros point (5 stitches per inch). (Although this is true, you may wish to use another thread for large size needlepoint.) We have many companies which offer embroidery floss. Of these, we have DMC, Anchor, JP Coat, Sullivans Anchor and Janlynn. Each brand has a very large color range.


Most companies manufacture floss which is colorfast and fade resistant. It is best to test for colorfastness if you are not sure.


Also, please don't forget to use embroidery floss which your grandmother or aunt may have around the house.  If the thread is in good condition, please use them.


Solid Colors:  An embroidery floss that is all one color.  Most companies will package their floss with about 8 meters of floss. (You may wish to check the package.)


To use, find the end that sticks out of the little paper wrapper.   Carefully pull out 18 or so inches. Strip (separate) the strands and place the desired number of strands back together again. Thread your needle and start stitching.

           Uses: over stitch, shading, one or more color in area, all-purpose

Overdyed Threads:  The definition is, yarn or thread which has been dyed a color and then a second color over the original one.  You may see overdyed threads made of cotton or wool. The combination is endless. Many companies offer a large range of color combinations.   Companies such as Ozark Sampler, The Gentle Art, Olde Willow Stitchery and Weeks Dye Works.


Because overdyed threads are created with embroidery floss, the uses are endless. They may be separated and placed back together again to fit your canvas. A word of caution, purchase all the overdyed threads you will need for your project when buying the thread. Every dye lot will be very different. Each time the manufacture changes the dye lot, the color will be very different from the last. This year’s blue thread will look completely different than last year’s.

If you feel ambitious, you may want to create your own overdyed threads. The picture on the right shows a vase with my own overdyed threads.

        Uses: Clothes, rocks, fields, flowers, sky, water, sand, backgrounds, animals, birds, buildings, borders, mountains and hair

Variegated:  When you look at variegated floss, you will notice floss with patches of lighter color.  Use this for your advantage.  The light and dark floss will work great in creating water, tree trunks, hair and other items which have highlights and shadows.  A word of caution, when stripping the thread, be sure to place the strands back together matching the change.  Otherwise, you will get spotty stitching.

       Uses: Water, sky, clothes, rocks, fields, trees and foliage

Other Threads

Bravo!:  This thread is euivalent to pearl cotton size 12.  The dying process is "spaced dyed."  For you, that means when you are stitching, you will want to match the end in the same order as you are stitching.  In other words, cut a length and stitch.  When you have finished this, cut another length and thread the needle on the end which you have just cut.  The colors should run in a smooth line.


Bravo! Encore! and Overture by Rainbow Gallery are dyed to match. (Not all color combinations are available in all lines.

      Uses:  Clothes, mountains, fields, backgrounds and borders0



Encore!:    The color combinations are identical to Bravo! and Overture.  Encore! is a 4 strand thread the size of pearl cotton #8.  Anywhere you wish to use a pearl or overdyed pearl, Encore! is also suitable. 

         Uses:  Clothes, fields, mountains, borders, backgrounds and foliage





Floche:  A very fine thread manufactured by DMC. Floche is made of 4 non-divisible strands in size 16 thread which is available in 87 solid colors on a 150 yard skein. This thread is commonly used in needle painting, cutwork and whitework.  Because the thread can be strand together, many needlepoint stitches can be created.  The strands may be combined to fit any canvas size.  Because it is very fine, creating petit point with Floche would be lovely!  This thread is colorfast, will not knot or kink when worked.  You may need to look for this thread since many yarn stores do not carry this.

      Uses: Petit point, details, hair and flowers

Overture:  This is a heavy strandable 4-ply cotton thread by Rainbow Gallery.  The thread comes in different color combinations.  You can pull the thread apart for different canvas sizes. 

     Uses:  Clothes, mountains, fields, backgrounds and borders



Pearl:  Pearl cotton is a non-divisible thread which comes in different weights. For stitching, you will find pearl in sizes #3, 5 and 8. Like embroidery floss, pearl is available in an array of colors, variegated and overdyed.


If you know you will need a large quantity of pearl, you may want to ask the clerk if a ball of pearl is available in the size you require. DMC has size 5 pearl in 5 solid colors, size 8 in 206 solid and 18 variegated colors and size 12 in 40 colors.



Years ago, I needed a large quantity of gray/black pearl overdyed thread in a small size. I took DMC’s Baroque 100% crochet cotton and dipped it into a large bowl of gray dye. Then, I took a paint brush and created black areas on the pearl. After rinsing, it was left to dry. The hedgehog quills on the right, is the result of the project. Long stitches were placed in between the bullion knots to bring life to the hedgehog’s mantle.

       Uses: Clothes, animals, foliage, backgrounds, fields, mountains, sky, bird, borders, buildings and hair.

Pebbly Perle:  This thread can be used as it comes off the card or stranded.  The thread is a 4 strand thread so the possibilites are endless.  A word of caution, if you are working with the thread as it comes off the card, be sure the thread doesn't become unwound.  The end result will be lumpy an uneven. 

     Uses:  All-purpose


Rainbow Tweed: This unique blend of fibers, cotton, wool and acrylic, absorbs the dyes unevenly to give it a tweedy effect. The thread is soft to touch and stitches evenly on the canvas. Because of the color variation, it makes instant backgrounds, fields, foliage and skies. Add a blending filament and you have instant water. The thread can be divided which makes it a good candidate for decorative stitches, Continental, large and small count canvases. Rainbow Gallery dyes the Rainbow Tweed to match some of the overdyed colors of Overture, Encore! And Bravo!

     Uses:   Sky, clothes, fields, animals, birds, buildings, hair, foliage, borders, backgrounds, mountains, fields and all-purpose

Sea Grass: This unique thread is by The Thread Gatherer. Sea Grass is a long ribbon like thread is constructed of a series of fibers bonded together to make a unique thread. Exercise caution when threading a needle. You do not want to strip the fibers apart rendering it useless.  There are 43 colors available and 2 blacks. Because of the rainbow of colors, items such as rocks, sand, tree trunks, leaves and other specific items are great objects for this thread. Try stitching long random stitches for grass, straw or wild hair. Embroidery stitches are another option. I recommend finding a package and play with it.

      Uses: The sky is the limit!

Watercolours:  Watercolours can be stranded to accept a smaller count canvas or worked as is on the card.  The thread is an overdyed thread which for you means the usage is endless.  This thread is by Caron Company.

     Uses:  Clothes, backgrounds, foliage, animals, borders, mountains and fields


Wildflowers:  This is a weight between #8 and #12 pearl.  The thread has a nice matte finish and stitches very nicely on the canvas.  Wildflowers has the same colors as Watercolours.

     Uses:  Clothes, backgrounds, foliage, animals, borders, mountains and fields