Silk embroidery thread or floss for surface embroidery is perhaps one of the most delightful threads to use. But there are many different types of silk thread out there, and sometimes it’s nice to know what you’re looking for before you start buying…
Right off the bat, I will admit that my favorite threads for general embroidery are made by Au Ver a Soie, and I don’t think many people will argue that Au Ver a Soie is the best silk on the market, especially once they’ve tried it. Au Ver a Soie has been around since the late 1800′s (1875, to be precise). They produce different types of silk thread, and many of these are imported into the US through Access Commodities.
The most commonly used Au Ver a Soie is probably Soie d’Alger. This is a stranded spun silk, with 7 strands in usually 8 meter skeins, although you can special order 45 meter skeins through some sellers. In France, I believe you can acquire 390-meter hanks! That’s a lot of thread! You could compare this silk in weight and usage to regular DMC, but the look is different, because it’s silk. DMC is made out of mercerized cotton, which gives it its shiny finish. Mercerization is a chemical process, and over time, mercerized cotton does lose its sheen. Not so with silk. The great thing about Soie d’Alger is that it is produced in an amazing 592 colors. If you like this thread and plan to use it often, you should invest in a Color Selection Guide. It’s a handy binder that has actual thread samples arranged according to palette, much like an artist would arrange paint colors. The Color Selection Guide is somewhat pricey, but I found a pretty good deal through The Twining Thread, where, if you purchase the guide, you get along with it $80-worth of coupons for Soie d’Alger. Not bad. The guide ends up costing you about $30 in that case (yes, it’s $110.00!)
I’ve used Soie d’Alger on all types of fabric – linen, silk, cotton – and never been disappointed in the results. The range of shades within a color makes it super for needle painting. Soie d’Alger can be used for all sorts of surface embroidery stitches. It’s a strong thread, too, and so it works well with drawn thread work and cutwork, even if it’s not exactly “authentic” to these types of embroidery.
There are heaps of other silks available on the market – stay tuned for more.
Where to buy Soie d’Alger:
- The Twining Thread: they have an easy order page, if you know what colors you’re looking for. They also have excellent, friendly, and quick service.
- Accomplishments Shop: They’ve recently moved from Ohio to Virginia, and apparently will be refurbishing their website soon. They sell all kinds of fine needlework goods, and their website is informative and fun.
- Nordic Needle: They also have an easy-order page, and besides the thread number, you get a description of the color. They do not stock all colors – some require special ordering.
If you want to convert colors from DMC to Soie d’Alger, you can check out a color conversion chart here.