Mary Corbet

writer and founder


I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (40) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Silk Thread – What’s the difference?


Amazon Books

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.

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!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(10) Comments

  1. I sounds like you love this silk. I love using flat silk, also called japanese silk, tho I don’t do japanese work.

    Soie d’Alger is a stranded silk, right?

    Where could I find flat silk?


    1. Hi Mary. I couldn’t find the web site to order tthe Soied’alger thread.Also the conversion chart. Are they still available?

    2. Hi, Laurie – I order from Hedgehog Hnadworks now. Their prices are reasonable (about 20 cents less per skein than most places) and they adjust shipping when you’re ordering threads, so you don’t have to pay astronomical shipping prices. Plus, their service is good and quick. I know there are some conversion charts out there – I’ll have to do some digging to see where… – MC

  2. Good morning Mary ~
    Does Access Commodities make a stranded silk
    You mention them above, but on their website I do not see Soie d’Algers. Do they have the same, under a different name. I would like to try it for Needle Painting.
    Thank you for assistance

  3. Have just made worked through all your comments on various types of silk threads, which I have found
    really informative. However, I am wondering if you have any advice for sewing with soie perlee. Have
    a kit from Pascal Jaouen (Kenzikou) which is wonderful but I do have difficulty in managing the twisting
    up of the silk thread especially when trying to do some of the stitches of which I have no previous experience
    and which need to be really small.

    Please help!

    1. Hi, Hannah – with Soie Perlee, I’d say to concentrate on these points: make sure your needle is large enough (if it’s too small, the hole in the fabric will not be large enough, which can exacerbate the twisting problem); occasionally drop your needle so the thread hangs towards the floor and untwists itself; and make sure that you’re working certain stitches (like stem stitch) in the right direction with the thread in the right place in relation to the needle. Soie Perlee is a z-twisted thread, so certain stitches (like stem stitch) are formed differently, to keep the twist right. Also, you might consider using a laying tool! Hope that helps!

  4. I’ve completed many samplers in cotton floss but am now considering attempting my first one in silk. I found your post very informative regarding Soie d’Alger. Now I need to know more about Soie 1003 so I can make an informed choice.

More Comments