Mary Corbet

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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

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Coton a Broder for Whitework Embroidery – Resources


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Coton a broder is a 4-ply, non-divisible embroidery floss that comes in different sizes, all the way up to #40. The higher the number, the finer the thread. It is usually sold in white, although in the lower numbers, it can be found in colors. In higher numbers, it usually comes in white, and occasionally in ecru.

This thread is my favorite thread for whitework, and it’s excellent for monogramming. This summer, with my adult embroidery class, we’ll be working some simple monogram designs on guest towels. But we won’t really call it whitework, because the towels are natural, oatmeal-colored linen. Have you ever seen a “natural” colored linen embroidered with white? It’s quite stunning!

I got the idea from Country Bumpkin, to tell you the truth! The first source of inspiration was their book, Monograms, by Susan O’Connor. I fell in love with the cover of this book, which prompted me to buy it. Although we aren’t supposed to judge books by their cover, I did judge this one right – it’s a wealth of information and good techniques for hand embroidering monograms.

Monograms: The Art of Embroidered Letters, by Susan O'Connor

Then there was a project called “A Fine Tradition” (also by Susan O’Connor) in Inspirations issue #55. While our monograms will not be quite of this caliber, my plan is a simple, tasteful design like this one, which bespeaks such elegance in my mind!

So I’ve got the supply of natural linen towels all washed and ready to go, which is only the minutest step towards preparing for this class. Next, I’ve got to get the designs ready, and pick out an alphabet.

But before I do that, I just realized that I am chock out of coton a broder, and so I’ve placed various orders.

Here are some resources if you’re looking for this thread, which I think is really indispensible for anyone who likes whitework.

The first source is Lacis. Check under “materials” in their online catalog, under cotton cords and threads. Coton a broder in sizes 16, 20, 25, and 30 are all $1.50 a skein (anywhere from 23 – 40 meters per skein). #40 (which I believe is supplied by Anchor) is $4.00 / skein.

You can also find coton a broder #40 (Anchor) from Wendy Schoen Designs, for $4.00 / skein. If you have other goods to purchase from her, it might be worth your while to check out her shop. For example, she sells floche (similar to coton a broder, but 5-ply instead of 4). She even sells it in very nice sample packs!

So if you’ve got any monogramming on your list for summer embroidery projects, now you have some resources for just the right threads. Incidentally, I’m working on a personal project (a gift) right now as well, and it will be white-on-white. I’ve got a deadline on this one, so it’s a darned good thing I realized I needed thread! Phew!

That’s what I’m up to, then. Not too exciting! But at least each day I get a little closer to having my classes solidified and everything ready to go. Then, we can have some real fun! I’ll definitely share pictures with you along the way!



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(4) Comments

  1. Hi Mary

    Thanks for those links. I’m learning white embroidery and was looking for some online resources.

    Paule – Reunion Island

  2. The talent, the love of embroidery and the detail that you take time from your life to share is so valuable even to those of us who could never, unfortunately, take a class from you. God bless you. Each time I waiver away from my first love your column brings me back. I do want to do white on white for a memorial cloth for two local churchs and I will follow you closely.

  3. Aaahh! Now I can’t help but to want one of each sample pack from Wendy Schoen’s!

    Can’t wait to see pics of the class projects. Your students are lucky ducks, Mary! – Jeannine

  4. Mary, thank you so much for providing these links off and on. It’s always so nice to find alternate sources for the threads and fabrics I like to work with.

    I’ve had an especially difficult time trying to find coton a broider, so this post is extremely welcome. Now I’m going to want to spend money!!! 🙂

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