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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 Questions, Floche, and Danish Flower Thread

 

Lately, I’ve gotten quite a few e-mails asking questions about coton a broder, a thread used for hand embroidery, so today, I’m going answer some of those questions, while mentioning floche and Danish flower thread, too!

#1: Does coton a broder come in colors?

Yes, it does. Technically, though, I’ve only seen #25 coton a broder available in a nice range of colors. Most other sizes, you’ll find in white and ecru, and possibly black sometimes.

However, a design calls for a #16 soft cotton or coton a broder in colors, chances are, it’s cotton floche you want to look for, rather than coton a broder. Floche (a soft cotton made by DMC) is slightly different from coton a broder, but it comes in a wide range of beautiful colors, and can be used for the same applications as coton a broder.

The only real difference between the two types of thread is that the thread that DMC calls “coton a broder” here in America is a 4-ply softly twisted thread, while floche is a 5-ply softly twisted thread, slightly softer in twist than coton a broder. But they are completely compatible, more or less the same thing, so if you’re looking for a #16 in various colors, what you need to look for is floche rather than what we call “coton a broder.”

This is floche:

Floche for Hand Embroidery

#2: What’s the difference between Danish Flower Thread and coton a broder?

In America, coton a broder is actually a mercerized thread, which means it has a sheen to it. Danish Flower Thread is non-mercerized, or matte, and has no sheen. However, it seems that, in other countries (South Africa, Australia, New Zealand), coton a broder is actually a matte thread, the term used interchangeably with flower thread.

However (again!), in America, what we buy as flower thread is definitely more tightly twisted than coton a broder or floche. You can see the individual twists in flower thread more distinctly than you can in floche or coton a broder.

Look:

Floche vs. Danish Flower Thread

The top thread is mercerized (it has a sheen) and has a looser twist. It is floche. The bottom thread is not mercerized (it is matte) and the twist is a little tighter. It is flower thread.

#3: Where can I find coton a broder, for cutwork or for colored embroidery?

If you’re looking for cutwork thread, coton a broder in white, you can find various sizes available through Lacis. Look under “materials,” then “Needlework, DMC, etc.” in their online catalog. They have sizes 16, 20, 25, 30, and 40. (Update, 2017: #40 is no longer distributed / available.)

You can also find floche in colors on the same page of the Lacis online catalog.

If you’re looking for Danish Flower Thread (matte coton a broder, more or less), you can order that through Hedgehog, on the same page as the link in the above paragraph, or you can order it from Nordic Needle. Right now, it looks as if they don’t have many colors listed on their website, but I saw a whole rack of the entire range of flower thread, so I’m sure you can probably call them with the colors you want.

For further information on these threads – floche, coton a broder, and flower thread – check out these articles:

Comparison between floche and other common DMC threads

Comparison between floche and Danish Flower Thread

I hope this helps answer some questions about these threads!

 
 

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(7) Comments

  1. Hi Mary,

    An Australian here who knows her coton a broder! In Australia too, coton a broder DOES have sheen. As an embroiderer of Mountmellick work, you must have thread that has no sheen. It means that we cannot use coton a broder, because though it does not have MUCH sheen, it does have sheen.

    Welcome back from your trip!

    Yvette

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  2. Hi, Yvette –

    Thanks for that. I would think that the terms would be the same world-wide, but there seems to be a discrepancy in their meaning.

    When I reviewed a book that was written in South Africa, I noted that there was a "mistake" in the book – that the author said that coton a broder is a matte thread, when it's really a mercerized thread.

    I promptly heard from both a South African stitcher of note and an Australian stitcher of note. This is what the Australian said:

    "In Australia and the UK both coton a broder and flower thread are matte, ie both are not mercerised and are totally dull…"

    I think the difficulty arises essentially from the "generic-ness" of the term "coton a broder." Overall, I think most stitchers world-wide associate coton a broder with the 4 and 5-ply mercerized, non-divisible thread that you and I are talking about…

    It'd be interesting to clarify this a little further or to get some insight into why some people call the different threads what they call them!

    Again, thanks for the input!

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  3. Hello, just recently found your site. There sure is an abundance of information here. I'm new to embroidery so I'll be sure to visit often. Stop by and visit me soon.

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  4. hi Mary….interesting about coton a broder, yes, the product marketed here in the US certainly had a tad of sheen. I used to carry sizes 12 and 16 in my shop in all the colors available here, which was limited to maybe 50 brights plus black, white, ecru, brown, etc.

    My understanding was that it was primarily marketed in
    Eastern Europe for peasant type embroidery, hence all the bright colors. In fact, one of the few other shops that I knew of that had the whole range was in an ethnic neighborhood in NYC.

    I loved it for needlepoint so kept it all when closed shop 10 years ago. Recently put over 200 skeins on Ebay and it went for about the old retail price, so there's someone else out there that likes to stitch with it.

    Enjoyed your review of Lacis and Needle In A Haystack

    Ginger

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  5. Hi, I found your discription beween Floche ,and coton a broder so very informative ,I thank you very much.
    I am fairly new to white work which I enjoy but so far have used the DMC stranded cotton only , as I felt floche and coton a broder some what confusing , not quite knowing ,what to use where. And of course, I supose here in the UK we seem to have a slightly different meaning ,again. I love the idea of the soft ,shiny thread !!!
    Many thanks again
    Kind regards
    Trudy

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  6. I have been all over the net and have not been able to find floche. It looks like a great thread and I would love to try it. I live in Australia but happy to buy from wherever. ETSY has some advertised but I’m not able to get to the site. All very weird. HELP!!!!

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    1. Hi, Heather – try Hedgehog Handworks, online. They have it, and they sell it in smaller twists, so that you don’t have to buy the whole large skein. The skeins of floche, as produced by DMC, are pretty hefty – 168 yard skeins – but Hedgehog breaks them down into 30 yard skeins for a fraction of the price.

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