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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DMC Coton a Broder 25 (Art. 107): On Choosing Colors


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There are lots of stitchers out there right now stitching (or preparing to stitch) the Lattice Jumble Sampler from the Sampler Guide that was published a couple weeks ago here on Needle ‘n Thread.

On the Lattice Jumble Sampler, I used coton a broder #25 exclusively. But I used it in a very haphazard manner, this thread here, that thread there, pulling colors from my stash without any definite plan to the colors and their placement. (It was a very random sampler!)

If you want to plan colors for a stitch sampler like the Lattice Jumble, then you might be a little distraught over how to select colors without access to coton a broder at a local shop.

Of course, if you can purchase specialty threads in person, you’re a lucky duck! But if you can’t, and you have to resort to online purchasing (which is the case for most of us!), then what to do? What to do? Most websites only list color numbers and maybe the descriptive color name.

Enter, the color card.

And a little comparative research.

DMC Coton a Broder Thread Color Card

Many embroidery thread companies put out color cards of the various threads that they produce. DMC does this as well, thankfully.

There are different types of color cards – some feature printed blocks of color that represent the thread color, and some actually have real thread on them.

Real thread color cards are The Ideal when it comes to color cards, but they can be somewhat expensive and hard to come by.

DMC Coton a Broder Thread Color Card

A real thread color card looks like this. Strips of card wound with bits of real thread into these color “bricks” fill the page. The colors are arranged by color and shade. Next to the color is the color number.

I love real thread color cards! I look at them the same way a kid looks at candy in a candy store. All those luscious bits of color!

DMC Coton a Broder Thread Color Card

This particular color card is for Broder Special (Art. 107) thread, which we call coton a broder. DMC makes coton a broder in different sizes, which are listed at the top of the color card (where the black arrow is). Size #16 is the thickest, and size #30 is the thinnest of the four weights listed there. Of all four weights, #25 comes in the most colors (186), and so the color card features all 186 of those colors.

If you look at the arrow, it points to the column for #25, and underneath that column, running down the color card next to each number, is a block that corresponds with the #25 space. It’s shaded in, to show you that that color number is available in #25.

So that’s one way to find a color and the corresponding number on a color card. Here’s another way:

DMC Coton a Broder Thread Color Card

Towards the back of the color card, there’s an index of numbers, and next to the numbers are listed the column in which you can find that particular number on the color card.

This for cases when you know a particular thread number, but you have no idea what color it is. Instead of running through every column on the thread card, you can look the number up here (they’re listed in numerical order) and go straight to the column where that thread sample for that particular number is displayed.

So that’s how the DMC color card for coton a broder works.

DMC Coton a Broder Thread Color Card

And all this is well and fine, if you happen to have a color card, right? But how does it help the person unpossessed of such a wondrous device as a color card?

Well… if you don’t have a color card, there’s still a way to choose colors from one. It’s a little more labor intensive, but for the majority of stitchers, this will work.

DMC Coton a Broder Color Card

First, you need to find a color card online. Laci’s has the coton a broder color card online. You can find it here:

DMC Broder Special Color Card (PDF)

You can save that PDF to your computer by going to “Save As” under “File”. You can also print it if you want to. It will take a lot of ink, so I suggest just printing the pages with the thread samples.

Now, when viewed online, colors are often distorted. Every monitor displays color differently, so you aren’t necessarily going to get an exact representation of the thread color. It should be close (in the same ballpark), but it probably won’t be exact.

Compare with DMC Stranded Cotton

If you want to know exactly what color you’re looking at, then there’s still a way to do that without the coton a broder shelf right in front of you. Take the printed sheets with you, and the next time you’re out shopping, go somewhere that sells regular DMC stranded cotton.

Since DMC is the best-known and most widely distributed embroidery floss, chances are, you’ll have access to it somewhere. If you have a local needlework shop (cross stitch shop, needlepoint shop) check there. If you have a Hobby Lobby nearby, or a Michael’s, or a JoAnn’s, check there. Other fabric stores carry DMC – check your local listings for stores and give them a call to find out if they stock it before making a special trip. (Hancock’s, I believe, has switched to Sullivan’s).

Now, with the shelf of DMC stranded cotton spread out before you in all its glory, look at the colors in question on the color card you’ve printed and determine the number of the colors you want to see. Then find those numbers on the shelf in stranded cotton. Though the threads are different, the numbers correspond to the same colors in both lines of thread.

It takes a little more work, but if you are determined to know the exact color of coton a broder before you purchase it and you don’t have access to a real thread color card, that’s the best way to go about it.

Lattice Jumble Sampler Guide – Last Day

The Lattice Jumble Sampler Guide has been listed at an introductory price for the past couple weeks so that loyal readers here on Needle ‘n Thread could take advantage of the introductory price.

Today’s the last day of the introductory price ($10). Tomorrow, it will be listed at the regular price of $14. So, if you want it at $10, pick it up today!

DMC Diamant Give-Away

The DMC Diamant give-away ends tomorrow morning – if you haven’t left your comment yet and you’re interested in a chance to win the whole set of DMC’s new metallic thread, read the guidelines in the original post and leave your comment some time today!


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(11) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    I really like Coton a Broder thread and this will come in handy thanks so much for letting us know about the colour charts a very useful chart for when I order some of this thread and thanks for explaining how to use the chart. I must treat myself to some colour thread charts as you would know the colour you are buying. Thanks for this.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. Thank you for this post. Especially for the link to the downloadable card at Lacis. I also make lace and I can never find what I want at there on-line catalog, though I will have been told I can find it at Lacis. I guess I just haven’t figured out all of the in’s and out’s of their site. Also thank you for the heads up on the Jacobean Jumble. I quit procrastinating and bought it this morning.

  3. Great instructions on how to read the card! This is so helpful! Thank you!

    Regarding the Sampler Guide, is it possible to purchase the Lattice Jumble Sampler Guide and get it printed in paper as well? How would I do that if I don’t want to print it out of my own printer? After I buy it, would it be possible to send it to one of the print on demand places and have it printed and bound? (Just wondering.)

    If that’s not possible, I’ll just buy it and pull up the pages as needed.

    Thanks again! 😀

    1. Hi, Sheila – I think sending it off to a print on demand service would be pricey. A better bet would be to have it printed somewhere like Office Depot, Office Max, or the like, and have comb binding or spiral binding put on it. The greatest expense will be in the printing of color pages, rather than the binding part, though. You might wait until Office Depot has a coupon out for a discount on printing. As long as you are only doing a one-off at places like that, you should have no problem printing it. -MC

  4. Mary: Speaking of Sullivan’s floss, have you stitched with it? Can you write an article one day comparing it to DMC and Anchor? Janet.

  5. Thank you for this. Can you help me understand the various sizes of the DMC Broder Special in relation to “regular” divisible 6 strand embroidery thread? I am looking for something indivisible and about half as thick as 6 strand thread. Thanks so Much!

    Annie Boehm

    1. Coton a broder #25 is about the weight of 1.5 – 2 strands of DMC. If you want a little heavier, you can try the coton a broder #20, but it doesn’t come in colors like the 25 – it only comes in white and ecru, I believe.

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