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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Long & Short Stitch with Floche


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Now and then, I like to post questions from readers, especially when the answer may open up some embroidery options for others, too.

Janet wrote a while ago, asking if floche can be used for long and short stitch shading:

I have the whole set of DMC floche and I’m not sure what kind of stitching to do with it. I want to embroider some flowers and practice long and short stitch needle shading, but can floche be used for that? I appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks!

Here’s my answer:

Using floche embroidery thread for long and short stitch

This is a little monogram I was embroidering last year at some point. It never got any further – it’s patiently awaiting the day when it will!

Floche is a soft cotton embroidery thread with a nice sheen to it. It’s non-divisible, which means you use it straight off the skein, without dividing it into smaller strands.

One strand of floche is equal to about 1.5 individual strands of DMC cotton floss, so it’s a slightly heavier thread than regular stranded cotton. Because it’s a soft cotton with a soft twist, floche spreads nicely as it stitches, too.

Using floche embroidery thread for long and short stitch

Floche works up quite well with long and short stitch!

Because it’s heavier than regular stranded cotton – and because it doesn’t come in as many shades – it’s sometimes difficult to get that really detailed, smooth shading that can be had with stranded cotton.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing – it creates a whole different look. It’s beautiful, but in a different way.

Using floche embroidery thread for long and short stitch

The really nice thing about working long and short stitch with floche is that the thread is very easily split, when you come up into it from behind. It’s easy to work both the long and short stitch and the split stitch with it.

For the little petals above, I used three shades of floche. I started with a split stitch line around the outsides of the whole shape, and then worked all three petals. Then, to make the visual separation between the three petals a little clearer, I added two long straight stitches on each side of the center petal.

Now that I look at it after quite a bit of time has passed, I’m not 100% sure I like the long straight stitches. If I were doing this again (and I probably will, later on), I might adjust my approach on that.

Using floche embroidery thread for long and short stitch

In a small area, floche tends to “bulk up” more than floss does. It certainly fills more quickly and it looks a little puffier when it’s stitched. I like the look of it with long and short stitch!

Somewhere, in the deep recesses of my mind, I seem to recall that Marion Scoular taught a workshop in long and short stitch shading, using floche. A purple flower comes to mind…? But I can’t remember where I saw that. If a great needle artist like Marion can use floche for long and short stitch, you can, too!

More on Floche

If you’re not familiar with floche, but you’d like to be, here are some previous articles on the thread:

Cotton Floche – What’s Not to Love?
Thread comparisons: Cotton Floche, Perle Cotton #5, and DMC Stranded Cotton
Cotton Floche vs. Coton a Broder – a close-up comparison
Sizing Up Cotton Embroidery Threads
Cotton Floche in Shadow Work
Floche + Satin Stitch = True Love
Cotton Floche vs. Danish Flower Thread

Why Try Floche?

Of the many wonderful things I could say about floche, this is the point that immediately comes to mind: it’s a beautiful thread, and it’s affordable. With floche, you can incorporate a different type of thread into your embroidery repertoire, without breaking the bank, and create a whole different look to your embroidery.

It’s definitely a thread worth trying!

And if you’re ever wondering, “Can I work this stitch or that stitch with this thread or that thread?” my advice is pretty simple: just try it! You may stumble onto a new approach that you really love!

Over to You!

What about you? Have you used floche before, and if so, for what type of stitching? Have you tried long and short stitch with it? Do you have any tips to share? Feel free to join in the conversation about floche below!


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(38) Comments

  1. Thank you for an informative and interesting article. I have been away from embroidery for a decade, and am rekindling my affair. I had never heard of this type of thread, and am intrigued at the possibilities!

    If I may put in my two cents; the long straight stitches are perfect, they add curve and dimension to the petals. I do hope you will leave them.



  2. Unfortunately, Floche is not available here in the UK! You would think it would be, as it is made in France!

    1. I don’t think DMC threads are any longer made in France ! And here, in France, floche is NOT available !

    1. Yes, it’s a wonderful thread for smocking. That’s how I first learned about it – my older sister used to smock children’s “heirloom sewing” dresses with it.

  3. Yes indeed, Marion Scoular teaches a long and short workshop featuring a purple (or optionally blue) flower and most definitely recommends floche thread! Hmm, maybe that is something I should dig out and finish! I need something small to do at guild meetings!

  4. Mrs. Corbet,
    Do you know where I could find cotton floche? And how much approximately does it cost?


  5. I have some hand dyed floche from Ozark Sampler that I use in cross stitch sometimes if I’m changing colors and want a little different texture. Thanks for another informative article!

  6. Thanks for your reply 🙂 I’ve searched the Anchor Store and they don’t have it either! Looks like it’s going to have to be an order from USA… Still, the postage shouldn’t be too bad 🙂 Thank you.

  7. How charming and sweet it looks! Soft-edged and I assume it was not padded-? It looks like a wool but with a sheen. Thanks for the pic. I never considered floche for splitting, since it does not divide. Actually, I think of your level of floss stitching as comparable to fine oil-painting, whereas this thread might be a watercolor medium with that sort of translation, since you could not copy a da Vinci with it, but possibly a Demuth?

  8. Hi Mary:

    I absolutely LOVE floche for satin stitch. it is just yummy. It can also be purchased at http://www.astitch-above.com/ . She ordinarily sells it in the small bunches but will sell in the larger hanks. I’ve only used flose for stem and satin stitches, i’ll have to try it out on long and short and split stitches.

    as always Mary, your articles are a continuing education. Whatever did I do before I found your site……..I didn’t do much surface embroidery….lol!


  9. Dear Mary

    I love what you have embroidered with the Floche thread above on the petal flower in L&S stitch. I really like Floche thread it is an easy thread to stitch with and looks so nice, but it is difficult to obtain the thread in the UK, you can buy white Floche but not other colours. I have Floche thread which I ordered from Hedgehogs which are beautiful deep reds, greens and yellow but I use them sparingly because of the cost involved. I like to be inventive and I agree you should try different threads with different stitches to see how they look. Thanks for reviewing the lovely Floche thread and introducing once again its versatility in embroidery.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  10. Marion Scoular only uses floche. She likes the feel and the weight. She likes the way something looks when stitched with floche. The official name is DMC Cotton Foche A Broder. Floche colors match DMC floss colors.

    Marion sells cloche and has a list of skein colors. This is her address.

    Sherwood Studio, Marion E. Scoular, 2840 Skye Terrace, Duluth, GA 30096. Phone/Fax is 770-497-0648.

  11. Floche is an excellent thread for blackwork. It provides a more even flow to the designs and doesn’t get lost in the ditches. However, if the design is very small and close, then it is too full for that. I’ve done some blackwork on cuffs and collars and the floche thread worked beautifully.

  12. I don’t read French, but it looks like this site (in French, from France) says that there are 87 colors of “le coton Floche à broder” available.

    I know nothing about the site or it’s service, but hope that helps.

  13. Mary,
    Unfortunately we do not find cotton floche in France (except the white color).
    This thread works very well for monograms too.

  14. Thank you greatly for explaining the characteristics of floche. I had never heard of it until I found directions for smocking baby socks. It called for the smocking to be done in floche. I wasn’t sure if it had more stretch to it, or if I could use regular DMC floss. I did not want the socks to be snug and not have any give.

    I have seem floche in one of the craft catalogs, but I can’t remember which one it was, but I will check.

    Thank you so much for your informative articles.

  15. I use floche for smocking, and I love, love, love it for chain and braided stitches! But I will definitely have to give it a go with L&S.

  16. Mary, I think you may have solved a problem for me. I started out doing a rose on some linen with floche using outline stitch just to experiement with the thread. Well, now I think I would rather have long and short incorporating the outline stitch. Given the few shades available, what about using one strand of the correlated DMC floss? I suspect the answer is try it and see but if you have any thoughts on the combination, I would like to hear them. I have been fooling with this red rose for awhile and just can’t think what to do next. Thanks, as always, Charlotte

    1. Good morning, Charlotte! Well, I think the difference in the weight of the two threads might be problematic with shading. The floche bulks up much thicker than regular floss. But, that being said, I think it’s worth trying!

  17. OOPS! Not sure my note was clear I was asking about the combined effects of floche and floss. I anticipated beginning with floss and shading in with the one strand of floss which should give a more subtle color shift than the available floche shades. It’s after midnight here in AZ and this night owl should got to bed. Goodnight, Mary, look forward to your blog in the morning, Charlotte

  18. Lots of good thread talk lately. How about perle balls? DMC & Finca have sizes 8 & 12-nice sheen with body. What is the original purpose? tating or crochet ?? For my own info. Thx, Barb

  19. I love floche! It is my favorite thread for stocking, and I also like it for needlepoint. Many years ago, when my EGA chapter was doing a 20 stitch sampler on canvas, I used Congress cloth and five or six shades of blue floche. Lined in satin, the piece made up into a sweet and silky little evening bag.

  20. sitting down with an easy embroidery project or practice piece is a stress reliever…so needed these days…and your info is blessed with clarity.. glad to know about floche.

  21. Mary, I am new to this and would love to try using this new Floche cotton thread you are showing. Hope you are selling this as well for embroidery. I only took a few hour class and have much to learn for a beginner. But seeing your work is truly amazing and hope I can learn more stitches as well from your site. Thank you for sharing all this information.

    1. Hi, Carol – I’m glad you’re enjoying the content here on Needle ‘n Thread! Floche has been around for quite a long time. It’s not really a new thread. It’s just limited in its production and availability now, because the manufacturers (in this case, DMC is the only manufacturer these days; there’s currently only one distributor for it, and that distributor is in the US) don’t see it as a profitable enough thread to expand its availability. I’ll have thread packs for floche available in the not-too-distant future, although I am awaiting a backorder on a few of the colors right now.

    1. Hello, Tricia – the irony is that DMC makes floche, but their only distributor is in the US, because the US was the only market they had for the thread. It simply was not / is not popular in Europe – it lost its popularity, and it apparently didn’t make sense financially for DMC to continue to distribute it in Europe, since the shops weren’t buying it. So they make it for the US distributor, and that’s why we still have it over here. I write about it all the time because 1. I love the thread; and 2. I don’t want to see it go the same route as it did in Europe. So I promote it whenever I get a chance.

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