This morning, a little thread talk! I mentioned on Wednesday, when we talked about some specialty lighting instead, that I wanted to have a little chat about embroidery threads. So here we are, chatting!
I’ve been trying out Madeira cotton embroidery floss. It’s a six-stranded cotton, like most cotton floss that we’re used to, but there are a few significant differences that make Madeira cotton unique.
First, let’s cover the basics. Madeira floss is:
- Six-Stranded Cotton Floss
- Made from Long-staple Egyptian Cotton
- Mercerized (it has a sheen)
- Washable and Colorfast to 95C
- 10 Meters per “Skein”
- Made in Germany
The first thing that will strike any stitcher about Madeira cotton embroidery floss is the way it’s packaged.
They say that packaging is everything, and while I don’t always buy that point of view, in this case, I Really Like the packaging on Madeira floss for a number of reasons.
The floss comes in thin packages (I think they call them Stick Twists, or just sticks) with a clear window in front, so that you can see the color.
The thread is situated inside the package in such a way that, when pulled from the bottom of the stick, it comes straight out without any kind of entanglement.
At the top of each package, there’s a hole for hanging, making it very easy to slip lots of the thin packs of floss onto a jump ring.
In the photo above, I’ve separated colors for a project onto two jump rings, and then joined the jump rings with another ring to hold all my thread colors together for the one project. I can hang the main ring from my frame or a hook at my work area, and access all my threads very easily.
I also use the hanging hole on each package to loop the leftover cut thread from that particular package, so I don’t waste thread.
On the back of each thread package, there are instructions for snipping a little triangle at the base of the packaging and pulling out the thread.
After doing this to a couple of the packages, I found that I was wasting about an inch of thread when I made that snip.
So instead, I found the spot where the thread is already lodged in the edge of the packaging and coaxed the cut end of the thread out through that spot.
Either way you do it, it works.
I’m sure you can recognize right away the genius of this packaging. Here are the benefits that I see:
- There’s no pull skein to mess with.
- You don’t have to seek some other solution to packaging and organizing open skeins.
- The packages have a very slim profile, so you can fit many on one jump ring.
- The top hole on each package provides a place to keep leftover cut threads.
But Packaging Isn’t Everything!
I know! I know! What good is packaging, if the thread is inferior?
Well, it’s not! It’s a nice thread to work with – a very good quality thread, in fact. It easily equates with the better quality stranded cottons that we’re used to working with.
And it comes in a lot of colors! There are some 379 colors, I believe.
Fortunately, there are many DMC to Madeira conversion charts online, if you have a projected designed with DMC that you’d rather work with Madeira (or visa-versa). Several popped up right away with a simple Google search of “DMC to Madeira conversion chart.”
I’ve been embroidering this tree with Madeira stranded cotton.
There are a few adjustments I need to make in some of the leaves shown above (you know how it is – stitch a little, pick a little… pick pick pick, stitch a lot, pick a little more).
It’s been a marvelous experience so far! The floss is lovely to stitch with, and keeping the threads neat and organized is a breeze.
I also like the colors. They have an abundance of good greens to choose from. They don’t have a lot of variegated colors, but there are a few, a couple of which are working well with this project.
Where to Find It
Well, it seems that, overseas – especially in the UK and Australia – Madeira stranded cotton is pretty widely available. A quick Google search brings up many shops and online purchasing options in those countries.
In the US, Madeira stranded cotton is not so widely available. It’s now being distributed by & More Threads out of Dallas, Texas.
It’s not really gotten out to needlework shops far and wide, and I’m not sure of any shops with an online presence in the US that carry the whole line. There are some shops here and there – some machine sewing shops – that have small collections of colors, but I haven’t seen the whole collection in any one shop. If you happen to know of anyone carrying it, feel free to mention it below in the comments.
It would be nice to see Madeira more widely available in the US. I like the idea of having choices when it comes to stranded cotton. And I think stitchers in the US will appreciate both the quality of the thread and the unique packaging, which eliminates a lot of frustration.
And, of course, there’s also the fact that there are two meters more in each package, compared to standard stranded cotton skeins.
Yes, you do pay for that difference (and for the packaging) – in the US, a Madeira stick runs about $1.10-$1.20, depending on where and how you buy it.
So, that’s Madeira stranded cotton! Have you used it? Any thoughts you want to share? Any questions you might have? Insights? Comments? We’d love to hear! Feel free to have your say below!