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Mary Corbet

writer and founder

 

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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Studio Work, Threads, and Summer!

 

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Here on the studio end of Needle ‘n Thread, we’re gearing up for our first summer in our new (very old) building. While the first half of 2023 has proven to be a wild adventure involving much upheaval on every level, I’m really hoping the summer settles into a quiet, focused, productive era!

Here’s some fabulous news: I’ve expanded our staff! We have part-time morning help for the summer! Christine – a young lady who participated in my kids’ classes years ago when she was just a wee thing – is a teacher with some summer time off and she was looking for part time work. She’ll be a great fit here! This means we can catch up from the frenzy of the first half of the year. It means we can actually get kits assembled and out in a timely manner for the next Stitch Snippet! It means we can restock on ready-to-stitch items – and bring out two new summer sets (remember that camper?!). And it means that we can finally bring a pet project of mine to fruition!

Am I excited? You bet!

Frankly, I’m excited that we’re at the point where we can offer some employment to locals who are looking for flexible part time work. It’s so important in small rural communities that there are job opportunities! And I hope that Needle ‘n Thread continues to grow enough to be a viable part our our community in that way.

Anyway, my pet project! It has to do with thread, of all things! Surprising, isn’t it?

Building color collections of floche

Guess what thread?

Yes, yes, it’s floche.

I know, I know! I’ve been pushing floche quite a lot lately!

I have thoughts about floche, you see.

When I was in my early years of college – that would be the first part of the 1990’s – I was introduced to floche by my sister, who was working on a small floral sampler as part of a class from Julia Golson.

That was around the time that Inspirations magazine first launched, and around the time that the former Country Bumpkin also had a smocking and embroidery magazine – AS&E (Australian Smocking & Embroidery). My sister was into heirloom clothing, smocking, and the like. She had both magazines at her house all the time. Floche was a big player in heirloom sewing and smocking (it still is), and so she used it frequently.

So I fell in love with floche!

Building color collections of floche

Unfortunately, though, floche isn’t what we’d call a “common” embroidery thread. It’s not like stranded cotton or even crewel wool, which have been much more common threads on the market in the US for the past five or more decades – although I’m happy to see that floche is becoming more well-known lately.

Floche is made in France by DMC, but it is only distributed by one company here in the US, since it’s here in the US that there’s a larger market for the thread. So, if I understand it correctly, if people want floche, they have to get it through the distributor in the US. And while some shops might carry a little bit of floche, there aren’t that many shops that carry the whole range.

It’s true that floche has what might be considered a couple small drawbacks.

For one thing, it comes in Massive hanks of 150 yards of thread, and those hanks come with the corresponding price tag for that much thread. This makes it difficult for folks to acquire the whole color range of floche. It’s not a huge range of colors (under 100), but still, when you’re buying very large hanks, it can be expensive to acquire the entire color range.

For another, those massive hanks are not so easy to manage. If you’re not used to them and you don’t have a management system for them, they easily fall into disarray, which can lead to frustration and ultimately to waste.

My love for floche has increased over the years, and I’ve developed this obsessive idea that if we don’t start really using the thread a lot, it may just slip into the ether, never to be heard of again. I have a real fear of that.

Building color collections of floche

That’s why I started adding projects with floche to Needle ‘n Thread – to introduce other embroidery enthusiasts who may never have heard of it to the joy of stitching with floche! Hence, Key to My Heart – a floral heart project entirely worked in floche. Hence, the variety of monograms over the years, worked in floche. Hence, some ecclesiastical embroidery in floche.

In short, when a project presents itself as eminently doable with floche… I do it with floche.

Yes, I admit it! Over the years, I’ve been nefariously and surreptitiously indoctrinating people about the wonders of floche!

Why? Because I love the thread, I want everyone to know about the thread and experience it, and I want to see the thread around for a long, long time so that future generations can enjoy it, too.

Voided monogram in floche

When I developed Key to My Heart (and the voided monograms I was working on at the same time), I decided I would put together floche color packets for that project, and we did.

The color packet contains 20 colors of floche, broken down into manageable 50 yard twists – enough to give you plenty to work the Key to My Heart, with plenty left over for other projects.

Then I had this hair-brained idea idea that themed color packs of floche would be a great way to get the thread into more people’s hands, in an affordable and manageable way, so that they can build their own collection of floche (again, in an affordable and manageable way). Themed color collections wouldn’t necessarily have to be associated with specific projects – but they would give people a springboard for developing a color palette for their own personal projects.

So we developed the Heritage Warm and Heritage Cool Collections, specially curating the groupings for you in color themes that made sense.

Then I heard from folks who wanted a pastel range of floche (spring was coming on). To that end, we put together a mini collection of just four colors that we call Spring Frost.

Building color collections of floche

Between the Garden Bright collection, the Heritage collections, and Spring Frost, we ended up with a few repeats of the colors (three, to be exact). Mostly, this happened because there was already a project associated with the Garden Bright collection and I couldn’t reduce that collection and still offer the range of colors for Key to My Heart.

But from that point on, I was determined that no color collection of floche would contain any further repeats. This way, folks could collect all the color collections and eventually have the whole range of floche, if they want it. But they could also just purchase an individual collections because it appeals to them, because they can envision embroidering That Certain Something with it.

The Pet Project?

And so… the Pet Project: I want to offer, through curated color collections, the entire range of floche in a “collectible” format. This way, you can acquire every color collection until you have the whole range, or you can simply buy individual collections that appeal to you, because you like the colors in that particular collection and you can envision them on your own personal project.

I think curated color collections are an exciting way to build your embroidery stash!

They’re also a practical way to build a collection, because they give you a usable group of colors that work well together.

Best of all, they help reduce the angst of color selection when you’re working on your own personal projects. Color selection can be a huge hurdle for some stitchers! With curated collections, you have a base group of colors pre-selected for you, that you can build on if you want.

All of these color collections will be listed under Embroidery Supplies in the shop here on Needle ‘n Thread shortly. I’m going to re-vamp the floche listings into one listing with variations that can choose from, and we’ll have most of them in stock by the end of this week – if not sooner!

If you’re as excited about floche as I am, keep an eye out for those. I don’t know how fast they’ll go, but we plan to keep them in stock as much as possible. We are limited to what we can get from the distributor, when we can get it, but we will do our best to keep them available for you!

So, that’s one thing happening in the studio at this point – and for the rest of the summer, we’ll continue putting together thread packs and kits and all kinds of fun things. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Welcome to June! I hope your season – summer or winter, depending on where you are – is off to a great start!

 
 

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(21) Comments

  1. Great news all around!! Mary, a question about floche: Would you recommend for or against it when it comes to something like embroidery on cotton or linen garments? Garment embroidery admittedly has to stand up to somewhat more wear and washing than, say, a framed decorative piece, and I’m wondering if it would be safer to stick with a more tightly twisted thread like coton a broder or regular floss.

    Also, protip for floche shoppers: Don’t overlook your local quilt shop as a possible source of supply! I just scored a bunch of vintage embroidery threads, including some lovely floche, on this year’s Quilter’s Quest Shop Hop from a quilt store that had legacy inventory from a now-defunct NYC shop. Legacy inventory from other craft retailers provides a less reliable supply and selection but often some amazing savings.

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    1. Hi, Kim – well, I’ve used floche on monogrammed towels and even on kitchen towels, and it has held up great in the laundry. It’s also used extensively in smocking for baby clothes, kids’ clothes, etc. So I think it would be fine to use on embroidered garments.

      Sounds like you had a great shopping find! I’m always a little wary about vintage threads – much depends on how they were stored and how old they are – but when they’re good, they’re a goldmine, and usually at unbeatable prices because most people selling them are just trying to unload and they don’t realize what they have.

  2. I’m beyond excited that you will be carrying Floche! I used it for smocking back in the day and fell in love with it. Glad that your sister introduced you to it, and the Australian magazines. Pretty amazing!

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  3. This is VERY exciting news about the plans for floche thread! I’ve wanted to purchase some to try since reading about it on your site but have not been able to find any in the needlework shops I’ve been to here in Illinois. I will be watching your shop eagerly for bundles to become available!

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  4. Hello Mary

    I live in Rio de Janeiro,Brazil and have a hard time finding the floche thread.
    Will you send the floche collections to Brazil? I’d love to buy them.

    Thank you and success

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    1. Hello, Angela – I’m afraid I don’t normally ship to Brazil at this time. But if you drop me a line via email we can perhaps find a way to accommodate you.

  5. Congratulations on expanding your staff. How exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing all the floche kits. I’ve been reluctant to venture into it for fear I’d love it – and then have trouble expanding a collection due to scarcity and/or cost. Your kits are just the solution I’ve been looking for.

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  6. I love this idea!! While you’re at it, can you become a champion of coton a broder too?? I fell in love with that when I did your needlebook sampler last summer, and you can’t get it anywhere!! (I think Lacis actually sells it online, but DMC itself won’t even sell it on its website for the US. I know– I emailed and asked them!) That’s the one I’m afraid is going to fade into the ether through lack of exposure.

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  7. Hi Mary

    Lovely to read your info about floche & kits & all that. Looking forward to it!

    But please, can you send us some photos of your “new” house – befores & afters would be wonderful!

    Cheers
    Elaine

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    1. Hi, Elaine! Yes!! I plan to do that. Buutttttttt….. the outside of the house isn’t finished yet. I swear, it’s the Longest Paint Job in the History of the World. And on such a tiny house. The yard is also a muddy mess, due to torrential rains off and on over the past couple weeks. Rain is good. Mud is bad. The whole yard is going to wash into the gutter if we don’t get some dry time AND a cover of grass going to hold things together. But I’m waiting for the outside paint job and the finishing touches on the porch to be complete before moving forward with dirt work. Once it’s all settled, I will take photos and show you some before / after.

  8. Mary, the photo of the blues and browns makes me dream of A Sea To Stitch, from Elisabetta Sforza! I can already envision some beautiful seascapes to embroidery with this assortment!

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    1. Yessssss!!!! Throw in a touch of coral and maybe a pale pink for a nice contrast on some of the shells, and yep, the colors would be perfect!

  9. Hopeful question. I have Elisabetta Sforza’s “A Sea to Stitch” and I also have a large stash of DMC floss. However I also have cotton floche and a store in my city also sells a good selection. I want to do the designs all in floche – is it possible? I know I would have to subsitute collors to get the closest shade possible with the floche but I don’t think that is the problem. There are shells and starfish to form that I fear would be too bulky if tried with floche, as the instructions say DMC muline thread. Any advice?

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  10. I am delighted that you will be offering floche collections. I just bought the fall tree and key to my heart patterns and I wanted the bright colors to do them in. Was disappointed to find they were sold out and was looking for a way to not buy large amounts of thread. So happy you are doing this!

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    1. Hi, Barbara – I haven’t stocked the new floche sets yet. They’ll go up on the website this week! The out-of-stock items are the previous sets, most of which will be in stock again this week, but I’ll be re-configuring the listing so that all the floche sets are under one listing, with itemized choices within that listing. So, once it’s up, the listing will look slightly different, but you’ll find ALL the floche sets available under that listing.

  11. I’ve been crocheting for the last few months and want to get back to Embroidery and Cross Stitch. Ran across your site and inspired me to do a gift for a friend, I’ve worked up a copy of a Rooster I found but needed more inspiration for stitches. Your site looks like the answer to what I need. Thank you

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