We’ve all heard the horror stories on threads of thread fusion and bleeding, and as a result, we settled down with DMC threads. Now I’m a DMC fan so I thought I would try a few threads, complain about the way they sucked and just go on my merry way. Well, I was wrong. Turns out all of these horror stories are pretty much exactly that; stories. While most of them have some truth to them, the cheaper Chinese copy threads aren’t that bad.I took a new DMC thread, a 1998 DMC thread, a 2016 DMC thread that had been in a workshop, an Anchor thread, a CXC thread (known as Chinese DMC copy) and a Royal Broderie thread ( a Chinese DMC Copy thread usually happens without a brand name online). I then sewed test squares, projects, and a few freebies to test them all against some of the complaints people had. Here are my results which show that these Chinese threads are not that bad after all. I will state for the record that I still use DMC threads.
This was the number one complaint I encountered during my research, and I expected to see some serious color imbalances. My first stitches showed a slight color difference, but nothing big enough to call home. But then I got to some of the other DMC threads. I said above that I used three DMC threads, new ones from 1998 and others from 2016 which were stored in a workshop under halogen lamps. The difference between these threads was amazing. Much more than the difference between the Chinese copies, the old DMC threads were losing their luster and most of them seemed a bit gray. This is a problem that I have seen before. In fact, batches of the same color of DNC also come out differently. In the image below, you can see a significant difference between the dye lots.
They are plastic!
This rumor focuses in particular on CXC threads. They are made from a composite of polyester and cotton (much like a dress shirt). Although some online retailers claim they are 100% cotton, that’s where this rumor comes from. Now, from a traditional point of view, the cross stitch threads should be cotton. However, does that mean you shouldn’t be using composites? I do not think so. Being made of composite plastic has an impact on the wires, which we talk about below, but being part of the plastic isn’t a terrible thing.On top of that, its only CXC threads are like this. The somewhat cheaper, often unbranded, threads from Royal Broderie are 100% cotton.
They are melting!
Polyester is a high temperature fiber, and it melts at one point, however, the melting point is 50 degrees higher than the flash point of cotton. Yes, you heard right. The cotton threads should have ignited before the polyester threads started to melt. This story must be completely made up. I know a few people who know people who have melted yarns, but no one could give me proof, and there is always a chance that this is super cheap yarn that could melt.
They match the needles!
For some reason, I haven’t worked yet, the strands of yarn in the Chinese variants are slightly thicker. This goes for CXC and generic threads. However, they are only slightly larger. Increase the needle size by one, and you are sorted!
Destroy the needles!
As stated above, the needles used with these Chinese threads should be slightly larger. If they’re bigger, that’s okay. However, smaller needles will catch the fibers, destroying the eye of your needle.
They break and drown!
I tested 17 colors of each thread, and with it I had breaks and knots. However, they were all fairly distributed across each brand. The cheaper Royal Broderie threads broke the most, no doubt, but the CXC threads did not break at all; instead, they knotted a lot. In fact, CXC threads did knot a lot when pulled out of the skein, however, I have heard that taking them off in a different way helps with this, I know from experience that breaks and knots do happen , and most can be avoided with good technique, but found nothing that suggested more problems with cheaper wires.
They are dull!
I don’t want to get too technical here, but the two Chinese yarns tested had less shine. Was it noticeable? Yes. It is a problem? Well no. Combining the threads would look wrong, you could see it as clear as day, however, using only the one brand, it was hard to see a real difference. Also, I think Anchor yarns have less shine than DMC, and they are one of the more expensive yarns to buy.
The colors run
Cotton can be dyed in two ways: an unalterable color or a “quick dye” that bleeds and runs. Royal Broderie threads are quick dye, so they bleed. It wasn’t obvious at first, however, you can simulate thread wear by washing with higher heats, which shows very clear bleeding. CXC threads, on the other hand, do not. This is most likely due to their polyester cotton blend, which needs the colorfast dye method to dye them in the first place.