The Different DMC Threads for Cross Stitch Explained | S3E46

In this episode, I am explaining all of the different DMC threads for cross stitch that you can get and use.

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Different DMC Threads for Cross Stitch

For the Cosy Cross Stitch Corner Stitch Along that’s just started, we are using Coloris threads. As some of you didn’t know about these, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the different threads you can get from DMC and use for cross stitch.

Stranded Cotton

Basic stranded cotton is mostly what you use for cross stitch and sometimes hand embroidery too. This thread has over 500 shades and is 8m long per skein. That 8m length of thread is made up of 6 separate strands. You only use 2 strands for cross stitch – mostly. Some people use more, but I personally always stitch with 2. So you actually get 24m of thread per skein, which is a lot!

Light Effects Thread

Light Effects are mostly metallic. But also include some neon threads such as neon pink, purple etc. And also has a glow in the dark skein. The neon and glow in the dark are very soft and the strands separate easily so you have to be careful when you are storing it.

The metallic versions I have spoken a lot about on this show/blog. I have videos all over the internet sharing tips on stitching with it because I love it and use it in a lot of my designs. My first ever cross stitch kit had it in and I think my love started there.

Each metallic Light Effects has a matching stranded cotton. For example, 815 is a nice dark red that is normal cotton. And you can get E815 which is metallic dark red. All the Light Effects thread start with the letter “E”.


Étoile threads

These are glitter threads and I LOVE them. The subtle sparkle is so beautiful and they’re a good alternative to Light Effects as they are easier to stitch. I know a lot of you dislike metallic thread!

The étoile threads are the same and have a matching cotton. For example, 915 is one of my favourites (a deep pink/fuchsia) and is available as normal cotton or étoile. Étoile means “star” and these threads begin with the letter “C”. I guess because “E” was already taken for the Light Effects.



These are so lovely when stitched but also a pain to stitch with. I think they’re harder than metallic, personally. But I do love them!

Again these have matching versions to cotton. For example, 601 is a dark pink that you can get as normal cotton or Satin. The colour will start with an “S”, for example, S601.

Satin threads add a nice shine/sheen to your work and I love them for ocean kind of patterns or dresses if you’re stitching a wedding sampler for example.


These threads are 1 colour that has different shades running throughout them. For example 52 is purple that has dark purples and light purples running all through the same 8m length of thread.

When shopping for these they’re usually just in the stranded cotton section and the numbers are relatively low (40s-100s) so you will find them near the start of the list.



These are also colour changing but are different colours that complement each other and are very subtle differences rather than 1 colour with different shades. For example, 4040 has light blue, white, brighter green and teal green.

You will usually find variations in their own section on online stores. I have an episode talking more about variegated and variations thread here.

I used Variations 4015 (Stormy Skies) for this plant pot


Ahh, these are my new favourites. I knew about colours threads because I have had PC stitch for years and they’re on there, but I just sort of assumed they’re the same as variations. But in autumn last year when I tried one for Christmas I realised they are similar to variations but the colours are a lot more contrasting. The first one I tried was 4520 and that had red green and white in.

The best thing about these threads is that they are named! All DMC threads have names but I just adore the Coloris ones.

The 4520 is called “Christmas Story”. And we are using Coloris threads in the Cosy Corner SAL. 4501 which is called “Wildflowers” in one palette and 4522 which is called “Canadian Night” in the other. I have a blog post talking a bit more about these threads which you can find here.

Stitching with DMC Coloris Threads by Hannah Hand Makes.

Other types of DMC thread

So far all the threads above can be used in your cross stitch designs and all come as an 8m skein with those 6 strands that need to be separated. There are other types of thread that DMC offers though.

  • Perlé. You could use this for cross stitch but it’s not the norm and is usually used for hand embroidery. You can get different wight/thicknesses and the colours match the stranded cotton, you just can’t get as many Perlé as you can stranded cotton. But you can get Perlé metallic and Perlé variations for example so that’s fun.
  • You can get tapestry wool that’s mainly used for, well, tapestry and needlepoint.
  • Diamant Metallic is a metallic thread that is 1 strand of thread on a spool type of bobbin and is the equivalent to 2 strands of normal Light Effects thread so you don’t have to put 2 strands together. You can also get Diamant Grandé that is double the thickness of the normal Diamant one.
  • Soft cotton that’s good for weaving.
  • Coton a Border is very very soft, comes in different weights/thicknesses and is not divisible either but you can use it for embroidery or cross stitch.

I know it can be confusing when you start deep diving into ALL of the threads! But hopefully, this post helped you and maybe inspired you to try out some of the threads you heard about today if you haven’t already.

Using some of the ones I mentioned at the end can really give your design a totally different finish and bring it to life so much more and add different textures to your finished piece.

Don’t be afraid to go against the norm and just experiment with all the different textures and effects you can create with all the threads that DMC offers.

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7 thoughts on “The Different DMC Threads for Cross Stitch Explained | S3E46”

  1. It took me a minute to figure out you were talking about étoille. It’s pronounced like this:

    Also, there are even more DMC threads that you didn’t mention, although some of them might not be readily available in the UK, as DMC’s product line varies somewhat by country. For example, I think floche is mostly only available in North America at this point. Floche is similar to coton à broder, but softer and with a looser twist.

  2. Hannah,
    This is a wonderful explanation of DMC threads. Thank you for this information. I know it took some work putting it together. I am also a big fan of Coloris. It is so much fun seeing the different variations as a pattern comes to life when you stitch a design.
    Anne Cole

  3. Hey! Newbie question here.
    I’m adding metallic to a fish pattern that wasn’t designed for metallic. There are some of the C style DMC that matches and some of the light effects.

    Can I use both in one project if I can match the thickness? On the fish I’m using 2 strands normal one metallic.

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