Cross Stitch Thread or Floss

Cross Stitch Thread (Floss)

Cross Stitch Thread (Floss)

The vast range of cross stitch thread available today, of which there are an enormous amount of colours, equates to almost unlimited cross stitch design possibilities. The most commonly used thread for counted and stamped cross stitch is stranded cotton (or floss).

Stranded cotton is treated by a process known as mercerisation, which gives it a plished sheen-like silk. The advantage of stranded cotton is that the strands can be separated and recombined in any number to achieve different effects. Since the cotton has six strands, many variations are possible. Two, three or more strands are commonly used for cross stitch, although one strand is used over one thread of fabric to create delicate effects, or to give emphasis when out lining in back stitch.

It is easiest to work in an 18 inch (45 cm) length cut from the skein. Single strands can then be removed to form groups of two, three or more strands as required, in order to achieve many different effects.

Stranded cotton is not the only thread available for cross stitch patterns. Outstanding effects can be achieveb by substituting stranded cotton with different threads. These interesting threads include perlé cotton, flower threads, metallic thread, fine wool, viscose rayon thread and more.

Perlé cotton is a highly mercerised, twisted, non-divisible, lustrous cotton thread available in a skein or a ball. Crewel wool is a very fine, smooth, two-ply wool. Flower thread is a non-divisible, matt-finish thread made of 100% cotton.

Space-dyed or variegated threads are other types of threads that produce beautiful effects – best if used sparingly. Variegated thread is produced so that the colour gradually changes from a very pale to a dark shade of the same colour. A simple design, for example an alphabet or name sampler, can be changed dramatically by substituting space-dyed or variegated thread for a single colour.

When using variegated thread, it is important to select lengths so that the gradual change of colour is followed throughout your stitching – that is, that dark thread should not be placed next to light thread. Lovely subtle effects can be achieved if the colours are merged gradually.

Some space-dyed threads, on the other hand, are dyed with sudden and dramatic changes of colour at very short intervals, giving a totally different effect.

For both types of thread, it is important to complete each cross stitch individually. When using these threads, you should not work a line of half crosses and then complete by working back along the line.

Cross Stitch Thread - Storing your thread on an organizer

Cross Stitch Thread Organizer

Cross Stitch Thread Organizer

In order to ensure your cross stitch thread remains neat, tidy and easily accessible, it is recommended to keep any spare strands of thread on a cross stitch thread organizer. By mounting spare strands on to a cross stitch thread organizer, you can prevent threads getting lost or tangled into an irreversible mess.

You can make your own cross stitch thread organizer by punching holes down the side of a piece of firm card or cardboard. Fold the strands in half to form a loop, pass the loop through the hole in the organizer and pass the ends of the strands through the loop.

Write the thread number next to the hole it occupies. This is very important when working with similar shades of one colour, as colours can often be very close in shade and easily confused. Store your leftover thread on the organizer until it is needed again for future cross stitch projects.

By adopting this method you will

  • Be able to find a particular thread easily and quickly.
  • Be able to see if the colour you need is missing or in a project somewhere else.
  • Be able to store the floss safely at home .
  • Use the minimal space required.
  • Be able to carry your thread easily with you when working on a project.

Recommended Reading

Looking for a good book to read? If your looking for a great reference book to help you out with answers to your cross stitching questions, or maybe your just looking for a present to give that loved one who is mad about cross stitch. Then head over to our books page where we have compiled a list of great books that no serious cross stitcher should be without.

Last edited by EasyCrossStitchPatterns on