Exploring Coton a Broder

Le 29 December 2015
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    Exploring Coton a Broder: A Fabulous Embroidery Thread!

      Howdy, folks! Mary Corbet here from Needle ’n Thread, teaming up with DMC to explore another fabulous embroidery thread in their line of quality cotton embroidery threads.   Earlier, we looked a cotton embroidery thread called floche, which is a beautiful and serviceable thread for all kinds of surface embroidery techniques.   Today, we’re going to look at a cotton embroidery thread similar to floche, called Coton a Broder. Now, there are other names for this thread, depending on where you live, but in the US, it’s pretty much known by its generic name, Coton a Broder, which means “embroidery cotton” in French.   coton-a-broder-01   At a glance, Coton a Broder might look a lot like regular DMC embroidery floss, but it’s not at all the same thread. It’s made out of cotton and it’s skeined the same way as floss, but that’s where the similarities end.   coton-a-broder-02   Coton a Broder comes in various weights (or thicknesses), and these are indicated by number. On the label above, you can see No. 25, indicating the thickness of the thread.   Like wire, the higher the number, the finer the thread. DMC Coton a Broder comes in other sizes - from No. 16 up to No. 30 - but No. 25 is perhaps the most popular size, because it is available in almost 200 colors, including variegated colors.  

    Whitework Embroidery and Monogramming

      coton-a-broder-03   While No. 25 has an extensive color range, the other sizes (16, 20, and 30) are typically available in white and sometimes in ecru, too. These are often referred to as “cutwork” or “whitework” threads, because they are used principally in whitework and cutwork embroidery.   coton-a-broder-04   Coton a Broder in white is used as well for traditionally monogramming techniques in hand embroidery. It is an ideal thread for monogramming.   Like floche, Coton a Broder makes a beautiful satin stitch, but Coton a Broder is a sturdier thread. Because of this, it stands up quite well to laundering, making it a perfect thread for embellishing household linens, handkerchiefs, and the like with decorative initials and other embroidery.  

    Structure and Comparison with Other Threads

      To help show you what Coton a Broder is, let’s examine the structure and make some comparisons between Coton a Broder and other embroidery threads.   coton-a-broder-05   In the photo above, the green floss on the left is DMC embroidery floss. You can see all six strands together there.   The thread on the right, in pink, is Coton a Broder No. 25.   Coton a Broder is a non-divisible thread, which means you use the thread as is, as it comes off the skein. You don’t separate it like floss.   While floche, which we spoke about here (link to the floche article), is made up of four tiny plies of thread softly twisted into one non-divisible thread, Coton a Broder is made up of five tiny plies, which are more tightly twisted than floche.   coton-a-broder-06   In the photo above, you can see DMC embroidery floss on the left (A) with one strand separated from the six. In the center (B) is Coton a Broder No. 25, and on the right (C) is floche.   Coton a Broder No. 25 and floche are similar in size. Like floche, Coton a Broder No. 25 is equal, in stitched size, to about 1.5 strands of DMC embroidery floss.  

    How can we use Coton a Broder in Embroidery?

      If you can embroider it with floss, you can embroider it with Coton a Broder!   coton-a-broder-07   Coton a Broder works well with practically any kind of embroidery stitch. The tree in the photo above is embroidered in split stitch for the trunk and branches, with small straight stitches in two shades of green for the leaves, and French knots in two shades of pink for the blossoms.   The whole tree is just short of 3” high, so you can see that Coton a Broder, though it is heavier than one strand of DMC embroidery floss, can still handle small, detailed stitching.   coton-a-broder-08   Because Coton a Broder has a slightly tighter twist than floche, it makes superb French knots.   And since No. 25 comes in a large range of colors, there are plenty of shades within color families, so that you can achieve a shaded effect in filled areas, like the tree trunk and branches on the sample above.   coton-a-broder-09   Coton a Broder is a terrific thread for any kind of line stitch or for composite line stitches, too. Backstitch, stem stitch, chain stitch - all work up easily and beautifully with Coton a Broder.  

    Where Can you Find Coton a Broder?

      Coton a Broder is a DMC thread imported from France. If your local needlework shop carries DMC products, but they don’t carry Coton a Broder, you can ask them if they can special order it for you.   You can also find Coton a Broder available online through specialty needlework shops, like Lacis (in Berkeley, CA), Hedgehog Handworks (in southern CA) and vaune.com  

    You Can Stitch a Tree!

      If you’d like to try your hand at stitching a tree like the one pictured above, here’s what to do:  
    1. Draw (or trace) and image of a tree without foliage onto your fabric, using a DMC water soluble marker or a pencil. You can find images of bare trees online, by searching through tree clip art images, if you aren’t up to drawing one yourself.
    2. Select three or four shades of brown Coton a Broder, from dark to light.
    3. Using a #7 crewel (or embroidery) needle, fill the trunk and branches with various shades of brown Coton a Broder in split stitch. Work in lines, but randomly switch to different shades of brown as you stitch.
    4. Select two shades of pink Coton a Broder No. 25 and randomly cover the branches of the tree in clusters of French knots.
    5. Select two shades of green Coton a Broder No. 25, and work scattered tiny straight stitches in both shades of green among the French knot blossoms.
      Love and Threads, The Commonthread Team

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