Cross Stitch Threads 101

Threads 101

This is a topic that’s taken lots of thinking about. It’s not as easy as it seems at least there are more choices than you ever realise. Or more options that you can get overwhelmed with.

So let’s start with the easy choice.

1.What brand thread should you use?

DMC? Anchor? Semco? Madeira?

I use DMC mainly because I found that more of my patterns had DMC in it than any other brand. I have used anchor and I find that they are much of a muchness. Honestly though Dmc is better than anchor only because more patterns come in it. I’ve noticed that the spotlights near here have stopped stocking Anchor and have started stocking Semco. I haven’t seen any patterns in Semco yet but there are Dmc conversions available. I will have to do some more research about Semco I can’t really find much online. But I know this lovely chart is sitting in spotlight to tell you what colours to use if you do convert them.

threads conversion

Basically use the one that is easiest for you to get just watch conversions as some of them aren’t as accurate as you would like.

But please please please please don’t buy the cheap brand for anything to do with cross stitch even for your kids. The nameless brands aren’t colourfast and they don’t move through the fabric nicely. I’ve used the ones that come with the magazine kits and they can be awful.

 What to look for…  You’re after a 6 stranded floss for cross stitch. They look something like this.
Threads 101

The other kinds of flosses are for embroidery or needlepoint where you are working on a canvas. They aren’t for cross stitch.

threads not for cross stitch threads not for cross stitch 2

The embroidery threads are on the left they are known as 5s or 8s and the tapestry wools are on the right. They look like crochet yarn.

Specialty Flosses

Now there are what I’d call specialty flosses I will mention them here but they each have their own special way of working with them. I will talk more about how to handle the specialty ones in later posts. They aren’t important to learning how to cross stitch.

threads Metallic

You have metallics which range from Dmc through to kreinik. They are slippery to work with. A note: the colour numbers for metallics match the colours of DMCs normal range but they have an E at the beginning.

threads variegated 2

Variegated threads which again Dmc do or you can find hand dyed which are absolutely gorgeous. There is a lovely brand called country cottage threads which are done by a lady in Australia I like them because she does the dying in lengths so you can maintain a consistent start and finish colour. Again I have a whole post about variegated threads planned because you do have to treat them a little differently. I’m finding I could talk for hours about what I know.

You can also find brands like Caron Collections – Waterlillies and Gentle Arts Sampler Threads…..  which come with a price tag for various projects. They are beautiful threads and are worth it for certain Projects. It depends what you’re after. Some patterns will have these threads as an option but will usually give a DMC number as well.

There are silk threads as well and ones that have a satin finish. You can find all sorts of supplies but to start out you just need the basics.


So I hope you learnt a bit about what threads to buy.

Happy Stitching,


Join me for the whole series

For more information on:

Where to start

Threads 101 – what you need to know

Using your six-stranded thread

Threading your Needles



How to start stitching

What to do with your cross stitch once you finish

Caitlin (58 Posts)

My mother taught me to crochet when I was 9 and I was hooked. Since then I do any craft that tickles my fancy which at the moment includes cross stitch, knitting, crochet, quilting and sewing toys and clothes. I like to always have something to do.


  1. Thank you, Caitlin! I have starting cross stitching again after many years away from it. It seems that there is so much more interest in it in the UK than here in the US. My favorite xstitch magazine is published there. 🙂 I am especially looking forward to “What To Do With Your Cross Stitch Once You Finish”!

  2. Yeah that one is coming…. I’m trying to get all the beginning ones done first. But stay tuned.
    caitlin recently posted..WIP Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  3. Hi
    Thanks for the post, in particular the Semco chart. I was just wondering if you have a close up version of the chart you have posted?
    I have been to my local store and they only seem to have the first page available (behind the counter) and not the second page which you have posted.
    I use Semco cotton, although the patterns are all DMC and it would be useful information to have, and not need to ask every time I start something new.

  4. Hi ladies. I have just taken photos of both sides of the chart but am unsure how to upload them here for you

  5. Sorry I’ve only just seen your comment. I sent an email for you 🙂

    • Hi Del, would you be able to send me a copy of that same semco to Dmc chart? I recently bought a lot of semco thread from spotlight, and it’s actually really hard to find the conversions between semco and dmc online. I’m overseas at the moment for a month, so won’t be able to go to a spotlight store, and you’re the only person that can help me. My email address is

  6. Annette Swale says:

    Ho. Can you please email me a clear copy of the semco to dmc conversion? I really need to figure these colours out. Thanks heaps


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