I’ve been cross stitching since childhood, and founded my cross stitch business Meloca Designs back in 2017, so I reckon I know a little bit about embroidery threads.
Of course, I have a favourite embroidery thread, but I've tried out many different threads over the years, and found some great ones.
Let’s start with how I find a good embroidery thread for cross stitching.
How to choose the right embroidery thread for cross stitching
When choosing threads for cross stitching, there are a few qualities I’d look for.
Does it tangle?
Firstly, you don’t want embroidery thread to tangle. It’s difficult to know this before you’ve used the thread, so it’s best to go for well-known, reputable embroidery thread brands.
There’s loads more info about bigger brands, as well as tried-and-tested reviews by stitchers.
Does it break?
Next, no one wants their embroidery threads to snap in the middle of stitching, so check to see if it looks fragile. If it feels soft and smooth, that’s a good indicator that it’s a good quality embroidery thread which won’t break or fray.
Is it colour-fast?
It’s also important that the colour doesn't run - if you wash your gorgeous finished cross stitch after you’ve spent hours on it, it would be heartbreaking for all the colours to bleed.
Embroidery thread needs to be colour-fast (meaning the dye won’t run or fade) and it should say so in the product description, if you’re shopping for threads online.
Is the colour widely available?
The final thing I check is whether the colour of embroidery thread I’m buying is widely available. If you’re about to embark on a craft, you may need quite a bit of one colour, so it’s wise to buy it all at once.
It’s so frustrating to start an exciting cross stitch project, only to discover you need more thread, but it's discontinued or unavailable.
It’s worth noting that embroidery thread manufacturers do different dye lots, so if you buy thread one week and then you decide to get more the next week, it might be from a different dye batch, so there might be a slight difference in colour.
Most people wouldn’t be able to tell, but when you make things yourself you always notice if there's something slightly off.
Now that you know what to look for in the perfect embroidery thread, here are the 5 embroidery thread brands that I’d recommend.
1. DMC for embroidery thread excellence
DMC is the embroidery thread brand we use in all our Meloca Designs cross stitch kits. As well as being my embroidery thread of choice, DMC is a favourite amongst the cross stitch community, as it is seen as the best high-end brand.
The colours are beautiful, and they’re by far the most widely stocked and used embroidery thread, and the one that all others are compared to. It's super easy to get your hands on DMC embroidery threads - you’ll find them in pretty much every embroidery or cross stitch shop, craft shop, or art shop worldwide.
DMC embroidery threads were really reasonably priced before inflation (as was everything, right?) but they’re towards the more expensive end of the embroidery threads scale now.
DMC threads have been made in the same factory in France since 1898, although the brand was actually founded all the way back in 1746!
They have a strong heritage of high quality 100% cotton embroidery threads, available in over 500 colour-fast shades, which are used as the standard colour reference in embroidery patterns.
2. Anchor for top quality British-made embroidery thread
I was obsessed with Groovy Chick as a child, and even had a Groovy Chick cross stitch kit, which had Anchor threads in it. They were lovely to use and really vibrant.
Their embroidery threads are actually very slightly more expensive than DMC’s, but the calibre speaks for itself - Anchor is a premium embroidery thread brand with a great reputation.
Anchor are originally from Scotland, and have been making wonderful 100% cotton embroidery threads for over 250 years. They’re now known and loved around the world for their quality, with a “pull free” construction, meaning the threads won’t fray.
3. Paint-Box Threads for hand-dyed artisan embroidery threads
I have a sample of embroidery threads here in my studio that Paint-Box kindly sent me with no obligation to mention it. I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but it feels really nice and thick.
The only downside I can see to Paint-Box Threads is that they don't have as many or the same colours as Anchor and DMC.
This won’t be a problem for everyone, however most cross stitch kits will have a DMC or Anchor colour key to help you match the thread colour, and Paint-Box might not match specific colours exactly.
It makes things a little tricky, but Paint-Box Threads do provide a key to match it against those big brand colours.
Paint-Box Threads are a small business based in Herefordshire, UK, creating stunning hand-dyed fabric and embroidery threads. They’ve been dyeing their beautiful 100% cotton and 100% silk threads since 2015.
4. CXC for affordable embroidery threads
CXC has become an affordable alternative for cross stitchers and embroiderers, since the price of DMC embroidery threads increased recently.
Cross stitching can be a bit of an expensive hobby, so stitchers who are buying their own materials (rather than a cross stitch kit) will often buy CXC threads instead of DMC.
The price difference is huge, especially if you’re buying in bulk. For example, the full set of 447 coloured embroidery threads from DMC is around £380, whereas it’s only £60 from CXC.
Some cross stitchers say they can tell that the quality is different, some can't, but it's definitely a good, cheaper alternative if you still want to continue (or start) your cross stitch hobby without spending lots of money.
All numbered CXC embroidery threads are said to match DMC colours, however there is a very slight difference, but no more than you might get between two different DMC lots.
CXC embroidery threads are made in China, and are said to be thicker and softer than other thread brands, as well as sliding through fabric more smoothly.
There’s not a lot of composition information in CXC’s product listings - some note the embroidery threads are 100% cotton, while there’s also information out there that CXC threads are a poly-cotton blend.
There isn’t a UK website for CXC, but there are lots of sellers on Etsy selling CXC embroidery threads.
5. Cosmo - an embroidery thread brand I'll be trying soon
This is one that I haven’t personally used, but I've seen a couple of stitchers in the US use Cosmo embroidery threads, and they think they’re great. They’re decent quality and look wonderful, so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for them in local craft shops.
Cosmo embroidery threads were launched in 1950 by the Japanese brand, Lecien. They’re well known and loved in Japan, as well as North America and Australia.
Lecien’s Cosmo 100% cotton embroidery threads have a beautiful lustre, and come in 501 vivid shades, all of which are colour-fast.
All these embroidery threads are great, and although DMC is my personal pick, I always recommend trying out different embroidery thread options before committing to one brand.
If you want to chat to other keen cross stitchers about favourite embroidery threads, current cross stitch projects or anything else stitchy, you can join 3.2k others in the Meloca Designs Cross Stitch Group on Facebook.