Friday, February 15, 2013

Floche: Friend or Foe

Clockwise from Left: DMC Floche hanks; DMC & Anchor complete set of skeins; Floche samplers.

Many of you ask the difference between floss and Floche. Floche is the French word for floss, but it is a product name. Floche is manufactured by two companies: DMC and ANCHOR. I have been importing and distributing Floche since the 90's and avidly using it in my embroidery work. Although I have been distributing it for almost twenty years, I was not the first one to import it into the U.S. Julia Golson, one of the major distributors of heirloom goods in the States, approached me about purchasing the distributorship. She had designed the packaging and promoted the use of Floche for several years and was ready to give it up.

At the time, Floche was only available through Julia Golson Design and when I purchased it, then available through Wendy Schoen Design. Soon after ownership changed hands, DMC Floche was being imported by another major distributor and then it was much more accessible. Even then, the only method of obtaining the Anchor colors was through my company.

Floche complete set of 98 skeins.
As it stands, we have 98 different Floche colors in the line, many being DMC brand and some being Anchor brand. We combine the two color lots and rename the Anchor colors using the DMC number system for continuity and ease in ordering. The Anchor colors that do not match DMC numbers exactly receive a "word" description, such as Ice Pink and Ice Blue. Those lovely pale colors don't exist in the DMC line. As far as I know, we stock more Floche colors than any other distributor because we use both product lines in our selection.

This month, we are offering skeins of Floche for only $2.00, far below the $3.50 regular price. We also sell Floche by the complete set $192 for 98 skeins. As of now, we have no plans to import Anchor threads in the future, so when we sell out, that will be it. To order, click here.

What exactly is Floche and what makes it so different than floss? Floche is a luxury Egyption cotton strand containing five plys. It is designed to be used by the strand but plys can be carefully removed to regulate the thickness of the strands. Although it is possible to remove strands, they should be discarded, utilizing only the original strand for working. In Madeira, Floche is used for Point de Paris stitch in applique with one or two plys removed. I use this trick when stitching padded satin with Floche. Floss has 2 plys but six individual strands make up one strand. Floss is made to be separated, Floche is not.

Floche is about one-and-one-half times the thickness of floss which makes it perfect for surface embroidery techniques. Stem stitch, Granito stitch, and shadow stitch are especially lovely when worked in Floche. Floche has spread-ability. When pressure is put on the strand when laying onto the fabric, the plys separate or spread out, resulting in more coverage and smoothness. It is soft in texture, therefore a around eye needle should be used at all times. A long-eyed needle can fray the delicate fibers and cause dullness in your stitches. The only time I use a long-eyed needle with Floche is when smocking, and for smocking, there is no comparison between Floche and floss. Floche requires three strands for working and is easier to manage than floss. Shorter lengths are a must, as the fibers tend to get pretty ratty quickly.

So now you know why I detest when my students refer to floss as DMC. Floss is the product name, as is perle or broder and DMC is the company name. Please call floss stranded cotton or floss and call Floche, Floche.

Here is a brief tuturial of the Have a Heart embroidery design using Floche and a #7 Between needle.

Step 1

Working from foreground to background, work the facial features and bow. Beginning at the open end of the inner ear, begin stitching from side to side with pink Floche. (Pilot stitch denoted in red.)

Step 2
Work the iris of the eye with green in Granito stitch. Shadow stitch the eye with white Floche, working the shape as you would an oval. Back-stitch the eyelashes in gray. Work the nose with pink in Granito stitch.
Step 3
Stitch the inside of the bow in dark blue beginning at the knot and working outward. With light blue, work the knot and bow loops in shadow stitch. Pilot stitches are denoted in red. Stitches with dots denote plain back-stitches. Stitch the neckband as you would a rectangle with light blue.
Step 4
The head is worked in two sections. Beginning with the foreground, work the V-configuration at the tip of the ear and work towards the nose. When approaching an existing stitch, place the adjoining stitch into the same A-B points, allowing the stitch to sit beside the first.
Step 5
To work the remaining ear, begin at the point in the V-configuration and work towards the head. Piggy-back the stitches on common walls where sections intersect.
Step 6
Work the little dots in Granito stitch with blue Floche. The leaves are worked in Lazy daisy stitch with green Floche. (See Stitch Diagrams.)
Step 7
Begin working the body at the tail end by placing a row of continuous back-stitches along the straight portion of the line. When the line begins to arch, begin stitching from side to side. Work the stitches with dots as back-stitches without cross-over stitches. Along the upper portion, divide the shape into two.
Step 8
When the main shape is completed, continue upward to the unstitched section and fill in the remaining stitches. Complete the remaining foot.
Step 9
Stitch the tail in white, beginning at the open ends near the rump and working outward.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Have a Heart!

I have just completed the finishing touches to my newest pattern release, "Have a Heart". I thought Valentine's Day would be the perfect time for this special design because of the little heart and bunny motif. I absolutely love the way the photos turned out and I would like to thank my adorable model for making this design look so sweet.

This design features shadow work embroidery, one of my very favorite techniques to stitch and to teach. You might remember a few years ago, my book, Mastering Shadow Work Embroidery was published. If shadow work embroidery is something you have been wanting to try but don't know where to begin, you should consider purchasing this book.


This is an extreme closeup of the embroidery design worked in shadow stitch with Floche embroidery cotton. A #7 Between needle was used because of its round eye.