There are many different types of cross-stitching and embroidery yarns, and a multitude of companies that produce them. What is the difference between them and their yarns? Let's look closely at two of these major companies, both producing high quality yarns, doing a comparison study between them at the end.
First of all, let's look at the yarn company DMC, or Dollfus-Mieg & Compagnie, named after Daniel Dollfus and his wife, Anne-Marie Mieg. The custom in those days in France was for the husband to join the wife's maiden name to his own, which was how in 1800, DMC became the trade name for a previously existing family company.
But it wasn't until a short time later that they discovered John Mercer's invention of "mercerizing" the thread -- the process of passing the cotton thread through caustic soda, which modified the cotton, giving it strength, longevity, and a silky appearance; the production of their yarns and threads began at this time.
During this same time, a close friendship developed between Jean Dollfus, the uncle of Daniel Dollfus-Mieg, and Therese de Dillmont, a famous woman embroider of the time. She moved to Dornach, close to their factory in Mulhouse, and founded an embroidery school, which worked hand in hand with DMC. She later produced her famous book, the Encyclopedia of Ladies' Handicrafts, in 1886, which was translated and sold in seventeen countries.
By combining DMC with her embroidery school, they became the giant of needlework and yarns until the onset of the first-world war in 1914. They were known for their high quality, creativity, and high standards.
Today, they still are known for these same standards, also known as an international organization, the DMC Group, for manufacturing threads, industrial threads, and textile related products.
The DMC Group remains an international organization manufacturing consumer threads, industrial thread, and textile related products. The company's commitment to quality and creativity remains as strong now as it was in the 19th century.
The Dollfus family's early motto remains alive today, "TENUI FILO MAGNUM TEXITUR OPUS" (translated into "from one fine thread, a work of art is born"). They have an easily found website where you can look at their environmental safety procedures, board information, safety measures, new upcoming environmental projects, financial information, and new products coming out to either order or look at.
The second company, the Anchor product line, is a division of Coats and Clarks. This company began in 1806 -- producing a 200-year history of expertise and quality. During that year, Napoleon blockaded Great Britain, which prevented silk from being brought into the country from abroad; during this same time, the Clark family had a business that sold silk threads for the warp on the looms.
As a reult of Napoleon's blockade, Patrick Clark developed a method "of twisting cotton yarns together" producing a strong and smooth thread that replaced both silk in the looms, and linen and silk threads used in hand sewing.
In 1812, the Clark family opened the first factory for making cotton-sewing thread in Paisley, Scotland. A few years later, James Coats opened another cotton thread mill. His sons, James and Peter, purchased their father's mill in 1830, expanding it in the next ten years by exporting to America. Andrew Coats, another family member, was sent to the United States to manage the business.
By 1864, the grandsons of James Clark, George and William, opened a cotton thread mill in Newark NJ. Five years later, the Coats family began manufacturing thread under the name of "Spool Cotton Company" in Pawtucket RI.
Thread at this time was made of three cords, and almost always used for hand sewing; it had a glazed finish, was wiry, and uneven. When Elias Howe invented the sewing machine in 1846, this thread was unsuitable because of these self-same qualities.
It wasn't until twenty years later than George Clark developed a six-cord, soft finished thread known as "Our New Thread," which made it the first thread suitable for machine use. This invention revolutionized the sewing industry, originating the still famous trademark for the Clark Thread Company, the O.N.T.
Over the years, the Clarks family produced many new products, which included threads for crocheting, darning, knitting, and embroidery cottons.
The O.N.T. was the first "fast black thread" along with the first American brand of sewing, crochet, and embroidery cotton to be available to the public in many colors, all color fast to boiling. By 1952, J. & P. Coats and the Clark Thread Company merged, to become Coats & Clark Inc. They are available online today (and can by found by using any of the leading search engines) from where they can be researched and supplies ordered online.
... in Comparison
Preference and experience from your own sewing likes and dislikes are ultimately the determining factor in which brand you use. I find that the Coats & Clarks (Anchor) company seems to be more for the average citizen with everyday needs and likes; while I personally found the DMC standards more for the ultra-groups in regard to colors and styles.
If I were going to do a project for Christmas, birthdays, everyday enjoyment, or training exercises -- I would use Coats & Clark products. But if I were to be putting a project together for a fair, a contest, or a "very special" something -- I would use the DMC yarns.
John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of Patterns Patch an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club and enjoy writing about their hobby.