Back in 2017 we were the first people to talk about the “new” DMC threads (although that was 5 years ago now), in fact we were 3 days ahead of the official announcement! It’s not that surprising then that we’ve also spoken about the DMC Etoile threads before launch, and the Diamant threads too.
But new threads don’t come along often. That is, until a reader reached out to me and asked me about DMC’s linen threads.
Yes, you heard that right. Back in 2009 DM produced a line of 24 linen threads.
They were released only in the mainland US (and only some states as far as we can tell), and were originally only sold in packs.
There were 2 packs with 12 colors each and 10 designs included; one themed on flowers, and the other on hearts. There was also a larger special edition set of 23 (one shy of the whole set) with a Flowering Herbs pattern book with 40 patterns.
What Were They Like?
The threads were fine, much like the standard quality of embroidery threads from the DMC company. However, unlike standard cotton threads, they had some advantages.
The first, and most prominent in the DMC marketing, was that linen is a natural fiber. Unlike cotton that has to be mercerized, linen comes in threads naturally. This means it has low elasticity, doesn’t stretch, and is less likely to get damaged. In fact, they also iron like a dream!
Part of the marketing though went a little far with this though, and all the colors were natural tones.
Who Were They Made For?
The marketing strategy for DMC was clearly the natural angle, which is a fair point, however, the marketing failed to actually show who they were marketing to.
The first quirk of these threads is that every pack had English and French prominently on them, and Spanish on the back too. Considering these threads were only sold in the mainland US, it’s clear that they had larger plans for these threads before they were canceled. However, the languages take away from the main draw of these threads; traditional US cross stitch.
Traditional US cross stitch designs have a style, they have a color palette, and they have a massive following. Even now, 90% of the best flosstubers are stitching traditional US-style images. The color selection was clearly aimed at this market, with the states we know they were released in being states large volumes of troops came from in the civil war. Why is this important? A little cross stitch history; cross stitch moved through the US during the civil war when wives of soldiers were left at home.
But why aim for this market? Well, it was huge, but at the time other brands were starting to gain the upper hand thanks to their selections of muted color threads perfect for the style. By directly taking these people on with their own threads, they hoped to tap into the market.
But “why linen?” I hear you ask! Well at the time linen was the most used thread in the US. DMC was directly trying to appeal to the historical use of linen threads.
Why Did They Fail?
Well, this one is hard to say, but there are a few key factors that are likely to have contributed.
Why French? Why Spanish? Adding additional languages to a packet does help with cross country selling, but the pattern books inside the packs were only in English, meaning the boxes couldn’t be sold in those countries anyway. We’re still not sure where these threads were made, but they were put together in the US, so the choice was purely that of the US DMC heads to make. For some reason, they added other languages. This, was the first of the bad marketing choices.
Marketing is to blame again though, as none of the history of linen, history of the colors, history of the use of these threads were made obvious in the marketing at all. It’s no wonder people didn’t know what they were about, other than being a new and quirky thread (much like the US-only thread that came out around the same time).
But they also didn’t capitalize on the fact that linen was a natural fiber much either. And we do know that this would have been a good strategy, as the Natural Linen knitting yarn was launched at the same time, and is much loved and sold today.
Thanks to poor marketing, their largest two markets (natural thread lovers, and traditional cross stitchers) were not aware of the linens!
Then we get to that color selection. 24 threads is a good amount to sell, but they’re all so tonally similar, and all very muted. Other than a specific style of cross stitch, these threads aren’t useful to anyone else!
I honestly think that DMC linen threads could have been something great, but thanks to some poor marketing choices, they’ll forever be the threads that no one remembers. However, the biggest issue, was that they were sold for only 6 months before being stopped. They didn’t have enough time to permeate the market.
Are They Worth Getting?
The fact that no one remembers these threads, is actually an interesting point for collection. They are harder to get hold of, but no one used them, so you can get full unused sets easily. In addition, linen is less damage-prone, so they’re normally in good condition!
But do you want them? Well, they’re less useful than those USA-only threads, but other than a quirky thing to have, you won’t be stitching with them any time soon. In fact, we’ve not even bothered adding them to our list of discontinued threads or our DMC inventory spreadsheet.
However, if you are looking to pick up a set, the numbers you’re looking for are:
L159, L162, L223, L225, L310, L415, L435, L437, L452, L648, L677, L739, L760, L778, L779, L822, L833, L902, L967, L3012, L3013, L3790, L3861, LECRU
Have you heard, seen, or even own the DMC linen threads? We’d love to hear what you thought of them!
This Post Has 18 Comments
I have both sets and like so many others, have never used them. I don’t know that I ever opened the boxes. I have a vague thought in the back of my head that some people found them hard to use, but don’t recall the issue. It could be something so simple as it wasn’t the familiar cotton feel they were used to. I will say most of the patterns had no appeal to me – too many hearts, and it reminds me far to much of the country rose and country blue we had crammed down our throats on everything.
I own them. I bought them back in the day but have never used them.
I love them and I am so glad I bought several sets. I hope they will make a comeback.
Oh, you’re the first person I’ve heard of to use them! Can you tell us what type of projects you work with them on?
“They were released only in the mainland US (…)”
That’s not true. I‘m located in rural Germany and you can still buy DMC linen threads at our local needlework store, though not in the packets pictured here, but as single skeins.
They are old stock, but still retain their beautiful colours and are very nice to the touch iirc.
After the experiment failed, the “deadstock” as it’s called was shipped all around the world, but by that point, it had already been discontinued.
I wish I’d known about it, for sure I would have added quite a lot to my stash. Boo Hoo that I have none at all. What I can speak of and do have stash for is Flower Thread, which I really love. One strand is equal to 2 strands DMC, it is available in about 200+ colors and is STILL AVAILABLE to buy from Ginny Thompson Flower Thread Co. Her threads are wonderful to work with and the colors are lovely. DMC also used to manufacture FLOCHE, which is a little similar to Flower Thread. The biggest differences are 1) it is a very soft thread which you may or may not like 2)it has more sheen to it than Flower Thread. 3) I don’t believe DMC makes it any more but there is still inventory out there if you want to collect some. If anyone has that linen thread and doesn’t want it, I would be interested in acquiring this thread.