How to identify threads if you don’t know the brand

If you’ve ever inherited a stash of cross stitch supplies you’ll know that you’re both super lucky, and super confused. You see, most people cast off those little thread top labels, meaning you no longer know if the threads you have are generic, or specialist. Being able to identify these threads, or a too-good-to-be-true online sale is important. You could compare the colors to a color chart, you could look at the quality of the thread or even the label that’s left on it, but no one has time for that. Especially as there is a 100% guaranteed way to work out what brand your thread is; the barcode.

How to tell

I’m not going to go in-depth about barcodes here, but if you’re super interested, this is how barcodes work. The important bit of information for us is the start. Specifically the first 2 to 6 numbers.

CXC embroidery floss (Source: Etsy)

The first two numbers state where the brand’s headquarters are. DMC is in the US. For Anchor its France, and for CXC (and generic threads) its China. The next four numbers are the brand’s own code. Now, whilst it would be great to remember all of these numbers, it’s frankly not going to happen. Lucky for us, there aren’t that many brands, and most have different head office locations, so instead, we learn just the first 2 numbers.

DMC – 07
Anchor – 71
CXC & generic – 69

It’s that simple. If you see a barcode starting with 71, you know you have Anchor threads. So now you can go out and

But what about generic and branded Chinese threads?

OK, so this is where it get’s a little more confusing. You see, almost all the embroidery threads that come out of China come from the same factory. Specifically, brand 69-4696. So if its Chinese, we need to do a little more digging. Now, we look at the end 2 numbers. There are two numbers that really matter, 14 and 41. You see each item made by a brand has a different number for each type of product. In the brand of importance, 14 stands for the CXC threads. 41 stands for Rosace threads. Now, I know you’re going to be asking one of two questions at this point:


Is CXC the same as generic?
What are Rosace threads?

Well, the answer to those is simple. The same factory produces LOADS of different threads. Some are made well, some are made cheap. CXC is the brand’s top quality product, even though they are CONSIDERABLY cheaper than DMC or Anchor. Rosace is their low tier product line. In fact, when you purchase generic threads, they’re almost always Rosace.

And its that simple. Now go out and identify those threads!

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This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Jane Milliron

    What is NAW next to floss

    1. LordLibidan

      I’m afraid I’m not aware of seeing “NAW” next to threads. Can you send me an example image?

  2. Leanne

    I’ve got bar code 6978122206164 what brand is this please

    1. LordLibidan

      It’s an “unbranded” thread from China. These are sold only in very large variation packs (100+) and have no brand label to speak of.
      In reality, 90% of unbranded threads all come from the same factory in China; these are included.
      As far as I’m aware; they are NOT colorfast.

  3. Deanna Bates

    I ordered what was supposed to CXC threads. But the becomes don’t match any of your list. The entire delivery has only two barcodes: 698813003921 and 6971458020008. Any idea what these are?

    1. LordLibidan

      Not seen that barcode before. Looks like a different brand is being sold as CXC. This does happen sometimes I’m afraid to say!

    2. Sara Ham

      Deanna, are the threads with this number any good??