How To Use A DMC Color Card

A month ago we gave reasons why you need a DMC color card and since then we’ve received a lot of emails and comments about how to use one properly. There can be quite a knack to it, but once you get it, its super simple!

Understanding color runs

The biggest thing to get your head around on a color card is the colors runs (sometimes called color families). In the example below you can see 20 rows of colors; these are the basic color runs, split from red to grey, and everything inbetween.

DMC Thread shade card with new colors with logo by Lord Libidan
DMC Thread shade card with new colors with logo by Lord Libidan

However in addition to these rows are smaller runs. Below we’ve broken out the smaller color runs within row 1 of the DMC color card; red. In it, we can see each color run goes from light to dark, however each smaller run changes in color slightly too. The first run is more pinky, the second more christmas red, the third blood red, and the last dark red. Now; here’s the biggest tip I can give you; never choose colors from more than one run. If you pick colors, you need to choose colors from the same run. And that’s it!
DMC Threads on row 1 of the color card
DMC Threads on row 1 of the color card

How to find a color by its number

Lets say you want to look up a thread. Due to the way the color card is set up, in color runs, the numbers are all out of order. So you have to look on the table in the back to check the row. In the image below er can see thread 3840 is on row 6.

Finding colors by number on a DMC color card (Source: stitchedmodern.com)
Finding colors by number on a DMC color card (Source: stitchedmodern.com)

Other information on a thread card

There’s actually a whole wealth of other information on color cards too, which can be super helpful if you want to know it; however its only on a need to know basis. If you don’t care; you can easily ignore it!

Thread Types

The first of these is the types the threads are sold in. For example, on the image below we can see that the new DMC threads 14, 15 & 16 come in ‘117’ only. This is the basic 6 strand floss you stitch with normally, however 704 and 703 come in a whole range of other types, like pearl cottons.

Row 11 close up of DMC shade card
Row 11 close up of DMC shade card

Speciality threads

Then you have speciality threads. Unlike the standard threads, these aren’t arranged in color runs, but are instead just shown in number order. It allows you to see what makes up a variegated thread, or what the metallics look like.

Dots on DMC labels

We’ve written about the purpose of those dots on DMC labels and the dots are also in the shade book, meaning you know which threads are which.

Care information

Finally, on the back page are care instructions. These are pretty standard for most threads at the moment, but these are a great tool to refer to if you have a stubborn cross stitch stain you can’t get out, and need to know how to give them a good wash.

2 thoughts on “How To Use A DMC Color Card

  1. Hi, I got one of these shade cards recently and it’s been very useful. But do you know why not all the Color Variations are on there? #4000 and #4017 for example.

    1. Hey!
      Actually, that whole range (4000 to 4265) was discontinued. They are no longer part of the standard DMC range (although I hear you can still pick them up in a few countries).

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