The Most Under Rated Cross Stitch Tool

Round Nose Jewelry Pliers (Source: kernowcraft.com)

I have a secret I must share with you all. Whenever someone shows me a cross stitch, I ALWAYS take a peek at their cross stitch kit. In fairness, this has helped me in the past, without it I wouldn’t be using snip scissors or a cross stitch magnifier, and after all, its hardly like a ladies handbag.
 
But today, I don’t want to talk about someone new, I want to talk about the thing everyone overlooks; pliers and tweezers.
Now those who have one of these in their kits will probably be nodding away at just the slightest mention of them, but those people are also the ones that never talk about them. The rest of you are probably reading this in sheer confusion at what seems to be an electrician’s tool, but trust me when I say this; I think pliers and tweezers are the most underrated tools in a cross stitcher’s arsenal.

Round Nose Jewelry Pliers (Source: kernowcraft.com)
Round Nose Jewelry Pliers (Source: kernowcraft.com)

Let me start by saying that these aren’t your run of the mill beefy pliers used to bend metal stakes or whatever (can you tell I don’t do DIY?) these are more petite. In fact, there are loads and loads of craft pliers out there for specific purposes. I personally choose a pair of round-nosed jewelry pliers (more on why later), but you can also get tweezers, in metal or plastic, and in fact, there are pairs of tweezers with magnifying glasses too!

What Are They Used For?

So let’s finally let those confused readers in on the secret. Cross stitchers can use pliers and tweezers in three main ways. The biggest thing for me is pushing through threads.
 
The way I was taught to end a thread, like many of you, was by pushing the needle through the back of the stitched threads. Once done, you pull it out and snip the end off. Or at least, that’s how most guides SAY it should be. In reality, the force of getting that thread out is probably the most strenuous thing any cross stitcher will do in the hobby. This is multiplied about one million times when using plastic canvas too.
This is where these tools come in really handy. By gripping the end of the needle you can reduce the overall force you need to apply and the needle will pop right out. We suggest round nosed pliers, or plastic tweezers if you’re going to do this, as the sharp edges of metal tweezers and straight pliers can damage the needles. And whilst I do say you should throw out that old needle I don’t think you should throw needles away all the time…

How to end a cross stitch thread illustration (source: DMC)
How to end a thread (source: DMC)

The second use for these is frogging. Yes, the dreaded frog. I’ve previously spoken about tools that make frogging easier, but tools like tweezers are a good alternative. Unlike a pair of scissors or seam ripper, you can unpick the threads without cutting them.
Equally, they are good at picking out stray pieces of threads that might have developed (I swear some threads fluff more than others), alongside picking out any dirt that might get on your work.

Should You Get Them?

Well, if you haven’t already; yes! I know they might not be the fanciest of cross stitch tools, and they sure don’t make things more fun, but they will make things easier for you.

 

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The Orville Blueprint Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

The Orville Blueprint Embroidery by Lord Libidan

The Orville Blueprint Embroidery by Lord Libidan
The Orville Blueprint Embroidery by Lord Libidan

Title: The Orville Blueprint
Date Completed: May 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Black
Colors: 3
Pop Culture: The Orville
 
Like many people, my favorite cross stitch changes a lot. It tends to be the last one I’ve stitched or the last big one at least. However for some time now, it remained as just one. My Star Trek Voyager Blueprint/LCARS cross stitch completed over a year ago. I think there were a few reasons for this. I’d worked on LCARS cross stitch before for both my Star Trek cross stitch book and my LCARS what happens on the holodeck cross stitch however I was never really sold on either of them. So when I was able to do another LCARS cross stitch, with a realistic screen, I really felt I’d captured its essence. It felt like I’d managed to complete it in a way that really looked right.
 
I think part of this was I was able to take a real screen (or my impersonation of one anyway). What I didn’t realize at the time is that I liked the UX (user interface) of the LCARS system, and liked the actual screens themselves. When I started stitching my matrix code cross stitch I really understood this and wanted to do more. This is where the Orville project started. I was watching the most recent Star Trek and had heard of The Orville is Star Trek-like, and thought, why not? I gave it a try, and frankly, I think it’s better than Star Trek Discovery. But there was a screen that kept coming up. I won’t spoil why, but a main character is often shown, and he’s a science officer. His screen on the deck is in front of him and clearly visible from the camera angle. Normally I would ignore this, but it had an element at the bottom that looked a lot like a macOS dock. Needless to say, I wanted to do something with it.
The Orville Set Photos - Science Officer Screens on the Main Deck (Source: Wikipedia)
The Orville Set Photos – Science Officer Screens on the Main Deck (Source: Wikipedia)

 
The second thing I noticed about the computer screen was the big old starship blueprint right in the center. It was VERY similar to my Star Trek one, and I just had to take that element as well, after all, I love blueprints. As you can probably tell from my lightsaber blueprint, ZF-1 Blueprint and Metroid Suit blueprint. But all of those are real blueprints. I wondered how a science officer would look at the ship, and wondered if I could make it more… real. I threw some ideas around, but the original image formed most of my plan, with overlays and more detail on science elements, and little in the way of room detail.
 
This also allowed me to do the same thing I had with my Star Trek cross stitch, and that was backstitch variance. What do I mean by that? Well, basically the number of threads when doing backstitch. By using three sometimes, 2 others and 1 for fine detail you can create a design that looks fairly plain from a distance, but then as you come closer gives you more and more detail. Unlike the Star Trek blueprint, the Orville’s computers mostly use blue, so this became really important.
 
So, I started making a pattern. It wasn’t a cross stitch pattern that took me 100 hours, but it sure took a long time. I tried adding the original MacOS dock style thing, but it just didn’t work. However, I came up with about 30 inspiration shots from the show, including this one, and knew there were elements I could add. I put everything together, and finally got stitching.
The Orville Screenshot - Computer Screens (Source: Google Images)
The Orville Screenshot – Computer Screens (Source: Google Images)

This is where I would normally stop, showing you the complete thing. But as I stitched, the less sold on the idea I was. Looking back, the whole reason I wanted to stitch this was the macOS style screen, that I failed to make in the pattern. Then, on top of this, is the fact that I had just completed my Futurama ship blueprint embroidery and was about to start on another one (more on that once I’ve finished it). This pattern just didn’t click in the way those did. So I changed the pattern while stitching to remove the outside, leaving just the ship itself.

 

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How to Finish Plastic Canvas Cross Stitch

The different types of plastic canvas cross stitch fabric (source: thesprucecrafts.com)

If you’ve ever wanted to dabble in cross stitch on plastic canvas you probably did exactly the same as me, and countless others; you started it. So long as you’ve not thrown it at the wall in hatred, you then get to the end of the project, and a simple question is asked: “How do I finish this thing?”
Turns out there are actually a few ways, and you can turn your creations into keyrings, pendants, needle minders, magnets, badges, pins, earrings and more! So we’ve going to round up the best ways to finish off your plastic canvas so you can make the most of your cross stitch, regardless of what type of plastic canvas you’ve used.

Back Stitch The Edges

Great for:

  • Earrings
  • Keyrings
  • Needle Minders/Magnets
  • Pendants

Bioshock Infinite Bird Cage Key Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan
Bioshock Infinite Bird Cage Key Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan

In my mind, this is the way I like to finish off plastic canvas. The main reason is that it avoids the issues that overcasting the edges can bring (we’ll get onto that later), and depending on your project, its probably the easiest way to finish it. In short, you need to backstitch around the edges. This, in essence, is all it is, but by combining it with a few other things you can make some really awesome projects.
 
The first thing to do is back it with the same cross stitch. You need to swap the pattern over (if it’s not symmetrical) but by doing this you can make keyrings, earrings, tags and more as both sides might be seen. A good example of this is my Bioshock Infinite Bird Cage cross stitch where I took the idea a little further and changed each side ever so slightly.
However, if you don’t see the back (like a magnet, pendant or needle minder) you can simply backstitch an unstitched piece of plastic canvas to it. The advantage here is that the back of your work doesn’t get damaged, and you can slip in a magnet. This means the magnet never touches your work (if you’re making a needle minder) or the fridge itself, which is good as neodymium magnets can stain aida.
 

Overcast The Edges

Great for:

  • Pins
  • Badges

Monkey Island Cross Stitch Keychain by Lord Libidan
Monkey Island Cross Stitch Keychain by Lord Libidan

The other alternative for finishing plastic canvas is overcasting the edges of your work. This protects the raw edge of the plastic canvas, but in turn, also adds another layer of thread (roughly the same width as a whole stitch) along the edge. You can work this into your design if you need a black edge, but can sometimes cause the great cross stitch to be lost.
 
But, it has lots of advantages too. Namely, you can back your work. I would suggest felt as it’s easy to cut, soft to the touch and easy to sew. You can cut out hole and mount a pin behind it too allowing you to change your project into a badge or pin.

 

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Futurama Planet Express Ship Blueprint Embroidery by Lord Libidan

Futurama Old Bessie Blueprint Embroidery By Lord Libidan

Futurama Old Bessie Blueprint Embroidery By Lord Libidan
Futurama Old Bessie Blueprint Embroidery By Lord Libidan

Title: Old Bessie Futurama Blueprint
Date Completed: April 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Green
Colors: 2
Pop Culture: Futurama
 
When it comes to blueprints, I’m sold. I’ve made a light saber blueprint cross stitch, a fifth element gun blueprint cross stitch and loads of others. So when I started watching Futurama again (the best cartoon ever by the way) I started getting itchy to do a cross stitch. Then, when watching an episode where the ship gets dismantled (screenshot below), I knew I had to do a blueprint of the ship.
Futurama Dismantled Ship (Source: theinfosphere.org)
Futurama Dismantled Ship (Source: theinfosphere.org)

The thing that makes it so perfect is that the ship is constantly changing, you see in almost every room, yet there aren’t any plans. Others have put things together in the past, but I wanted to do my own take. In my previous blueprints, I had only shown the inside or the outside, but with the ship, I really wanted to combine the two, so I have a cutaway style blueprint.
 
In my research I found a great poster by Volpin Props, and whilst the image was rather small (the quality below is the best I could find), I based my blueprint on it. I also threw in loads of little details the Volpin Props one didn’t have, things that you only pick up on if you’re a Futurama fan, much like the Star Trek Voyager Blueprint cross stitch did. What makes this even better is that much like Volpin props I’ve hidden most of these details away in a Futurama language you need to translate.
Planet Express Blueprint by Volpin Props (Source: volpinprops.com)
Planet Express Blueprint by Volpin Props (Source: volpinprops.com)

This wasn’t as easy as I had planned, however. Much like my Matrix code cross stitch I needed to recreate a whole language in tiny form. The original alien language that Volpin props used was way too hard to convert, so I changed it for the newer alien language Futurama uses (which is much more complicated to translate).

 

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Is It Worth Buying Second Hand Threads?

Discontinued US only DMC threads (source: 123stitch.com)

Sometimes you’re on eBay, sometimes you’re at a craft fair, maybe a car boot sale, and you see it; threads. Hundreds and hundreds of threads. You eagerly walk over and find out they’re going cheap. Probably from someone’s Grandmother who can’t stitch anymore, or excess threads someone is cutting down. And the simple thought goes through your head “Is it worth buying these second-hand threads?”
 
The idea of second-hand threads is a great one, they’re cheap, they’re the brand you like and it can get you far along on your journey to a complete set of DMC threads. But actually, there are things to consider, and sometimes that deal can actually be more effort than its worth.

Full set of DMC threads
My full set of DMC threads ordered by number

Discoloration

The first, and usually biggest issue, is the age of threads like these. In most cases the threads are being sold as they are either passed onto someone who doesn’t stitch (and very old) or are excess threads that someone is cutting down on (and are old). Old threads aren’t an issue in themselves, in fact, far from it. But threads can discolor over time. Most people think this is actually thread dye lot issues, but its actually more likely to how the threads have been stored.
 
Regardless of who is selling the threads, it’s always worth asking if the threads have been stored correctly. At first, looking at the threads will look OK, even discolored threads look OK, but once you get them home, you might have a nasty shock. A quick tip is to make sure DMC threads have plastic labels on the top and bottom; if one is paper, its at least 18 years old.
 
We would also ask if the threads are from a smoke-free home too, as it’s hard to tell tar-covered threads from normal ones at first glance.

DMC Thread Color 318 Old and New (Source: Facebook)
DMC Thread Color 318 Old and New (Source: Facebook)

Not numbered/ordered

The second issue, and probably the biggest in my mind, is that its rare to get threads sorted nicely into boxes. More often than not, it’s in a big old bag of threads.
 
This might be a blessing in disguise; it could put less serious buyers off, but the fact remains that unless there is a nice little label on the threads, you basically have no way of knowing what color it is.

DMC thread number wraps
So many DMC thread number wraps…

Not one brand

In addition, that bag of threads has another issue; if there are no labels on the threads, do you actually know you’re getting the brand you want? With cheap embroidery threads entering the market, they could easily pass their threads off as well known brands. I don’t think people intentionally do this in person (they do online for sure), but someone that doesn’t know about cross stitching might just assume.

So is it a good deal?

I have no idea. Unless you can see the threads, know their condition, see how they’re labeled and trust the provider, it’s hard to tell. In most cases, if it sounds too good to be true and it’s online, it’s too good to be true. But in person, you can get some great deals. You just need to take a breath, stop seeing the low price, and think about what you’re actually buying.

 

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Morning at Hot Spring Resort in Arayu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Morning At Hot Spring Resort In Arayu By Lord Libidan

Morning At Hot Spring Resort In Arayu By Lord Libidan
Morning At Hot Spring Resort In Arayu By Lord Libidan

Title: Morning at Hot Spring Resort in Arayu
Date Completed: April 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 16
Canvas: Cream
Colors: 27
Pop Culture: Japan
 
By now you might realize I’m on a massive Japanese print kick. I’ve stitched up Moon Light in Yasaka Pagoda cross stitch, New Moon on Tokyo Tower cross stitch, and a miniature Spring In Daigoji Temple cross stitch too. And I haven’t stopped. For my recent XStitch magazine pattern, I made a new Japanese print, this time all my own, and for it, I had to get inspiration. I normally use the work of Asano Takeji as he’s a modern artist with a style I like, however when looking for inspiration I found Hasui Kawase.
 
He was working at roughly the same time as Asano Takeji, but was a prolific traveler, with many of his works being from around Japan, and America. He even added Western elements to many of his works, including Santa, however, his works from around Japan really excited me. When I traveled there I took in many of the tourist sights, including many that Hasui had created prints from. One in particular that really interested me was his hot springs at Arayu. Whilst I didn’t go to Arayu, I did go to another hot spring resort, and it was one of the most relaxing days, and possibly one of the best days of my life. The feeling of warmth and the calming ways of the hot springs are a real juxtaposition against the super high tech cities of Japan.
Morning at Hot Spring Resort in Arayu, by Hasui Kawase 1946 (Source: JapanObjects.com)
Morning at Hot Spring Resort in Arayu, by Hasui Kawase 1946 (Source: JapanObjects.com)

This was the first of these patterns that I turned into a cross stitch (yes, there will be more), however, I created it about 6 months before I could start stitching. This meant that by the time I went back to it, I fell in love with it again. However, due to magazines and other life-things, it took 6 months to stitch as well, meaning it may be my longest project to date. Thankfully, due to all the time we’ve been spending indoors lately, I’ve had some more time to stitch and finished it up.

 

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The Best Online Cross Stitch Stores

Cross Stitch Thread Hanging Board (Source: Reddit)

The cross stitch community is fantastic at supporting local cross stitch suppliers, however sometimes they don’t carry the thing that you want, the prices are a little steep, or you just want a larger range. For most, going to a larger store like Hobby Lobby or Joanns, but thanks to big halogen lights, your threads can be damaged before you’re brought them!
That’s where online stores come into play, which offer home delivery, fantastic service and ranges, but also you can find fantastic cross stitch thread deals. We’re rounding up the best online stores.
 
All stores were suggested by our social media followers, they all had to supply needles, threads and aida of multiple types and had to pass a few delivery tests. We are not affiliated with any of these stores and do not get kickbacks. Updated April 2020.
 
Jump to United States
Jump to Canada
Jump to United Kingdom (UK)
Jump to Australia
Jump to Rest Of World

Best online cross stitch stores – US

 
 

 
Whilst many think of Etsy as a great palce to get cross stitch patterns, its also a fanastic place to get threads and tools. With hundreds of small stores across America, they offer great prices, and you always get impectable customer care.
 
 

 
123Stitch is by far the best place to get cross stitch supplies online in the US. Finding cross stitch items online isn’t hard, but 123stitch offers two things that others don’t. Firstly, value; a skein of DMC thread will cost you only 56c! The second is the sheer volume of items available. If you want it, they’ve got it.
Fast shipping, great customer service, and an unbeatable price mean they are the top dog of online stores.
 
 

 
EverythingCrossStitch says everything you need to know about it with their name; they have everything you need for cross stitch. Sure, there isn’t a lot of tools that aren’t purely for cross stitch (no magnifiers and the like), but they have boatloads of everything else; including the largest selection of cross stitch threads of any online company in the US or elsewhere. Prices are just as cheap as others on this list, and postage is also excellent. The one thing I would say is they suffer from a lack of aida brands; they don’t stock Zweigart for example, however that really is the only negative that can be said.
 
 

 
CrossStitchWorld really tries to offer the best out there in the cross stitch world, that much is clear as soon as you step on their site. They have stock of pretty much anything you can think of, and whilst the prices aren’t rock bottom, they’re pretty good too. Sadly CrossStitchWorld doesn’t get as much focus as it should, as it’s far better than the big craft stores.
 
 

 
Our number one online store is Lakeside Needlecraft, and we’re not alone, it is by far the largest UK based online retailer out there. And there is a good reason for this; they’re excellent.
They have a gigantic range of everything you can think of, they supply to your door super fast, they have great customer care, they have a points program, and they’re really good value for money. To give you an idea, you can pick up a DMC skein for 69p, a good £30 cheaper than stores.
Their website can be a little annoying to find your way through, however, their search is superb. They also have a huge selection of patterns from large and small designers and have even started putting their own cross stitch pattern books out.
 
 

 
ABC Stitch (or ABC Stitch Therapy as its currently know) doesn’t have a modern site. But they have everything else. They’re one of the longest-running online stores, and they stock frankly, an overwhelming amount of stitchy supplies, so much that you will never get bored of looking through their catalog. Prices are pretty good, although a DMC skein will set you back 69c.
 
 

Best online cross stitch stores – Canada

 
 

 
Thanks to Etsy’s worldwide shipping you can get your hands on tools and threads from across the border, meaning on average everything will be slightly cheaper.
 
 

 
At 69c per DMC skein, StitchItCentral were suggested to me for a great value website, however, that would be unfair to them; they’re more than that. With a frankly astonishing range of cross stitch supplies, including magazines, something often forgotten about by other retailers, they’re a great resource for everything cross stitch. The only downside is browsing can be a bit of a pain due to their depth of range, but so long as you know what you want; they can supply it.
 
 

 
59c per DMC skein is a super great deal. However, Herrschners isn’t just about cut-price cost. Around for over 120 years, Herrschners has developed relationships with every single supplier of anything cross stitch, meaning they have a crazy level of stock. They also have great customer service, including project assistance (which is worth trying just for the novelty!) and a quick dispatch process. They do run adverts on their site as well, which is a little annoying, but that’s the only negative to say.
 
 

Best online cross stitch stores – UK

 
 

 
Our number one online store is Lakeside Needlecraft, and we’re not alone, it is by far the largest UK based online retailer out there. And there is a good reason for this; they’re excellent.
They have a gigantic range of everything you can think of, they supply to your door super fast, they have great customer care, they have a points program, and they’re really good value for money. To give you an idea, you can pick up a DMC skein for 69p, a good £30 cheaper than stores.
Their website can be a little annoying to find your way through, however, their search is superb. They also have a huge selection of patterns from large and small designers and have even started putting their own cross stitch pattern books out.
 
 

 
Need to find that special edition thread? A DMC thread shade chart, or another hard to find tool? Etsy is the place to go. With loads of worldwide sellers, finding the item you need has never been easier.
 
 

 
Stitcher is not a website I knew about until recently. I had always been a SewAndSo shopper (before they went out of business) however the other big player was Stitcher. They have a more simplistic website design and it hasn’t really kept up with the times, however, that doesn’t stop them having a great selection and great prices. So much so that their trustpilot score is the highest I’ve ever seen!
 
 

 
Previously known purely for their large modern pattern and kit selection (which they still have a load of), Stitched Modern has started moving into the traditional cross stitch retail space lately. What really makes them stand out from the crowd is the quality of their products. They only choose quality items that they themselves use to design and stitch. Not only that, but they have products that other retailers don’t, like my much loved cross stitch travel scissors.
 
 

 
I personally love Cross Stitch UK, however, I don’t buy everything from them. It turns out that many of our social followers do the same. It’s not that they’re bad in some aspects, although they don’t sell DMC threads, it’s a case of doing a little bit of everything, and we really mean everything. Other retailers on our list stop after the basics, but if you want pins, a magnifier, or even scissor keeps, this is the place to go.
 
 

 
Hobbycraft is the largest craft retailer in the UK, and therefore, it’s no surprise that they’re also one of the best online stores. Hobbycraft have always looked to build their online shop at the same time as their stores, but their preference is on supplying low-cost products. This often means that they have a lot of too-good-to-be-true products, however, if you ignore these, they still have a great selection, and actually boast a better selection than others on this list; but you do pay a premium, and postage is high.
 
 

Best online cross stitch stores – Australia


 
Threaded Needle doesn’t sell a lot of items, and in fact, they basically don’t sell patterns or kits at all. But they’re known for quality, low price basics. You need threads, they have them. You need needles, they have them. You need fabric, they have them. But if you need that specific type of needle or that rare brand of thread or that specific color of aida; they aren’t a great place to go.
This all sounds rather negative, however, ThreadedNeedle is one of the best places you can shop for the basics you need. So long as you aren’t doing something cutting edge or crazy, they’ll have what you need, meaning they’re a trustworthy supplier, with great customer care.
 
 

 
More than just a cross stitch store OzStitch supplies a bit of everything. Closer to a brick and mortar store than any other online store OzStitch has a great direct relationship with suppliers meaning they never run out of the usual suspects (although they often have out of stock cross stitch kits listed on the site), giving you a great place to stock up from, even if they’re a little expensive ($1.10 per DMC skein).
In addition to its great stock, its one of the only online stores anywhere in the world, that will let you come and visit their facility. What makes this more impressive is that its a family business and you visit their family property. If that isn’t a sign of honest and open practices, I don’t know what is.
 
 

 
We all know DMC threads can cost a lot in Australia, however, ItchyStitchy is stepping in to help out. At 99c a skein, they are the cheapest online seller of DMC skeins we can find anywhere in Austalia. This doesn’t mean that’s the only thing they do though. A somewhat small online store compared to others on this list (and very young too) they supply everything you need at great prices, and they put customer care first. No confusing price points, great communication and a small team you can really get behind.

Best online cross stitch stores – World


 
Whilst we aren’t going to hit on all countries in this guide, most of them do ship internationally. However, even if they don’t ship to you, there is another option; Etsy. It’s a market place made by thousands of sole traders, and they sell everything you could ever want (not just cross stitch). As there are loads of people wanting your trade, it drives costs down, and as a result, you get some great deals.
What makes this even better is they have patterns that are only available through Etsy, and they do have copyright issues, but we did a deep dive and found that Etsy was a good thing for the cross stitch world.

 

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Where To Find The Best Cross Stitch Thread Deals

Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: pinterest)

Everyone wants a full set of DMC threads, or maybe you want loads of threads for your next epic cross stitch project or maybe you just want a few and don’t want to shell out insane amounts. Well you’re in luck, as we look at the best places to get great deals on embroidery threads.

Full set of DMC threads
My full set of DMC threads ordered by number

Cones

DMC Six Strand Cross Stitch Cotton 500g Black Cone (Source: DMC.com)
DMC Six Strand Cross Stitch Cotton 500g Black Cone (Source: DMC.com)
Without a doubt, the first thing I would suggest would be DMC cones. These are much easier to find in the USA (only the American DMC factory sells them), but in short, they are big old cones of thread. They come in 35 different colors, but if we’re honest, the only two colors worth thinking about are black and white. The reason they rock however is the size. You can get them in 100g (if you can find them) or 500g cones, which equates to 261 skeins of thread. The real kicker is that you can pick one of these up for $20 sometimes, that’s less than 1 cent a skein. Sure, the price is mostly around the $30 to $70 dollar mark (they’re $70 dollars on the US DMC website, but cheaper elsewhere) however that’s still a deal you can’t beat anywhere else. And you never have to worry about dye lots again. We’ve gone into more detail about DMC thread cones and how to use them in another post, so check that out before purchasing!

AliExpress/Ebay

But what about all the other 498 colors of thread? Well, you could visit online stores like AliExpress. We’re of the opinion that AliExpress is bad for cross stitch but if you’re super careful you can find some cheaper DMC threads. They tend to be super old stock and are found when a store goes out of business, but there are some good deals to be found (but make sure you realize may deals are too good to be true). However, we suggest something slightly different:

Cheaper Alternatives

We’ve looked into if cheap embroidery threads are worth it before, and honestly, they are a great alternative to DMC. They come in the same colors, they aren’t as bad as some people say they are, and they’re are super cheap. Sure, getting them from China can be like pulling teeth sometimes, but if you’re just starting out in cross stitch I would seriously suggest looking into getting CXC threads instead of DMC. You can get a full set for less than $50, and no one will be able to tell the difference.

Embroidery Thread In A Draw (Source: 1dogwoof)
Embroidery Thread In A Draw (Source: 1dogwoof)

Second Hand

But if you really want DMC, then you’ve probably considered buying second-hand cross stitch threads. This can be an amazing way of getting threads on the cheap, but there are issues:
– Sunlight damage
– Mix of brands
– Unlabeled threads
So if you do intend to get your hands on second-hand threads, just be careful to check their quality; there’s nothing worse than buying loads of threads and having to throw most of them out as they are unusable.

Store Sales

And so finally, we hit the regular ways to buy threads; the big retailers. These can be online, or in-store, but just because they’re a big store, doesn’t mean they can’t offer you a great deal. In fact, I got my full set of DMC threads from a big online store when they were on sale, and I combined a sweet discount code.
When going online, they tend to have sales once a year, around the new year, and if you can combine with discount codes you can get massive discounts on bulk orders. However, I would save these deals for times when you’re buying in big numbers of threads.
Brick and mortar stores are more likely to have sales through the year, and in America you can combine coupons for double the effect, meaning you can get smaller orders. However there is one big thing to be aware of, and that’s how the store has stored their threads. Sometimes you can get a lot of light damaged threads in big stores, so make sure the colors are OK and save the receipt; if the color is wrong, go back and exchange it!

 

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How To Put Cross Stitch Threads On A Bobbin

Printable bobbins (Source: Pinterest)

In the past we’ve spoken about how to properly store cross stitch threads and why you should put threads on bobbins, but the question still remains; how?
 
Unlike other storage methods, like chucking skeins in a draw, bobbins take time to wind, and if you have all 500 DMC threads it’s going to take you forever. So today, we’re running down all the ways to put embroidery threads on bobbins, so you can skip the pain, and take the easy route 😀

Hand Wind

Hand-winding a cross stitch thread bobbin (Source: Youtube)
Hand-winding a cross stitch thread bobbin (Source: Youtube)

We start with the standard in bobbin winding, and the one technique that you’ll do regardless of the situation. Sure, later options are faster, but if you only have one or two threads to put on skeins, you’ll do it by hand.
You start by pulling out one end of the skein without it knotting and simply wind around the bobbin.

Bonus: Use A Tin Can

Hand-winding however, really isn’t a foolproof system. Somehow, those threads just always manage to find a way to knot themselves, and believe us when I say its 100x worse when it’s a whole 8m skein knotted up. So we suggest removing your skein’s wraps and putting it over something like a tin can. You can start by either end this way, and it keeps the thread from knotting.
 

Use A Winding Tool

Embroidery bobbin winder (Source: Etsy)
Embroidery bobbin winder (Source: Etsy)

Hand-winding takes ages though; let’s face it, if you have a load of threads to do, you want something faster. So like many, you look towards tools to do the job. You’ve probably all found one of these things before, and brought one, they’re cheap enough after all, but seriously; THESE THINGS SUCK.
If I could give a single bit advise to anyone, it would avoid these like the plague. However, if you’re so inclined, and have the knack for it that I don’t, they can save you time, and a lot of hand ache.
 

Use A Sewing Machine

Winding a bobbin using a sewing machine (Source: lovestitches.blogspot.com)
Winding a bobbin using a sewing machine (Source: lovestitches.blogspot.com)

However, now we’re done with the slow and painful methods, let’s talk about speed. This next technique requires you to have a sewing machine, however, we know a lot of cross stitchers also sew so you might have one. On every sewing machine is a bobbin winder! Sure, it’s not the type of bobbin we use for cross stitch, but with this handy guide on the LoveStitch Blog, you can cannibalize one of those hand winders to help out!
 

Use A Drill

Winding a bobbin using a drill (Source: Pinterest)
Winding a bobbin using a drill (Source: Pinterest)

But if you don’t own a sewing machine (and hope to farm the job out to someone else), try a drill. Without a doubt, this is the fastest and easiest way we’ve found to bobbin threads. Simply grab the bobbin in the drill chuck and spin away. What’s better is that you could probably bully the nearest male into doing it if you’re not bothered (let’s face it, all men are big kids, and we love drills); double win.
 

Labeling

That’s our list of how to bobbin your embroidery threads, however, there is one thing everyone asks; how do you label them?

Write The Number

Simple, right? Not so much. If you have paper bobbins writing the number is easy, but those plastic bobbins (which we would suggest you use) just don’t take pen. You can use a permanent marker, but you need to use a fine tip and write small.

Use The Official Number Stickers

There are official stickers you can get, direct from DMC (although they don’t include the newer 35 threads), but these things are worth ignoring, to be honest. You can get them to stick with some work, I find taping them down works well, but they can fall off.

Place The Label Under The Thread

However, the best way I’ve heard is to place the number label under the thread. You can slip it in there before or after you’ve wound the threads, and the number sticks out, reducing on both the high aount of waste in cross stitch and the effort of trying to write or stick something down.